Five days of poker, a couple big wins, yay Sahara

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I played so much poker I could write a short novel but I’ll try to hit the highlights.

I flew in Saturday PM so I could watch all the NFL games on Sunday. Since I was there, I decided to check out the 7 PM Sahara tournament. Had 131 players and paid 10 places. Had AK four times in the first two hours and also doubled with AA vs. KK and was chip leader at the second break. Had a stretch of no cards, no flops, and no successful steals and became short stacked. With about 40 players left, I was forced to be all-in with 32 vs. A4 but hit a 2 on the flop and doubled up. Then I hit a run of cards and made it to the final table. Two players had micro-stacks, and mine wasn’t much bigger. With the chip leader only at 12-15 BB, there were a lot of all-in confrontations. With everyone playing super-tight and trying to sneak up the money list, I stole blinds any chance I could and doubled up with some cards. Got to four players and I was still the small stack though not by much. The players on my left and right and I wanted to chop, but the guy at the far end of the table (with perhaps 30% of the chips) wasn’t interested. I knocked out two players and won a pot from the chip leader, making us heads up and holding an 8:1 chip lead. THEN, he (jokingly, I think) was willing to chop. He hit some flops doubled up three times in a row and took a slight chip lead. Next hand he calls from the button and with 87s in the BB, I check. Flop comes 7-7-3 and he yells “all-in”. The dealer tells him the action is on me. There’s a crowd watching, so I look at my cards again knowing I’m about to win, look at the board and check, he’s all-in and I can’t call fast enough with my trips as he shows K-high. Now he’s truly crippled and my getting AA only adds insult to injury. First place paid $2500. Too excited to sleep, I played some table games for a while.

Sunday AM I went to Mandalay Bay Sports Book to watch the NFL games. I was lucky enough to find an extra seat in the back with a couple only using two of four chairs at their table. This is a great place to watch and I had a great time, but this is a poker forum so I want go into details. My run continued as of 8 bets, I won 7 and pushed the 8th.

Headed to the MGM Grand about 5 to meet up with friends, watch the Bears-Giants and play some 1-2 NL. Lost $50 in 4 hours before everyone decided they wanted to check out the Sahara 11 PM given my success the night before.

Wasn’t as fortunate this time and even when I had good hands to steal-raise, I got re-raised by the blinds and had to throw my hands away. Wound up 50 of 75, busting out with A6 vs. AA (ouch). I played a $60 sit-and-go shortly thereafter. I’d never played a live SNG and had heard bad things about them – house cut is large and blinds go up quickly. It played true to form, though by playing tight I watched others bust out. Finally got a couple hands when I was desperate and wound up with a 3-way chop and $90 profit. Whew, long day and time for bed.
Monday, I played at the Bellagio for the first time while one of my friends was in the 2PM tournament. Played $4-8 limit again some tourists and really bad players, but couldn’t get any cards and lost $100 in a couple hours. Then swung by TI to see if their Tangerine mixer was running. It wasn’t and I never did manage to find this game going. Instead, I played $1-3 NL for an hour until the tournament started and made $160 in a loose game. Played the tournament and made the final table but busted out shortly thereafter. Wasn’t planning to play the tournament but the cash games broke up when the tournament started and with a small field I thought I had a chance to win.

Headed to Wynn and played $1-3 NL until 2AM nearly doubling my $400 buy-in by playing tight and waiting for big hands. The no max buy-in didn’t turn out to be an issue as only one player had a really deep stack and everyone bought in for $300-500.

I started Tuesday with the Venetian noon tournament. They only had 16 players a couple of whom bought in late, so it was two short-handed tables. Didn’t have great cards and got out-flopped or outplayed and busted out after an hour. Have heard good things about this tourney but with only 14-16 players it wasn’t so great this time. Joined friends at MGM Grand and played 2-5 NL, took a dinner break, and then more 1-2 NL until 10:30. Wound up down $300 playing some fairly tough competition – no loose tourists it these games unfortunately. Then we raced to Sahara for the 11 PM tournament.

Busted out very early when my set of nines ran into a set of queens held by the big stack. One of my friends noted it was so early in the tournament that I should buy in again (pay another entry fee, not rebuy), so I did. Stayed even for a while, lost some chips then made a run and built up a big stack and knocked out several players with some luck, such as flopping two pair with 53s vs. Q6. At the final table I’m second or third in chips, but the chip leader is on my left so I can’t be as aggressive as I like. We stay 1 and 2 as we whittle down to five, then the chip leader loses a big pot to me, and seems to go on tilt calling a big all-in raise with A5 and busts out, leaving four players one with a tiny stack. Key hand: I raise pre-flop UTG with AA, second biggest stack calls as does third largest stack who is all-in. I plan to check it down and try to bust the small stack. Flop comes 5-3-3, I check and UTG bets so I re-raise him all-in. He calls and turns over 66, my aces hold up and bust him out and win a large side pot, but the first all-in had pocket 5s and wins the main pot. Next hand, UTG goes all-in again, SB folds, I look down and see pocket rockets again, so I call. We both laugh as he has pocket 5s again and busts out. The remaining player suggests we chop with me knocking $100 off first place and we call it a night. I figure that’s inline with his chances and accept taking $1200 for 1st place and totally exhausted at almost 4 AM.

Sleep late, check out and move to the Wynn for my last night. I’m ready for a break from poker. Check out the Global Gaming Expo. Then played 4-8 for an hour at the Wynn and dropped $100. Grabbed some dinner, played 2-5 NL for 5 hours until I lost my $300 buy-in ($200 on the last hand when I was too tired to think straight, lesson learned). Crashed for a few hours, got up and played some more 2-5 NL at Wynn and won $100 back, then headed to the airport.

Wow, the days flew by. Overall up I was a whole lot in tournaments with two huge wins but down a couple hundred in cash game. Had a blast and can’t wait to go back… if my wife will let me.

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