Welcome to Las Vegas

by , Jul 2, 2006 | 7:08 am

LAS VEGAS–Door-to-door the trip took 24 hours. That includes a nap in New Mexico, a snail’s crawl across the Hoover Dam, and briefly getting lost in Summerlin. By the time I showed up at Rounder Club West (home to Dr. Steve and The Don, oft-frequented by one or more Dulys, and where I’ll be staying my first two weeks in Vegas) I was tired and stinky … and itchin’ to play. After exchanging some pleasantries and getting my internet hooked up, I eventually made way to the new Red Rock Casino, where I sat down for some $1/$2 NL action.

Nice place. Comfy poker room — 20 tables … and let me just say, I bet Doyle Brunson, even two or three years ago, never coulda imagined a day where low-stakes players would be crowding around tables with marble racetracks. Anyhow, on the first hand I get pocket 5s in late position. I limp, no-set no-bet, and eventually I have to fold. Two hands later I get them again. This time I raise, get a couple callers … the flop = check, check, check … I bet on the turn and take it down. Cool. Straight-forward poker, pretty much, until I get them for the third time.

I had almost doubled my stack when a bona-fide maniac sat down at the table. He looked like an Arab version of Carmine Raguso. He tried to buy in for more than the max, then rebought for the max, hit a couple rivers, and in general was playing probably 95 percent of the hands … almost always making it between $15 and $35 to see the flop. With pocket 5s in the big blind, I come over the top of his raise (which got two callers in front of me) and push all-in. He thinks for a while and calls with A-Q … catches his queen on the river. Grrr.

A few hands later I get pocket kings. A bunch of money gets into the pot, and I push all-in (after limping UTG), and he calls an additional $107. “Good call,” I say. “These are no good … you’re gonna get there.” I’m not usually so defeatist, but it was kinda like trying to use reverse psychology on the deck. When the flop comes out 5-5-something, he stands and cheers as he turns over his 4-5 offsuit and reaches across the table to give me a high-five. Huh, So this is how it’s going to be …

That’s cool. I gave him the skin with a quarter-smile. But when I felt the first pangs of tilt somewhere near my gullet, I decided to walk away. Have a smoke. Chill out … but first I ran back to the table, slapping down $200 (the max buy-in at Red Rock’s 1/2) and asking the dealer to save my seat. Then I chilled out.

Sure enough, Carmine al Raguso would end up going bust — took him about an hour to buy-in twice, build it to $900, and lose it all. But just as he got up to leave another maniac sat down. But this guy was tricky. He came over with $600 from a broken 1/2 with all his chips perfectly aligned (screaming tight, tight, tight according to Caro) only to limp in UTG with 2-8o and get counterfeited on the river after flopping two pair. Interesting. Hand after hand, he was just giving his rack of chips away. Then he ordered more Jagermeister … and proceeded too river the table. Oy, it was gonna be one of those nights.

Or was it?

In our last pot together (and my last of the night), I had decided to push all-in with a flush draw. But maniac acted first and he pushed all-in … and I folded a hand that, he would show, had him totally dominated. (I was already ahead and drawing to a higher flush.)

You know what, I thought … it was a good fold. And a good play by him, actually. I counted my chips, turned super-tight until the blinds came around (thank God I didn’t get dealt the hammer!), and, not unaware of the increasing juiciness, decided to call it a night. A good night, I think, all things considered. And in many ways the exact right way to kick off my six weeks in Vegas.

Buy-in(s): $420 (3)
Cash out: $421
Net: +$1

Highlight: Realizing I do know how to walk away.

One Comment to “Welcome to Las Vegas”

  1. Doc John

    Say hello to Doc Steve & associates. We could use some progress reports on Rounder West from those of us donkeys who can only snail our way across the Hoover once in awhile. Perhaps you could post a brief account of their exploits?