Musical accompaniment if you like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfL_pgDNkoc
On this trip, the goal was to limit my time at the poker room, which is nearly like trying to lay off of air for me, especially when Vegas. Why limit my poker play? First, there were in laws joining us for the trip. It would be impolite to not spend some time with them. Then, it was our anniversary trip and the Wynn gave us an offer for free show tickets to Le Reve (“The Dream” in the whatever language Wynnians speak) and a free breakfast buffet. So for one, any tournament I entered was going to cut into showtime and I could hardly talk my wife out of the show because I might place in a tournament. Then, I was supposed to be awake for brunch the next morning, which if it was occurring during any time before Noon, would have had me in zombie condition if poker was the previous night. So my wife and I agreed to no more than 6 hours over the 2 nights we stayed.
So to make up for it, I decided to “Level Up”. So with only 6 hours of play, I moved up a level in No Limit, from my usual 2 3 at my local game to my first ever 2 5 BB No limit game here in Vegas. Back at the home game, I’ve been noticing that half of the drunk players back home are doing a straddle, so back home it felt like 2 3 6 anyway, so I thought I’d fit in at 2 5. I sort of conveniently forgot that there’s straddling at 2 5 which becomes 2 5 10. Oh well, play through I suppose.
Intermission for poker tournament observation: First, I like the Wynn poker room. Dealers are good natured, the room is raised above the floor and separated and not a fish tank (see Caesar’s Palace). Coolest of all, they publish the actual tournament results (http://wynnpoker.com/winners.cfm) which gives someone like me a chance to write back to my buddies and say “Look, on one Wednesday night, I was king or the Wynn tournament.” To try it once, I was actually in a tournament back in October and ran into a Table Captain type of dude who knew what he was doing and was not shy about telling every player what they’re doing wrong and speeding up the dealers to avoid blinds going up to his spot. So, seeing as he went on to win the tournament, I Iooked the guy up and see that in the daily tournament, he’s there every day apparently; he was in the money a whopping 26 times in 2017 (http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=295840#) and yup, on this night in February I look over at the tournament and well wouldn’t you know it, he won the tournament again. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing really; he’s a good player, but shouldn’t the tournament be a culmination of good play for several weeks of training for the big tournament event? You know, like you train to run a marathon or training for a chess tournament? Instead, we’ve got daily players in the daily tournament. Who wants to face that kind of buzzkill?
First buy in, which I always size as 70 times the Big Blind (a carryover from the standard buy in at Full Tilt Poker ; let’s all pause for an obligatory Boo for Ferguson and Lederer here). I buy in for $350, 70 times the $5 BB. First observation: the 3x BB (which would be $15) preflop bet is no longer cool at this level. The norm is a range of $25 to $50 or 5x to 10x. Does Dan Harrington know of this? Would he approve? Why do I read poker books if no one is going to follow the expected play? Now, I can adjust like Dan always suggests (great series of books by the way), and play much tighter. So I do that.
And then sure enough, I get dealt AK suited hits preflop (ohboy ohboy) and I bet a 5x to 25 and gets 3 bet to 70 by a guy in a Georgia Tech hat. Georgia Tech has been declaring that he’s only here for the free drinks. I vaguely recall that the Georgia Tech accent would convince you that he got in to the school thanks to being able to skin a buck, but in fact this is one of the better schools in the country. I call the 70 and watch a nonsensical flop of 4 6 7 rainbow. But I read somewhere that a big bet to the preflop 3 bettor (Georgia Tech) will be a convincing case of Trips. So I bet $130 into the $140 pot. He pauses and then surprisingly calls. The next card burns off as a 5, completing the 4 card straight on the board. I figure if I DID have trips, I would now check in deference to 88 or 33 which would have completed the straight. But after my check, he raises to all in, which is my remaining $150. Not a huge bet given the $400 pot but not the right odds to reach my 6 outs on the AK. So I fold with $150 behind, but having lost 60 % of my buy in. I put him on any stinkin’ overpair and dang it, he played it right. That’s no fun.
Continuing the pattern, people start raising pre flop, but not to $15 like they should (3x the BB), but to ridiculous 6x or 7x. I try to adapt, playing only the top 10 to 15 hands, but even so, after a solid miss on the flop, there’s remarkably 3 to 4 other players in the pot and one decent bet and I’m gone. So I lose $35, a $30, a rare $5 BB and call with high pair into $30 only to lose. Then a few moments later, I go all in with AQ suited into a Big Blind of KK and there goes my $350 buy in. Thirty minutes and the only move I made was the ill fated AK suited flop bet. I begin to think I’m not cut out for 2 5 poker after all.
I’m ready to give up on 2 5 at this point. But tomorrow’s a new day. So I show up at Noon and take part in a tradition I never saw before. We’re on the 2nd 2 5 table and gradually the pit boss lady comes by and starts whispering to each player, saying, “sir, we’d like you to play at Table 7 here at the end of the hand”. I look on longingly as players I was getting reads on are turning up over at what appears to be the feature table.
Then, The Hand appears. I get an AK suited (again) in early position. The dude before me raises to $25. I pause, then rerise to $65. Folds all around until the Big Blind. This is a lady who’s a ringer for the ChatnCut of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77bW1aMAkhs And I’m sorry to confess this, but because of the likeness, I completely don’t trust Ms. ChatnCut. She goes ahead and puts all of her chips in, raising all in to $300. I scoff. I put her on tryin’ to overbet something: a 1010, a JJ but because I tied up an AK already, I knew she had no higher than QQ.
Well, the $25 preflop raiser is still hanging around. And I can just hear this guy breathe alongside of me. Like he’s sighing before facing the jury or some darn thing. Well, he calls finally and that convinces me. I’ve now got what I figure to be a 45 % chance of beating her JJ and his 66 or 77. I think of calling, but hey, Mr. Heavy sighs might just have an AQ or AJ and I remember Doyle Brunson’s words: why call when you could raise? I declare a raise To my own all in of $333. The sigher calls for the last $33.
Now here’s something that is a private gripe of mine (not anymore). In a tournament, when you go all in, you go ahead and turn up your cards. It’s half the fun to me. What you see in the World Series of Poker where Norman Chad can declare that he would never go all in with JJ even when they’re ahead. But no matter where I play, the cash game all in has no one turning up their cards. Well, I do anyways because I’m sort of a dork if you want the truth and also because I kind of hope someone at the table is maybe pulling for me. The flop comes up J K 8, no suitedness. I say, “well that should help” but inside I believe ChatNCut just hit her trip Jacks. Then another K (wow) on the turn and I have trips with the high kicker. Last comes a 9 which could make a straight and could also have now given anyone a full house also. I dread the result, but the Sigh man turns over AQ, missing the straight by one card. And ChatNCut has AA and did everything RIGHT and STILL LOST.
Well, I hold my own the rest of the session, make a few bets and then the pit boss lady comes over and, just like the kid getting invited to Willy Wonka’s factory, she advances ME to table 7. I walk over there, declare to the group that “hey guys, I graduated just like you!” No one laughs. No one smiles. One thing I notice is that the 2 5 group wasn’t drinking other than Georgia Tech guy. And they have no sense of humor except at 4 in the morning, my last session.
On getaway day, I wake up at 3 AM, not able to sleep, and head down to play some more 2 5. Surprisingly, there’s abut 12 tables still active at this hour, almost all of them No Limit. Well, I’m a little groggy myself, but notice that there’s another heavy sigher next to me. I’m not in many hands (again, everyone’s raising to 5 to 9x at this hour) and I hear this guy sighing away. Well, eventually I look over at him and he’s not actually sighing. It’s his comfort dog down there at his feet. So I make the obligatory joke (hey, didn’t I see him on Dogs Playing Poker?) and the owner says, “Yeah, he likes to relax and sleep at the poker table”. What the heck? I think to myself. I notice the little guy is nibbling on his blanket next and I suggest to the fella that maybe his dog needs a break.
Well, the 3 AM 2 hour session is a breakeven, but I got to see maybe the downside of playing at this level. Not once, but twice it happened where one of the more observant players starts pointing out that the corner of a card is folded slightly. By the second time, a couple of the players are pointing at the dogless guy sitting alongside me, a Russian kid who’s maybe 25. He’s got stacks of black chips, a couple of thousand dollars. I kind of forget sometime that we’re playing for a lot of money. Well, he starts mumbling to himself, kind of like he’s forgotten something back at his room. And he gets up and cashes out.
So maybe overall, I’m a little turned off to the 2 5 game. I mean, I finished up $750 in one session, down $350 in the disastrous first session and broke even in the third. Making $400 in 6 hours is great, but I’m also playing players willing to cheat to try to win. And if I’m honest here, I should have lost to AA on the big hand and been down for the trip. The other turn off is the buy ins. People are buying in for $2,000 at the 2 5 game. My $350 is constantly threatened to lose a KK vs. AA showdown. I kind of prefer people needing to earn their way to a high chip count. At the Wynn, folks were buying their way to being the chip bully.
Musical accompaniment if you like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfL_pgDNkoc