Trip Good; Poker bad -- very long


I decided to venture to Vegas following my 40th birthday. I wanted to do something fun, exciting and cheap and looked at all sorts of exotic locales but couldn't satisfy the cheap part, so I figured "what the hell Vegas is at least fun and exciting and I can play poker there too." I should warn everyone, that is reading that I barely drink and play low stakes limit poker almost exclusively, so there will be less entertainment value in this report than in some of the more convivial posters here.

The trip started weirdly as I ran into to an old co-worker and her boyfriend on the plane out. She was heading to Sacremento and got bumped from an earlier flight and then made standby on my flight. I think the message was that I should have played longshots my whole trip, but I was too obtuse to see that then.

Sunday 8/16
I ventured from my room at IP (it was dated, but pretty clean and cheap, so I'd stay there again) and headed for the Mixed Game. As I was in town, they were unable to get a game going so I played 2-4 for a little while. Only hand of note I had 4-5 diamonds in small blind and 6 players were already in so, I limped; big blind (a new player) raised and everybody called. Flop was 5-5-5 for my first flopped quads in live play.
I check, BB bets and gets 5 callers, so I smooth call. Turn was 10, I check, BB bets, 3 callers and I raise which isolates me and BB (probably stupid I could have maybe gotten more by raising river instead). Anyhow, it was a nice pot.

Since Mixed Game never materialized I thought I'd try O'Sheas mixed limit game but there was a long line and my mom, who decided to head out to Vegas too, didn't feel lucky in O'Sheas so we moved down to Flamingo, which was stupid since I never get any cards there. That trend held and I wound up blowing most of my IP winnings and finished the night about even.

Monday 8/17
We headed to the South part of the strip and I played some $2-4 at the new Excalibur Live room. I had a pretty fun table and basically was even the whole time despite getting no cards. Only notable had was when I picked off a river bluff from a guy when I held only A-4 suited in the big blind and made a pair of 4s and a flush draw on the flop. I bet out and got down to heads up, turn went check-check and I checked river looking for a free showdown. He bet out, but I couldn't put him on anything, so even though the pot was small and I only had bottom pair, I looked him up. He was fairly stunned when I turned over the A-4. I tried to play some at Manadaly Bay, but they never could get a limit game going there. I did have a nice meal at The Noodle House there, so it wasn't a wasted walk by any means.

Headed up to the Mirage where I played terribly at 3-6 limit. I was too loose and a little too passive and bled money all night. I also lost 2/3rds of a decent-sized pot trying for a check raise when I turned a straight and thought one other player was sure to bet. Unfortunately, it checked behind me and the river put the straight on board counterfeiting my hand.

Went up to TI for a really nice dinner at Isla. I had the slow roasted pork Pipian, absolutely wonderful. The guacamole with spicy pumpkin seeds was also a hit. Unfortunately, I decided to play TI's poker room that night. Nothing wrong with the room, just my poker playing. I was still playing too loose and lost again at their 2-4 limit game. I might be in the background of a crappy reality show, since "The Real Housewives of Orange County" was shooting in the room at a 1-2 no limit table that night. actually, it was interesting to see that and a couple crew members sat at our table after the filming and were really good guys, so not all bad.
One hand of note at TI. I had 8-8 in cutoff and had a ton of limpers, so I just limped, flop was Q-Q-4, it checked to me and I bet and got 4 callers. Turn was a J and loose-aggressive guy to my right bet out. I put him on nothing and raised, folded back to him and he called. River K and he checked. I smelled a rat and checked behind and I was right, he had A-10 and rivered me. Good news, I got a good player to lay down 9-9 in the big blind and I lost the minimum. Bad news is I lost.

Tuesday 8/18
Went to Bill's for my one foray into no limit during their aces cracked. I lost $80 over a couple hours, mostly on 2 hands. One I got bluffed with top pair and no kicker. Bad thing was I read the guy as weak and thought about pushing all in, but I only had 10-2 for a pair of 10s and couldn't pull the trigger. Later, same villain and I were in a hand. I had 2-2 on button, a tight player min raised and got 5 callers, so I called. Flop was 3-4-9, tight player bet $4; villain called, I thought I might be best so I smooth called. Turn was a 2 (3 spades on board), tight player checked, villain bet 10; I min raised to 20 since I put him on a flush draw (something like A-3 or A-4 suited) and he called. River A, no spade. Villain bet $50 and I insta-called thinking he rivered 2 pair. I was right on my read but wrong on the draw. He had 8-5 off and rivered a straight. he proceeded to chastise my turn raise saying "that won't get anyone off a hand" but I replied "who said I wanted you off it, I was building the pot" which shocked him given that i was playing pretty tight and mentioned that I normally play limit.

Pissed off and frustrated at blowing money all over town I stuck around IP and played a little and actually won about $30. We met up with some friends to wander around Wynn and Encore. Really cool places, great location for Wynn's poker room. We grabbed a light meal at Society Cafe in Encore (salads and Grandma Rose's meatballs were all good). I got stupid and played some 4-8 at the Wynn poker room. I got no cards, but had such a tight image I managed to steal enough to basically play even for two hours (I finished down $2 bucks).

Wednesday 8/19
Our drive around town day. I played the aces cracked 2-4 limit game at IP. A local crowd, very nitty, but fairly welcoming to a newcomer. Overall, not too bad -- especially compared to the lack of welcome I felt at M later in the day. I didn't get much and had a couple suckouts, wound up down about $20. went to lunch at the Florida Cafe in the Howard Johnsons, pretty good Cuban place. I've had better in Ybor City in Tampa, but worth a stop. Decided to wait till evening to head downtown so we went south to M. I played in a 4-8 limit game there and put up a room review about it. The players were generally, awful at limit games way too loose and extremely passive. The only downsides I saw to the room were that the casino was so far out; that the players were very cliquish and unwelcoming to any non-regulars; and that the floor badly handled opening the 4-8 game. But, I managed to lose money since I got no cards (I saw maybe 8 flops in 2 hours) and won 1 hand in whole session, finished down about $40.

We then drove to downtown and I finished my poker session on a high note by winning a little bit at the Golden Nugget. Nothing real memorable, but I made back my losses at the M. Also, I played some slot machines for a buddy back home and after running his $10 down to $3, got it back up to $11 at the Nugget. That's when I knew I shoulda played the longshots on this trip.

We finished up with a good meal at Firefly on Paradise Road. Had a nice selection of tapas and a really good crowd of people in the place. There was a big group at the next table (I'd guess all Mexican natives) who were celebrating a birthday. Once they finished, they sang to the birthday girl first in Spanish, then a chorus of "Happy Birthday". I could tell that the poor thing was terribly embarrassed so once their party starting cheering, I added my very loud clapping and shouting. One of her party loved it and he stood up waving for even more (she about melted into the table top). So most of the restaurant joined in and clapped for her. The same guy came over thanked us very much -- I think it made his day that us gringos cared enough to share the joy of their celebration. He also dropped off some of the homemade birthday cake for our table. I believe it was a variety of tres leche cake with some brown sugar and cinnamon crumb filling and was truly delicious.

Overall, the trip had good food and a fun atmosphere even if my bad poker playing and consequentially my loss of a couple hundred bucks put a bit of a damper on it.


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  1. Wife and I love Firefly on Paradise. One of our all time favorites.

    Nice report. thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    Too bad you didnt win more $$$, however sounds like you enjoyed yourself. Spending a few days in Vegas is a wonderful birthday gift for yourself. On your next trip.. hopefully the IP mixed game will be on and you will win all the money you lost on this visit. :open_mouth:

  3. I know the adventure it was when I started playing NLHE after playing limit for so many years. I enjoyed your review. I think your hand with 2-2 where you turned a set on a very draw heavy board was interesting. I wasn't at the table, obviously, but I think a smooth call on the turn will keep the pot small and keep you not committed to any pot. That turn raise is perfectly fine in a LHE game but in NL you could get check called even re-raised. Great post though.

  4. Thanks for the replies so far and glad you enjoyed the post.

    Michael - Firefly was really good. I learned about it on this site -- so thanks to the posters here for that tip!

    Lil'Mortski - Actually, since I do most things backasswards, I started in no limit, then realized I suck at poker and moved to limit where I can usually lose less. Seriously, I realized that with no bankroll to speak of, limit is a much better choice since I can play aggressively without worrying about the stakes any given hand. Plus, smart limit poker involves a lot of picking spots where it is mathematically correct to draw to hands or to raise in order to make drawing mathematically incorrect and all that math suits me.

    On that hand with the 2-2, my play was totally based on my reads, not my cards. On the flop, I put the original raiser on 2 big cards on the flop (and therefore a miss) and both his small flop bet and check on the turn solidified that read. The villain in the hand had been bluffing all day and I really put him on nothing but a draw, or at most a pair and a draw, so I was seriously just building the pot when I raised the turn. However, as Alan Schoonmaker might put it I committed the "egoistic fallacy" -- I put him on the draw that I would bet in that spot, namely a pair with the nut flush draw. So, in my mind, the river gave him aces up. My mistake was that he was a much more action-oriented player than I am and would semi-bluff the turn with any draw. As it turned out, he had a worse hand than I suspected on the turn with just 8 high and an up and down straight draw, which hit the river. Like I said, I suck at poker. But, I do good research on restaurants (and my waistline will testify to that).