This was my final day in Las Vegas and had a rather slow start. I did not get to sleep until after 4 am from the previous night of intense excitement but still wanted to play the $150 tournament at the Golden Nugget at 1 pm. So I dragged myself out of bed by noon, got in my car and drove downtown again. Grabbed a coffee and some food at the Starbucks and went into the hotel and registered.
I did not make any money in this tournament but I did gather a few valuable insights. I had virtually no playable cards for the first 2 hours and anything I did play wound up being beaten by better hands. By around 3:30 – 4:00 I was down to under half of my stack.
To my left was a very talkative guy who turned out to be a bartender who worked in Henderson (a suburb of Las Vegas). He had a lot of great stories and entertained us for an hour or two. I like this social aspect of poker. At one point we had a female dealer who was quite pretty and in her mid to late 40s. She told us she had lived in Japan for 25 years and I will leave it to everyone’s imagination as to what she was doing there. Her math was terrible, so if anything complicated happened with the chips (e.g. raise and re-raise, or three people in a pot that needed to be divided at showdown) she just kind of laughed and let the players do all the chip counts. This was pretty unprofessional but, as I said in an earlier post, casinos in Vegas are desperate for dealers during the WSOP. Actually I did not find her that bad because her actual mechanics of shuffling and dealing were O.K. so the hands went fairly quickly. Unfortunately, she had this strange habit of asking people were they were from! After she was replaced by another dealer our friendly bartender said “you know, someone should point out to her that this is not Blackjack and she is not saving us money by stopping her dealing and asking us questions. We really do want to see as many hands as possible and do not want to talk about our home towns!”.
There was a point when I had A2 in late position and I believe someone had raised the minimum and there were two or three callers. I was a bit distracted by the talkative bartender and frustrated by my lack of hands and folded the A2 despite getting about 5-1 odds for calling! On the flop there was an A and a 2! This was quite frustrating because I would have gone all in and probably been called by someone with an Ace and better kicker and I could have doubled up! But this is a good lesson and it taught me to “never give up”. Instead of listening so closely to our bartender friend, I should have been paying attention to the game a lot more and called since I was in late position and getting great pot odds.
In fact, I played a tournament at the Talking Stick in Phoenix in the fall of 2016 and lost about half my chips (down to 5,000 from 10,000) in the first 6 hands! My first hand was KK which lost to A9 and there were a few other “problem hands”. Anyway, I just dug in and was helped by the fact a lot of people were limping in for the first several rounds and I got to see many cheap flops. At one point I had Q,5. There was a min raise which had two or three callers. So I called as well since I had great pot odds. The flop came Q, 5, 3 (bingo!). I checked, a player on the other side of the table bet , I went all in and he called with Q, 10. A 10 never came so I doubled up! Eventually I made the final table and wound up chopping the prize money with several other people and I made a few hundred dollars. So my motto should always be “never give up and wait for your spots”.
At the Golden Nugget tournament I got knocked out around 5 pm. I had A,J and one person had raised and two others called when the action came to me. I had two options: raise or call. I did think of going “all in” and probably collecting all the money in the pot. But simply calling would disguise the strength of my hand. So I just called and the flop came A, 6, 8. One player bet, 2 folded and I re-raised all in. The initial bettor called and turned over A, 6! He won. If I had played more aggressively and gone all in I probably would have won the pot. Oh well.
I was not terrible disappointed to have gotten busted since I love walking along the strip and had hardly done much of that since landing in Vegas. I was going home the next day so I decided to walk over to New York, New York and take the tram down to Mandalay Bay which used to be my favourite casino.
I drove back to my hotel (Polo Towers, which was in the middle of the strip) and walked over to New York, New York which had a cool outdoor bar. I had a couple of craft beers and then took the tram down to Luxor and walked through the mall they built between it and Mandalay Bay. I wanted to eat at a nice Mexican place there but it was closed for a private party. I would up next door where they had an excellent vegan meatball sandwich and, guess what?, more craft beer! It was an excellent dinner.
As a side note, I realized I had not spent much on food because I’d been playing poker all the time and had very little opportunity to have a decent meal. The only times I’d deliberately set out to eat somewhere nice were this final night meal the the breakfast I’d had at the Claim Jumper.
Then I walked over to Mandalay Bay and got a seat at their cash game. I used to love this poker room because the casino is nice and roomy and they put poker right next to the Sports Betting instead of trying to hide it in the back. Since then many other casinos have created much better rooms and they do not have any decent tournaments but I felt some nostalgia for it. So I bought into the 1/2 no limit game for $200. In one of my first hands I had AA! One player raised it to $15 and I re-raised to $45 and the guy to my right calls, everyone else folds. The flop comes 9, Q, K. He checks, I bet $50 and he calls. Oops, I think he could easily have QQ or KK and flopped a set and is just going to take all my money! The turn is something like a 6 and he checks again and I bet another $50 (as a blocking bet if nothing else). He calls! I think “am I really going to lose my $200 in this one hand?”. I don’t remember the river but he checks and I just turn over my Aces and…..he folds! Whoa! I breathe a sigh of relief and he leaves the table a little later. Perhaps he had A, K? So I play for a couple of hours and am up about $100 at the end of it. Decent! So it was a nice ending to my five days of poker.
I head have to the hotel around 10 or 11 pm and pack up for my trip home tomorrow. It has been a fabulous 5 days!