Trip report: StrayBullet

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Vegas Trip - PH and MGM

Day4, 9/24:

Monday ended up being a light day, as will the next two most likely since I actually have to do some work this trip

Got some “sleep,” did some laundry and packed up so I could check out the corporate apartment and into the hotel. I did this because I hate being too far away from where I have to conduct classes, no need to add stress where it’s not needed

But I’m getting ahead of myself, before all that I’d decided to head over to Planet Hollywood to check out the filming of CSI. Photoc had passed along that they’d be filming and they might need extras, you just needed to show up by 8am The alarm went off, I hit snooze….the alarm went off, I hit snooze….the alarm went off, I hit the snooze, you get the idea! I finally drug my arse outta bed, got cleaned up, and headed on down to check out the potential action. I figured a few people would show up just to watch what was going on and a few more would be there hoping to be an extra. And that’s where my mindset was, I was hoping to fill a seat at one of the tables, mugging it up for my 15 seconds (love ya Andy). Nearing 8am, they still didn’t have any of the lighting, cameras, etc setup so I knew it’d be a long day. I was directed to where the extras where staging as they’d moved the location, so off I went. When I got up to the Extras Lounge, I was greeted with a sea of “pretty people” and just as easily and quickly as I’ve been able to size up tables lately, I KNEW I was outta my league. These people looked like this did this for a living and/or looking for their big break. I guess I could’ve slept in later, oh well.

After a quick stop at ‘Bucks for a mocha frap, I headed back downstairs to retrieve my car from valet. It wasn’t too busy but I was VERY impressed when the captain called me by name as I approached the stand. I wasn’t there long, but I was still impressed! I didn’t stay long at all so it’s probably not really a fair assessment, but I got an odd vibe from the casino itself. Maybe because it was early morning or the relative absence of players, the layout or the color scheme, but for some reason it just felt odd to me. I’ll have to visit again and give it a more fair shake, but for now it stands. Since I was on that side of town anyway, I decided to stop by our corporate office and see if my co-worker needed any help in setting up the classes this week. Thankfully he didn’t need anything from me, so I was free again until Tuesday It was still early but I decided if I could check into the hotel already and get that knocked outta the way. They weren’t busy at all, and I was able to check into my king-room early in the morning. A drive back to the northwest end of town to get my stuff, check out then drive back down to the Henderson area gobbled up the rest of the morning and early afternoon. After a quick bite, I got settled into the hotel, checked emails and returned phone calls, then caught a nap before deciding what to do with myself for the evening.

My friend Cindy called and suggested either the MGM at 6pm or Caesars at 7pm for a tourney. We ended up at MGM but with a less than stellar turnout, we’d decided on a cash game, thank you Tommy . I got on the list and it didn’t take long to get seated. Seems there were some table changes going on at the same time that lengthened my wait somewhat, but nothing too bad. Those table changes had opened up seats on the table I drew, hmmmmm. In no short order I clearly understood why. Let’s call him Colorado Lag, this guy was literally playing EVERY hand with an odd pre-flop fold mixed in every orbit or three I’d noted one other player that would be trouble and since both of these players were on my immediate left, this wasn’t going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination! Cash games are not my forte, not that I don’t understand the differences from tourneys but I just don’t get to play cash games nearly as often and I’ve played tourneys for so much longer. Do you know how to spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r? Now it’s hard to get into too much trouble with a $200 cap and being UNWILLING to dig in for buy-in after buy-in after buy-in, but I detest $200 lessons although not nearly as much as I dislike $29 mixed-game lessons! Onto the memorable hands…

I didn’t feel like playing 6s from early position so into the muck they went and of course the set making 6 was right in the window of the delivered flop, oh well. I did decide to play my pocket aces from late position, raising after a couple of limpers. All that did was encourage several callers, The flop came down Qxx, 2 clubs. Thankfully an early position player pushed all-in for his remaining $58. Folded to me and before I could act on my clearly visible capped cards, the sb proceeded to call. When we finally straightened out that mess, I decided not to play multi-way and over-pushed hoping to get heads up, it was successful. Villain tabled Q5o for top pair, what the f’kicker and I flipped over my red aces. Turn produced his 2-pair 5 and I was off to a rollicking start, until the board pairing 7 appeared on the river, making me a nice pot to start off the session. During the next orbit, I misplayed pocket kings about as bas as one possibly can. I don’t know what the hell was running through my head but I decided the best way to play ‘em was to flat-call the $10 raise from Colorado Lag as several others had done, leading to 6 of us seeing the flop I guess I’d decided to play for set value only, giving up control of the hand. The flop was a 2-suited, non connecting board with a lone jack, damn sure looked pretty safe even if I was playing for set value only. The table damn near checked around to me but just prior to being able to donk it up, the player on my immediate right led out into the $60 pot for $15. At this point, I figured anyone who already had a set would have HAD to lead out and the lone $15 bet just didn’t say “set” to me. So what do I do, of course I raise it up, making it $60 to go. The player on my immediate left, proceeds to push-in without missing a beat. The table folds around to the $15 bettor who also pushes. I guess I could’ve just mucked but I wanted to see how much more it was to call. $36 was the determination and to complete the utter donkification of the hand, I called. They flip their cards immediately and I hold onto mine. I’m facing a set of 7s and the flush draw. I get no help but the flush materializes on the river and my kings go flying into the muck. So much for being up early, now I’m down to $140 or so. I decide to move seats to get position on Colorado Lag and the sunglass wearing big stack. I wave off comments about the move saying I don’t like having the room to my back, yeah, that should through them off, you psycho fool

I had a plan for Colorado Lag but never got the chance to set the twigs and spring the trap (thanks Vince). I couldn’t ever really catch the cards to do it and a bluff would cost me my stack as he was calling down! I did call a few times in position with his straddles, taking down pots once or twice. The first time he commented about me having paired the boarded queen to which I responded, “I needed the queen when I was in seat 2, don’t need it any longer.” With the table dynamics being what they were I should have left long before I did. The good thing about cash games is you can wait for the nuts, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get paid off with the nuts and sometimes, you’ll simply get your nuts stomped on!

After treading shark-infested waters for longer than the downed sailors of the Indianapolis, I finally decided as others did, to call the straddle from Colorado Lag. At least I had 78s, the button and a plan. Just about regardless of the board, I’d decided to run a bluff. How could I not use my “tighter than Scrooge McDuck” image to take down a pot with napkins?! Turns out the flop transformed my complete bluff into a semi-bluff, when A56 came floating down to the felt. Colorado Lag led out for $15 and was flat-called by a player in seat 5. She’d been playing only high cards and as observed, I knew she was tight as well. Even if she had hit the ace, with plan in full effect, I was sure to be able to wrestle the pot into my stack. I raised to $60 and the table, including Colorado Lag, quickly folded back around to her. After some fumbling and not realizing exactly how much it was to call after she started calling, the dealer straightened it all out, forcing the extra $45 into the pot. Even with her call, I had outs and still thought I could take the pot down considering how she called the flop. When another 5 fell on the turn and she checked to me, there was only one way for me to win and that was to take it down without getting to the river. I put my last $70 or so putting her to the test. She hemmed and hawed, finally deciding on, “well, I guess I have to call now…” We held onto our cards awaiting the river. I didn’t get my nut wining straight card but I did pair my eight. The dealer asked for a winner and I tossed my 78s, face up onto the felt. And she studied the board…damn, am I going to take this down with a lone eight? Nope, she finally figures it out, tabling A6o for 2-pair. I doubt it was a purposely executed “slow-roll” but it damn sure did nothing to stem my absolute infuriatingly, mind-numbing anger. I got up from the table, leaving for good as I should’ve done long ago! I still think it was a great plan that just wasn’t timed well against an opponent playing nothing but their hand only.

I made the stroll of the walking dead over to my friend Cindy for some poker commiseration before heading out into the night, letting the steam roll off like sheets of rain. I decided to drown my sorrows with a Fat Tire and a pie from Metro Pizza, yummy! Tales of a cash game moran, you just gotta love it!

Vegas Trip - Venetian Deepstack Tourney

Day 2, 9/22:

Saturday started out like any other day....any other day that smacks you upside the head at the CRACK OF DAWN! I'm on a typical vegas-poker diet. You know the one where you play so much and go past "normal meal" times then end up not eating at all. Since I don't like eating late at nite, I'd skipped a meal on Friday which ended up leading to a pounding headache promptly at 6:30am Saturday morning. Resolved not to get any more sleep, I dashed out to one of my favorite breakfast places, Blueberry Hill. These things are all over town, nothing really special about 'em 'cept good food at good prices. For what would end up being the 1st of two times I was "mistaken" for a local. I guess not many tourists make it out to North Decatur at 7am for grub Snag a counter seat and people watch, you won't be disappointed! After some biscuits&gravy, it's back to home base to get ready for the day. By 10am, I was on my way to TI so say hello to the gang in the 9am mixed-game.

When I got to TI, the game was going strong with LVM, Yappy, Mrs Lederer and J20. It was nice to watch the game and talk shop with fellow cards fiends Try as he might, Mike kept trying to get me to join the game, "we'll teach ya" he pleaded....but my standard response was, "I don't even know how to spell Badugi." Besides, I was playing in the Venetian Deep-stack and needed to get going. Off I hoofed over the walkway and down into one the best poker rooms around! I got registered then went up to the little Italian Cafe for a drink and pastry and some more people watching before heading down for what I'd hope to be a marathon poker session....final table visions danced in my head!

We got kicked-off just after noon with a surprisingly low number of entrants, at least to me. A paltry 4 tables had been enrolled for a total of 36 entrants. 5 would be paid with 1st-3rd locking up 80% of the $17,460 prize pool. 10k chips, 40 minute blinds and just about the best structure I’ve seen keeps me coming back to this tourney time and time again! I’d vowed to myself to be observant, be more aggressive, think through hands better and just play plain ‘ole good poker. And if I can break my own arm I have to say, I played some of the best poker I’ve EVER played in my short poker playing life! In quick order I was able to peg players, take advantage of my image and lighten the mood with some harmless frivolity.

I was stuck in the 10-seat, one of my least favorite and had already identified trouble sitting 2 to my left. He was a VERY serious player who didn’t crack a smile the entire time. And since we all know that chip flow clockwise, I’d need a plan. This guy was playing poker and playing it well. Using position, open raising with “ATC” and making calls so he could take pots away if you showed weakness. He could also make lay downs and that would fit nicely within my plan and my eventual tight image! It’s always good to keep your eyes and ears open as you never know what you’ll pick up. Things like who are friends at the table, how they just played the last hand they’re rehashing, as well as who the local “pros” are . It’s simply AMAZING what you can pick up! Had I not been observant I woulda been racking my brain all day to figure out why the player seated on my right looked familiar. But since I was able to glance at his registration card, it was easy to come up with an answer. It was none other that John Strzemp. Now of course, he’s not a Doyle or Daniel but I’d recognized him from “tv poker” and knew he knew his game. All it meant was I had another piece of the puzzle. Turns out he’s a pretty damn tight player and that’s saying a lot coming from someone like me. He’s also a very grumpy person, thankfully he didn’t last too long, going out on a “bad beat” and not taking it well to boot!

[I’ll detail some of the more interesting hands in the next post for those actually interested]

By the 1st break, we were down to 3 tables and I’d been able to chip to around 18k. Not too bad considering I hadn’t seen a pocket pair better than 7s and no AK connecting post-flop. Levels 5&6 killed me! Combined with the escalating blinds and trying to take a pot off a loon cutting his relatively new chops (during level 1, this guy flopped quad queens holding pockets then not an orbit later turned a straight flush and got paid off on both), I was promptly smacked back down to around 11k. We went into our 2nd break with 2 tables left. Our table stayed in tact with new players rotating in, good for observation. But beware, as every time a new player is added, the table dynamics change! As mentioned, it’s always nice to be friendly as you can really reap some benefits, some better for poker than others. I was completely floored when a local (who thought I was local - I need to work on my image) actually started soft-playing me. I’m not condoning the action, and would certainly never do it myself but I’m going to take advantage of all that’s offered me….

Thanks to some real “lucky” hands (2 to be precise); by the end of level 3, I’d chipped up to 45k, enough to be a table leader at this point! We headed into level 10, 1k/2k/300 with 6 players at our table and 5 at the other. One more bust and we form up the final. Not that it means a DAMN thing as we all know where the money’s at With 9 players left, the hand that would end my night came up. 3 of us got it all-n pre-flop and when the dust settled, I’d experienced my 1st bad-beat of the day. A crushing blow for sure but nothing I could do about it ‘cept say, “nice hand, good luck y’all” then stroll out of the casino as there’s no reason for the 7th place finisher to stick around. That was a "$6,000 hand," and had it held up; I would’ve held 1/3rd the chips in play and been a “near lock to go deep! As it stood, all I could do was haul my depressed arse over to TI, hoping to find commiserating souls to share my story of “bad luck.”

Thankfully I found several, including LVM and my friend Cindy. I shared my “bad beat” and they took it in as gracefully as any player who’s heard it all before possibly can I needed to eat and clear my head. Cindy was nice enough to “lend me some comp dollars” and off to the coffee shop I headed. After a nice meal, allowing enough time for digestion of the meal and the tournament, I headed back to the poker room. Cindy was in the tournament and I’d decided to hang around to wait for a friend of ours that was also in town. Time quickly passed and before I knew it 10pm was rolling around. I knew I shouldn’t play and more cards, since after 7&1/2 hours of play at the Venetian, my poker playing mind was mush. We can all see where this is heading, right?

Not only did I play more cards, I got talked into joining the mixed-game You’re an EVIL, EVIL person LVM Mike would teach us newbies the ropes as we started up a 2/4 mixer and off it went! We had a great time with several AVPers (Mrs Lederer, Motorcycle John, OtherDave and a lurker) as well as those looking for more than just another Hold ‘Em game. I only bought in for $100 and ended up having a GREAT time. When 1am rolled around, it was time to call it quits. I was up and down all session, getting back to “even” a couple of times. When I cashed out, I was down $30 for my lesson. Not too bad for NEVER having played the games in rotation prior to sitting down.

All in all, it was a great day and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. And since I don’t leave for another 7 days, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to repeat!

Vegas Trip - TI Tourney and George Carlin

TI Tourney/George Carlin

***Warning*** Poker stupidity contained herein, continue at your own risk!

There's a reason why Dave's winning these things like he is and above all else, it's aggression and skill....however, couple that with an abundance of overplaying Ax, I've watched poker on tv players and you have a recipe for making $$$. Sadly enough, I DO NOT have the skills Dave posses, just see my sig Tired as I was though, I did observe well but my mind just wasn't where it needed to be to take full advantage. I'd flown into town sporting an '07 WSOP tee and didn't realize the image it'd create. Even so, 1-2 players and I exchanged knowing glances regarding the general play at the table. Tshirt aside, the better players pegged me right off the bat, I need to work on acting fishier

During the 10 hands dealt at 25/50 (no knock on the dealers, it's just a simple by-product of 20min rounds) I play my 1st hand. EP player bets to 300 and when I find AKo it's time to raise. I've already pegged him as a bad player and know he'll call, so I'm looking to get heads up with my raise to 900. I get a call out of the blinds as well as the original bettor. 3 of us see the flop, 9J9 rainbow. I decide not to chase my whiff when the original bettor leads out...did I really just donk off 1000 chips?

50/100 and we find an ep bettor lead out for 400 he gets 2 callers before I peek at my cards from the bb. I spy KK and have to raise, but how much? I quickly deduce that any raise is more than 1/2 my stack, so I just stick it all in and hope for a single caller with their Ax It's tv stall time and it feels like it takes forever for the folding action to come full circle, but it eventually does. I rake in a nice pot, sneak a last peek at the cowboys before I muck 'em...back up to even.

100/200 and I still think it's at 50/100 (1st of my stupid moves) so when I bet out to 300 from ep with AKo it's ruled that I have to min-raise, opening a potential flood gate of callers. That's ok though, I know TPTK in this game is GOLDEN! I get 2 callers, one from a VERY loose, not good loose, player 2 to my left. 3 of us see AQx, rainbow and I check behind KNOWING she'll bet out if she holds the weak ace I hope she has, since that's been her modus operandi to date. As expected, she leads out for 800, other caller folds and I check-raise to 2k total. She asks for the count and makes the call. The turn brings another Q and I know for sure I'm in the lead now. I push in my remaining stack of about 1500. She asks for a count again before making the call and tabling ATo. We split the pot when an unlikely Q falls yet again and all I can do is smile and say nice hand. I'm a bit taken aback when a player congratulates her on a nice turn call....I just smile and order another water

Still 100/200 (2nd stupid move) and I find AKo yet again after an ep limper. I bet to 600 and when it's folded around to him, he nearly insta-pushes his short-stack, 1200 more or so I believe. I make the easy call and flip my cards over. But I said I made another STUPID mistake, right? What I didn't realize, is that the bb had actually called my original bet to 600 and he still had cards in his hand, while mine were tabled. My hand is live so let's not go there The bb thinks for a bit and has noticed the same thing about the earlier limper as I have, so he pushes. I still think it's a dumb move on his part 'cause he doesn't have enough to push me off the hand. After pulling in the chips, it's only an extra 600 to call, which I obviously have to do and when the dust settles I get no help. Limper actually had a hand this time QQ, and the bb who drug the side pot had 44. We get ready to head into break and we'll be coming back to me utg at 200/400 with only 5bb.

200/400, I open push A9x from utg and pick up the blinds. I push 7s and 8s from lp and pick up the blinds each time. I ended up busting when I called a mp raise from the bb with K9s. I was dominated, up against A9s. I could've let the blinds pass then start pushing again from lp, right Dave Anyway, TI is a GREAT room with an awesome staff!!! Thanks to Danette for recognizing me and taking a shine to my Beatles murse She even offered a button for it, which I dearly want to take her up on, thanks!

Caught the George Carlin show last nite at the Orleans last nite, and had an absolute blast! You'd better like political/relgious IRREVERENCE but if you do, you're in for a GREAT time! The chairs were a little tight and got even tighter when I was seated next to someone that would send Captain Ahab on another lifetime journey Nice enough people but if since they were on the isle, wouldn't you put the skinnier person next to me? Who knows, maybe it was the tie-die And man are there some RUDE people out there!!! I was AMAZED at the talking that went on during the show! Do people not know how to whisper any more? And just to note, if you're going to disect political or religious jokes, maybe you're not at the right show

Last but not least....if you're driving a blue Ford escort with custom plates reading, "PCKT AA" I know where you live!

If a duck takes a dump on you before you leave home, is that luck?

Day1, 9/21:

Decided to cab it to the airport due to the length of the trip and of course I had to leave at the height of rush hour! So I wait, and wait and wait some more, almost to the point of giving up and driving the truck. While waiting, I'm pacing the driveway and as I watch some ducks take off from the pond and fly overhead, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Low and behold, it's a portent of things to quickly come. White bombs drop with the ferocity of YappyDaves' raises and I'm off to find a new shirt and a splash of smell-good juice! Cab finally shows and we're off on an uneventful trip.

After a score at Starbucks, I make my way to the news stand to peruse some light reading fare for the plane. Small isles make it cramped so I don't really take notice of a older gentleman breaking off from his wife, scanning the same books I am. No time at all passes before he rejoins her and I soon learn why. More bombs have been dropped but this time they don't emanate from the sky, nor are they seen...but they DAMN SURE are noticed! Thanks a TON you smelly farker!!!

Thankfully I had one of the most serene flights I've taken in a LONG time, and I practically travel for a living. No one in the middle seat, got to see a movie I've been meaning to catch anyway (although the ending SUCKED) and I got to catch up on some work, all without suffering intolerable small talk and wailing children. My name was on the Hertz Gold board and before I knew it, I was heading off to the corporate apartment I'll be crashing at for the next few days.

The apartment is on the north-west end of town, not so great surroundings but who cares? It's free and comfortable, with everything I need between rounds of cards. On the way there, while traveling north on Decatur, I pass the oft mentioned, hard-to-miss, Pops Philly Steaks! I make a mental note and after dropping my things off, checking email and returning a few call, I'm off for some grub! I must say, that was one DAMN FINE sandwich and they're open 24 hours! Parking is rough as it's busy, noon straight up...but it was well worth it! I'm sure I didn't order correctly but they didn't seem to mind. The weather was overcast but comfortable, so I ate outside instead of taking it with, people watching in Vegas, can ya beat it?! I say no.

Now what to do wit (hey Pops) myself? I quickly scan AVP and note that Yapster is poised to take down yet another TI tourney, so I decide to hoof it on down. I get there just in time to see him chop it up with a dealer, nice deal Dave! It's quickly approaching 2pm so I decide to jump into the next tourney. Note to self, DO NOT PLAY WHEN TIRED!!! I've haven't been sleeping well all week and was already dragging arse when I landed. I knew better, but if you're gonna play when tired how can you beat a well run, $65 tourney where the staff recognizes you after months of absence?! I signed up, collected my receipt and introduced myself to Mrs Lederer, who was sitting on a nice stack in $2/4 limit game.

Dave's right about this game! Anyone with a good arsenal and observation skills can really do well. I was amazed at the play...dumbfounded may be a better word. Of course there are good players too, but it's an overwhelming, donkalicious fun fest. Pre-flop raises of 8xbb and more often than not, a couple of callers, great googly moogly!!! I'll revise the post later to include my hands, but I busted just as we came back from the 1st break. I was happy with my play, and would've been a contender had a board not gone runner-runner for a split pot.

Tired as I am, and as long as this trip is, poker shouldn't be in the cards tonite, pun intended. So I decided to catch the George Carlin show tonite at the Orleans....sprung for good seats, 2nd row, just off center. I plan on playing the Venetian deepstack tomorrow and may just head over to TI in the am to check out the mix-game and say hello to LVM, Yappy and Mrs Lederer.

How can you NOT LOVE this town?!?!?!

Sat Binions $200 tourney

$200 total with the rebuy but a "short field with only 5 tables starting made it a bit of a damper. Word is getting out as it should, it's a good struture for the price and I know my structures! No auto-shufflers and some "been around the block" dealers but it is the birthplace, right?! The tournament was overrun with the crew from NWP, headed up by Brian "The Icon" Micon (?sp). It was a pretty fun evening with most of the crew cutting up and playing hard against each other, really made it enjoyable, even for a over-the-hill player like myself. Others didn't take it so well, but damn them! It was another up and down nite as I played a game I'm not accustomed to but look to get better at playing. I ended up getting my money in the middle against an early short-stack pusher while holding pocket tens. We got 2 more callers and it was JJ v TT v QQ v AA and the aces held booting 3 of us out onto the streets on LV!
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