Festivus Trip Report—December 21-28, 2008

This report will cover my second annual Festivus trip to Vegas, and will be updated every day or two. Let’s just say with holiday rooms at TI for $9/night and round trip airfare under $150, how can you pass up a week in poker Mecca?

Sunday, 12/21/08

My plane left Des Moines, Iowa a little late for de-icing. Temperature was below zero with ridiculous wind chill.

Arrived in Vegas around 3:00 local time. Cabbie points out snow on the ground in some shaded areas as if it is a holy miracle.

Checked in at TI, caught a “Zachary’s Brooklyn” sandwich (pastrami & coleslaw on rye) @ Canter’s Deli in TI. Delish.

TI poker manager Danette called, invited me to HSP taping at Golden Nugget. Caught a cab downtown. HSP was on dinner break, so played about an hour at the Nugget. Pretty nice hotel, nice small room. Had two 1/2 NLHE and one 2/4 LHE tables going. Action was pretty tight. No big hands. Left down $30 due to chasing two big draws and missing (note how little you pay to chase!).

HSP was awesome! Danette showed me the set, where Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, David Benyamine, and Ilari Samahies were all playing Chinese poker for $2K / point during dinner break. About 30 minutes later, they began taping the final 4-5 hour session of HSP. The lineup for the table:

Daniel Negreanu
Peter Eastgate
Doyle Brunson
Barry Greenstein
Tom “Durr” Dwan
David Benyamine
Eli Elezera
Ilari Samahies

The action was crazy! These guys toss around $25K chips like us low-stakes grinders make $25 c-bets. Dwan was in nearly every pot, while Eastgate was either card dead or a little intimidated (likely both) and really played tight preflop. I don’t want to spoil the fun for y’all when the new season airs, so I won’t go into details. Let’s just say our own Danette dealt a big ~$550K pot contested by Dwan and Greenstein—sick stuff! Set your TiVos now!!
HSP quote of the night—Eli Elezera to Barry Greenstein, who had folded a few hands in a row prefop: “Barry, you know we’re still playing poker?”

After a couple hours backstage at HSP, I left to try out the new poker room at Binions. I had never been downtown before, so it was nice to see the Fremont Street area. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at the poker rooms at both Binions and the Nugget (and the Nugget hotel itself frankly appeared just as nice or nicer than many mid-range Strip hotels; did not get to see Binions hotel area). I played at Binions for 3-4 hours, ended up +$55. Room itself is comfy, well set up, with solid dealers (Kat, Gia, and Robert, hat tip to y’all). But the play was 90% locals grinding out hours for their $50K freeroll tourney, with tight nitty action. Preflop raise to $8 would often pick up the blinds; pots rarely got over $40 unless there were two really big hands (set vs. a big draw or AA/KK).

I hit a couple of small pots with a set of 7s and 84s from the blinds hitting two pair against some local’s KK (I got the obligatory, “You called $10 preflop with that?”). Another time, after a bluff was shown, one local said to another, “You have the morals of an Illinois governor.” I took a restroom break, and was at the urinal when this short drunk guy walks in, looks at me, and says, “Dude, you’re huge!” Suddenly, he turns red and says, “Dude, I mean, you’re really tall!” I laughed and said, “No worries, I hear ‘huge’ a lot,” zip up and leave him standing there turning even more red.
I had planned to grind with Danette at the Nugget after HSP finished taping around midnight, but unfortunately, she had to change plans and head home. So, I headed back to TI to start grinding out some hours toward the “No Tap” Tourney.

I got right into a 1/3 NLHE game (three games full, plus a 2/4 LHE all going at 1:00 am). Table is the usual combo of a couple of regulars and several young, drunk locals. Two in particular were there the entire session; they were on break from college, one from the Air Force Academy (good LAG player) and his buddy from Chicago (decent ABC type). They were fun guys, high on Red Bull and lack of sleep, and we were trading cracks and jokes all night. For example, AF guy is on the academy boxing team, but still managed—while stacking a nice pot—to blurt out, “Another $200 and I can make a flower!” Gave him some grief over that!

Had a good start when I hit a set with 55 on a T54 rainbow flop. Another guy gets all-in for ~$200 with 44, and fails to quad up. Ironically, the ladies were my weakness this session. I had QQ run into AA, but he was shortstacked at $50, so the damage was minimized. Later, I had T9s in the BB with five callers of $10 preflop. Flop is TcTd4c. Candyland! I check, somebody bets, preflop raiser raises, I move in for $400ish, first guy drops out, and preflop raiser agonizes. It’s clear he has an overpair, and finally he says, “If you got it, you got it, I gotta call” and shows QQ (NOTE: You never “gotta call”, but thanks for putting in nearly $300 knowing you are huge dog). Of course, a Q spikes the turn, and I have him covered by nearly $100, but still have to reload up to $300.

A couple hours later, Chris (the dealer of the big cooler) helps move his way back up my dealer rankings by dealing me three hands back-to-back-to-back where I had suited connectors flop boats, or flop trips and turn a boat. I got paid decently on each hand, and was back in the black when the big hand of the night occurred …

A little background. Around 4:00 am, a new young guy hits the table, known to me as NYK (nice young kid). He’s a little drunk, very LAGgy, but seems to know what he’s doing. Eventually, he gets in a pot with AF boy. AF boy raised preflop, c-bet hard on the flop, turn, and river. Board is A-6-8-K-6 with three clubs. NYK calls all the way down, and snap calls the river … with 55!! AF boy mucks and starts to mutter. NYK says, “I just lost over $2,000 on the tables, so what’s another $100?” I immediately decide I want to play raised pots in position with this guy!!

NYK has a huge stack, and bleeds some of it to me when I value bet the heck out of him in a series of medium pots. I have $850 behind and NYK has ~$575 behind when the hand o’ the night occurs:

I’m OTB. Local guy raises $10, NYK, and AF boy all call. I find J9o, and figure I’ll take a flop for another $7.

Flop ($40): QhTs8h Donkey Kong!!

Local guy bets $25. NYK calls. AF guy folds. I raise to $60. Local guy folds, NYK calls.

Turn ($185): 3d

NYK bets $100. Huh?!? I decide enough is enough, and push. NYK calls and shows … Ah5h. John rolls over the river … a pretty Qd!! Finally, LL Cool J!! Ship it for ~$1,150.
NYK leaves (sigh), but I grind it with the table for another hour or so before heading to bed with my entire trip already paid for …

To be continued …

Last Edited:


  1. I played alongside Grange today. I was playing at Harrahs this morning, and Grange randomly walked in shortly after Perry left.

    Glad this report will be ongoing! I look forward to the reports!

  2. Can't wait for the next installment...

    Great report!

  3. Nice start! Keep it rolling.

  4. great report G....looks like some nice money was made as well :grin:

  5. Is $9 per night for TI a typo? Wow, if not.

    Anyways, keep these coming. The rest of we Iowans are enjoying shoveling our driveways at least every other day with chapped lips and frozen toes.

  6. @Jugweed

    Concur. Please inform us how we can get TI for $9/night.

  7. @djpeteski

    Concur. Please inform us how we can get TI for $9/night.[/quote]

    Step 1: Cut a hole in a box ...

    No, seriously, it was a typo. Room rate (off email special) is $49/night. Still not bad!!

    Day 2 to be posted soon.

  8. Day 2 Highlights and Lowlights:

    On the second day of Festivus, the poker gods sent to me … two poker rooms and a table full of nits!

    I woke up around 11:00, wrote up my notes from Day 1, and took care of some random work issues for a couple hours. Then it was time to find a game. I stopped down at TI to see if I could grind out some more “No Tap” qualifier hours, but they only had a 2/4 game going. So, it was down the Strip I went.
    I vaguely intended to stop in at Imperial Palace or Bally’s, but swung into Harrah’s on a whim. I found three 1/2 NL tables going, so I figure, why not play here while watching the Packers-Bears game and qualify for the Harrah’s buy-in bonus at the same time? So I get my chips and get sent over and find myself sitting by none other than AVP demigod LasVegasMichael. LVM played for another hour or so before taking off to be a responsible parent. Before he left, he was kind enough to teach me the secret nit handshake and demonstrate his new “limp-check-fold” technique. Crikey it was breathtaking to observe this magnificent shark at work in his home environment …

    The table was tight, though not as bad as BInions the night prior. Not many huge pots. I get off to a terrible start when on my very first hand I am dealt AJs, raise, get a couple callers, and promptly donk off half my stack when I flop TPTK against a set of tens. Interestingly, I lose another $100 or so later in the session when I again run AJ into TT on a JTX flop. Talk about Groundhog Day!

    I wish I could relate some funny stories or quotes, but let’s face it, the nit is a naturally humorless species. I moved to a new spot in position on a big stack, and spent the next four hours with a regular on my left relating how bad every starting hand he folded had been all day, except for the handful of hands where he got outflopped or bad beat. Makes me wish I had brought my iPod to the room!

    I end up slowly building a stack. Two orbits in a row, I get suited J-rag in the BB, and both times flop a flush … and both times the same cranky old guy pays me off! For the next couple hours, he reminds me and the table of those two hands every time I’m in the BB; “Going to flop a flush again?”. Hilarious …

    Although I took notes on about a dozen hands, in retrospect, only a couple are worth mentioning. First, my only set of the session paid off for a $350 pot when I flopped bottom set against TPTK, and the guy tells me he thought I was bluffing with just a flush draw—good read dude! The other great hand was early in the session and my momentum builder. I had ~$150 behind, and raised OTB with 36o. A tight (and talented) female player across the table re-raised to $25, and another supertight regular called. Uh-oh! Flop is 3-4-5 rainbow. Wonder Woman bets $50, Aquaman calls, and I auto-push. Wonder Woman agonizes, but calls … as does Aquaman!! This will not end well … The turn is a blank for me, and the Wonder Woman bets Aquaman out of the pot. Wonder Woman proudly turns over AA as the dealer rolls over the river … another 3! Candyland! The pot puts me in the black, and I manage to build it up for a nice $400 profit by the time I cash out and search for food.

    As it was getting late for dinner, I stopped at Isla in TI to eat at the bar while donking at video poker. Early on I hit five of a kind on deuces wild, but ended up donating $20 to the MGM budget by the time my food arrived. My meal was pork carnitas, very tasty, as well as a glass of silver tequila on the rocks (7 Leg, a new brand for me). Then it was off to the TI poker room to see if the fish were biting.

    Unfortunately, I initially was seated at a table of solid players. Nothing of real interest early, as I was fighting to keep from being run over by the ultra-aggressive play. The 2/4 table next to us seemed to be having a great time with lots of dinking and laughter. At one point, this lady was saying funny stuff about the play of every hand; my favorite was when she was asking players preflop what they had for a couple of rounds: “Anybody with a card above a ten, raise your hand!” May have to donk some drunken 2/4 before I leave!

    An hour or so in to the session, a young guy walks over and it turns out to be Vancouver Ray, a young medical student I played several fun sessions with last Festivus trip! As soon as a seat opens at Ray’s table, I moved over to join him. A couple hours later, a drunk kid from Montana wanders in and immediately tells me he is glad I am a smart@ss, because he is one as well. We end up trading barbs for a couple hours, and he loosens up the game, playing like the poker dealer/degenerate he admits he is. Montana spent the evening at the Encore grand opening, drinking free champagne and playing roulette (“I won $2,300, and instead of going back to the room and getting a great hooker, I lost it all back.”). He happened to be a short guy, which led to my favorite exchange:

    Montana (to dealer): “Can I straddle?”

    Me (holding arm out, hand open, palm down): “I’m sorry, sir, you must be this tall to straddle.”

    Montana (raising UTG): “I’m tall enough to raise.”

    Me (calling): “You’re only tall if you hang with the O’Shea’s midget.”

    Dealer: “One and a half players to the flop.”

    Montana kept the table entertained until he eventually bluffed off several buy-ins and left to play roulette. The rest of the session was fairly routine, except for a period when the table had five seats taken by Canadians of Asian descent (“Canasians” as they declared), from places as far-flung as Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Calgary. I nicknamed the Toronto player, “Toronto Bob” even though his name wasn’t Bob. The nickname stuck for the next 5-6 hours.

    We end up playing short-handed until roughly 7:00 am. I took a nice pot down when I three-barrel bluff at a board of A-K-J-4-5 with 88. At the end, it was just Toronto Bob, Vancouver Ray, a solid player (Aaron) and me, with John dealing and Rich “supervising” (mostly telling awesome Yappy Dave stories). We traded chips until Toronto Bob got short-stacked and called it a night.

    Best random dealer line of the session, said to two guys all-in preflop: “Do you want to show now, or wait and slow roll each other on the river?”

    Agenda for Tuesday: Redeem cashback certificate at Harrah’s, check out IP and Bally’s, grind my last couple of “No Tap” hours at TI, and achieve total world domination.

  9. Day 3—When Bad Things Happen to Morally Ambivalent Poker Players

    The day started with two of my Vegas pet peeves—restaurants that are closed weekdays (Social House, love ya, but calling you out here!), and people who amble in packs oblivious to the fact that they are blocking the hall or sidewalk for faster walkers. These are probably the same people who drive in the left lane but never pass. This pet peeve extends to people who get on moving walkways or escalators and decided to stop walking, without getting out of the way of those who don’t mind expending a little energy of their own …

    Anyway, I wandered past TI poker room around 2:00, but no NL games were going. So I wandered over to Harrahs to redeem my $30 bonus buy-in certificate. To do so, I was sentenced to detention … I mean, I had to play on one of the nittiest, whiniest tables ever. These people whined and folded non-stop. My best attempts to loosen up the table and/or lighten the conversation were generally ignored. Once, I raised in EP with AK and showed after everyone folded. The table captain went to great lengths to explain to me that AK is really better played as a limping hand because it usually misses the flop. A few hands later, I have Jc8c in the BB, and we go family-style to a flop of 5c6c7c. I bet out small and it folds around. I show my hand, and three people proceed to explain to me that I really should have slow-played the hand, because I could have caught runner-runner for a J-high straight flush and earned a $130ish HHJ bonus. I casually mentioned that I didn’t like risking someone catching a higher flush with a lone Ac or Kc and they all stared at me like I was speaking Latin.

    A little later, two middle-aged women traveling together were playing and decided to take advantage of the bonus buy-in. But then they found out they would have to cash out for an hour, then play for another hour, which interfered with their plans. Wow, to hear those two complain about how they were being robbed of “their” $30 was enough to make you wonder how they possibly qualified for the Harrah’s diamond cards they each were sporting. The whining went on and on until one lady left in a huff … only to come back and buy back in to whine some more. That’s when the fun started …

    Grumpy Gal was in the BB, and I was OTB when I found K7s. It limped to me so I raised to $10 as an annoyance and because it stood a fair chance of taking down the pot. To my surprise, I got a few callers. Flop comes down 7-7-rag. Yahtzee! Check to me, I bet, Grumpy Gal calls. Turn, GG bets, I call. River, GG goes all-in, I call, and she shows 76o and ships me her stack! She immediately left in a huff still whining about the $30 bonus issue … the first ever victim of “poker promo tilt”! A little later, I stack the table captain when I call his raise with 46o. Flop is 3-5-A, turn is the magic 7, and river is a K … and he proudly showed his AK until looking like he wanted to strangle a kitten when he saw my straight. The table then went short-handed and ultra-tight, so I cashed out (+$160 plus the $30 bonus) and headed to the Venetian.

    Venetian was really humming for late afternoon Tuesday. Easily 20-25 tables in action, spreading a lot of 1/2 and 2/5 NLHE, at least one 5/10 NLHE, several 4/8 LHE, and a “big game” in the “Salon” area (I think this was a 10/20 NLHE game). However, the two tables I played at were uber-tight for the Venetian, and I really never got action on my big hands. Two old guys were on my left and right, and they were “always-chop” types—I end up chopping blinds with QQ twice and AK twice (oh well!). I made some money with AJ when I flopped top two and turned a boat. I also ran a nice semi-bluff with Q9s when I turned a flush w/gutshot draw. I was up $85 when AlaskaGal texted me for dinner …

    [We take a moment to report a funny moment at the V. Young kid sits down, dealer asks if he wants to buy the button or wait two hands for it to pass. Kid says he’ll wait. Old guy says, “At my age, I can’t risk waiting for the button.” … We now return to your regularly scheduled trip report.]

    AlaskaGal and I met at Ra Sushi (in the Fashion Mall) for dinner. It is a casual, fun place, with great food. I had the octopus-cucumber salad to start, and we split a New Zealand roll (scallops and kiwi) and a Funky Monkey roll (I forget what was in it). Everything (including the mojitos) were tasty.
    AG and I then headed to TI for some poker, but the 1 NL game was full, so we took a brisk walk to Bally’s. Getting back to pet peeves, moving walkways are NOT the place to have a heavy makeout session. Just sayin’, get a room or get out of my way.

    The Bally’s poker room was hopping, so we hit the bar for a margarita and some video poker while a new table was being set up. AG played “double down poker” where, if you hit a big enough hand, you get to try to double your points by picking one of four cards to be higher than a card picked by the machine. AG needed to beat a deuce and managed to pick a deuce! I was a rookie, and I managed to beat the exponentially harder trey on the next double down …

    My poker session started off slowly, although AG pointed out a Max Headroom look-alike wandering by. I had a cold streak of good starting hands whiffing the flop, and big draws flaming out, which put a dent in my stack. I did recover a bit when I stacked the table calling station who underbet her KK after I flopped a double-gutter; I check-raised the turn and hit my straight on the river, when she finally decided it would be a great idea to take charge and put herself all-in. Fair enough!

    AG left around midnight, being a responsible parent. I ran into Vancouver Ray again, though he was at Bally’s for a late dinner with his girlfriend (though he did end up on another table later). I rebuilt my stack a bit when I hit two boats (one was a set of 8s, the other A5s). I yo-yoed a bit, but was pretty card-stagnant for the next couple of hours, until …

    I’m OTB with 45o. UTG is an older guy, basically just gambling short-stacked. He opens for $8, and gets raised to $18 by the table “professor” (the guy always explaining to everyone why he played a certain way and how they misplayed a hand). I called, knowing the professor had to have a big PP or maybe AK. UTG goes all-in for $40 total, so professor and I both call. Flop is 2s3s6h. Donkey Kong! Professor checks, I bet $50 knowing professor wants to check-raise, which he does, moving all-in. I snap call and immediately table my hand. Professor looks confused by my hand, just staring at it. Then he notices the dealer has run out the board with the 6s-Qs, and he slams his hand to the table, saying, “I caught the flush” and shows Ac-As! Ouch!! Oh well, such is poker. Of course, the professor has to lecture me about what a terrible play I made preflop. I wanted to explain that I intentionally made a small mathematical “error” in play when I paid a small price knowing I was a roughly a 4-1 dog and getting 3-1 on my money and getting great implied odds since he routinely overplays overpairs and top pair, while he made a HUGE error putting in the big money while drawing thin to running cards of some kind ... but really, what would be the point? So I just reloaded, smiled, and looked for another spot.

    About an hour later, I find AA in the BB. A short-stacked guy raises to $10, Old Gambler calls, I raise to $40, first raiser goes all-in for $75, Old Gambler calls, I go all-in, Old Gambler calls. I show my AA, the others don’t show. Fine by me. Board looks safe except for sets … and the runner-runner clubs which make Old Gambler really excited because he has, of course, AcQc! I reload and hit a couple of decent pots, but finally decide that with a long time left in Vegas, maybe it’s better to get some sleep and go back to fishing in a new pond on a new day. Final damage for the session: -$445. It’s only a flesh wound!!

    A couple of final housekeeping matters. First, a new (or renewed) poker pet peeve. What is up with all the people in limped pots where nobody bets, and you get to showdown, and nobody wants to show their hand … then someone shows a high card … then some guy rolls over top pair or some hand he HAS to know is good given the lack of action … why the slowroll? Or, similar issue, two or three guys get to the river, someone shows a small hand (say top pair or two pair), other guy stares at it for a bit, then rolls over a set or straight … again, why??? The table at Bally’s tonight had 3 or 4 of these guys, and at Harrah’s the entire table seemed infected with this condition. Geez people, if there is a decent chance your hand is good, just turn it over already!! There will be plenty of time to ponder its deeper existential meanings later … and the dealer can tell you what they have if you still can’t tell a straight from a set.

    The other housekeeping matter is my “United Nations of Poker” roundup, where I keep track of all the home countries of foreigners who wind up at my table. It is a lot of fun to see how big of a draw Vegas is for the non-U.S. crowd. So far, I have played poker this trip with people from:

      Hong Kong

    Pretty diverse, eh?

  10. Great read so far, thanks for keeping this work day somewhat interesting. I am really excited about my trip coming up in January. Have fun.

  11. Plans for Day 4--Finish TI grind for "No Tilt" Tourney, then hit IP and Venetian.

  12. Tonga? Is that really a country? Sort of like Portland State, right?

    I think we have a new category for IMOP '09...

    By the way, between your write ups and LVM's "Nittin' it up" blog, I can't tell if I want to scratch my own eyes out or catch a flight out there tonight to sit and annoy them for hours on end.

  13. @Santa Claus

    The guy from Tonga was at my table at Venetian and noticed I was wearing an Iowa sweatshirt, so he was telling me how he is the cousin of Iowa tight end Tony Moeaki. Wacky stuff happens in Vegas!

  14. Grange,

    Some of the best posting in a while. As a result, I have, admiteddly, lifted a line from one of your reports for my new sig. line. That said, the appropriate citation will be used to credit that nugget. THANKS and keep it coming!

  15. Keep this coming, enjoying it. It's as good as being there :sunglasses:

  16. Thanks for the great posts Grange...My week with the in-laws is slightly less fun so you're helping my cause here. good luck at the tables the rest of the way.

  17. @Grange95
    That is so gay.

    By the way, sounds like I was probably playing Binion's the same time as you. But of course I was at one of the low-rent tables. Mine was liberally seasoned with a couple of French guys, two West Virginians, a Canadian, a Texan, and assorted drunkards, degenerates, and wierdos. So it was much better than your group of tighties.

  18. @Local Rock

    Yup, I remember hearing that table .... very boisterous!!

  19. That is a small world with the guy from Tonga.

    I played with a Moeaki relative at Monte Carlo for one of the freerolls last month. I think he said that he was Tony's uncle?

    Maybe the whole family lives/plays out there. He was a nice guy to talk with. There is a lot of football in that family. I think he said another of his nephews plays/played @ USC.

    I was wearing an Iowa sweatshirt too. You wouldn't believe how many Go Hawks!! comments I got from drunks on the strip throughout the day.

  20. No Tap Tourney Update!

    I know I haven't posted daily updates for Wednesday and Thursday yet, but should get those done soon. Let's just say that I chose to celebrate the holiday a bit rather than type up my notes! But here's a quick update for today (Friday, 12/26).

    I played in the TI No Tap Tourney today, and wound up winning it! This was a freeroll for those playing 15+ hours at TI during December, with a cash buy-in option for out-of-towners. Because I was checking out of TI (headed to Mandalay Bay for the final three nights), I ended up arriving ~10 minutes into the first level, ala' Phil Hellmuth. I think there were three tables with maybe 27 runners.

    My first table I found myself with the world famous Yappy Dave on my immediate right, not a bad spot for me to have against him. He ended up busting out early after bluffing preflop into AA and failing to catch up [EDIT]. The "no tap" rule really changed the game. People with big hands would limp and wait to reraise after the BB's near-obligatory raise. Limping UTG became a powerful stealing maneuver! Early on, there was a lot of pushing, since we had only stacks of 5000T. I stole a couple of small pots early with AK OTB and AK in the SB, then gawked a big % of my stack off to South Carolina Brandon (the eventual runner-up) when I flopped top pair with Q7 and turned an OESD, but failed to aggressively protect it and let Brandon catch a diamond flush on the river. I then nursed my stack until the final table--key, because all final 10 were guaranteed $100 cash.

    At the final table, I was one of the smallest stacks by far. I had the good fortune to have Brandon on my immediate right, as he was the chip leader and playing aggressively. I was getting a bit desperate when I picked up KK in late position after an UTG limp by one of the two big stacks. I limp, and UTG check-raises the BB's raise, allowing me to go all-in. UTG calls with QXs, I flop top set and more than double up to a comfortable medium stack.

    I get to the final six in 3rd place by chip stack. I then hit the critical hand of the tourney. I am in the SB, and the BB is the short stack and almost certain to push on this hand. Brandon limps OTB, and I find AA in the SB. Knowing that the raise is coming, I limp, BB pushes for 3500T total, Brandon calls, I push for a LOT more (~21.5K), Brandon calls. My AA holds up, and I am suddenly the chip leader and Brandon is back to average stack.

    I steal a couple of small pots, but let the two short stacks eliminate themselves. Once four-handed, I eliminate a player when I play JTs OTB and catch trip Ts on the flop to beat his AQ. At this point, there are only 500 and 1000 chips in play, and I have ALL of the yellow 1000 chips! :scream: I knock out Virginia Tech Alex in third place when I call his push with Tc7c from the BB, and again catch trip Ts. When we got to heads up, I had the button first, and for this format, it is a powerful advantage, as the button can limp, leaving the other player with a forced raise or fold option, and further facing a forced bet or fold on the flop; this advantage is even more pronounced when there is a major chip disparity. I take out Brandon on the first hand of heads up when we limp into the flop of J-7-X with two hearts. Brandon goes all-in with J7 for two pair, and I call with Kh6h for the flush draw. I river the flush, and the title is mine! :sunglasses:

    The tourney was a blast, though it did require a serious shift in strategy (e.g., Yappy Dave invented the limp-reraise as an alternative to the traditional check-raise). I think I heard the phrase, "That's so sick!" about 250 times in two hours when players encountered bizarre betting situations where they would normally check and hope to take a card or even check-raise, but instead have to fold. Definitely a fun way to start the weekend, and a big shout out to the TI poker room for setting this up. Oh yeah, payouts were:

    1st--$500 cash and two tickets to the UFC 92 fights at MGM tomorrow night ($400 each--primo!) [EDIT]
    2nd--$500 cash and two tickets to the UFC 92 fights ($300 each--sweet!) [EDIT]
    3rd--$500 cash
    4th--$250 cash
    5th - 10th--$100 cash

    Pretty awesome prize pool for a freeroll!

  21. Congrats on the "No-Tap" win! Was good seeing you in the room this past week, enjoy the fight!

  22. @Grange95


    1st - $500 cash and two tickets to the UFC 92 fights at MGM tomorrow night ($800 EACH the most expensive tickets available)
    2nd - $500 cash and two tickets to the UFC 92 fight ($600 EACH, the 2nd most expensive tickets available)

    Everyone seemed to really like the format (No Tap) and I'm thinking about starting No Tap Tuesdays - all tournaments on Tuesdays would be No Tap Tournaments.... give some extra chips to counter the faster play and it should make for lots of fun!

    Thanks to all that played and started the day out great!

    Oh and I now have to say I never realized that YOU were Grange.... (pictured Grange -purely from the name- as a surly old man) LOL

  23. @Grange95

    I'm afraid, sir, that you are mistaken. My bust hand was limping from the SB, watching you min-raise, watching the UTG call, and I shoved 10x on top of that with AK, goaded him into calling with his A,Q and he flushed me on the river.


    It was a sick move/play.

  24. @TI Poker

    When I picked up the tickets tonight, I discovered that I had misunderstood the ticket values ... they are in fact twice what I thought, making this an even more awesome freeroll!!

    No Tap Tuesdays ... that's so sick! :smiling_imp:

    Glad to meet you, sort of semi-offically. I will try to be more surly next time!

  25. @Yappy Dave

    I'm afraid, sir, that you are mistaken. My bust hand was limping from the SB, watching you min-raise, watching the UTG call, and I shoved 10x on top of that with AK, goaded him into calling with his A,Q and he flushed me on the river.[/quote]

    Yikes! My bad! :flushed: My notes I kept on my phone were a little cryptic, and I apparently confused your demise with another unfortunate early exit. If I may be so bold as to give you some poker tournament advice, you should really try not to be unlucky. :wink:

  26. @Grange95

    When I picked up the tickets tonight, I discovered that I had misunderstood the ticket values ... they are in fact twice what I thought, making this an even more awesome freeroll!!

    No Tap Tuesdays ... that's so sick! :smiling_imp:

    Glad to meet you, sort of semi-offically. I will try to be more surly next time![/quote]

    We'll all look forward to LIVE updates from ringside!

  27. Congrats in the win, enjoy the fights, it should be a great card tonight...I wonder what celebs Grange will be chatting up ringside tonight???

    Just checked stub hub, floor seats in one of the corner sections are going for $1400 almost double face value!!!

  28. Grange,

    I was both concerned and laughing out loud about you saying that you knew the professor had a big PP. 10 minutes later I realized you meant Pocket Pair. :laughing:

  29. Day 4--Festivus Eve

    I headed to TI early afternoon and got in a 1/3 NL game right away. At the table was a nice middle-aged couple who I played with 3-4 times this trip. Solid players, and very friendly. They advised as I sat down that they were mad at me for suggesting Social House as a place to eat, only to find it was closed until Friday. Once again, Social House, calling you out here … I understand Monday/Tuesday being dark, but the rest of the week TI was hopping and I doubt there would have been any problem with filling the place on Wed./Thursday of Christmas week. Just saying ...

    Anyway, I ended up big for the session, courtesy in part from 73o OTB flopping a boat (73 is my Ironman of Poker “signature hand”). The session did lead to an example of my new poker pet peeve, the recent epidemic of slowrolling. This time, I had 88 OTB against a young kid in a corduroy jacket (fashion police alert!). He had raised from MP, and I put him on a big ace or decent PP. Flop is all low cards, but he calls all the way to the river when an ace falls. His face lit up, so I checked behind, and flipped over my cards, saying “just a pair of eights.” Jacket Kid stares at my hand, stares at the board, looks back at me, stares some more at the cards, and finally rolls over … surprise! … AKo. I like to try to be a good person at the poker table, but I couldn’t resist a snarky, “Weren’t you sure if aces beat eights?” Jacket Kid shoots me a glare, but nothing more was said, so not sure if he got my point or not. Friends don't let friends wear corduroy and/or slowroll.

    Another crybaby from the session was a guy who had his AA snapped by J3o after calling a stiff preflop raise and flopping two pair. This guy literally said 4-5 times in a row, in a loud voice, “You show me some respect, and I’ll show you respect.” Not sure what else was going on, but those two just did not like each other much.

    My big hand for the session was a final pot of over $700. I have Kc8c in the cutoff. Random guy in MP raises to $12, so of course I call, as did a couple other players. Nice girl in the BB reraises to $30, original raiser calls, as do I to close the action. Flop is Kx8d7d. DigDug!! Nice Gal bets out for $50, Random Dude calls, so I move all-in—they each have ~$250 total to start the hand. Nice Gal agonizes for a long time. Her boyfriend happened to be playing at the table as well, and she asks him, “Honey, if I call and go broke, will you cover me?” Boyfriend correctly says he can’t advise her about the hand. Nice Gal eventually calls. Random dude looks at boyfriend and says, complete deadpan, “If I call and go broke, will you cover me, too?” Table cracks up, and Random Dude eventually calls. Nice Gal has AKo, and Random Dude has KdTd. I fade all 16,732 outs, and take down the pot.

    Just before I left, another girl sits down at the table. Here is the exchange between her and a chatty guy at the table:

    Chatty Guy: “Wow, bet you’re a shark!”
    Poker Gal: “Never played this game before.”
    Chatty Guy: “Then why do you have an iPod?”
    Poker Gal: “I just brought it with me from work.”
    Chatty Guy: “Oh. What do you do for work?”
    Poker Gal: “I deal poker at Harrah’s.”
    Table busts out laughing ….

    I headed out to eat, deciding to try “Le Burger Brasserie” in the walkway between Bally’s and Paris. Basically, this place is what you would expect if the Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo and Americans spoke French and had sports bars tuned to soccer and tennis. I had a lamb burger with mushrooms, pancetta, and buffalo mozzarella on a cheese crusted baguette. It was actually quite tasty, and not terribly overpriced (at least by Vegas gimmick-themed restaurant standards). I should note that, once again, the moving walkways to the entrance of Bally’s appear to be Vegas’ white trash Lovers’ Lane. People, get a room!

    After dinner, I stopped at Imperial Palace for a session, but they had no NLHE at all (odd for 9:00 pm), and only 5 names on a list. I moved on, and in a fit of impulse shopping, decided to stop at Mirage. Just as fair warning, the first (and only) time I tried to play at Mirage, I was treated rather rudely by the managers, so take my comments with a big pinch of salt. That being said, I not only did not entirely hate the experience, I actually made a little money and had a few laughs.

    The place was fairly busy, and offered 1/2 and 2/5 NLHE, and 2/4, 4/8, and 10/20 LHE, as well as a 4/8 Omaha8 game that started just after I was seated at a 1/2 NLHE table. I played about four hours and again made a nice profit. The table started uber-tight, prompting one dealer to crack, “It’s OK to gamble in Vegas, fellas.” About an hour into my session, a couple of young kids were seated at the table, clearly friends. Turns out they were part of a group of six or so guys on a trip together, paid for by Rich Kid, seated a couple seats to my left. Rich Kid talked non-stop about how he was rich, had paid for first class airfare for his buddies, had gotten a couple of penthouses at the Mirage, had dropped $25K at a strip club the night before, and frankly could buy and sell us. Funny thing, he was playing freakin’ 1/2 NLHE!! And was bad at it …

    Rich Kid’s buddy had on some ridiculous oversized designer sunglasses. This funny young guy from New Jersey was at the table, and asked him, dead seriously, “Are those girls’ sunglasses?” Sunglasses Dude was NOT amused! We almost had a fashion throwdown before order was restored … Anyway, since I was up for the day and the session, I decided to play poker superhero and tilt Rich Kid. Rich Kid raises from UTG, so I call from the button with 56o. Flop is 5-7-2 all clubs. Rich Kid bets, I raise big, he moves all-in, I call. Turn and river are blanks, and I beat Rich Kid’s AKo with a pair of 5s. Rich Kid goes ballistic, starts berating me, and says a couple of times how he was ahead the whole way. I can’t resist and reply in a very casual tone, “Yeah, you were ahead the whole way …. Except the flop, turn, and river.” Rich Kid ends up heading to his penthouse while I headed to TI for a late night session …

    I had called ahead to see if any tables of NLHE were running, and I arrived to find that Superhero / Evening Manager Troy had recognized my voice and put my name on the wait list!! Kudos to Troy!! I played a few hours, but ended up basically even after taking down one huge pot with a set of 3s, but donking it back when I got cute and played 62s OTB; I flopped a flush, but was drawing dead against a bigger flush. Oh well, such is my poker life!

    BTW, on the list of poker jokes to retire, this one has to be in the top five: “I was just one jack off.” Frankly, it wasn’t funny the first 120,000 times, and it sure ain’t funny now!!

  30. Loving the report, Grange, but I have a problem with your most recent post. Festivus is December 23rd, why is it titled Festivus Eve???

  31. I'm really enjoying your report. Love the table play-by-play and how you name everyone.


  32. @briggek8717

    Call me a rebel. :wink: Actually, forgot that important detail. So, for purposes of this trip report, Festivus is Dec. 23 while Festivus (Observed) is Dec. 25, which makes Dec. 24 Festivus (Observed) Eve. :sunglasses:


    Thanks! I'm trying to include a few memorable / big / interesting hands per session, but I don't want to bore everyone with lengthy hand histories or a rendition of every hand I took notes on at the table (typically 2-3 per hour).

    As for "naming" people, it's how I keep track of them at the table, particularly with players rotating in/out fairly regularly. Some are a little less charitable than others. For example, "Tournadonk" might be making his debut later in the report (he's the young internet guy with hoodie, i Pod, and sunglasses who pays off value bets because he likes to make the hero call with K-high or bottom pair).

  33. Day 5—Festivus (Observed)!!

    I started the day walking through the new Encore. Basically, think “Wynn, but lots more RED!” Encore and Wynn have always just hit me as being very classy, but as rather … inert. Not corporate sterile like the vibe I get at the Palazzo, but they are just lacking energy in some way. Maybe "subdued" is a better description, more "golf clap" than "NFL cheer". But, I suppose a lot of their clientele prefer not to have as excitable an atmosphere as other casinos. Anyway, your mileage may vary.

    I played 2/5 NLHE at Wynn for about four hours, then switched over to 1/3 NLHE for several hours. The Wynn room to me is just as nice as the Venetian, but with a more subdued atmosphere (sort of like the poker rooms mirror the atmospheres of their respective casinos). The dealers have to be the best in the business on a technical basis, though many have a neutral to negative attitude, which is not what I like to see (part of the job at lower lever games is salesmanship and entertainment, like it or not). Still, I really like the room a lot and will definitely play there again.

    The 2/5 game played uber-tight, seemed to have several “regulars” who knew the dealers. I took down a decent pot when my JJ flopped top set against a flopped straight (98s), but the river paired the board for my boat. I also had a nice hand when I played Ts8s in the hijack against a preflop raise from a pretty predictable young kid (“Ed Hardy Guy”) who routinely raised OTB, and the flop came down Ah9s6s, giving me the big double draw. I check-raise his $20 c-bet to $75, and he flat calls, so I am pretty sure he has just the Ace. Ed Hardy Guy only had ~$150 left behind, so I moved all-in in the dark. The turn fell a 6d, and Ed Hardy Guy reluctantly calls. I roll my hand and watch Ed Hardy Guy look physically ill as I hit the 7s on the river for a straight flush (though he only had AQo, so I don’t feel too sympathetic).

    The 1/3 NL table played a lot looser and was a lot more fun than the 2/5 table. There was a French-Canadian guy I labeled the “Mad Hatter” who was bizarre yet funny. At one point, I took down a small pot against him on the flop, and peeked at my cards again before sliding them to the dealer with a chip tip. The Mad Hatter yells, “Show one, show all!!” I replied that I hadn’t shown anyone my cards. Mad Hatter points out that I did, in fact, show them to myself. Unable to argue with his logic, I retrieved my cards from the dealer and flipped up my QQ (overpair to the flop).

    I did have one bizarre hand at the 1/3 NL table. I had been card dead for awhile, and decided to play 5d8d in the cutoff when a $10 preflop raise from UTG got 4-5 callers. Why not join in and see a flop? Flop comes down 4d6d7c … Donkey Kong! Checks around to me (weird), so I decide to bet out 1/2 pot. The BB (EuroDude) raises, and folds back to me. I decide to take it down there, as he loved his flush draws and, even minus three outs (my two cards and the 7d), EuroDude could still outdraw me. I move in, and EuroDude insta-calls for ~$250 total. I table my cards, and EuroDude stares at the board. Dealer puts out running KK to finish the board, and EuroDude suddenly gives out some kind of Viking scream and rolls over … Kd7d for a runner-runner boat! An improbable finish to the hand, though he had top pair and second nut flush draws on the flop, so I completely understand his call. Such is poker!

    I ate dinner at Stratta, right by the Wynn poker room. They had Absolut New Orleans (limited edition vodka flavored with mango and black pepper—I have several bottles stockpiled back at the ranch), which was awesome. Dinner was tasty; I had a salad with arugula, wild mushrooms, and goat cheese, and I had rigatoni with meatballs for my entrée. Food was good but not great, and the price was about $20 higher than the food merited. Not a bad experience, but I think with all the restaurants out there to try, I won’t be wasting a return visit on Stratta.

    I then wandered over to Venetian which was jam-packed. I got on a 1/2 NL table, and immediately find 88 in the CO (the button had just passed). I flop a set and pick up $150. Next hand, I find JTs, flop trips, and take down another $150 pot. A few hands later, I am in the BB and get to limp with Q8s, flop top two pair and turn a boat to snap a guy slowplaying AQ. I remark to the table, “Whoever left this seat should’ve stayed a few more hands!” Guy on my right morosely mutters, “That was me. I moved because I was card dead.” Great move, dude!

    I then went card dead myself for a few hours, and give some back when I ran into super-slowplayed AA three times (!) and paid off value bets with top pair. What is up with all the slowplay of premium hands, and are these people prepared to handle the inevitable snap-offs? Oh well, to each their own, but beware the premium hand slowplay trap!

    Oh, quick shout out to the two dealers of the day—Arthur @ Venetian and Young John @ Wynn. Both are super-skilled, and also defused angry situations without breaking a sweat or raising their voices.

    I then finished the evening with a late night visit to TI. Lots of action as usual. Early on I lose a nice pot when my QQ were snapped by 74o (44X on the flop). Same calling station later snaps my KQs when I flop top two pair and he hits a runner-runner gushot straight (and no, I didn’t slowplay the flop!). Sometimes, I get no respect! I finish the night with a couple of nice hands where I snap KK with Th8h. Flop was AhKh7h, and we got it all in right there, with the board blanking out. I also bust Vancouver Ray when my A7s went up against Ray’s AdKd on a flop of Ah8d7d; once again, the board blanked out after we got it in on the flop for a pot of ~$550. Not a bad finish to Festivus (Observed)!

  34. @zzjitterzz

    Please don't confuse him with Santa. That'll make 'em both surly.[/quote]

    I am definitely surly-er (surlier?) than Grange, who in general is responsible for my surly-ness (surliness?). Despite him being several years older, sadly I'm the one with all the gray hair so I pretty much fit the description TI Poker gives above.

  35. Day 6—No Tap Tourney Day

    I had to wake up fairly early on Friday, as I needed to pack up and also be at the TI Poker Room by 10:00 am for the No Tap Tourney. I’m not good with early wake up calls, nor do I tolerate throngs of slow moving people. Let’s just say that the weekend crowds really tested my patience as I tried to check my bags with the bell desk.

    Thankfully, the No Tap Tourney was a fun and successful event. Details are posted earlier in this thread.

    After the No Tap Tourney, I headed over to the Venetian to grind a long afternoon session. The room was packed, but I got seated at a new table that was opening on what appeared to be the last unoccupied table in the room. One dorky guy pulled out a wacky card capper—a miniature monkey that could be wound up to clap cymbals. Of course, it took all of two minutes for the inevitable “Dude, can I play with your monkey?” jokes to start …

    I started out fine with QQ holding up against KQs on a missed flush draw to make $200. But that was the high water mark of the session. A little later, my AK fell victim to a short stack playing A4 on a flop of A44. I lost a monster pot when my QJs flopped trip Qs, and I was ahead of the remaining Q until he hit his kicker for the boat. My AKs flopped top two pair, and I was in good shape against an all-in bluff until he hit his gutshot straight.

    Which brings us to the annoying etiquette hand of the day. There were two friends playing at the table, with one of their friends sitting behind them while waiting for a table. One of the guys playing clearly was new to no-limit play, the buddy sitting behind him kept whispering to him during play, clearly sweating him, though I don’t think he was coaching him while he had a live hand. I find 73s OTB, my “signature hand” from the Ironman of Poker. The table is playing tight, so I raise to $10. A couple of people, including Newbie, call. Flop is 5-6-7 rainbow. Check to me, I c-bet, only Newbie calls. Turn is a 3, giving me two pair, but putting a four card straight on board. Newbie checks, I bet, he thinks a long time then calls. I am pretty sure at this point he does not have a straight, and likely has a 7 or an overpair to the board. River is a sick 5, counterfeiting my two pair. Newbie checks, and thinking he might fear the straight, I make a 3/4 pot bet. Newbie agonizes, then finally calls. I flip my cards up and say, “Two pair”. Newbie stares at the board, looks back at his hand, and looks about to muck. All of a sudden, Santa’s Little Helper stands up and pipes up, saying, “Your kicker is good, your 8 is good, you win.” Newbie looks confused, but slowly rolls over his 78 and still looks confused as Santa’s Little Helper explains why he won the pot. Once the cards were tabled, I have no problem with Newbie getting the pot, but I have no idea if he would’ve shown down without his buddy’s intervention, and I was annoyed at how the whole situation occurred.

    At that point, I was halfway into my second buy-in and I decided it might be better to change scenery for a bit due to my frustration with the table dynamics and my play. I head back to TI for a few hours, where I get some momentum going by stacking a nice college kid from North Carolina when I played 56s OTB and snapped his QQ by hitting trip 5s. The poker gods took it back, however, when my AJ ran into AQ on a flop of AQJ. I decided it was time to go check into my room at Mandalay Bay for the weekend then head out for a late dinner.

    I walked back to the Palazzo to eat at CarneVino, a Mario Batali restaurant. I started with a “Honeyed Ginger” cocktail, made with Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon, ginger ale, and fresh ginger—quite tasty! For food, I had a grilled octopus appetizer, grilled double lamb chops, and a potato-chard gratin. For dessert, I went with a cranberry cake with cranberry-prosecco sorbetto. This meal was one of the tastiest I have had, and was a definite highlight of the trip. The meal was also entertaining because I was treated to three drunken women in their late 20s, apparently on a sorority girls reunion, laughing and talking really loudly. At one point, one of the women blurts out, “I did a three way once, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the boobs. Boobs just get in the way.” I’m pretty sure that everyone walking by the bar in the casino heard that outburst!

    I headed back to TI for a late night session, but it was rather disappointing. I did get to meet the poker tourney director from Caesars Palace (AVPer Lightning McQueen) who was playing at my table. Not a whole lot to note from the session. I lost a buy-in early when my AJ got run down by J9o on a J-high flop; we got the money in there, and the 9 hits the river. Later, I win a decent pot with 55 making a hero call against a three-barrel bluff by AJ. My most disappointing hand was playing 3c4c in the CO, flopping a monster draw with 2s6c7c, getting it all in after AKo makes an overlarge c-bet and a reluctant call … only for neither of us to improve.

    I walked back to Mandalay Bay (21 minutes from TI to NYNY, and 10 minutes more to Mandalay Bay with a slight wait for the tram at Excalibur). Overall, a great day given the tourney win, but the cash game results were not particularly festive.

  36. Grange it was great that an AVPer won one of our promotions - the fights were great and I am sure it would have been fun to be there, but now the rest of the story.... Would you ever pay that much to sit where you sat? If not how much would value the seats at?

  37. Day 7—UFC Fight Night

    I headed over to MGM to play a session before the UFC fights. The room was packed, but I only waited five minutes before getting seated at a new 1/2 NL table. A young guy seated next to me happened to be a cop visiting from Dawson in the Yukon Territory of Canada. He told me they routinely get temperatures in the -30F range during winter, so I felt a little better about living in Iowa.

    Not much of interest card-wise in my four hours at the table, other than running a successful three-barrel bluff with 24o OTB after calling a preflop raise from an uber-tight-passive player in MP. He mucked AA face up to my all-in bet on the river. He was a nice guy, so I didn’t show the bluff and instead said, “You’re supposed to pay me off with that hand!” and feigned rueful regret at making an overly large “value bet” on the river. Despite that hand, the small buy-ins at the table and the tight-passive players made this session pretty much a wash.

    I headed over to Wolfgang Puck’s casual restaurant in the MGM casino floor for pre-fight dinner. I had a bowl of autumn squash soup (with cranberries and spiced apples) and ricotta gnocchi with fennel sausage, along with a pomegranate mojito. Everything was tasty and reasonably priced. I have eaten there before and definitely recommend it. Dinner was made even more entertaining when two guys decked out in UFC gear (TapouT t-shirts, tattoos, piercings, etc.) sit down to eat at the bar. They start out by ordering Jagerbombs! I presume Wolfgang Puck finishes his Jagerbombs with an organic truffled heirloom tomato-habanero mousse….

    The fight itself was awesome. The seats were just off the floor, at eye-level with the ring. Pretty much as good as it gets! Had an amazing view of Rampage Jackson’s left hook that took out Silva. The nice thing was that all five main fights involved clear winners with no judges' decisions. I did notice that I was probably one of 5 people out of 10,000 or so in the arena that wasn’t wearing a TapouT, Ecko, or Ed Hardy t-shirt. Guess my tux made me a bit overdressed …

    Postfight the MGM poker room was swamped with monster wait lists, so I headed over to Monte Carlo to check out their room. It was a nice enough room, but the action was passive to non-existent. One dealer accidently rolled over a player’s mucked cards after a big bluff, which momentarily threatened to raise the pulse on the room, but thankfully the crisis was averted by the guy leaving and everyone went back to nice, friendly, passive poker.

    Great quote from the MC game—a young girl at the table tells everyone that she just learned a great system for beating roulette. The dealer, total deadpan, asks, “How do you teach someone to pick ‘Red’”? I chuckle for a good five minutes, but it went over the heads of everyone else. I tipped the dealer for the joke, since I didn’t have any hands to tip him for.

    I finally decided to head over to Mandalay Bay for a few hours of poker before bed. I arrived around 2:30 am, and the room was packed, with 5 tables of 1/2 NL, 1 table of 2/4 NL, and 3 tables of limit. The list for 1/2 NL was 20 people deep, but the 2/4 list was only 3 deep. I put my name on both lists, then stood around for a good 30 minutes. During that time, the 1/2 list moved a little, though the manager seemed to be seating regulars she knew without calling names off the list. There was no waiting area or seats in the area, the sports book was dark, and the closest table games were all $25 minimum bets. I finally decided to run up to my room and check email. I was gone all of 10 minutes maximum, and when I returned, my name (third one down) on the 2/4 NL list was flashing. It took me five minutes to get the manager’s attention; she managed to talk to 6 or 7 people (several of who walked up after I was at the podium), and also looked right at me and walked back into the poker room to talk to a couple of players before deigning to talk to me. I asked about the 2/4 NL list, and she said she called my name, I wasn’t there, so she seated someone else. Fair enough, so I stood around to wait some more. I then saw someone come up, she greeted them like a regular, and she took him back to a 1/2 NL seat, without calling the list. At this point, I had seen at least 10 people seated at 1/2 NL, yet my name had moved up the list only four spots. I decided I was too tired to wait to be important enough to be seated, so I took my name off both lists and headed to bed.

    Overall, Saturday was a blast for the UFC fights, not so fun at the tables.

  38. @TI Poker

    Great question. Over the Thursday to Saturday time period, I probably played with a dozen or more people who were in Vegas for UFC. I met three couples for whom the fights were their vacation of the year. These people all had tickets in the $250 range, which I understood was the upper levels. They were all uniformly excited by their seats; just being there was a big deal and while $250 had to be a big piece of their entertainment budget, it was worth it to them.

    For me, I've paid $200-$250 a seat for good tickets to big Husker and Packer games. On the other hand, I am only a very casual UFC fan; if it's on at the bar, I'll watch it, but I won't spring for PPV on my own. I don't know much about any of the fighters other than the 15-20 "big" names. So, I personally might have paid maybe $200-$300 to go to the fights, mostly just to attend an event like that once for the experience. On the other hand, for the hardcore fans I met, I suspect if money were not an issue, paying $1,000-$1500 per seat for the seats I had would probably be worth it to them. A buddy of mine looked up the tickets on StubHub and said that similar tickets were going for $1,400ish, so I suppose the market sort of gives you an idea of the ticket value to hardcore fans. I have to say, the view of the fight from our seats was pretty awesome, so I can definitely see a hardcore fan paying a premium for those seats (like I have paid a steep premium for 45-yard line tickets for the Packers, or 10th row 40 yard line tickets for the Huskers vs. Oklahoma back in the glory days of the mid-90s).

    Actually, since the tickets are taxable as income at face value, in a sense I will be paying $250-$300 a seat as it is.

  39. Day 8—Down the Homestretch

    My day started with a hike down to the Caesars Forum and Venetian Grand Canal shops to buy something to pay off the “spouse pass” fee. After 3.5 hours of fighting hordes of tourists picking through the after-Christmas sales, I finally found several items that should keep peace on the home front. Let’s just say the poker bankroll took a hit from spousal variance….

    I headed over to TI to grind some 1/3 NL and see if I could hit a HHJ. Last Christmas, I hit six (four quads and two straight flushes, back when they were progressive), and my other two 2008 trips I hit one HHJ each time. Alas, I was destined to leave jackpot-less. At least I racked up some nice comp dollars to use at Social House during the Ironman of Poker in February.

    One hand of note from early in my session. I find 97s in the CO, and call a small raise from a LAGgy guy in MP (Pleather Boy). Flop is TT8 rainbow. Pleather Boy bets the pot, and I call. Turn is a 6—Galaga!! Pleather Boy bets, I push, he thinks and calls off the rest of his stack (maybe $180 call). I roll up my straight … he grimaces … dealer rolls a river T … Pleather Boy proudly turns up 85o for the rivered boat. *Le sigh* Pleather Boy says, “I didn’t think you had anything.” Good read, now go kill some more Naugahydes.

    Great bluff by an older gent from Spokane. Flop comes out, he seems to have trouble reading the cards from the 2 seat. He says, “Is that a 9?” Dealer reads the board. Gent says, “Then I raise!” His opponent auto-mucked…. What a great line this guy has!

    AlaskaGal called and told me the mixed game was starting at Imperial Palace, so I headed over after making a last stop at Venetian to pick up one last spousal gift (it never hurts to overpay a bit for the spouse pass!). When I arrived, the mixed game was full, so I jumped into a 1/2 NL game … and found myself with the Mirage Ballas!! Yesirree Bob, it was Rich Kid, Girlie Glasses, and one of their friends from my Mirage outing a few days prior. Apparently, they decided to extend their stay in Vegas through New Years, and had given up the Mirage suite in favor of rooms at IP! Of course, they let me know that switching their first class plane tickets for the return flight cost $500/person (x 7 guys). Must be nice to be rich!

    I end up losing a big pot when I have AhKh and flop TPTK with the nut flush draw against AA, but fail to improve. I then moved to the mixed game. First game up was Ace to 5 triple draw, and I won a pot by hitting a wheel. Next up was 3-2-1 Omaha, and I rocked the game hitting quad Ks, flopping the nut Js full of 9s on an innocuous board, and also rivering Ts full after my pocket TT had two flops with a T fall. Fun times! I also end up rocking Omaha8, a game I play occasionally at the local casino. I got hit by the deck with starting hands, with several low suited aces to jack the pot preflop. I’m sure I looked like a total luckbox to the regular crew!

    The mixed game broke early, so I headed back the NL game. I was seated next to a fat drunk obnoxious cowboy from Calgary. First hand, this guy’s antics were so over the top I was distracted and accidentally raised to $10 instead of calling in the CO with Q6s. I get four callers, but thankfully I c-bet the ace high flop and take down the pot. Although the action was good, I racked up and left after 6 hands. The drunk cowboy was passing such noxious gas that I felt physically ill, and I don’t play well while puking! I feel sorry for everyone who stayed at the table!

    I head back over to TI to grind out my last night. I end up having my worst session of my trip. I donk off one buy-in early when I flop top two with ATs but run into a set of 9s. I lose another buy-in in a huge multiway pot when I play 87s and get my money in with an OESD and flush draw, find out the other three players all have pairs or two pair so no competition to my draws … and promptly go blank-blank. I take down a nice pot playing 32s OTB for a raise and turn a boat to snap AA. I promptly lose a big pot back when T8s flops top two pair … but AdKd goes running diamonds to come back from the dead. To add insult to injury, I lay down AA properly in a multiway pot when the pot is all clubs and there is a raise and reraise before the action even gets to me … only to see an ace hit the turn and a boat on the river had I stuck around. Not an hour later, I lay down AhKh properly in a multiway pot when the flop is Q high and all spades ... only to see a river J give me what would have been a winning Broadway to beat a set of Qs, a set of Js, and a set of 9s!! Sometimes the poker gods like to toy with me … I also donk off some chips on several ill-timed bluffs or calls on misreads. Basically, I just was not on my game at all, but it was my last session, so … expensive lesson learned!

    So, to sum up my trip, I made enough playing poker to pay for my trip expenses, including food and spouse pass fees, and managed to pad my bankroll a bit, though not as much as might have been. I had a great time, went to the UFC fights, met a lot of interesting people, tried out several poker rooms I had never played before, and avoided a bad week of Iowa winter weather. Overall, it was a lot of fun!

  40. Thanks Grange, enjoyed reading all of the instalments!! Look forward to the EPIC IMOP annual trip reports :laughing:

  41. Final update of my "Poker UN" list. During eight days in Vegas, I played poker with people from:

    Canada (including players from the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory)
    Hong Kong

    I also played poker with people from the following states:

    Iowa (yup, players other than myself!)
    North Dakota
    Washington DC
    New Jersey
    North Carolina

    Fascinating the places from which Vegas draws poker players!

    Best places to find foreign players--Venetian and Wynn

    Best places to find Canadians--TI and MGM

  42. Maybe I missed it (very probable)
    Or I'm not that smart (even more probable),
    but what's a No Tap tournament?

  43. @BGBUCK

    Tourney details are here. Short version, the tourney rules did not allow checking or "tapping" at any time. If action was on a player and no bet was pending, he had to bet or fold. Action after a bet was normal. The no tap rule also applied to the BB's option to check or raise; basically, in a limped pot, the BB had to fold or raise.