Monday, September 26, 2022

Back (again) to Las Vegas

It is so nice to be closer to Las Vegas than in the days of my living in Illinois. This trip, I am trying a few new things. I, a person who usually packs too much for trips, am trying to get by with a backpack only this trip in order to avoid paying baggage costs. I usually fly Southwest, but decided to take advantage of an extremely cheap round trip flight offer from Frontier. I've never flown Frontier before, but unless the flight is canceled or leaves extremely late, I can't imagine it could be too horrible since the flight lasts just over an hour.

Another first for this trip is that I will be staying at Park MGM for the first time. According to my brother, the King of Komps, we were going to stay there once when it was the Monte Carlo, but we switched to a better offer at Aladdin -- which shows you that this was some time ago. 

I have no set plans for this trip yet but hope to get in plenty of cash game poker action and see some friends. So ... onward and upward!

I hope to have a good trip report after the week is over.

Thanks for reading. πŸ˜€

Friday, September 02, 2022

Heater City: Las Vegas Trip Report: August 28-31, 2022

Day 1: Sunday, Aug 28
I don't believe I talked too much (or at all) about it, but earlier this year I had a horrendous April -- probably the worst month for poker I've ever had. It was followed by a bad May and a terrible June. Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated, upset, angry, etc. The nadir came on Saturday, August 6 at Talking Stick Resort (Scottsdale, AZ) $2-3 NL when I got an aggro fool to double me up when I hit a set, then was prepared to have him double me again when I flopped two pair. I played him perfectly, getting him to push all in after the flop with only a gutshot draw. The turn and the river looked innocent as I flipped over my cards, prepared to gather in the $900-$1000 pot. I was horrified to see that the aggro donk hit his gutshot on the river, scooping that sweet pot instead of me. The people at the table were shocked when they saw what had happened. Several looked at me with sympathetic eyes as we have all been there before. I think I said something like "I'd say 'good hand' but it wasn't" and left the table. I texted my wife that my spirit had been broken. I trust that most poker players know that feeling.

Despite my broken poker heart (πŸ˜€), I decided to get back on the horse the next night. I won back more than I lost the previous day, so I felt better. What happened after that was totally unexpected. With the exception of a short one hour session in which I was forced to cash out in order to go to another table -- and lost $53 -- I won at my next ten sessions in a row! I was then scheduled to go to Las Vegas August 28-31, a trip I made because plane fare was so unbelievably cheap. I didn't want to disturb my heater, but decided that I might as well see if my streak would continue in Las Vegas.

It wasn't bad leaving the house in the dark for an early morning flight. I got my favorite seat (Southwest Airlines) for the flight out to Las Vegas, so things seemed to get off to a good start. The flights from Phoenix to Las Vegas are generally about an hour and five minutes gate to gate. I got in shortly after 8am and arranged to meet poker friend @ZetusLarry at the baggage check. We Ubered to get Larry's car at the Rio, then headed to breakfast at Mr Mamas Breakfast and Lunch, a place I heard and read good things about. Verdict: Excellent place for breakfast. Great quick, friendly service, reasonable prices and excellent food. Now it was time for poker!

My first session was at Wynn. Larry and I were initially seated at different tables. I had some unfortunate luck with mine, including losing smaller straight to larger straight. I lost about half my stack, then lost the rest when my trip Aces with Queen kicker lost to a boat. I rebought and ended up $400 down. Fortunately, I turtled up, grew the stack, then pounced on some great hands. I ended up with my second highest profit on the trip. Great start!

We decided to take a break and maybe a little nap time since we were both up so early. Later in the evening, we drove out to Red Rock. It seems like we have a small tradition of playing there at least once each trip. After a moderate wait, we were seated at a $1/2 table. Unfortunately for all of us but especially me, the guy in seat 8 was hitting everything. Once I raised to $12 with pocket Jacks and he called. The flop looked great: 3-4-6. I led out for $30. He then re-raised me to $130! Obviously, I folded. He showed 5-2. It was the second straight he flopped playing junk because he was so hot. No matter what I did. I couldn't seem to win a hand. I quit for the night after losing a buy in. It just didn't feel like it was my night at Red Rock. However, I was still up because of the great session at Wynn, so I guess there was that. It was onward to tomorrow!

Day 2: Mon, Aug 29
Larry and I slept in after our Red Rock night session and decided to have the lunch buffet at South Point, then a little pokering there. I got back on the winning track, and we kept the session relatively short as we both wanted to get back to the Strip. However, the highlight of the session was meeting  @VegasGregin, whom I knew from Twitter.
Thanks for stopping by to meet me, sir. Good luck hunting down elusive sports cards. πŸ˜€

Our next stop was Larry's regular room, Caesars Palace. Caesars had been good to me earlier in the year and this session was no different. My big break came when I had pocket Queens on the button, stack about $300. There was a straddle (about $600 stack), and I raised to $30. He called. The flop was uncoordinated and low. The villain bet $50 and I shoved all in. He thought for a bit and called -- with pocket sixes! He got no help on the turn or river. Yea! I won some other hands, but none as big as that one. We again played a relatively short time and decided to take a break. Larry decided to call it quits for poker for the day, so later on I ventured down to the Venetian near the end of the day's high hand promotion. I have played at Venetian several times, and it seemed to me that the room tended to be populated by people with, shall we say, crappy attitudes. My table was surprisingly different. People at the other end of the table were pretty  friendly with each other and didn't have huge stacks. In fact, I was shocked at how poorly most of the players at this table played. They seemed to call down anything and had close to nothing at showdown. Fortunately for me, I was at the top of my game and, better yet, was a card rack this session. I felted three players and won a ton of hands. Eventually another table was merged with ours, and it seemed like the magic was gone, so I cashed out with my biggest profit on the trip. Things were certainly looking good about halfway through my trip.

Day 3: Tues, Aug 30
After a late morning breakfast, Larry and I decided to head to Bally's. I considered playing a Bally's donkament, but we decided to play cash games instead.

A history lesson: Many years ago, Bally's was my Las Vegas home. I couldn't seem to lose there --  Royal Flushes, big pots, easy wins. Then things changed and it seemed that I could no longer win there. I entered the now-moved poker room with some degree of trepidation. Almost like old times, I got pocket Aces four times  in two hours. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in noone calling my standard raise. I did get paid a little once when a guy with a huge stack and on the button decided to raise my $15 bet (stack about $250) to $51. I re-raised him to $130. He tanked for some time before deciding to fold. He seemed solid, and I was hoping he had a hand like K-K.

A new guy sat down at the table and proceeded to donk off around $1,000 - $1,200 in a short time. Unfortunately, I was not able to grab more than a few redbirds from him. I did, however, suck out on my friend Larry when he flopped a set and I rivered a flush. Oops! However, I gracefully accepted my gift and chalked up another winning session.

We cashed out and decided to go to MGM. There was no way that I was going to put in the type of hours needed to get a payday in their current promotion, so I was hoping to hit and run. The table Larry and I were seated at was pretty lose and aggressive. I bought in at a low $200 and figured that I would play snug and wait for a premium hand before risking too much, It finally came when I was deal Q-Q. I raised to $30 (this was a $1/2 game with ability to buy in as big as the biggest stack). I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see three callers. The flop was a rainbow of cards below ten. I was afraid of straight possibilities. I raised to $70, and the somewhat donkish player on my left called. I only had about $100 left behind me, so I called. Unfortunately for him, I once again sucked out and hit runner runner flush to beat his flopped two pair. With profit in hand and not have any fun at this particular table, I decided to take the money and run. Larry, who had been having some bad luck outside of my suckout earlier that day, turned a set of Kings and cashed out a nice stack. We both left happy.

For my final session that day, I headed out to Resorts World to avenge my last session there, a losing session on my last visit to Las Vegas. I was able to be seated at the same table as poker friend and former Chicago guy @Vegas724, Norm in Vegas. Norm and I had just played together recently at Talking Stick when he visited the Scottsdale area. We always have a great time talking Chicago stuff, especially sports. 
As with most of my sessions on this trip, I played pretty good poker and was able to book yet another win. I decided to head back to the Strip and celebrate with some fun slots. This was my last night in Las Vegas and I didn't want to stay out too late. I needed at least some sleep to attack the poker tables on Wednesday since my flight back home wasn't leaving until 8:45 Wednesday evening.

Day 4: Wed, Aug 31
After checking out of Harrah's and eating a late breakfast, I decided to head to Bellagio, a room I have rarely visited. It seems like I always have to wait a long time to get seated there, but this particular day wasn't as bad as some others when I left in frustration. In the past, I chafed at the rude employees, tight space in the room, and the general sour demeanor of many players. This time, however, the room was nothing like that, Kudos to the brush, who got me seated and then immediately moved to a table that was just started. In doing so, I was able to play with an old acquaintance, @fullhouse538, Bob C. There was plenty of space in the room and our end of the table was pretty friendly. Bob was sitting next to a woman named Grace who seemed to take a liking to him. πŸ˜„Grace liked to talk, and she seemed particularly animated since she started the game on a heater. She got a little quiet when a couple of us put the hurt on her. I was the first. I was on the button with A-10. Unfortunately, I don't remember the action at the beginning of a hand. I think there was a raise with a few callers. The flop was rainbow 9-J-Q. Next it checked all around or there was a small raise with callers. I was hoping for some magic and it came: a King, giving me the nuts. I was hoping that someone had a ten. Action was on Grace and she raised to $40. Since Grace had been running everyone over and seemed to be getting a tad cocky, I decided to shove for $240. Just as I hoped, Grace had a ten. She tanked for quite some time. I tried to give my "I'm a little anxious, but not overacting" anxious look. Since she had been running hot, I was guessing she wasn't going to let me get away with a possible steal. She called. The river was meaningless, and she seemed shocked to see that the hand had cost her a good chunk of money. She had another big loss from someone else, was eventually felted and left. Bob, who had been playing very well and ran into a tough hand, left a short while later. With some time left before my flight, what should I do?

I decided to do the fun thing: go to another poker room I hadn't been to this trip -- Aria. I walked and took the tram to get there and was relieved that the list was not too long. A new table was started, and soon we were sizing each other up. A young international guy in seat 8 was being pretty aggressive and seat 1 seemed to be a bluffer. The rest of the table seemed pretty tight. My big break came when I was dealt Q-Q. Seat one had already opened to $15, and I raised to $40. He called . The flop was rag-K-rag. Crap. Dang King! He checked and I bet $100. He called. The turn was an Ace. He checked. I felt like I had no other move than to push my final $100+ in immediately and say "all in." He insta-mucked and I breathed a sigh of relief. I hung around as long as I could while still having time to walk and take the tram to get back to Harrah's. I decided to stop at the LINQ and celebrate:
There were no problems with getting to the airport, the flight, or my ride back home.

There were some definite things to note about this short trip:
1) Money-wise, it was my most successful poker trip to Las Vegas.
2) My reason to end the trip playing at Aria was that I was hoping I could say this: I played one session at every poker room on the Strip from MGM to Resorts World and WON AT EACH OF THEM! Yes - I  played at eight and won at eight. My other two sessions were at South Point (win) and my only loss was at Red Rock. This trip, I won at NINE OF THE TEN SESSIONS I PLAYED.
3) Since my heater began earlier in the month after the heartbreak I previously mentioned in this post, outside of a $53 dollar loss I took to finagle my way to a table change, I have now won 19 OF THE LAST 20 POKER SESSIONS I HAVE PLAYED!  $$$$$$

Obviously, this short trip qualifies as one of my favorites. It was a pleasure to meet @VegasGregin, to play again with my buddy Norm, and to reconnect with Bob C. And a ton of thanks to my buddy Larry, who generously carted my butt from place to place for some of the trip and shared his free drink tickets at Caesars properties with me, as well as being just a fun guy to hang out with.

August is now over. What will September bring? I can't wait to find out.

Thanks for reading!