October 31, 2012
Seen kinda-sorta near the WSOP
Because, really, where else but would you go for such a proper schooling:
Ya know, 10am is right around the corner … (and so is the WSOP!)
Because, really, where else but would you go for such a proper schooling:
Ya know, 10am is right around the corner … (and so is the WSOP!)
After spending the majority of the past 3 weeks in Detroit, Columbus, and Carlsbad attending weddings, I’m back in my one-bedroom apartment at the intersection of Flamingo and Maryland in Las Vegas. Maybe it’s just the annoyingly vast amounts of construction and “improvements” they’re doing on my building, but there seems to be higher than standard levels of particles and dust in the Vegas air. People are excited, poker players are selling pieces, and Phil Hellmuth moved into the Aria penthouse for 2 months. That electric feeling can mean only one thing… the World Series of Poker is almost here.
I’ve never sold on the open marketplace, so bear with me as I figure this process out. I’m not a high volume tournament player, but I agree with Phil Galfond when he says that strong cash game players can find success in tournaments if they take them seriously.
Poker rooms across town (well, those in Caesars-owned properties anyway) are ramping up their promotion efforts for the series, offering a plethora of ways to win a seat into various events. On top of that, you can step into one of many rooms to pick up a flier for their own mini-series which will run concurrently; events with smaller buy ins but still impressively sized fields and prizes can be found up and down the strip as well as downtown. WSOP time in Las Vegas is awesome. If you like poker, you simply need to see the sheer size of the production that takes place inside the Rio Convention Center. Rows and rows, hundreds of tables (in use, no less…). Strip poker rooms overflowing with players. So many hopefuls, so many fans of the game, all the superstars and several soon-to-be poker-famous players descending on one spot. And let’s not forget… so many fish!
In the weeks leading up to the World Series of Poker, grinders all over Vegas start making big plans. Even small-stakes guys like me and my friends want a piece of the action. But with the major online sites shuttered for US players, we must hunt for a way to qualify for a bracelet event.
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart told reporters that Caesars properties would increase satellites leading up to the series.
Caesars Palace just launched its WSOP Warm-Up, running through May 20, with tournaments as low as $130 that have $20,000 guaranteed prize pools and $1,000 WSOP seats.
My friends and I decided to skip those tournaments for now — thinking we’d hit a few of the smaller Caesars properties to increase our chances of scoring a seat. These rooms wouldn’t be as packed with local grinders, we figured, and the games would be less volatile.
With the construction of the Caesars’ Linq project underway, the Imperial Palace poker room moved from the front of the casino, by which all the tourists would stumble, to a rather inconvenient spot up on the third floor.
“I don’t get it. They had such a great location,” said one of my poker buddies — an out-of-towner who takes most of his vacations to Vegas.
I guess I’ve been somewhat slacking in the blog department. However, I’ve been fully engaged in grind mode ever since my last downswing and plan on writing an update in the very near future. In keeping with the grinding and writing theme, I’ve been trying out this new pokerchiptracker.com tool that allows me to log my day at the office. It’s pretty cool, in my opinion, because I like taking photos, I like writing, and I (sometimes) like playing poker. This thing lets me do all three at once. It also allows the user/writer to really bring the reader into the poker room with them, as well as provide for some creative opportunities.
Here’s a recent session that took me from Aria to the Palms.
|Buy In @ 4:15 PM
Starting a sesh at the fabulous, luxurious and unrivaled Aria Resort Casino Hotel and Spa Destination Location Sensation. Gl me.
In the midst of a so-far unprofitable weeklong stretch of daily tournaments around Las Vegas, I decided to try my luck+skill next at the Orleans (a grizzled locals favorite), the Golden Nugget (for a tourist-packed short-stack event), and the Venetian for a little Deep Stacks Extravaganza with hoodie-and-headphones set. Each tournament has its own appeal, and gave me quite a taste of the broad range of game selection across town.
Ragin’ Cajun: Friday Nights at the Orleans
Those on the lower-stakes Vegas grind often rave about Friday night at The Orleans. Large field, good structure, big prize pool. A friend advised that I arrive early because the event fills up so quickly. I parked around back almost an hour before the 7pm start time, and after securing my $125 entry, sat at a bar near the food court with T.G.I. Fridays, Fuddruckers, Baskin Robbins, Sbarro, Subway — yeah, real Cajun cuisine.
On this night there would be 270 players, with first place paying about $8,000. The floor supervisor said re-entries were possible but improbable because of a long list of alternates. As we got underway, two locals spoke conspicuously about a mutual friend who was playing a $250k buy-in event in Australia (the Aussie Millions high-roller event, won by Phil Ivey).
Of The Orleans’s comparably tiny entry fee, $100 goes to the prize pool, $2 goes to tournament “players of the month,” $13 goes to the house and $10 goes to staff. The tournament can often last until mid morning, but my run in the event would be a quick one, as I never dragged a pot and busted 5 minutes before the first break.
Here’s a “big” poker happening @CLVPoker catering to a different kinda dbag … the Caesars MBA Poker Championship.
It’s a closed tournament open only to current MBA students and accredited MBA alumni (please show your proof of registration or diploma at the window?) … but with a few hundred chicks and dudes hoping to power-suit their way to the personal 1-percenthood coming to town for multiple days — and tourney instructions that say: “this event has traditionally attracted players who are familiar with Texas Hold-em (so we suggest you read up on the rules before you arrive)” — it might be worth checking out.
Competing with the cash games for their Business School interests are a bunch of “networking seminars” — which are supposedly what draw the MBAers here on this special (to them) pokery weekend.
Check out the vid of what the Caesars Empire currently has populating one poker corner of the Las Vegas Strip:
Every “professional” poker player has some sort of a story as to how they found themselves with that job title. A lot of kids on the scene nowadays spent the majority of their free time in college grinding online and getting really good… so good that they didn’t see much point in getting a job working for somebody else, and naturally continued to grind after they left school. You hear about other people who had jobs they lost, and then turned to poker, a field that is always accepting new applicants without any need to update your resume or buy a tie for interviews. And there are those who had jobs, some good, but always unfulfilling compared to the allure of being your own boss and the thrill of using your wits to earn a cash payment every day on your own terms.
Life as a professional poker player has been a massive learning experience, of which the strategy and theory is only a small part of the process. You have to learn how to LIVE as a poker player …
Sometime during this year I decided I wanted to add more tournaments to my poker diet. I’ve been a cash game grinder for my entire poker-playing career and don’t really have anything to speak of in regards to big tourney scores. My “official” tourney resume is pretty weak. That being said, I think every high-volume tournament pro wishes they crushed at cash games, and I think that every cash game grinder wants that feeling that only a tournament victory can bring: the combination of the big pay day combined with being the last man or woman standing at the end of the day (or day 2, 3, 4, what have you). It very well could be my ego projecting my perceived thoughts onto the rest of the poker-playing community, but why would you not want to be well rounded in your profession and have multiple skill sets?
I’ve torched a lot of money being irresponsible … Vegas definitely has a way of seeping into any crack in your guard wall and blowing it wide open.
If you think that low stakes live poker games tend to be pretty soft, you should check out some of the tournament series that are running this month and next around Vegas. You’ll see things that will make your head shake and leave you feeling good about the future of poker and its draw to the casual players. However, these are tournaments we’re talking about, which means you’re a bit handcuffed in regards to how much manipulation of tourists you’ll be able to partake in compared to the cash games. The structures for a lot of the events are pretty good, but variance is still a bitch. I won’t go into detail about some of the ridiculous beats I’ve taken over the past week to send me on a walk of shame toward valet. I’m gonna keep plugging away though with a healthy mix of the series, and cash games when there isn’t an event to my liking.
Hey, at least the Lions are winning.
We had high hopes coming into the 2011 football season but to see them run out to a beautiful 4-0 start is outstanding. And the Tigers are up too! As I write this they currently hold a 2-1 series advantage over the Yankees after stealing home field advantage in NYC. One more win and they advance to the next playoff round. Life is good these days for my hometown teams.
Little did I know that the hole would only grow bigger and deeper as the day went on, culminating with me somehow losing with KQ vs 55 after c-betting a K-6-4 flop. I booked a 4-figure loss and called it a day.
The redevelopment of the the Palms Poker Room continues. While some of us can’t wait for the state-of-the-art-in-2003 room to step into 2005ish with the coming addition of an electronic Bravo check-in system … Joe, Bobby, Eldon and crew are pushing forward with their plans to bring non-$20,000 tournament action back to the Palms … starting with a Tuesday-night $100 HORSE tournament.
It may not be PLO, but hey, I’m no one-trick pony. More like a half-trick pony, lol. But regardless, I’ve been meaning to sack up and get more live, low-stakes Razz under my belt. (I dominated the $1,500 event in the ’07 WSOP for Playstation — won a bracelet and everything!) The tournament is just a couple weeks old and supposedly has gotten a great response from the start: three tables of tournament action last week, followed by a $4/$8 HORSE cash game as players started busting.
Something similar expected tomorrow. RSVP on Facebook here … and/or just show up @ the Palms tomorrow at 7:30pm.
CORRECTION(S): I got a few factoids wrong. According to Michelle Lau’s FB invite …
Every Tuesday night 7:30, last week was our first tournament. Also Palms is gonna spread a HORSE CASH game at 5pm ($4/8) Come on down, lots of fun and very playable structure.
I just got back from my first live poker session in I don’t know how long… almost two months I think. I took an extended hiatus from the game for a couple of reasons; a) my dad was in town for a while and we went sightseeing here in Vegas and in Los Angeles; and, more important, b) my finances just weren’t where they needed to be.
(The shorter version of that story is “I went broke.”)
I was making too many mistakes away from the felt and living a lifestyle that just wasn’t sustainable on my “salary”. I definitely wasn’t going super crazy or ballin’ out of control by any means. But similar to the way a small preflop error can compound on itself and become a large, costly session-killer, smaller mistakes away from the tables can quickly add up and drain a poker player’s bankroll. This shouldn’t be news to any poker player, but when you live in a city like Las Vegas and you like being social and experiencing what the city and life itself has to offer, you have to constantly check yourself.
I look down at 6s7s for my first live hand in two months. Forget that I’m in early position, I can’t help it… the suited connectedness was overpoweringly sexy.
I spent the first part of today chilling at my place for a few hours, getting in a light workout then writing a couple emails. Then I made my way to the VW dealership. I drive a 2010 Jetta that I’m a pretty big fan of and it was time for my free 10k mileage maintenance and car wash. Before this car, I drove the 2007 version. Two days before my lease was up on that car, it got totaled when a drunk driver blew a red light in West Hollywood where my girlfriend and I were for the weekend. Neither of us were hurt, thankfully. He took off after we smashed into him, but he couldn’t get very far with the condition his car was in. A good samaritan followed him and was able to let the police know where they could find him. I had my car towed to a VW dealership and was like, “My lease is up… here’s your car back!” Then I leased a brand new model that same day.
I picked up KK in the first orbit of NL in late position, raised and picked up the blinds …
While at the dealership today I read through 944 magazine a bit. If you happen to live in a city that 944 covers, and you like going out, doing stuff and checking out new things in your city, I highly recommend picking up a copy. I also highly recommend they pay me for this advertising I’m giving them but that’s probably not going to happen. There are always so many things changing in the city of Las Vegas–new restaurants, DJ appearances/residencies, happy hours, special events–that it is nearly impossible to keep up. It’s fun to try though, and it’s obviously tough to get bored here.
After VW, it was that time: 7pm on a Thursday, which means Pokerati 1/2 PLO/NLH at the Palms. When I got there around 8 there was a full game up and running and Danielle was already on the waiting list. It took about 15 minutes before we had enough people to start a second table. Pretty impressive, I must say, but not entirely surprising. The half-and-half nature of the game is just so much more interesting and entertaining in my opinion, that I think you’ll eventually see it spread elsewhere more regularly. This coupled with the fact that the WSOP is in full swing means there’s no shortage of players around.
Minimal info at the moment … but around 12:30am today, according to Las Vegas Metro Police, a lone gunman walked into the Stratosphere and reportedly headed straight for the 8-table poker room, where he jumped a table, attempted to grab a bunch of chips, and then fled on foot. But apparently he ran into a casino employee on the way out and left empty handed.
Police tell local Channel 13 they have a “vague description” of the suspect and are looking for him now.
Probably shouldn’t be laughing about violent crime FAILs, but LOL … just realized I wrote “walked into the Stratosphere” … so clearly the wannabe robber must be Criss Angel. OK, I jest … but what do you think the odds are that this amateur thief could be an online poker player who just lost his roll and is considering new career options? I’ll bet … either that or a neighborhood crackhead.
More tales of the Stratosphere poker room from a local low-stakes grinder here.
Maybe this is old news, but new to me … while scouting out the pre-2011 WSOP bowling-alley bar scene late Saturday night — things were bumpin’ — I popped by the Gold Coast poker room and saw this:
The Gold Coast poker room is apparently no longer … The flat-screens were dark, and tables had been replaced by video-poker and slot machines. And according to the sign they intend to turn the previously post-boom-downsized poker room into a slots and video poker tournament area. Not that anyone misses one of the least raucous, nittiest $2/$4 limit games in town … and I don’t think you can say much about this being a trend of poker continuing to recede or anything like that, but it may say something about smaller rooms being unable to justify their existence when small-stakes players gravitate to the bigger rooms in town.
As the sign says, all Gold Coast player(s) are being shipped over to The Orleans, which seems to be re-emerging as the big-little off-Strip room that locals like for the sake of convenient parking if nothing else. (Their Friday-night tourney continues to set field-size records, consistently drawing 100+.)
Talk of PLO on Poker After Dark comes as I personally have been jonesin’ for mo-bigger low-stakes PLO … and based on emails, tweets, and Facebook, a stream of Vegas visitors and locals seem to be, too. Interest in PLO may be growing, but players in Las Vegas looking for starter stakes can’t always be sure where to find reliable action.
Word from the Strip is that a rather strong 1/2 PLO game has been running lately at the Venetian, apparently fueled by the November Deep Stacks. But one-bullet buyers beware, a $5 bring-in at the V makes the game kinda steep … especially for those with a strategy of pushing with weak two-pairs, calling with non-nut draws, and relying on run-it-twice to stick around long enough for a meal comp. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
And Aria Poker spreads a vibrant 1/2 NLH/PLO that occasionally makes. Their game plays most similarly to the Pokerati Game of old — and though it runs only sporadically, Aria often has the game posted on the board with a list of mostly 1/3 and 2/5 no-limit regulars ready to take a seat against any and all PLO tourists.