Thursday, June 21, 2018

Las Vegas Trip Report for June 2018 - Part III

After a leisurely morning on Wednesday, I decided to walk to Ellis Island to eat lunch in the cafe there, which had been a favorite on past trips. I was surprised that there was virtually nobody there during the lunch hours. Maybe the construction at Ellis Island is keeping people away. I ordered the steak special and was a tad disappointed. Ah well, I hate to complain about a $10 steak, but I just did!

I walked back to Bally's to get in a session there, wondering if my buddy Ron could once again deal me some good cards. Little did I know Ron would be saving my butt before the afternoon was over!

I was having a good session and was up. There was plenty of aggressive play, and I was hoping that I could really take advantage of it. A young guy sat down -- and I mean really young looking, like about 16 years old. He lost a buy in, re-bought, and then watched his stack go up and down like an elevator. He went on a heater and started crushing the table until the big hand of the afternoon. He was in UTG and raised ($12?). Another player or two called as I looked down at Q-J offsuit. I called. The flop was Q-J-3. I saw this as the moment I had been waiting for. The kid checked. I bet from middle position, a guy in late position called, and the kid called. The turn was a King, which I certainly didn't want to see. The kid bet, I re-raised, and the guy in late position with a modest stack shoved. The details at this point are a little fuzzy to me, but we got everything in. Frankly, I didn't know if I was ahead once the King came on the turn. I hoped I was. Ron then dealt the river and ... BINGO - I hit a full house. Unfortunately for the kid, he also did. It turns out that he had flopped a set of threes and I was way behind until the river. I felted both played, won a huge pot, and made a mental note to myself that I need to refer to Ron as "the best poker dealer in Las Vegas" for about the next two years. I am usually the one getting sucked out on. It felt good to be on the other side for once.

I had made plans to play that evening at the Wynn poker room with VegasDWP, so I eventually cashed out at Bally's and headed down the Strip. DWP had already had me on the wait list as a call in, and after a short wait we were both seated, but at different tables.

If you have never played at Wynn (actually Encore), you should know that it is a really nice room, themed in blue and white. Many think that it is the premier poker room in Las Vegas. The $1/3 NL game often has some tough players, so I knew I had to up my game for the evening. Right after sitting down, I was dealt A-K and raised as I should. I got two callers. The flop was rag-King-rag, so I bet and again got two callers. The flop was a beautiful King, giving me trips with top kicker. I bet again and was called by a short stack who was now all in. A woman in late position also called and then called my bet after the river. I felted the guy on my first hand and won a significant portion of the woman's chips. The next hand I was dealt pocket Queens and raised. The same woman called. The flop: K-Q-rag -- I had now flopped a set. I bet and she shoved with King-something. I, of course, called winning another nice pot and now felting the woman. Everyone at the table was looking at me like "who is this guy?" The player on my right remarked that he had been there for hours and barely had any playable hands. Dat's poker!

Rob answered the bat signal for additional players to join us at Wynn, and soon Mike Ritze also showed up in hopes of playing some Omaha. While waiting, he was seated  at the same table as DWP. Rob was at a different table and texted me that a guy at his table looked like infamous 2016 WSOP speech play guru Will (nine high like a boss) Kassouf. I went to Rob's table to get a look and confirmed that it was him or an exact double. Rob later said that the player's accent was spot on. Welcome, Mr. Kassouf! I'm sure that Rob will talk in some detail about this evening at some point on his blog.

Mike needed to leave, and DWP and Rob were both able to join me at my table. Being at a primo poker room in Las Vegas and tossing cards with friends -- does life get much better for a poker player? Of course, that and getting a decent run of cards and playing some skillful poker!

After a great afternoon and evening, it was time to head back to Bally's. Bally's currently has a promotion where four hours of live cash play earns you a free buffet at Paris. I was short about an hour, so I headed to the cash tables to play. At my first table, big stacks were throwing lots of chips around. I decided to switch tables. We were in the early morning hours and several players were leaving. I got switched to several tables and then finally figured I should just go to bed. In true Las Vegas fashion, I got a buffet comp that was worth about $20. Unfortunately, I lost $78 at the session I needed to get in the extra hour!

On late Thursday morning I headed to Paris for my "free" buffet, then headed back to Wynn in the afternoon to play some poker with my friend Arch, who I first met at the 1st Annual TBC "Memorial" Meet Up that I organized back in January 2017. Arch has an interesting take on Tony, having played with him many times in Las Vegas. Arch was on his home turf at Wynn and had position on me, so I tried to avoid shipping too much money his direction! On my right was a guy who is doing a trip report on the 2+2 Poker Forum. I felt like our end of the table was pretty strong. We all ended up leaving with a profit. I am happy about winning again at Wynn, because I think the better competition there makes me play better poker overall.

I confirmed with DWP that Trooper Thursday was still in good shape at Westgate, so I had Arch drop me off there (thanks again, buddy!) and in my first half hour was up almost $500. Rivering a boat one hand when I had pocket Jacks didn't hurt! However, I lot a big chunk of chips when one player chased and hit his flush. Meh. 

Some free food was delivered, and I was surprised to see DrChako there, along with BadBlood. These guys are former poker bloggers and tough customers at the table. My table broke and there was no other table with openings, so I cashed out and intended to head back to the Strip. However, soon a seat opened up at a table with DWP, Chako and BadBlood, so I bought back in. What a great decision that was!
lightning and VegasDWP at Westgate

The game was really wild as the chips were flying and the alcohol was flowing freely. I don't even like tequila and I had several shots! DrChako and BadBlood were continually challenging a player at the opposite end of the table. But it was done in a fun, drunken sort of way, not in a mean or spiteful way. A couple of hands that stand out included a bomb pot hand when  DrChako was dealt A-K with a flop of A-A-Q! 
DrChako, BadBlood and me

In another bomb pot I looked down to see pocket Queens! The flop was uncoordinated and all card values were below my Queens. I was first to act and bet $100. A guy two seats down who seemed to be a solid player announced "all in." What? Either the guy flopped two pair or worse yet, a set. In my last visit to Las Vegas, I played on Trooper Thursday and flopped a set of deuces, felting my friend DWP, who flopped two pair. With a solid player shoving and my hand consisting of just an over pair, folding wasn't difficult albeit painful since I shipped that quick hundo in. Everyone folded and the player showed, as expected, a set. Ah well ...

I have now played at two Trooper Thursdays, had a bunch of fun and made money each session. If you are around on Thursdays, and especially if you are a fan of TheTrooper97's vlog, I highly recommend that you join in on the fun.

Knowing that heaters can do just as quickly as they come, I decided to continue the poker night when it was time to leave Westgate. I hopped on the monorail and went to MGM to see if I could turn things around. I did, booking another winning session. However, I shortened my time there since a poker Twitter friend, BigChiefTalkBollocks, had arrived from England and was playing at Planet Hollywood. I walked down to PH and met Paul, who seemed to be struggling in his first hours of play. After another winning session, I thought I should get to bed since I had to check out of Bally's in the morning. Before I left, I went over to Paul's table to say goodbye. I was happy to see a healthy stack of chips sitting in front of him. Good job, mate!

I woke up Friday morning, packed my bags and actually made it out of my room close to check out time. I am a notoriously slow packer and dresser. I dropped off my luggage at the bell desk and then went to P.F. Chang's in Planet Hollywood for lunch. I had my favorite meal there, Mongolian Beef. It seemed like this meal wasn't as good as in previous trips, a common theme on this current Las Vegas adventure. I played one final PH session, continuing my run good. A new player came to the table and complained about taking bad beats. He seemed like a nice guy but a  bit cocky. We got into it one hand. I raised with A-K, he three bet, I four bet and he shoved. I called. It was A-K vs A-K. However, the flop was three hearts and I had the Ace of hearts. And yes, you can guess what happened: I caught the nut flush on the river. Needless to say, his run bad continued. I didn't like the vibe I was getting from him and wanted to play one more time with a hope for some type of promotional jackpot, so I cashed out and headed back to MGM.

Despite some good promotions at MGM, I just wasn't hitting anything and lost a chunk of chips when I ran top-top into a set. Fortunately, I didn't lose too much. I got a comp to pay for most of my dinner at Tap in MGM, then headed back to Bally's for one final session. Rob and VegasDWP said that they would meet me there. We were all able to play at the same table my final session, which was great. I think I astounded (or maybe made nauseous)  Rob when he saw that I won a pot playing 9-3sooted. I guess that just confirmed for him that I am the "bad player" he said I was many moons ago. I was up to about $330 from my initial $200 when I looked down to see The Dreaded Pocket Kings. A  relatively new player to the table raised to $6 (below regular raises at that table). I bumped to $25, he re-raised to around $65 ... you can guess what happened. We were all in preflop and he had ... Rockets! I guess his small initial raise to $6 fooled me. He could have had six or more callers. He left me with a few redbirds which I parlayed into a bit more before shoving and losing, but it was just about time for me to leave. I was ready to go.

I said goodbye to DWP, and Rob drove me to the airport (thanks again, good buddy!). I got a late meal, got on the red eye flight, slept almost the entire way back to Chicago, ate breakfast, then slept during the short final plane ride back home. It was just over one complete week from when I went to the airport at the start of the trip.

I mentioned in my previous trip report post that I had figured out why the poker gods weren't crapping on me like they had been for most of 2018. I got a text from my brother, thundering36, Friday night at Bally's. He is currently in Australia (17 hours ahead) and sent me the following text: "Spending mom's second anniversary today at home." He was already into Saturday -- the second anniversary of our mom's death. I had to fight back the tears at the table when it finally dawned on me what might have happened. You can believe what you want. I posted the following on Facebook while waiting at O'Hare Airport:

It was two years ago that my mother passed away. I'm on my way back home after a vacation in Las Vegas. All week long, I seemed to have a trail of good luck. In the poker world, we joke about the poker gods and whether or not you are in their favor. Maybe it was just a mother still looking after her son. I dunno.

All in all, this was certainly one of my favorite trips to Las Vegas. Although there were a few losses sprinkled in, I had win after win and ended up with a very nice profit. I spent time with, played cards with and chatted with several friends throughout the week. I met some new friends and just had an overall excellent time.

My thanks to the friends who helped make this trip so much fun. I got back home with a bulging wallet and a huge smile on my face. What more could I ask for or want?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Las Vegas Trip Report for June 2018 - Part II

I used Monday of my trip to sleep in and catch a late lunch at ... where else but ...
Some family and friends had been having a discussion about hamburger joints. We all seemed to pretty much agree that the french fries at In N Out are below par, so none for me. Just the magical double-double animal style. I attempted to eat at an outside table, but then discovered that the hot Las Vegas sun beating down on an aggregate seat doesn't go well with nylon shorts - ouch!

I had plans to play in the Tag Team tournament at Golden Nugget that evening, so I headed to Bally's for a quick afternoon session. It was unremarkable as I lost part of a buy in. Late in the afternoon, my tag team partner, Rob, picked me up so that we could register at the Nugget. The trip there was pretty humorous. There was construction in the downtown area, so Rob was depending on navigation from his phone via the Waze navigation system. Unfortunately, it was if the system was stoned. It kept directing us in contradictory ways, then kept telling Rob to go south on Las Vegas Blvd when we knew we had to go north. I thought Rob was going to throw his phone out of his car!

We got to the Nugget, registered, and then made some small talk with Pokerkraut, who was also playing in the tag team event, a few industry people that Rob knew, and watched vlogger Andrew Neeme playing in an event broadcast via Twitch.

Then, it was time to start. Having not played many tournaments in the past few years, I knew that I would be the weak part of the team. I decided I needed to focus quite a bit. Rob started off ...
"I'd better double up fast before lightning screws this up"

And then this blog's hero took over in the second level:
"I'll shove with Q-10 if it is sooted"

I actually won some hands in the second level. Rob was pretty much card dead in levels one and three. Looking back, I probably pissed away too many chips in level four and had to shove a few times to keep the stack from getting too low. Toward the beginning of the level, I had A-K but got wary from the big raise of another player. I was tempted to monkey shove, but decided to just call. Good thing as the player who raised had pocket Aces! Anyway, when Rob got to level five he was waiting to shove. He did so with K-J and looked like he was home free, but the last player to act had pocket Jacks. It was kind of a fun tournament to play, but with few chips and a poor structure, it was really just more for fun.

Afterward, Rob dropped me off at MGM, one of my usual honey holes. Not this night. The guy next to me was a friendly guy from Ireland. And he was quite drunk. I saw him butcher several hands and got lucky with a few. I raised with A-J and got a few callers, including my new friend. The flop was a Jack high rainbow board, so a nice continuation bet was in order. Everyone but Ireland folded. He decided to re-raise. Having seen his previous poor play, I decided to shove with top-top. I was shocked to see that he flopped a set of deuces, therefore felting me in the first twenty minutes there. I just didn't seem to be feeling it, so I headed to Earl of Sandwich to decide what to do. One more session before I call it a night, I thought, so I walked down to Planet Hollywood and got on the $1/2 list there. It was a great decision.

A few players had big stacks and were aggressive, so I played a little on the cautious side. Then the time to strike came. I called a $12 raise with A-Q. Several players called and when it got to the big blind, he raised to $35. Everyone called including me. The flop: Q-2-2! I figured I was ahead of everyone except maybe the big raiser. Surprisingly, another player pushed all in. Figuring it unlikely that someone had a deuce, I also shoved. Everyone else, including the big raiser, folded. The flop and river were bricks, and the guy who shoved asked me "Do you have a deuce?" I thought I was dead then -- to Aces or Kings. I answered "no," and he turned over POCKET 6s! I scooped a really nice pot!

The table captain has position on me, so I was careful not to start gifting him chips. In one hand a few players limped in, so I decided to do the same with A-6 sooted. After the flop I had four cards to the flush. It checked around to the turn, which was a brick. Everyone checked again. The river gave me the nut flush. The pot was only about $10. I decided to raise to $15 to see what would happen. The table captain thought it was a weak attempt to steal (ha ha!) and he re-raised me to $40. Now the tough part was deciding how much to raise to insure a call. I raised to $115, hoping it looked like a raise out of frustration that might elicit an all in. The player thought for a minute and then called. He was pissed to see the hand cost him $115 when he could have just called for $15. Good times! I cashed out a nice profit that more than made up for the day's previous losses. It was time to head back to Gold Coast and prepare to check out Tuesday morning for what looked to be a busy day.

On Tuesday morning I walked over to the Palms to try the  new A.Y.C.E. buffet. it was ... okay. I then checked out of Gold Coast and grabbed a Lyft to Bally's. I was able to check in early to one of the recently remodeled Jubilee rooms. I kind of liked it, but I also like the color red:
I played a quick session at Bally's and lost a few bucks, and then was picked up by Stump (Chris).  The plan for the afternoon: Chris had offered to drive Flushhdraw (Jim) to an office for a medical procedure where he would be knocked out. I volunteered to go along, saying that while Jim was getting worked on, Chris and I could hit a bar and swig brews, then see who could ralph on Jim first. My wife heard this and thought it was totally disgusting. Well ... okay! The fun really began when Chris and I picked up Jim. Three guys cruising in Las Vegas taking shit to each other. It was classic! I caught a ton of crap for what I was wearing. As much as I hammered Jim, Chris hammered me for my choice of  clothes. They were both dressed in black on black. This was my outfit:
Chris got a woody when he saw me in this!

It turned out that Jim didn't go under, but he was thankful for the assistance anyway. We drove to Sam's Town, registered for the 7pm tournament, and headed to the Sports Bar for food (thank you for taking care of dinner, Jim!), conversation and adult beverages. Rob decided to come and play with us, and then Mike Ritze joined us also. We had five of the 50 runners. Someone would have to cash, right? Um ... wrong. Surprisingly, I lasted longest (and the other muthas refused to pay me off for the last longer bet we should have made!), but we all went out waaaay too soon. While the tournament was going on we were joined by some other poker peeps: Alicia Chang, WASHDUDE, Jason Corlew and Adrianna (nice to meet you, Jason and Adriana!). Fun night!

Rob gave Mike and I a ride back to the Strip, and we got in one more session at Planet Hollywood. I carved out a win at PH and was beginning to wonder if the poker gods forgot who I was. They seemed to befriend me on this trip instead of crapping on me like they usually do. By the end of the trip, I figured out what was happening.

Coming in part III: Run good continues at Bally's and Wynn and a wild Trooper Thursday

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Las Vegas Trip Report for June 2018 - Part I

I think it would be best to start off my trip reports with one word that best describes this most recent trip to Las Vegas  (June 9-15): FANTASTIC! I got in lots of cash game poker, even played two modest tournaments, won more cash game money than in any previous trip to Las Vegas, saw several friends, met some new people, and had tons of fun!

The trip didn't start out this way, however. Readers might remember (ha!) that on my last trip to Las Vegas, I screwed up on when I was leaving and didn't even leave my house to head to the airport until 40 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave. This time, however, I had Mrs. lightning drive me with plenty of time on Saturday morning. As we were backing out of the driveway, I saw that my AA flight was already listed as delayed. Ut oh.

Once at the airport, the flight was delayed again ... and then again. It became apparent that there would be no way I could make my connecting flight in Chicago. I was forced to reschedule to a fight that would leave five or six hours later. Bad way to start the trip. Instead of getting into Las Vegas before 3:00 p.m. and having the whole evening to play poker, I didn't get to my one-night crappy hotel room until about midnight ... and that was after I was unable to connect with the driver of the free shuttle. There was a misunderstanding about where I was and where the pickup point at McCarran was, and the driver told me "you'll have to call the front desk" and hung up on me. Bastard! I ended up just taking Lyft to the off-Strip hotel. In an amazing demonstration of maturity and good judgment (or just plain fatigue after being up 19 hours), I decided to just go to bed and get a fresh start in the morning. That turned out to be a good choice.

On Sunday morning, I headed to the Gold Coast Hotel. There was a fee for checking in before 1pm, so I chose to store my luggage. Since Gold Coast had comped me a couple of nights (still paid the resort fee, though), I decided that I'd better mash some buttons there so that I might get future offers. No notable slot winnings to speak of, however. I then took a shuttle to the Orleans to try out the relatively new Medley Buffet. I found it to be more expensive than the previous buffet and marginally better. I then bought in at the Orleans poker room - $1/2 NL. I was fine until I was dealt Q-Q and, along with one other player, saw a flop of unconnected low cards. I ended up running my Queens into my opponent's Kings, thus I was down a buy-in quickly. I decided to get back on the shuttle and head to the Strip.

Once dropped off near the High Roller, I decided to play at my old stomping grounds, Bally's. Bally's didn't disappoint, giving me my second biggest winning session of the trip. Well, in fairness, I must give some of the credit to blogger, vlogger, poker dealer and friend, Ron. In previous years, it seemed like Ron rarely dealt me good cards. The past year or so, however, it seems like he has become a much better dealer! He dealt me Jacks, which won me a nice hand. Then he dealt me a pocket pair that upgraded to a set on the flop. Then he dealt me Queens! Thank you very much, Ron. Check out his blog/vlog here: Ronnie Bizzle.

Oh yeah -- there was one huge hand after Ron's down finished. I was dealt pocket Aces and in a hand with two aggro guys. On the flop, my pair turned into a set. Short story: I felted both aggro guys and won a pot of around $900. Needless to say, Ballys, as it used to be, was very good to me!

I cashed out and headed down to the Mirage to meet up with poker blogger and good friend Rob. Shortly after getting seated, I was able to move to Rob's table. My first hand: Pocket Aces! The player UTG raised to $15 and I popped it to $40. He called. The flop was uncoordinated, and unfortunately I don't remember all the details. The villain checked and I bet $60. The villain then pushed all in. With slightly less than $100 I, of course, had to call. He turned over pocket 10s -- hitting a set. I said "that's not good. " The turn, however, was a sweet, sweet Ace! The river was a brick, and I doubled up my first hand at Rob's table. That led Rob to tweet: "Playing with . Since I last saw him, he's had a horseshoe implanted up his ass."  All that I can say is:
After a bit, an old time blogger and friend, Mike Ritze, saw my bat signal and came into the room. Mike eventually joined our table and shared in the fun.
Yours Truly & Mike Ritze enjoying poker and adult beverages

Rob later left but Mike and I stayed for sometime longer. We both finally cashed out ahead and headed to the food court at Flamingo to eat since, unfortunately, we got to In N Out after it closed. Mike had just gotten into town and had to rest up for a WSOP tournament, so he called it a night. I walked over to The Cromwell to see if another old blogger and friend, Shabazz Jenkins (Jeremy), was still at the blackjack table as I heard he was. Yes, he was still there! We joked around a bit and talked about drinking with your kids when they hit legal age. Good times.

I headed across the street to Bally's to get in one session before the long night ended. I was seated at a table where one guy had a stack of about $1,600. I thought, based on his play, that he would be my best shot for doubling up. I bought in for $200 and waited while the aggro players at the table (who all had more chips than me) were tossing chips around. I then woke up to find The Dreaded Pocket Kings! The big stack bet $15 in early position and had one aggro caller. I three bet to $60 and, as expected, both players called. There were no Aces on the flop -- Jack, Queen rag --, so after two checks, I pushed all in. The $1,600 guy went in the tank for a bit and then called. The other player folded. The turn was a 9 and the river was a rag. I expected to scoop a nice pot until I saw that the $1,600 guy had pocket 9s. Yeah, he called me down with two over cards on the flop and remote straight possibilities. I figured that it was time to call it a night, so I caught a ride via Lyft back to Gold Coast, got my bags and finally checked in before daybreak. I was already up for the trip. Tomorrow would be another day.

Coming in Part II: Stump, Flushhdraw and the medical procedure, and a fun night at Sam's Town.

Thanks for reading!

Trip Report Coming Later Today!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

It's Been a Long Time ...

Hello out there! In the 12+ years that this blog has existed, I had never had such a large gap between original posts. Thanks to TBC for letting me make a public post of one of his private posts to help fill the gap.

In short, work had been kicking me in the butt. The office has been short staffed, leaving those of us (suckers!) who were working to carry the load. Both April and May were extremely heavy months. I felt like I was crawling to the end of this week, but for some reason (soon to see) I feel additional energy inside. Part of it is certainly that more people are back from their vacations and/or breaks. I am all caught up with my work, which is really important because next week ...

No wait -- there is not an annual meeting of the TBC Inner Circle next week. Wrong photo. Instead ...


I was able to secure free flights out of a local airport, so no two-hour drives at the beginning and end of the trip. I will be staying in a SUPER SECRET location my first night (u never know who to TRUST, u see), then a couple of nights at Gold Coast before finishing at Bally's. The stay will be just short of a week. I had thought of renting a car but, unless there is good reason to spend the money, I think I will pass this trip.

On my agenda: very little. I am planning to play in one tournament - a tag team event in the series at the Golden Nugget. My partner would be Rob. The pressure would be on ... who would be the one to get felted? On the other hand, a cash or some degree of success would be pretty sweet! Unless things get messed up, I also might be accompanying Flushhdraw to a medical appointment. He is being chauffeured by Stump. My idea is that Stump and I hit a bar while Flush is worked on. Only in Las Vegas, right? Outside of that, I am hoping to play at Trooper Thursday at Westgate  --  going on the assumption that the game will be on next week. I generally avoid the WSOP and all the commotion, but will likely stop by since I will be at Gold Coast next door for a couple of nights. Other than that, I will likely frequent my regular poker rooms (Bally's, Mirage, MGM, PH), but will go to others if the situation is right.

So ... yes, I am still alive and not in prison or anything. Thanks for reading!