First Vegas Poker trip for novice 4/8 player

Reports & Blogs by AdRock about Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Posted
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Background: I've been playing and learning low-limit hold 'em for about 5 months. I'm a novice but I've read a book and have some clue what I'm doing. This is the first time I went to Vegas with the intent to play a lot of poker.

I spent a lot of time in the MGM Poker room because I was staying there and on the high reviews from this site. Really nice room, lots of tables, always lots of action. Somewhat busy Thursday. Really packed Saturday PM. They have a pager system and video display wait list, both of which are nice features. The pit bosses did a nice job of dealing with problems including a couple of drunk players and a trio who were repeatedly communicating in a foreign language. 4/8 limit (1/2 kill) game seemed to be a few good players, a bunch of so-so calling stations, a few tipsy to drunk folks having a good time. Was slightly ahead the first night but made about $20/hour in other sessions once I got a feel for the game.

Played in the tournament at Mandalay Bay Friday AM. Funny tournament which is limit for the first hour, then goes to no-limit. I didn't really like this structure because you couldn't make make big raises to prevent (or reduce the risk of) someone sucking out on you; and that's the point of NL. Came in ~10th of 30 players. Some absolute novices who had never played in a casino before and didn't even know how to bet, a bunch of so-so players, only a couple of sharks at my table. Showed up 45 minutes early to get signed in and hoped to play a bit while waiting, but the only had one 3/6 table going at that time of day and it was full.

Checked out the Aladdin for a few hours Friday afternoon. Nice room, but not very busy. The management seated a player ahead of me for 3/6, even though I was first on the waitlist and sitting at the ajacent empty table. Player was nice and gave up the seat once he realized what happened. Lots of calling stations. One guy sat down and let everyone know he had never played for money before. Seemed very fishy to me -- was dealt some of the worst hands all weekend but still made a bunch of money.

Played at Hilton Saturday PM for a couple hours. Room was pretty dead both # of games and energy; apparently they turn off the music on Saturdays. Half the people at my 4/8 (or 3/6, I forget) table seemed to know each other and the management and be regulars here. Play was generally pretty good. Suspect it would be busier in the evenings when conventions are done for the day.

Overall had a lot of fun, learned a lot to improve my play, and actually made money. I wouldn't play the Mandalay Bay tournament or Hilton again, but will return to MGM and Aladdin.

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