Isn't it funny how a good session goes a long way to making you forget about how you hated poker a little bit just a few hours before?
So after I wrote my last post, I went down to CK and Bacon Bikini Mary's room to see what the plan was for dinner. We ended up watching F-Train take 3rd in an FTOPS satellite (2 seats, sorry, bro) and then heading over to the Mirage for some grub and maybe some stud. We finally found the cafe-type place, which they conveniently hide behind all the spendy joints in the Mirage, and I had a phenomenal hamburger, then headed down to put my toe back in the water at the $1-4 spread limit stud game. There's no ante in that game, and the bring in is only $1, so you can pretty much play forever without paying for more than a couple of hands per hour if you wanted to. I splashed around a lot because most of the old nits in that game fold to anything, and you know exactly where you are at any point if they raise, plus some non-hold 'em time was exactly what I needed after the junk-kicking I took earlier. After I folded one hand on 5th street, I heard from behind me the expert analysis of almost any of my stud hands ever, "Poorly played on all streets."
The Good Dr. had landed. He and Change100 were hanging out with Change's college roommate (who was really cute) and I had texted them to come over for a beverage. We went over to Revolution for a couple drinky-drinks and a chat, then they were on their way to quest for Elvis. Not my quest, you gotta ask Pauly for that one.
So I meandered back in a better frame of mind for poker after a couple vodka & red bulls, and took my seat in a $1/2 No limit game, with a firm stop-loss of $400. If I dropped that, I was done gambling for the trip and would go back to my room and watch soft porn on the hotel cable for the rest of the night til I had used up all the complimentary lotion bottles the IP had provided.
I didn't set a stop-win for myself, but when it hit 4:15 AM and I forgot that the action was to me, I decided I was a little too tired for optimal play and went to bed, after erasing all of my MGM losses and some of my Rio losses to boot.
My first table was fine, nothing spectacular, until Billy Joel sat down. Not really Billy Joel, but some guy that really tried very hard to look like Billy Joel during The Entertainer years. Billy kept whining about the cap on the buy-in, how he couldn't play poker for $200, and he was proven correct. By the time he made it through one dealer's down and left to go play a $70 sit n' go, he had managed to not play poker for almost $400 in thirty minutes. I hate to think what he coulda lost in an uncapped game. He was way too aggressive, overbetting with air and mucking when he got called. That trick cost him his first stack. Then he called too much all the way down with third pair, and that cost him another stack. I recognized the plays, I'd made them all myself a few hours earlier, but not that session.
I chipped up slowly, and had picked up about half a buy-in before our table broke and I joined Mary up on the upper deck of the poker room. My first big break happened soon after moving when I got in a pot with an unintelligible Frenchman (UF) who was sitting next to Mary. The little Cal-Asian chiropractor lady sitting next to me had warned me to call him down forever, but not to let him get there on his draws.
So I get in a big hand with him that I can't remember the details of, but I made a $50 river bet with the second or third nuts, and he reached into his rack for a pile of chips, and made a string bet. He stuck out a little more than the call, then a big pile of chips for a raise without saying a word. I didn't say anything, because my gut said I wanted to call, but I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to invest my whole stack in there. I had over $100 in the pot, and it would be another $100 to call, so if I was going to call, I was going to push instead and try for the double up. But the dealer called him on his string bet, I tabled my hand, and he mucked. Apparently his MO had been to make huge river bets to push people off their hands, or to make big calls and suck out. So I chipped up to little over $300 at that point.
My next key pot was raising in early position with AK. I made it $11 to go, and got a few callers. Flop came down K-9-x, and I fired about $25 into the pot. Folded around to UF, who called. Turn brought another pretty King, and I fired $50. UF called again, and the river was a 9, giving me Kings full. I bet another $50, thinking that he might be scared of the brutally obvious full house, and he raised all in. He did it properly this time, so I called, showed my boat, and wondered what he was so proud of.
Two pair, top kicker. He tabled Ah-4d for Kings and Nines with an Ace kicker. The only sad part of that hand for me was that he left right after that. My little Asian friend was thrilled that someone busted him, and she left soon after. Mary decided to go sleep when CK wandered by, and our table broke right after that. So I decided to follow the money, as a guy I had dubbed "Hollywood" because he was sitting at a 1/2 table with his 1987 vintage Ray-Bans on had a full rack of reds and I was pretty sure I could relieve him of that burden under the proper circumstances.
At this point I was up more than a buy-in and having a good time. I realized something about my game after analyzing that session and the one from the Venetian, my two successful sessions of the trip. I need to win a couple, then start chatting. I observe people better when they don't necessarily notice they're being observed. So if I can keep myself in a friendly frame of mind and chat up the table, be the funny hillbilly guy, I can make way more money. At the Mirage, I was in full-blown hillbilly mode, giving people nicknames, some good-natured needling, and generally doing anything I could to be the friendly guy that they want to pay off on the river even when they know they're beat. And since I was one of the two or three biggest stacks, I also wanted to avoid putting a big nasty target on my chest.
I think I managed to do that pretty well throughout the session, and one hand in particular showed the truth of it. I picked up pocket Jacks UTG and made it $11 to go, my standard early position raise. I got a couple of callers, and the flop came down 9-high with two spades. I fired out a bet of $20 or $25, and got one caller, a guy in the 3s that I had started calling "Larry" because he wore a Larry the Cable Guy T-shirt. Earlier in the session I remarked "Larry the Cable guy shirt, Caterpillar hat, are you sure we're not kin?"So Larry called my flop bet, then called $50 on the turn when the 3rd spade came down. I was not thrilled with that, but fired another $50 on the river when the fourth spade came. He called that one too, and shook his head when I asked "did you get there?" I tabled my Jacks, and of course it was only then that I realized I had the Jack of spades and had made my own four-flush. But it wouldn't have mattered, I couldn't have been too proud of the Jack-high flush and couldn't have called much of a raise if he'd played back at me on the river. But he showed his top pair, and said "I put you on an overpair." Fortunately, he still called.
I also have changed up an aspect of my play lately. If everyone folds, about one time in four I'll show the hand. I'm starting to realize that there's -EV in never showing your good cards. I play a lot of hands, especially when I can get in cheap in late position, so I'm gonna show down some shit hands that turned into winners, but it's also important to show down the monsters that people get away from. Otherwise, I can never run a bluff. Ever. I bluff a lot less than people think, because when you play as many hands as I do, you don't really need to bluff a lot. You're gonna play such a wide range of hands that you'll hit a lot of the time, so you bet for information more than you bluff.
Another adjustment I put into my play this weekend was tweaking my play with suited gap cards. I have been check-calling a lot of my draws, and this weekend I shifted gears on that a bit to lead out about half the time when I hit the draw on the flop. Example - I call a small raise or limp with 7d-9d from late position. Flop comes down 8-10-K with two diamonds. In the past I would check-call this down until I hit my draw, thus giving up a bunch of pot size. Now I'm trying to bet out more with my draws to build the pot. I miss sometimes, but the theory is that when I hit, I'll have a big enough pot to make up for the times I miss. Not sure how that will work out long term, but it's worth a try.
So in the end, my Vegas results looked like this -
Table Games: -$250
Non-Hold 'Em Games: -$325
Limit Hold 'Em: +$50
No Limit Hold 'Em: +$110
For a total result of -$565 for the weekend. Apparently non Hold 'Em games are a big leak, and table games are a given, but I was surprised at being able to come from so far behind in NLHE and actually book a win in my main game, so that's encouraging. Especially since next weekend I'll be up in Turning Stone in upstate New York taking a shot at the Syracuse college boys.