Bad run made worse by crazy session @ Venetian


Just a few days before the event, I found out that I could get a free pass to the expo part of the annual Interop conference, a big IT gathering, at Mandalay Bay in May. When I found a cheap hotel out in Henderson for the trip that would include the following weekend (about $30/night on average), I booked it and was on the road early Tuesday morning for Vegas.

On of my goals, too, now that the Genesis Bravo system had finally been installed at the Mirage (although it wasn't yet operational), was to tey and get a $6/$12 game going in that room.

My GPS took me off I-15 a bit early, so it was "back" roads to the hotel, which turned out to be a former Holiday Inn on Boulder Highway. It seemed to be relatively new, and I was overall not disappointed. The room was large, the bed was comfortable, the bathroom had plenty of hot water, and the nicely sized flat screen got plenty of channels. Oh, and the free wifi worked almost flawlessly (except for the last morning when it was out hotel-wide). I found it easy to head down Boulder to Lake Mead, then to I-215 over to I-15, around 20-25 minutes to the Mirage when there was little or no traffic. A free breakfast just added to the value.

Meanwhile, once I got checked in, I headed over to the Bellagio for a little $4/$8. I got a 2nd table going, and it was a good, albeit short (just 1 3/4 hours) session. One hand, I raised PF w/ QQ. An Internet kiddie on my right (who had bought in for $400) stayed with me and tried to 3-bet bluff a 3-diamond flop. I picked him off by calling him down. Later, I had a Filipino woman calling station move to my left to find her "lucky seat." When I decided to head out and get some rest, my last hand turned out to be AA, and they held up on a scary board. I left up $127. A good start to the trip, I thought to myself. Boy, was I about to be proven wrong.

Wednesday I was up early and drove over to Mandalay Bay for Interop. Got my badge and wandered around the expo for awhile. I talked with a few folks from Bay Area companies and asked them about job openings, and gave a few my card. (Unfortunately, no one from any of those companies has contacted me since.) There were also a couple of free talks on IT subjects that I attended. Around mid-afternoon, I had finished with all the expo booths and decided to find a poker room.

I was curious about some of the weird rules I'd read about for the Mandalay Bay room, but they had no limit games going when I walked by (and no list), so I made my way to Excalibur. There was a short list for the $2-6 game, but a seat open for $1/$2 NL, and I decided to take it after watching a couple of hands, buying on for $160.

I had a couple of bigger stacks on my left, as well as a couple of younger players who I thought might be a bit aggressive. But I got KK my second hand in. When I raised it to $9, I got 4 callers. Bingo! I flopped top set, and got one caller of my continuation bet of $16. However, he folded to my $35 turn bet.

I bit later I open-raise in MP with AQ to $8. Sunglasses Boy in LP min re-raises. I call, and we're heads up. The flop is AQ2. I check-call his $21 flop bet, then lead out on a turn 3 for $35. He calls, which has me really puzzled. A 2 hits the river. I'm still confused. I'm reasonably sure I'm still good, but I'm not that experienced at the NL game. I think if I bet, I either get raised, which I'm not sure I'll know what to do with, or he'll fold, and if I check, he might bet after calling the turn. So I check, he checks behind, and then folds when I show my top 2.

Well, after just 45 minutes, I'm up nicely, but I realize also that I'm hungry, having skipped lunch, so I take my $122 profit and go in search of food.

It being Wednesday night, it's steak night out at the Orleans buffet. Even though I neglected to bring my card with me, I head over there. The line is mercifully short, and I'm soon chowing down on very average hunks of steak. But I'm still happy.

So I head over to the poker room, and even though I don't have my card, put my name up for $4/$8. It's not too long before I'm sitting down. After a short while, I was able to change seats to put the table's 2 biggest calling stations on my right. Unfortunately, I was mostly card dead and could get nothing against them. They got felted and 2 locals, who talked about normally playing at bigger games and who I could tell were really goo, replaced the calling stations. So when the clock hit 11, I decided that my day had been long enough and I wasn't going to get any traction at this table, so I cashed out down $56.

Bright and early, I head over to the Mirage for some $3/$6. I began the game with a major flopaholic 2 seats to my left. Early on, I made it 4 bets PF w/ KK after my initial raise got popped, and flopped KJJ. Then my first AA got raised by a local on my left, but an A on the river got me the pot instead of a bonus. But then it began going downhill. Was missing draws. Flopped TPTK after raising PF w/ AQ but lost to flopped set. Then got AA again--and flopped top set. Funny thing was, all 3 were diamonds, but still got no action, and a rivered full house again got me a pot instead of a bonus. But the wins were not enough to offset the misses, and I headed out about 2 down $100.

I decided to head over to the Bellagio, and sat down at a $4/$8 game at 4:45. The session turned into a grind. I raise PF w/ QQ only to find KK 3-betting--and J8 soooted coming along only to flop a flush. Was card dead for awhile, then 3-bet PF w/ JJ, only to (a) have AA 4-bet and (b) 97 soooted cap it--and flop Q99. The table started getting too loose-aggressive for my taste, so I changed tables. NOt really much better, but had one interesting hand. I was in the BB w/ 72s. 4 saw the flop of AA6, with 2 of my suit. I was the only one who called a flop bet, and then I led out on a K turn, and got about the only player at the table who would lay down to such a show of strength to actually lay down. Still, I decided I'd had about enough at 10pm, even though I was down a bit ($25) for the session.

Up early again on Friday, I was off to the Mirage, were I sat down yet again in the $3/$6 game, getting the first one of the day going. And the very first hand, someone at the table hit quads. Meanwhile, I got down a bit early, then limped w/ 66 & 5 other callers. No one bet an AQJ flop, but someone did when a 6 hit the turn. I raised and got 2 cold callers. A 3 on the river got me back to even. Other than that, though, I was getting hammered. a PF raise w/ AQ finds a K on the flop--and the K-10 and K-9 cold callers hitting. I flop a straight & flush draw--that's 15 outs twice--misses. PF raise w/ AK. 4 callers and whiff. Same thing the very next hand. I get no AA through the promo period. A bit later, I limp w/ A7s, flop the flush draw and hit the flush on the turn. This time, 2 call my check raise and I take a nice pot, chipping me back up a bit. Most of my limping with small pocket pairs is missing though. Then I have JJ hold up, miss w/ AQ, and hit top two with AJ. However, another issue begins to arise: They are having a pickle eating contest next door in the sports book. And it's loud. Very loud. I am not the only one who finds the cacophony of noise overwhelming, and the game breaks at about 3:15pm. I decide that I'm going to take a break away, even though I'm down $79. I head over to Hash House and get the burger. Yum.

I head back in the evening, hoping to get a $6/$12 game going. Unfortunately, despite my minor attempts at promotion, the installation process of the Bravo system means that no electronic board is being used, do no one passing by can see games available. I end up sitting in a $3/$6 game. We play shorthanded for awhile, then once we fill up, it turns out to be nicely loose-passive, a surprise for a Friday night. I have the most aggro player at the table on my right and a nice little old lady in an Easter bonnet on my left. Still, I'm not hitting my little pairs. Finally, I get AK and 3-bet aggro guy raising UTG. Someone else cold calls the 3 bets, and then I just call aggro guy's flop & turn bets on A-high board. Got really lucky on one hand. I called a button raise in the BB w/ K-10. The flop came AQx. I floated the continuation bet and hit a miracle J on the turn. I CR, and he called, then he raised my bet on the river, and then called my 3-bet. He claimed to have a set. A bit later, I finally hit a small pair, 77. Only it wasn't a set. I flopped quads. And I had one guy call my bets all the way. So I get a nice little pot in addition to the bonus. By 9:45, I was getting tired, so even though it was a good table, I decided to head out. I was up $40, not counting the bonus.

Of course I was back at it again on Saturday morning at the Mirage. I got AA, but the board paired and I didn't get them cracked. Again. Meanwhile, I've cracked someone else' AA twice now. I had a good run early, almost doubling up, but got it whittled back down in an hours-long run of trash hands. I finally get a big A, hit top pair--only to have 32s hit runner-runner flush. Yuk. We saw 6 AA at the table this morning, 4 of them got cracked. Not mine though. Then I flop top set w/ KK and get runner-runnered again. I end up deciding to take a break at 3pm, down $75.

And so I decided to see what the Venetian was like on a Friday night. Big mistake. I got into an $8/$16 game that was very aggressive. I was able to pick out the good aggressive players, but the loose ones were making the game crazy. one drunk woman in particular was loud and happy, hitting thin draw after thin draw and just piling up chips. But I was still on a run of trash hands. I finally hit an A with A-10, only to run into 99 flopping a set. I tried to speculate a bit with J-10, hit middle pair, and found myself against AA flopping a set. The drunk lady finally left, but I was down and determined to grind my way back. But it was not to be. Short stacked, I limped w/ 98s, had it raised, 4 other callers, so I came along, and hit a miracle flop of 88x. I hit top pair in the blinds w/ 10-9, but lost to 36 in the SB hitting bottom two. To end the night, I got my last chips in with a flush draw, a straight draw, and bottom pair, and missed everything. After a bit more than 2 hours, I just left down $300.

Back to $3/$6 Sunday morning at the Mirage. I was mostly card dead, but did hit a set w/ 66, although it was a 3-flush board. Fortunately, the turn paired. Went 0 for 2 with AK. I hit top set w/ QQ, guy goes runner-runner flush on me, calling all the way. Table gets AA 4 times, twice cracked, and I don't see any of 'em. SB raises after several limpers, I call in the BB w/ KJ, flop is K-J-10, SB has AQ, I don't hit my 4-outer. I finally give up after almost 6 hours, down $160.

But as it turns out, I had played at the Mirage almost exactly the right hours to pay for a buffet, so I got a ticket and headed over to there. I'm still not all that impressed by the Mirage buffet though. Except for the salads they toss for you.

Later in the evening, I head over to the IP, which is why I planned my stay through Monday. I am looking forward to the mixed game. I decide to sit in the $2/$4 game for awhile to pass some time after again hitting Hash House for a burger. I flop top 2 with A9, someone who came in w/ 94 (and calls flop bet) hit 4 on turn, 4 on river. The whole trip has been a lot like that. I hit trip 9s w/ Q9--and they hold up w/ 4 to a straight on the board by the river. I little old redheaded lady, a major calling station I remember from the Mirage, moves to be on my left, then she cold calls my PF raise (I had 99) w/ K6o & hits a K on the flop. I get 4 cold callers to my UTG raise w/ AQ. I hit an A on the flop, than backdoor a flush, but get no river callers. When the mixed game is finally called, it turns out I'm up $23.

A moment to give some props to the IP dealers. I had a hand where I had 2 pair, with 2 other in. I made a river bet when a third flush card hit the board, with a casual comment along the lines of I can't make comments about possible hands when there are more than 2 people left in the hand. Not something I always think about, but I appreciate the dealers enforcing rules like this, even in a little bitty $2/$4 limit game, even when it was me in the wrong.

The mixed game was tons o' fun again. Unfortunately, fortune didn't smile on me as much this time. I had what I think was a very solid (in most, if not all) of the games 2 seats to my left, and a real calling station 2 seats to the left of him.

I kind of held my own in terms of knowing what I was doing. I was a bit passive in some of the more complicated games, but as I recognized more and more what hands were typically good, depending on action, I learned more when betting out was better action than check-calling. Again, I have to give props to the IP dealers, as most of them dealt all the different games almost flawlessly. We played a bit short at first, but as the night progressed, we got 2 tables going. I left at 12:45am because (a) I was getting a bit tired (although I was still having a lot of fun playing, despite being down most of the night), and (b) I had to get up early Monday morning to hit the road to get to a 7pm class back in the Bay Area. I finished down $108.

Overall, I finished this trip down about $600, not a very good result at all. But, runs like this happen in poker. I still enjoyed seeing quite a few now-familiar faces across the felt (and a few in the box).

I suppose I should apologize to anyone hoping to find a report by a single guy full of drunken debauchery. But I go to play poker, so that is almost entirely what my Vegas trips are limited to. Maybe next time....

Last Edited:


  1. Great trip report. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed playing with you over Thanksgiving last year.

  2. By chance were you at Mirage on Friday 6/10, morning to early afternoon? The table had some older locals, a couple of younger locals, and assorted others, including a young lady who made a FH on her second ever hand. If so, which one were you? I was in seat 5 or 6, the one folding virtually every hand pre flop. (If you knew my cards you'd understand perfectly.)

  3. @illinikris

    Nope, sorry, this was a May trip.