Vegas has become a muddy shark pool...


This was the most dissappointing of all my trips.

I planned on playing a lot of poker, but ended up only playing three of the ten days in Vegas.

We stayed at the Encore, since I wanted to pamper the Wife. She was thrilled with the room and the hotel, We both took up golf this year and thought to play a round of Golf at the Wynn. To our surprise, the Wynn turned out to be the most expensive place to play Golf in Vegas. At 500$/person excluding the 150$ tip for the mandatory PGA professional caddy, we found 1300$ for a round of 18 holes too high for comfort. So we looked for other options.

From previous trips, I had discovered that the Wynn Poker room plays deep at 1/3 and 2/5, so I thought there was a lot of money to be made.
Unfortunately, the opposite was the case. In the three nights that I played there, I was unable to turn a profit.
Part of that was due to the poor cards I was dealt, but a major role had to be attributed to good to excellent local players with deep pockets who knew each other and definitely targeted the tourists.
I found myself at several occasions to be at a table with 7-8 local sharks.
Whenever I would raise 15$ (1/3NL), I would get 4-6 callers! Of course, when I then missed nearly every flop, I had to lay it down to aggression. When I did Cbet 1/2 pot to pot, I got raised and often had to bail out again.

On the rare occasions that I managed to isolate another tourist, I ran into premiums and lost my entire stack.

a few examples:

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  1. I do feel like the games in Vegas have gotten tougher over the last few years. But that stated, I would also say that:

    #1 - The game at the Wynn is one of the tougher games in town (acknowledging that I can only speak of the game "on average".... things can certainly change from one night to another).

    #2 - Table changing and room changing are becoming more and more important in today's tougher games. If profit is your motive, be selective and be prepared to move around a lot.

    #3 - I went up to the local casino here and, despite booking a very paltry win of less than $50 in 8 hours of play, I came away (for the second trip in a row) impressed with the overall quality of the game. People were loose and overall bad. Even though I managed to double him up, I played with one of the worst players I have EVER seen. It was encouraging to see a fish like that. Good games still exist. Bad players are still out there. I used to believe the best games were in Vegas. Although Vegas remains my favorite place to vacation, I no longer believe the best games are in Vegas.

    On a more personal note, I am sorry to hear your are running bad. A big congratulations for not pressing when you have lost your confidence. Ego often gets in the way of making a good decision like this. I know that when I am down big money, I start to worry about how to repair my bankroll. This mindset is never going to help you play optimal poker (it leads to scared money and refusal to take advantage of certain situations... bluff calls... speculative calls with suited connectors when the situation truly warrants it...).

    I hope top two pair has not become more than a bluff catcher. I too have been running bad (sadly, for most of this year). I have found that, when running bad, your top pair hands are losing at 50% or more (although, in fairness, sometimes they have lost for me because I got too fancy in trying to trap with such a vulnerable hand). One of my lessons is to not get as cute, precisely because making hands is so hard. I raise a bit more with premium hands. I bet my hands a bit more. The more aggressively you play your premium starting hands (and I certainly even mean two unpaired high cards that seem worth raising based on the situation), the more you can sometimes narrow the field. This will help make your top pairs and two pairs more likely to hold. This also punishes the loose callers that you were describing. I also won't raise in situation where I will completely dread being called by 4-5 players (for example, I will not raise with A-J UTG because if I get called by 4-5, all behind me, I will want to muck my hand before even seeing the flop). I will generally still raise with 10-10, because I am more likely (even if happens well less than 50% of the time) to get a flop I like (set or over-pair).

    Okay, I am rambling. Thanks for the trip report and good luck over the coming months making a comeback. I have read many of your strategy posts and have no doubt you will be back.

  2. so let me get this straight, you play ONLY 3 days and from that sample size you base
    your decision?



    with thousands of visitors arriving daily, and complimentary drinks still being served, there
    will always be good poker games in vegas.

  3. I agree that there are plenty of rounders working the rooms in Las Vegas, however after a couple of dealer rotations it becomes pretty clear who is who at the table. I found that the Venetian and the Rio had pretty solid competition and the weak rooms are going to be my little secret.

    What I will say is that I have found that the 1/2 games are generally weaker than the 1/3 games for whatever reason.

    I agree that part of the poker game is recognizing when a game isn't profitable and who you ought not to go to war against and that there is always another game going on somewhere in Las Vegas.

    Change up the rooms, change up the time of day you play, and I almost always play it slow until I get a feel for the table (and love when I'm part of a new table starting up).

    Ok So have fun with the poker and don't give up. Hot and cold streaks happen.

  4. The 1-3 game at the Wynn the OP describes sounds like a great game to me. The way the OP describes it, it doesn't sound like a table full of 7-8 sharks.

  5. Hey Assenede,

    Sorry I missed you while we were both in Vegas.... it seemed like we were always on opposite ends of the strip! I made it back to Bally's a little while after you said you were there, but you'd already left.

    As to your observations about the quality of play, I agree that it has gone up over time, and that there's less dead-money at the table. If you're not catching any cards, it can be brutal-- I had a string of 4 bad sessions on this trip, followed by 3 moderately good ones. I DO think that some times of year are generally better than others, including WSOP time, and times when there are big conventions, and that table selection is becoming even more important. I think live poker needs another Moneymaker-esque shot in the arm if we are ever to get back to the days of a donkey (or 5) at every table!

  6. @assenede

    I don't get why this is such a surprise. Even at tables full of bad tourists, you'll tend to get a lot of calls when you raise PF. To me this is just a sign that people are playing too loosely before the flop, not that they're ganging up on tourists. I think a much worse table would be one where everybody folds when you raise a smaller amount.

    Of course, when I then missed nearly every flop, I had to lay it down to aggression. When I did Cbet 1/2 pot to pot, I got raised and often had to bail out again

    It's not that surprising that with 4-6 other people seeing flops, someone else would make a hand that they feel is good enough to raise you. When a lot of people see the flop, it increases the chances that someone would make a good hand. It's probably nothing more than someone raising with a good hand or maybe a good draw, which is something you would see from a tourist or a local. I'd be much more surprised if you kept getting heads up and your one opponent kept raising you.

    Also, the 1/3 and 2/5 games play pretty deep at the Wynn, and I'm sure that will attract some of the local players that want to play deep, so I wouldn't be surprised if you found easier games at another casino. But I don't see anything specifically that you describe at the table that makes it sound like you played at a tough table.

    Also, my comments are really more for the 1/3 tables because I never played 2/5 at the Wynn. I would expect the 2/5 to be a tougher game.

  7. One of your comments was " only the good players remain ". I feel you are right but lets analyze this for a second. You recognized you were up against better players and you felt this would hurt you in the long run. This of course is true. In the local casino where I play I know who the sharks are. One time I sat down in a short game and left after 10 minutes. I told these guys they were to good for me and they just laughed. These guys make there living playing poker and I do not. I would hope they would be better players otherwise they would starve. I enjoy playing poker at the level I am comfortable with. Just like you would not pay $ 1300 to play golf I would not sit down at a poker table and play way to high for my bankroll. You see it is the same thing.

  8. I wouldn't get down to much on playing Poker in Vegas. You could just be on a losing streak and it will turn if you keep evaluating your play and make sure you are playing good poker. You should also expect that someone that plays 40 hours of poker a week will usually be better than someone like me who typically plays 4 hours of poker a week. I travel to Vegas once or twice a year and usual win or lose less than $300 playing about 10 hours a day for 5 days (1,2 or 1,3 NL). Unless you play a lot more often I would suggest you consider your loses just the cost of gaining experience and having funny. If your not trying to make a living playing poker try to have more fun doing it win or lose. Just my thoughts.

    I think the best time to play poker in Vegas is during early part of WSOP (end May, beginning of June). There are many poker games going so you can always switch tables if you think other players at table are much better than you and even I , a weak player, can find games that I can make money playing in.

  9. assen, I totally feel your pain. However, I don't know that I necessarily agree with the level of play. Maybe at the Wynn, but I've never played there. I spent two weeks in Vegas this year and lost all the money I spent on poker (close to $3,500) playing against average and bad players. The only real competition I had was in the last bracelet event of the WSOP. I was fortunate to be seated at a table of good players. I still managed to bust out before the cash though and I did not cash in any of the other tournaments I played in. I had people shoving against my preflop raises with 4 6 suited and the like. The cash games were worse. Sorry to hear your trip wasn't more succesful but you cannot give up. The streak will end at some point. And like someone else here said, if you don't play poker for a living or you're truly on vacation in Vegas, just try to enjoy the game, win or lose. I know it's easier said than done. Especially when you're trying to play your "A" game. But anyway, better luck to you in your future games.

  10. running bad and playing bad are not mutually exclusive. Games have gotten tougher. Really bad players are sitting at the 2-4 LHE tables. Only total noobs are really bad playing NL. Minimum skill level continues to rise. I sometimes find playing O8B or LHE for a couple hours makes me feel better

  11. games get tougher in vegas every year--vegas is one of the WORST cities in the country for poker. try cali, florida, ohio, etc for better games. those who still read my blog see what a hard struggle it is to survive with no other income. anyone who ever comes to vegas from AVP look me up and ill show u

  12. @sevencard2003

    Don't be silly, Tony.