Monday, July 14, 2008

Man oh man was that fun!

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:32 pm
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Hello dear friends.

Nearly a week’s time in Las Vegas. Where to start? As I sat at numerous tables playing, and after some of those sessions, I thought to myself: these are things that I need to share with the community. The over-riding theme seemed to be that real world card rooms are considerably different than what we have at PAO. Yet, after further consideration of this thesis, I must say that things are not all that different after all. Hopefully, I will be able to explain this better as I go along in this post. So, get yourself a drink, settle in for a bit, for as I am somewhat disabled today, this may be a rather lengthy post.

Day One.

Monday in Las Vegas. The casino is relatively empty when I check in at 2 pm. Not much going on, yet I know that in two short hours I will have plenty to do, seeing some folks I have met before, putting nicks to new faces and playing poker, poker and more poker. I have been in training for more than a year for this week.

The meet and greet starts in about 1/2 hour. The casino is massive, I have no map, so I begin to wander around, looking for the Poker Room and Sazio’s, the restaurant at which we are going to meet. I find the poker room first. It is about 1/4 mile walk from the hotel area. Not much action. A couple tables of 1/2, mostly older gents who look to be locals. I think: good tables to avoid. There are also about 4 tables of Limit going, maybe playing 4/8. I wander around a bit more and spot the restaurant off in the distance. I still have 15 minutes, so I sit down at a video poker game. Within 5 minutes, I am up $50 so I cash out. A few steps away, I sit down at a regular slot of 7’s, bars, etc. 5 more minutes and I have won another $280. Life is good. I called my wife. Time for the meet & greet.

CaptnBen is standing outside the restaurant talking to a couple other people. I met Ben last autumn in Chicago. He had since shaved his beard. Ben now looks like the comedian Lewis Black. A handsome guy. I can’t remember who I met first, yet as we stood and talked, more and more folks walked up. We were introducing ourselves around in non-stop action. It soon became apparent that I would not be able to remember all of these folks real names, and in that I was familiar with their nicks, I would call them by their online names for the week. After all, folks were already calling me ‘b’ or bastin, instead of Patrick.

As we were standing around, a couple came up and introduced themselves. His nick was Rainbow1, and I am sorry that I have forgotten his real name, and that of his wife. He had been on PA about a month and they were in from Hawaii on business. They hoped to have dinner with us. Of course!

It is hard to describe the excitement I felt meeting all of these people I felt I already knew. I have played thousands of hands with Tikal Snake, and to meet him in person, it was as if I was seeing an old friend for the first time in years. We hugged. And, as some of you know, I call Pokergirl “Sis” when we are playing on PAO, as we have a running joke that we were separated at birth. We even like both mustard and mayo on our sandwiches! How funny to be hugging relative strangers!

Dinner was delicious, even though I dare say many of us were not so much interested in food as we were getting to know each other better and then heading off to play some poker. Ben suggested that we go around the room and each person stand up, introduce their self by actual name and nickname. As we went from person to person, the intros soon turned into testimonials for Poker Academy. Clearly, we were members of a cult! Ha!

Soon it was time to move onto the evening’s first poker game, a tourney at The Orleans. In short, the structure was horrible. It was a $40 buy-in with a $5 toke (for the dealers), which gave each player about $1600 in chips. The blinds started at $25/$25 and moved up quickly. There were re-buys galore and an add-on later into the tourney. Although I was not the first person to run out of chips at my table, I believe I was the first one out of the tourney as I chose not to re-buy. I had had 4 hours of sleep in the last two day (excited!), and went up to the room to nap until my roomie, MagicBus was due to arrive.

MagicBus as my roommate! What an honor! And now, 7 days later, what a pal! (Thanks, buddy.) He and I returned to the Poker Room to watch the rest of tourney. To my joy, there were several PAers still in the running. Other have already written about this, so I shall move on. And, in fact, I did move on before the end of the tourney. I was dying to get into a 1/2 game.

Game 1, I made about $150. I was up $400 for my first day in Vegas! Who could imagine such a s thing was possible!?! We went back to the room about 3 am, chatted for a couple more hours and then hit the hay. It was difficult to sleep. Just too damn excited.

Day Two.

It seems rather arbitrary to demarcate this essay by days, for each day blended seamlessly into the next. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to maintain the structure to help me remember the events of each day.

We had a PA practice/training session at 10:00. We all met in the Poker Room and for one and a half hours played in a cash game structure. The goal of this session was to help each other plug holes and alert each other as to any tells we might pick up from other players. I was excited as I had just finished reading Joe Navarro’s “Read ‘Em and Reap,” and was anxious to see if I could pick up on any of the many tips he had provided.

The training session was extremely helpful and fun. Ben had established a prize structure for the game. For the players who had the most chips at the end of the session, there was a modest cash prize; for the player with the most tells, there was a prize of a real nice pair of sunglasses; and, for the player who picked up the most tells, the prize was the coveted Poker Academy shirt, just like the one given as a prize for winning the shirt freerolls. I coveted that shirt, and I cannot describe how pleased I was to be voted the player who helped the most with tells.I immediately put on the shirt and did a little victory dance. No, a couple dances. I love my PA shirt! It’s slimming as well!

After the session, folks went their separate ways. I stayed at The Orleans. Aside from breaks for food and naps, I played poker until the next morning, and made about $150. I’d grind up a couple hundred, lose a fair bit on the river and pre-flop calls, grind back up, and continue this way for hours. Something in my game would have to change.

Still, the most memorable hand of my week came during this session. I limped into a family pot from late position with 2/4 of spades. The flop came A 3 5 of spades. I checked around with everyone. The turn came a 6 of spades. The Button came out with a small bet, which was raised by another player. I called the raise and the Button folded. The river was a blank. The early position led out with a half-pot-sized bet and I raised it by 2 times his bet. He doubled mine and I thought for a bit before going all in. Holding the K of spades, he immediately called. I won an Orleans t-shirt and ball cap for the hand as well.

I stepped outside for the sunrise and for the first time since my arrival.

Day Three.

The 2nd Annual PA B&M Tourney was scheduled for 2:30 pm. I had managed to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep, and placed 6th or 7th in the tourney. While perhaps the chip leader early on, JobE was moved to my table short-stacked and to my right. After announcing his intention, he quickly dismantled my stack. Sin City finished the deed as I was forced to go all-in with A2 suited again his pocket J’s. A third J on the flop sealed the deal. After the tourney, a lot of folks went onto other venues. Some went with Ben into Old Vegas. While I initially said that I would go on this junket, I opted instead to take a nap.

I actually didn’t get back to the poker table until about 9:30 pm. More grinding along. About 2 in the morning, Ben comes into room and suggests we hit a few other cards rooms to see if there’s any action. We stop in the Tropicana and it is near dead. We hit the MGM, and while the card room has a fair number of folks in it, the stacks are deep. Even if we bought in for $200, we’d be short-stacked and at a disadvantage. We then went to the Excaliber. There were a lot of folks playing, mostly young folks with drinks in front of them. There were only a couple deep stacks, so we settled in for a few hours. I walked out with about $80 more than I came in with.

Another Las Vegas sunrise.

Day Four.

Today there is a big tourney at Caesars. Not a tourney player of a caliber where I feel I can risk $130, I opt out and instead visit old Vegas with Ben and MagicBus. We settle in at Binions where Ben had had a good day the day before. Initially, I was at a “must move” table where I made and lost $100 on the river the first 15 minutes. Our table was soon down to 5 players, and I saw no need to play short-handed, and feeling myself starting to tilt, I cashed out and took a walk. Once I settled down, I rebought and I ended up at a table with a couple hustlers.

Or were they? Two young guys. Actually, both came to the table after I had been there for a while. The first was a young man with a ball cap. He sat to my left with about $300 in chips and a couple hundred dollar bills. He knew the game, never shut up, and splashed a lot. He was good, betting large at the right time, even when he was bluffing. He won some big pots and got nailed for some as well. His main target was a drunk at the table. Hell, he was everyone’s target. Yet, even drunks can wake up with hands. The inebriated man managed to take a chunk out of Mr. Hustler. I took my fair share from the drunk. Mr. Hustle got up after a while to follow the drunk to a 2/4 game. The other hustler at the table was a guy hustler number 1 called “007”. He was well-dressed, had nice p[air of sunglasses, and talked of traveling the world, being retired already as some sort of spy-like whatever, and played poker “to keep from going crazy” as he “certainly didn’t need the money.” When #1 left, 007 moved to my left.

I was playing a tight game. As far as everyone at the table was concerned, I was folding all but premium hands. They saw me take down pots with flopped straights and nut flushes, big pairs, sets. etc. Mind you, these hands were few and far between, and I wasn’t hitting on my more speculative position limps. Yet, I made money. Finally, I came in with a raise at the cut-off with KQ off, got two callers from early limpers. I hit trip Ks on the flop. Little did I realize the UTG limper had pocket 3’s to match the one sitting next to my Ks. The A on the turn was the only thing keeping me from putting everything I had into the pot. Down to $135,.00, I managed to double up a little while later with a nut flush to a set. I finally had a stack again to play with.

It was at this point that 007 started in on me. “Man, I knew what you had. You’re playing ABC poker. Do you play online? I bet you do. I know you do because I used to play 12 hours a day online. ABC poker. You’re not a poker player. ABC poker at the 1/2 table.”

I replied. “1/2 is a lot of money for some. If you’re so good, why don’t you play higher stakes?” It was at this point he told me about being retired ( he was about 30 years old) and playing only to keep from going crazy. He then continued his rant for the next several hands, one in which I won another good-sized pot. I began to rack my chips.

“Yes, that’s right, take your $100 dollar profit and take off. You can’t risk that!”

I thanked the table for the game and concluded with, “I’m going to leave the table to Mr. Super Stud here.”

I thought about this encounter quite a bit thereafter. Why me? Simple. I was playing good poker and he was not catching any hands. If he could get me worked up, I might do something stupid. Both he and hustler one talked about the hands they did win over and over. If they weren’t in a hand, they were talking about the big one they did take down, even if it was a misplayed suckout. Image was everything. Some players were obviously tilted by this banter. Me too, yet I didn’t stick around to suffer from it.

Magic, Ben and I went back to The Orleans for a huge breakfast and a few hours of sleep.

Day Five.

We woke up to a lobby full of young female soccer players. The casino was humming. The sports betting room was a-buzz with NCAA bettors. The Poker Room was filling fast with men in their late twenties/early thirties, buying in for $100 and watching the TV screens mounted throughout the room. Basketball was the topic of conversation, not poker. Compared to other days, my stack grew at an amazing rate. I was getting hands and getting paid. The farmer from Oregon was cleaning up.

So now, I must digress. I too had a hustle. The hippie organic farmer from Oregon; only my third time to a casino; only been playing for a year; etc. Unless I was sitting next with other PAOers, I tried not to mention Poker Academy. So, by the end of this session I had a new nick from other players at the table: Oregon. I had fully entered the domain.

I retired from the table early at 1:00 am. I had promised my wife that I would finally get some sleep. Farm work awaited my return. MagicBus followed me up to the room to say our goodbyes as I had an early flight. A farewell scotch led to room service, more scotch and hours of conversation and stories. Think of the scene in “Jaws” in which they’re sitting in the galley the first night. At 6:45 I was packed, and still tottering, caught a cab to the airport.


What a ride! Not the cab ride….the six days in Vegas.

How did I come out? After meals, drinks, tips (I tip well), cabs and gifts, I came home with more money than I took with me, even after playing more slots than I should have. (Have to stop that.)

Did Poker Academy help? Of course. The difference, the only difference, is it’s live play. There’s a lot more stimuli; yet there’s a lot more information to draw from. If one can succeed at Poker Academy, the casino experience is manageable. However, with that said, there are pitfalls as well. Obnoxious players are in your face instead of Chat Blocked. Free booze at the table can take it’s toll (I was careful in this regard). One’s legs may begin to swell from sitting too long and eating foods high in sodium content (if one eats much at all). No one is telling you to get off of that damn computer and come to bed.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. And I have to say, as a group, PAOers are a formidable force at the poker table. I can easily see 200 of us at The Orleans next year, and we will own the place! Next time, however, I don’t believe I’ll stay as long, or at the very least take better care of myself. I now have faces to names, and people I have talked to for a year are now close friends invited to the farm anytime they wish to come.

I am certain I have forgotten some key events or thoughts I’d like to share. If they come to me over the next few days, I will add them to this thread. However, right now I’m itching to get online and say, “Hello dear friends.”

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