Adventures on the (mostly) wrong end of the bell curve

Reports & Blogs by twriter about Horseshoe Las Vegas Posted

With spring break already giving me a Monday night free and finding $15/night rooms at the Imperial Palace, the weekday trip was a no-brainer. But when the rainy weather caused the city to shut down the fields, which meant my softball league game on Sunday was canceled, a Sunday departure (and adding Sunday night at $20) was definitely in the cards. And the drive was swift; I rolled into the IP garage right about 6pm on the 27th.

Only to find the line form hell at the checkin counter. I wandered over to the poker room, saw there was a list for the mixed game, and put my name on it, saying that I had a long checkin endurance feat in front of me, but I'd be back.

And the checkin took more than an hour. Most of the time, I saw way more empty stations than customer service reps. Why wasn't this an "all hands on deck" situation for management? I ended up talking to a woman in front of me, who said she'd arrived at 3, found the line like this, went out for a walk, came back to find the same thing, left for dinner, and nothing ever changed. It was after 7 by the time I got my room key. Back to the poker room, one seat left, but I still had to get my 'roll and get my stuff in my room, told the floor I'd make it as quick as possible. It's after 7:30 by the time I got back--and the game is full. Drat! Blankety-blank IP customer "service." Still, I hang around and finally a seat opens up.

Now I'm really expecting that I'll play pretty tight, lose a few bucks and learn a few things. Boy, was I wrong. Fortunately, the first game I enter on is stud/8, not one of the, uh, stranger ones. And the very first hand I get 3 to a low (with the 2 of clubs up--woo!) and I make a 75 low in the first 5 cards, so the first hand I'm in I'm taking half a pot.

And with the little cheat sheet in hand, I proceed to have the most fun couple of hours I've had playing poker in a long, long time. I'm sure I made more than a few mistakes, such as calling down a 96 Badugi to someone who was betting the stone cold nuts. In 321Omaha, I had an AAKQ starting hand, flopped top set on one of the flops, and thought that's all I had to the river. Two others were in. One showed a middle straight at the end, the next showed a slightly higher straight, and I looked and looked for a full house and finally just flipped my cards up--at which point the guy next to me almost immediately found a Broadway straight. I totally missed it. The game was casual and fun. I'm sure a couple of the players were Internet types and saw me as a real fish, but I think I held my own K, even getting some folds with bets with what I thought were decent hands in a couple of the games. I got KKKx and QQQx in a couple of Omaha hands and I know enough that they are no good in any kind of Omaha game. My only regret is that the game broke so soon, although I finished up, to my pleasant surprise, $42.

Off to bed and an early morning start at the Mirage.

But first, Internet time. I'm getting no connectivity through the IP network, which I've used before. I'm up on the 14th floor (nice & quiet), but I find that the local muni wifi is a signal I can pick up--and it's cheaper! I sign up, do email, check out some other stuff, and go off to bed.

Up early Monday and off to the Mirage, where I'm in the $3/$6 game by 9am. By 11, I had hit my first AA of the trip. Unfortunately, I didn't get them cracked. Unfortunately (for me), while I have a raging flopaholic on my right, she has just a small stack. I take a couple of river beats, and then get AA again, although it's after promo time. They hold up when I flop a set and river a boat. But I get KK cracked on a Q-high flop by a guy calling all the way with middle pair and hitting trips on the river, and then get AA cracked by sooooted cards turning a flush. I get KK again and make it 3 bets preflop. 3 people cold called. Flop comes 10-7-7. turn is a 10. Callers still in. Yet KK hold up. Huh?? How do you call without a 10 or a 7? Thank you.But then 2 more beats broke me for the night. First, only on EP linper and I find QQ in the BB. I raise. He calls. Flop is QJ8. I bet, he calls. Turn is 8. I bet, he raises, I put him on turned trips, I 3-bet, he calls. River is....8. I check, he bets, I call, he turns over....85o. Really??? I ran the odds. That's less than a 1 in 1000 chance. Perfect-perfect. I'm a 98.4% favorite on the flop. Oy.

Then I turn a Broadway straight with AQ. A smaller straight keeps reraising, and I cap it. Another guy keeps cold-calling. And the guy who was cold calling all the big bets had flopped 2 pair--and hit his 4-outer on the river to make a boat.

The table breaks and I go to another table. I get to see a 644 flop in the BB with 43. QJ calls my flop bet, get a J on the turn and another J on the river. Ugh again. A bit later, I raise PF with QQ only to run into KK.

Many times this day, a 13-hour session by the time I racked up and left, I got my money in with the best of it and was drawn out on, often by 2 or 4 outers on the river. Not at all a good start, although I'm sure many other players would have lost a lot more than the $122 I did.

Tuesday is a new day. I'm back at the Mirage and getting a game going at 9:30am. But it's a slooow start. I pick up only 2 small pots in the first 2 hours. The a maniac arrives at the table. Fortunately, he's on my right. I raise PF w/ QQ, get 3 callers, the maniac 3-bets and I cap. All call to see an AQx flop. The turn makes 3 to a flush, but the river pairs and I take down a big pot. Then a bit later, I get 2 black aces. Once again, the maniac builds a big pot, costing me a big more, but a solid local who initially raised PF takes down the pot and I get my sole bonus ($150) for this trip. This time, when 1pm rolls around, I decide I don't want to deal with Mr. Maniac, so I leave up $72 (not counting the bonus).

It's off to Hash House for a 1 lb. burger. Yum!

Get back to my room and the Internet is suddenly very unreliable. Support calls fail to resolve the problem. Suddenly, I find in-house access is working , so I hook up to that. D@mn, it's expensive though.

I decide to wander over to Bally's. I'd had a decent experience there before, and maybe I can build up a few Total Rewards hours and get some Harrahs offers. Game started out pretty soft. Was just biding my time. Saw one guy more on my right had a habit of betting out with nothing when it was checked to him. But then started getting hit myself before I could take advantage. I flop top 2, get to 4 bets on the flop, and then get rivered by a gutshot. Guy I targeted puts put blind straddle. It's checked to me, I 3-bet w/ big ace, guy to my left 4-bets with what turns out to be KQo--and hits a Q on the flop. I raise PF w/ AK, get a nice A-10-9 flop, worry a bit when a Q hits the turn, but what I have to worry about is the same guy on my left, cold calling all the way with 97o hitting his river 7. In a bit more than an hour I'm sucked out of $140 and give up.

Wednesday morning, I'm back at the Mirage and get the $3/$6 game going at 9. It was another slow day. Didn't get AA once during promo hours. Lost my first buy in and reloaded. Had one memorable hand. Raised PF with QQ in the BB after a few limpers. I hate doing this because everyone will call. I bet a 9-high flop, the button raised, I 3-bet, multiple callers, 7 on the turn, J on the river, and QQ holds up for a huge pot. I finally get AA late and they hold up with 3 to Broadway on the board. Finally, at 2:30, decide to head out, after coming all the way back and getting up $15. I go get some flip flops and head out too the IP pool, probably the earliest ever in the year I've been in an outdoor pool.

Back to business Thursday morning after getting up extra early so I can hit HHAGG for a big breakfast. It's a slow start yet again. I do hit a set of fives only to lose to a rivered straight, and call PF raises with 10-10 and AQ and whiff 'em both. In my first 5 hours, I have won a grand total of 3 pots. I am running unimaginably bad. And when I finally get a big hand (KK), I get just one caller--and she folds to a flop bet. By the time I have to leave (I have a phone screen for a job), I'm down $192. Two words: Ug. Ly.

Then I'm primed for a fantasy baseball draft, for my brother's league, a live draft on Yahoo. Plans are to order a pizza, bring it to my room, and chow down. Unfortunately, although Pizza Hut shows their $10 large pan pizzas on their website, I can't order one. I call, they say it's no longer valid. Grrr... then why is it still on the website. Duhhhh...I dont' know." Go grab a Papa John's get it back in time ti miss just the first couple of rounds, enjoy pizza & soda & baseball draft. Stay into watch the Giants-Dodgers game to open the season, but am sad to see the World Champion Giants lose their opener to the hated Dodgers.

Thursday evening, I wander by the IP poker room. I think about playing some NL, but there's a short list, so I go wander a bit, play some penny slots, and wander back. There's a seat open. I watch a bit, then decide to buy in. It's been a long time since I played NL live.

I wait until the button passes, and the very first hand I get is AA. I had noticed that the table standard for PF raises had been $11. There were 3 limpers already, so I made it $12 to go. Everyone folded. Huh? I end up playing for just an hour, but I was running as good here as I was bad at the $3/$6 games. There were 3 guys who often button straddled, and I was playing pretty tight. Mixed it up a bit on occasion. A PF raise with A-10 whiffed the flop. I declined to CB the flop and let a turn bet take it. But I also raised PF with QQ. I got just one caller, on my immediate left. The flop came K-high, all spades. (I had the Q of spades.) I CB this flop, about $15 IIRC, and got called. When a Q hit the turn, I checked, anticipating it'd be seen as weakness. sure enough, I induced a bet of $25. I CR to $65. He thought for quite a bit, then folded. I'd like to know what the more experienced players thought of the line, decisions, bet sizing, everything. Finally, late, I raised UTG w/ 99. Only the BB called; in the previous hand he'd comments that his calls had been just "playing around," and so I commented that he should "play around" again, thinking that I might get him to fold. He called. Flop was J-high rainbow. Seemed innocuous. He checked, I bet $15, he called. Turn blank, he checked, I bet $25, he called. I had no clue where I was at this point, and planned to just check down the river--until a 9 hit. He checked again. I bet $45--and he thought for a second and called! Then he folded when I showed my rivered trips. Someone else commented that I got lucky, but what could he have had? anyway, I got up a bit after that, up a nice $130.

Friday was my last day, and got the $3/$6 game going at the Mirage again. While it wasn't a bad day, it wasn't a good day either. Took me more than an hour to drag my first pot--and it was with uncracked AA. A bit after noon, I got my final promo-time AA, but the table was playing short, so (a) I didn't get 'em cracked and (b) dragged only a small pot. At 1, I picked up to hit the road, up a whopping $3.

I ended up playing 30 hours at the Mirage. I got AA cracked only once. In gameplay, I was down $124. I lost $140 at Bally's but won $172 at IP, for a net of -$92. The one $150 bonus made it a marginally profitable trip, far less than I would have expected, but I lost far less than many looser players would have.

Ran into one known AVPer, but only briefly.

Unfortunately, didn't get to talk to Chris. Kept putting it off, and then Friday when I was ready to head out, he was in a meeting.

Off to Costco to fill up with gas, a stop at Von's for sandwiches & drink, and it's on the road through the desert and home. Until next time, whenever that may be.

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  1. I went through the same hell trying to check into the IP on a Monday. They simply do not staff the check in desk. During the week I was there I never walked by the desk that the line wasn't 30-40 people deep. I stayed a week and wanted to pay my bill in cash so as not to put anything for the trip on my credit card. When I came back to the hotel Sunday night after midnight there was a line at the desl. I gave up and left it on the credit card. Literally I will never stay at the IP again because of the check in beating. Compare that to my recent stays at Planet Hollywood and Bally's where both time I arived mid morning walked up to the desk and was in my room in 10 minutes despight the fact I was 6 hours before check in time.

  2. @twriter
    What a fine fellow he was, though.

  3. @Local Rock
    What a fine fellow he was, though.[/quote]
    Of that there is no doubt. Eloquent too.

  4. Reading this thread makes me want to get a room at IP again, just so I can wave at (taunt) the line at the registration desk as I stroll past to get my key cards in three minutes flat. I'm enjoying the tier credit perks way more than I probably should.

    Those Bally's 3/6 tables can get weird, as in wild with ultra-high variance sometimes, don't they? Plenty of chips to be won many times, but can also tear a new one in a money clip faster than you'd think. Next time you're in, drop me a note a few days ahead. I want to suggest a game for you to try; it doesn't go a lot of hours every day, but I think you might do consistently well in it. I'd rather not broadcast it on a public forum, because it's a low-traffic place and two people in the room is enough to change it on many nights.

  5. Hey there

    I was just in Vegas last week - also playing the 3/6 games at Bally's and Mirage. I had a horrible night at Bally's also - but I did have one winning session there and another that was just a little down. My Mirage session on a Thursday morning was much better - love playing there. Got a bonus on quad Jacks which helped :smile:

    I also played some at the Flamingo but I really don't like playing there near as much.