From snowstorming to set-mining; a weekend quickie

Reports & Blogs by pknight212 Posted

With my wife running an overnight relay race in Vegas this weekend, I decided to tag along to Sin City to support her, despite the extreme inconvenience having a whole Friday night/most of Saturday to kill by myself before her team finished. It was a tough decision agreeing to come, I tell you what!

Day 1

Well this was very nearly the trip that wasn't. I had to make the trip from western Wyoming to Salt Lake for my Friday evening flight. A trip that I knew would be quite interesting, given the propensity of mother nature to drop a bunch of snow on a whim at this time of year, especially after a weather forecast that seemed to grow worse with each passing day.

I set out in the blustery snow conditions and found the experience to be everything I hoped for and more. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve skidded all the way down a hill with an 18-wheeler beside you and another right behind you. I was hoping for things to ease up as I got closer to the airport, as the forecast for the Salt Lake area called for only light rain at that time. As is sometimes the case in this backwards part of the country, I quickly discovered that light rain = damn near white-out this time around. Trying to navigate rush hour traffic in the dark isn’t a whole lot of fun, in case you were wondering.

Somehow I do make it to the airport, albeit in an hour longer than usual. Fortunately I give myself plenty of time and since we’re flying in the opposite direction, the plane gets loaded up on time However, we do take off around 45 minutes late after having to de-ice amid several promises of ‘just 10 more minutes’ from the captain. To my shock, there is no taxi line at McCarran – even at 9:30pm on a Friday. The driver reports that the freeway is quicker but asks if I would prefer the streets, to which I cheerfully respond in the affirmative. He bore a striking resemblance to Antonio Esfandiari and I kept waiting for him to randomly blurt out ‘WHEEEEEEEEEE!’, but alas it was not to be. The traffic isn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and we make it to the Flamingo in around 10 minutes. Once again to my shock, there’s barely any line to check-in at all and I’m in and out in 5 minutes flat. I drop my stuff off in the room and head downstairs for some 1-2 unlimited texas hold them.

Even though the Flamingo poker room doesn’t have the prestige of the Bellagio or the class of the Venetian, it’s my favorite room for what every poker player wants most of all; late night juicy action. This particular table wasn’t as juicy as some that I’ve had, but nonetheless I got what I came for and was the beneficiary of some run-good. In the very first orbit, I have 4 limpers to me and look down at QQ in the big blind. I raise it up to 18 and get one customer. The flop comes out 9-8-6 with 2 hearts. I lead for 30 and am almost instantly min-raised to 60. My opponent had about 100 left in his stack after the raise. Knowing there were a ton of draws that he was likely going all the way with, I shove and he quickly calls. The turn comes an offsuit 10 (grumble grumble) followed by a Q (yay?) on the river. I show and he disgustedly flips up 99, giving me a healthy stack right off the bat. I’m still happy with how the hand played out; I was just unlucky to run into the tippity top of his range on the flop.

A few orbits later, I raise 3 limpers to 16 on the button with 77 and get 1 caller; a woman with a robust New York accent who was fond of bemoaning her luck and sharing her opinion on just about everything. The flop came a set-tacular 7-6-2 with 2 diamonds. She checks and having observed her to be pretty stubborn on pots she had entered, I lead for 20. She calls and the turn comes the Q of diamonds, not the most thrilling card. She checks again and I lead for 40, which she calls. I’m debating on how to handle the river, until the delightful 2 of hearts shows up in the door. After she checks, I value-town it to 50. She quickly calls and grumbles something about an overpair before stomping off for her 17th cigarette break. In retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten a larger bet paid off by her on the river, but such is life. Nonetheless, I find myself sitting on a $600+ stack after less than an hour.

Not much goes on the rest of the way. My run-good appears to have an expiration date and culminates in one humorous hand where I pick up JJ in the big blind and raise a bunch of limpers to 20. My only caller is one of the fishier players at the table. I silently ask for undercards and get none of the above, with a A-K-Q flop. I check while trying to keep from chuckling and cut my losses early after he bets.

The disadvantage of working for a school district is that the hours are pretty much opposite the optimal ‘poker hours’. Combined with my travel adventures and dropping a time zone, I’m pretty well-thrashed and cash out shortly after midnight for a $273 profit.

Tomorrow will feature possibly a late morning/early afternoon donkament and some more cash action before heading off to cheer on my wife in the evening and then head over to the hotel she reserved in the Henderson area by the finish line. Alas, she is not of the poker persuasion, so the poker content will likely end there. But a little poker is better than no poker at all, so stay tuned!

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  1. Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. DAY 2

    As is par for the course in Vegas, I find myself awake much earlier than expected and unable to get back to sleep. I stumble down to the fitness center for a run on the treadmill. After showering and grabbing some lunch, I head across the road to Caesar's and decide to play the noon $110 tourney. Normally this is one I wouldn't bother with, especially with the 2pm weekend tourney right around the corner, but with limited time on my hands, I opt for the earlier one today.

    I probably shouldve taken it as an omen when I discovered my starting stack to be 1k short the 10,000 in chips we were supposed to begin with (PSA: always check your stacks when you get them!). Fortunately, the delinquent chip was found in a neighbor's stack, as I seem to need all the help I can get in these events. This table turned out to be one of the most station-ey tables i had ever played on, with limp-calling like there's no tomorrow and bottom pairs beating out ace highs for substantial pots. I mean seriously, you'd have to get Scotty Nguyen's monkey to jump on their heads and bite their necks to make them fold (and even then they'd still tank for a long time first). I sometimes find it difficult to adjust to these tables, but do my best to tighten up, play as ABC as I can, and see cheap flops in position when possible. Of course this strategy only goes so far when you're card dead and flopping squadoosh.

    Not much happens early, and I fall to around 7500 after learning the hard way about the calling compulsions of my neighbors. I finally chip up in amusing fashion at the 75/150 level in an amusing little blind vs. blind confrontation. It folds to the small blind - an active woman that seems to be a regular - who limps. I check my option with Q6o and fire 200 on a J high dry flop when checked to. She calls and fires 500 on the Q turn. I call now that I actually have something for once. She calls and the dealer shows a sense of humor by peeling off a 6 on the river. She check/calls a 1000 bet from me and flashes me a jack. Another example of how aggression and taking initiative pays off; if she raises preflop or bets her pair on the flop, then I go away. Instead she let me get there and dropped almost 2k in the process.

    With that hand, I'm back to near my starting stack. Shortly thereafter, while still at 75/150, I raise to 400 in middle position with QQ :sleeping: probably shouldi've adjusted and raised a little larger here, given the dynamics). I get 2 customers and we take a 3-4-5 rainbow flop. I lead for 800 and am quickly minraised to 1600 by the first caller on my left. I'm generally suspicious of min-raises - especially quick ones - and knowing all the potentially ugly cards that could come, I shove for my remaining 8000. He folds pretty quickly and I'm up to 12k and above my starting stack for the first time.

    Unfortunately I can't get much else going and blind down amidst a couple of failed opens when my hands don't hit. Finally at 200/400, I get 3 limpers to me in the small blind and shove for around 7500 with K-10. One of the limpers snap-calls with A9 (am I that transparent) while giving an elaborate speech about how it was SOOOTED. The board bricks and he celebrates WSOP-style. I praise him for how well he handled the whole affair and make my departure.

    This was another one of those frustrating tournies where I felt as though I had a clear edge, but was unable to make anything happen. I think my strategy for dealing with these types of table dynamics is fundamentally correct; the only problem is when you're card dead and not hitting flops, there really isn't much you can do about it. And when guys are limp-calling for 19bbs and most of their stack with medium aces and even lighter, it's hard to even shortstack-ninja effectively. The words of chess grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch often come to mind: "Why must I lose to this idiot??"

    But I digress....after this unsuccessful excursion, I realize it's been awhile since I've played at Bellagio, so I head next door to kill off the remainder of the afternoon. Out of tiredness/lazyness, I didn't keep as detailed info on this session, but I was pleased to see that Bellagio continues to be one of the softer low-stakes rooms on the strip. There are a couple folks at the table who were nice guys and perfectly happy to spew chips; the ideal combination! The affable spanish fellow to my left was nice enough to pay off my flopped top 2 pair on 3 streets with a lower 2 pair, netting me a sizeable pot. This particular player had been active in almost every pot, calling down large bets with very speculative hands. Someone who's tough to have on your immediate left, save for the fact that I was catching some pretty good hands.

    A bit later, I pick up QQ in early position and raise it up. My spanish friend and another calling station come along, and we see a Queen high flop. I lead out with a sizeable bet. This time, the spanish lad paused for a moment and then said 'I respect your betting sir', before letting it go. I inwardly curse his respect, before the other player calls and I'm able to get a second street of value out of him. I fill up on the river and bet again, but get a fold this time, after much thought on his part.

    I later get KQo in middle position and raise, getting called only by the latter player of the previous hand. This particular hand ended up being nearly a carbon coby, with me flopping top pair and then improving to trips on the turn and getting two streets of value out of him.

    By this point, I'm able to use my big stack to my advantage and take down some more smaller pots through raising and c-betting. I top out at just over $700 ($300 buy-in). Unfortunately, the calling station from the previous two hands has now taken it upon himself to play in every hand that I'm in and call me down, come hell or highwater. I try to push my luck a bit too much in a couple of marginal spots and end up dropping a fair amount as a result. Eventually it becomes time to meet up with my wife and I cash out with a $272 profit - remarkably a dollar off of my previous session's total and a nice sequel to my run-good at the MGM last month. Take THAT, Terry Benedict!

    That brings this trip's numbers to $545 in cash game profit and -$110 in tournies, for a total of +$435. A satisfactory output, despite my tournament frustrations. My wife had driven down to vegas earlier in the week for the race, so I'll be making the 7 hour trip back up with her tomorrow....hopefully not into another bloody snowstorm.

    Thanks again for reading!

  3. And now for some gratuitous imagery....

    My remarkably pink accomodations for the evening (not that there's anything wrong with that):

    If there's one area in which the Flamingo excels, it's in variety of $5 chips:

    Near my high-water mark at the Bellagio. Life is good!