Kicking sand in the face of 3-6 tables

Reports & Blogs by zoltan about Bellagio Casino Posted

After a dreadfully long 2008 with no Vegas trips (or any vacations at all) under our belts, Mrs. Z and I decided to make a trip out for a combined anniversary/her-birthday trip. (Because of our getting married at TI 2 years ago, no trip can be better than second-best Vegas trip ever again. This point is important.) Goals for this trip: 1) Remember how to play live poker again; 2) Win money (go figure); 3) Play the PH morning tournament at least once; 4) Drink (maybe).

Fly in Wednesday mid-day to a fairly quiet McCarran. Tolerate an unusual trip to The Mirage (sure, Mr. Cab Driver, don’t worry about making that left on Sands, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the convention center…it’s always one of my must-stops), but whatever. We were both still a little out of it, and if it’s good karma to have TWO stupid and roundabout cab rides in one day, so be it. We scored a pretty decent rate for a 5-day stay (~$120/day average), so I was hoping to make it even better by scoring a Tower Deluxe, even though those upgrades aren’t complete. To our surprise, Mirage was sold out that night. Wow. Did the $20 trick, which the desk clerk handled with a-MAZ-ing deftness. I barely saw the bill slide out from between my cards and under the register. After some minutes of searching, he gives us…bupkes (also spelled bupkis, bupkes, or bupkus, so spelling Nazis begone!). But, since we had waited all of 15 minutes to go through check-in, he did knock $50 off our room rate for that night. Sweet! Up $30 already, and only in town for an hour. I’ll take those odds any day, thanks.

Room wasn’t ready yet, so we did…um…something. Sorry, parts of this trip are a little hazy. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to chime in. Sit down at my standard 3-6 LHE table, play for a few hours, end up down around $20. Play was a little too loose, a little too passive (expected after so long away from the tables), so no big whup. (For background, Summer 2007 was Vegastacular, with 8 or 9 drives up from Tucson between June and September, typically ending with paying around half the hotel bill from 3-6 LHE earnings.) The new Mirage rooms are underwhelming in that faux-pan-Asian way. Just like PH’s remodeled rooms. When I’m at The Mirage, I want cheesy tropical, dammit. Even worse, they stopped pumping that orange blossom/pina colada smell through the casino. Management will be hearing from me on that one, you bet.

Hit the Paris buffet and gorged. Back to Mirage for the evening session, where I commenced to get perhaps the worst run of bad/sorta-bad beats I’ve ever encountered. Hand of the session: in BB, get QQ. I re-raise, get one caller (UTG+1). Flop comes Q88 rainbow. Lookee there I have the nuts. Guess what happens next kids? Instead of driving him out and taking a small pot, I slowplay and check. V checks. Turn comes. Another 8. Sweet. Very unlikely he has the other 8. Any pair he has, I dominate. No flush possible. Time to rake it in. V is my bitch. Bet, call. River shows…here it comes…the other 8. My Qs are worthless to his crappy A7s. He steals a 25ish-bet pot. At least I get gasps and sympathy from the entire table. The little-old-man hairs that have begun to sprout from my ears are still singed from the steam that schpritzed out like this guy:
It goes like this for about 3 more hours until I crap out my $100 buy-in. Oh well.

Day 2: Decided to introduce myself to the wild, wild world of tournament play by entering the Donkament at Harrah’s. Go ahead, laugh. See if I care. Gotta start somewhere. Wanna fight about it? For my $10+5, I get a lovely 1500 in chips to go up against 5 other players. Just like a home game, but with no friends and an all-day dealer. Stole a bunch of blinds, took the lead, knocked out 4 of the other 5, then lost 3 straight all-in hands to finish one off the money, missing out on a whopping $60. All of the work, none of the reward. Beh. Back to Mirage to hang out at the pool for a few hours and have another warming-up 3-6 session of zero interest other than continuing to play too many hands because I’m so excited to be playing a live game again. End up -$20 again. Whatever. (Keep reading, it gets better, I swear.)

After Mrs. Z finishes at the pool, we decide to hit Bouchon for her birthday dinner. She needs to clean up, so I head to TI for a little 2-4 mania. I’m feeling frisky, so I buy in for $60 and put on my LAG cap, betting and raising entirely randomly, and confusing the daylights out of the table. FINALLY I’m having a little fun playing poker. I get comments from other players at the table attesting to their confusion and my daftness. They can’t put me on anything. Yappy Dave shows up, so I introduce myself to him, at which point he immediately introduces me to the room with “Hey everyone! It’s Zoltan from AVP, the fourth-least-popular person on the forums!” I take a bow. Thanks, Dave. He threatens to tell LVM I’m playing 2-4. Looks like I beat him to it. Leave after about an hour up $4. My luck is changing. I can feel it. A 7% profit in just one hour. Hell yeah.

After dinner, return to Mirage for some more 3-6. More donktastic play and bad cards busts me out after about 4 hours. Are you seeing a theme here yet? C’mon folks keep hanging in there. At least I had enough beers to get a good buzz. On the way back to the room, I drop a twenty into video blackjack machine and run it up to $120 in about 4 minutes. Hm. Maybe I should take the hint. I call it a day somewhere around even.

Day 3: Wow. It’s still only Friday. What the hell? Play the Donkament again, busting out after like 10 minutes. Wheeee!!! To reinforce my sheer stupidity, I head to PH to play the 10 a.m., determined to play aggressive, solid tournament play. First table seemed to know nothing of position play, as I was about the only one to steal any blinds, and there was very little raising to speak of. Solid stack in front of me in the cut off when I go for a steal by raising 4x BB with 36os. I get 2 callers (BB, UTG+1). C-bet the flop (57J rainbow) and the turn (K), getting callers each time. Heh. Maybe there’s a pair out there. River hits me with the gutshot straight and I bet the pot. BB folds, middle-aged lady sits, sits, says “maybe he hit a straight” and folds. GOOD READ LADY, HOW’D YOU EVER GUESS? I am now the big stack at the table heading into the first break. Apparently, the buttery croissant I ate during the break was bad luck. Over the next two orbits, I raise (4-7 BB) 88, 44, TT. Each time, short stack calls all in. Each time, short stack has Ax, x being the third of my hole card. Each time, the A hits. Now desperately short stacked, I shove with J9os, losing to go out in 30th or so. Hey, it was a fun 2 hours and gave me a much better understanding of how well position play and aggression can work.

Hang out at the pool. Dinner at Mirage buffet (they are now much more liberal with comps, even though the comps are lower). Another session starting at 10 pm. Nothing eventful, but cash out six hours later up $70. Either the cards started to come or I showed a modicum of patience. Maybe both. I’ll take any profit at this point.

Day 4: Will this trip never end? Played PH 10 a.m. This one was ugly. Get seat 4, cut off for first hand. Raise, and seat 7 min-raises. I call with rags. Bet the flop, and he raises half the pot. I think for a minute and toss my middle pair no kicker. This guy is bad news, as he now will not respect any raise I make, hindering my play severely. I am dead money and bust out first after 30 minutes. Let the mockery begin.

The rest of Saturday I don’t remember. Oh yeah, I was exhausted, so I slept a few hours, then headed back to the 3-6 tables, where every TAG player’s lament occurred. Table was 8-handed, I’m in seat 7. Fairly standard table, no sharks, a few fish, blahblahblah. Middle-aged guy (IPO guy with homes in Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, and Hong Kong) sits in the 8 seat and buys in for $40. Of course, warning bells go off in my head, since he’s either busting in 5 minutes or taking everyone’s money in 30. He commences to basically announce to the table he’s here to have a good time and put some money in the pot, dropping the initial buy-in in 5 minutes and re-buying for $100. Loose fun guy straddles, tips %10 of every pot he wins to the dealer, raises every other hand blind, and basically is screaming “Here folks, take my money, I’m just having fun.” AND, he was right where I needed him to be, directly on my left. I get up for a break to check in with Mrs. Z, returning 5 minutes later to find IPO guy gone. My heart sinks as I ask “Where’d he go?” The reply? The dipshit over-the-hill indie rocker guy MADE THE DEALER ENFORCE the no-racks-on-the-table rule Mirage went to this spring. Was the game being slowed in any way? NO. Once again: . Everyone left was so pissed at this guy after they realized the money he lost them that he got up and left, with me following in short order and the game soon breaking over the bad karma this guy had set. I’m still dumbfounded. Why not just fry the goose that laid the golden egg???

After a cooling-down period, Mrs. Z and I played sat down at a new table before dinner (still at Mirage), and she played quite well after not playing at all in over a year. Won a few decent pots, really tweaking the tough Jersey Girl next to her. Patience and cards won the session, and we walked out up $70 in two hours. After dinner, she realized she had been in the sun all day and went to bed. I, of course, returned to the 3-6. My patience waned and I dropped my buy-in after an hour. What the hell? Get up to go back to the room, and asked myself, “Why am I here? Why?” Myself answered, “To play poker, dumbass. There is no way you shouldn’t be able to at least break even. You don’t suck THAT bad…or dooo yoouu?” I hate it when myself taunts me like that. So I rebuy for $60. Long story short (how’s that for a change of pace?): One hour later, I had recovered my losses. My stack kept growing, and even though I kept signing up for the $70 SNG, I was having too much fun winning. By 3 a.m., I went to bed drunk and finally with a profit for the trip after cashing out with $350.

Day 5: Sunday! Sunday! Sundayyyyyyyyyy!!! Hit the PH…no, not the tournament, psych!...buffet for champagne brunch. The tri-tip steak is still salty. Overrated buffet, still. Walk through the Miracle Mile with Fat Tuesday drinks (double shots) in hand. These things make me…er…drunk. Stop in at Bellagio for a Cablecar (Mrs. Z’s favorite drink) and watch the room while she plays video poker. Wait. Did I say she “plays” video blackjack? It’s not really playing. It’s sorta like going to the bathroom and dropping a Benjamin in the toilet. Good thing those Cablecars are GOOD. Anyway, I digress. Some of you might say this entire trip report is a digression, but I beg to differ. The 4-8 tables look soft. Like a baby’s bottom. And passive. I reallyreallyreally want to sit down at these tables, and even though Mrs. Z encourages (goads?) me, I don’t because…that’s right…I’m drunk. So we go back, nap for a few hours, and head back down. Except the table’s not so soft anymore. Let’s see…who else is at my table….dealer(playing, bully, local, local, Zoltan, EurotrashBigstack, tourist, tourist, local. Seems I have my work cut out for me. No, folks, the 4-8 at Bellagio does NOT play like the 3-6 at Mirage, nor the 2-4 at TI, nor the 2-4 at IP. The Mirage, when I’m not playing like a donk (i.e. drunk, tired, or just back to Vegas after a yearlong hiatus), is an ATM. Bellagio felt more like a bank robbery with only a knife. Either the competition is tough there, I picked the wrong table, or I suck even worse than I think I do. Walked out after 2 hours up $70, but it was the…toughest…$70…ever. I learned just how much I need to improve to be consistent at that level. Luckily, it didn’t cost me.

Feeling all bad-ass and full of myself after surviving a run-in with my own version of Gozar the Gozarian the Destroyer of Worlds (I think it’d be keen for the brush at Bellagio to ask in an artificially raspy voice “Are YOU a GOD?” to new players), I head back to Mirage for some low-pressure 3-6 ATM action. Hm. A wait list. How’d THAT ever happen? OK, I hung in the Bellagio game, and several folks at the 4-8 I played 3-6 against yesterday. Gotta do something while I wait for the next SNG. What the hey, sign me up! Guy to my right, a local tournament player (LTP), made the 18-year-old-looking kid pee his pants when he built the pot and raised a re-raise with nothing, folding when PeePants called. I noted at one point to LTP my travails at the PH tournaments, among other things. Tight play and aggression got my stack up $100 after an hour when my name was called for the SNG. Who else gets up? Why, yes indeed. LTP. Oh, poo. I think they have a saying for this. Dead money? Is that it? Managed to steal some blinds and win one small pot before The Hand. From BB, hit QQ. Two limpers, I call. Three to the flop: Jxx with two diamonds. Short stack goes all in, I instacall, third player calls. Board misses both players (one was four to the flush postflop), and I now am well ahead. Tighten up a little, and watch as LTP busts (I think that made him a little mad) and we whittle the field to three. We are all close in chips at this point, so do a 3-way chop, earning me $125 from $70 of my 4-8 profit. My first tournament cash, and things are going swimmingly. Entirely on house money at this point, I buy into a 3-6, introducing myself as a Party Waiting to Happen. Oh, it did. It was once in a lifetime. Every UTG, I straddled. Every hand, I wouldn’t shut up. Every hand, I bet and/or raised. After 45 minutes of this, I look down at a $250 stack. And what time is it then? Being my last night in Vegas, and looking at a 9 am flight out, with a lot of house-money chips, it’s time for the drinks to flow! And flow they did. As the official Life of the Party, it was my duty to entertain the other 20 people who came and went at that table over the next 6 hours. Except for that one dour British guy who, after I said three times “If I’m talking too much, if I’m being annoying, if you’re not having fun, tell me to shut up” finally told me to shut up, drawing the ire of the lovely Irish couple next to me. At that point, I did shut up (after offering an over-under on how long it would take for Dour Brit to felt) and started playing tight again, as my stack had dwindled to $125. I don’t get it, really. Who tells the drunk guy who goes out of his way to tell the table he’s donating his chips tells him to shut up? Literally everyone else at the table was laughing with and/or at my shenanigans. His bad. After he left, we had more fun, and when the game broke at, I went upstairs to what I knew would be the prelude to misery flying home. I woke up still…drunk, and pulled over $500 out of my pocket. This leads me to believe I had a very winning Sunday. The flight home? In a center seat? Yeah, it was miserable. But not as miserable as the burly guy in the Ultimate Fighting t-shirt who was yakking in the airplane sink before we even took off. Two nights of 10 hours sleeping and I’m almost back to normal.

In summary: Played some tournaments, cashed in a SNG, got a feel for changing playing styles from LAG to TAG and back again, and went home with a decent wad of money. Second most fun trip ever! Next trip: More tournaments, and maybe a first foray into NL.

Thank you, and good night. Don’t forget to try the veal.

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  1. That was a great trip report. I love some 3/6 limit with a full kill.

  2. Great TR, or as you would say...'Vegastacular!' Love that.

  3. One of the most fun trip reports I have ever read. Thanks for the story...I am off to make mine tomorrow!

  4. I really enjoyed your trip report. Thanks for posting it.