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?
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:
Tom “Durr” Dwan
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 …