Love the Caesars tournaments and Bally's NL action


September 2-6, 2006

Caesars Palace Noon Tournament

A tournament that is called by many the “best in Las Vegas” is the Caesars Palace noon tournament. Why is this tournament so highly regarded?

Entry fee for the tourney is only $80, which gets you 1,500 chips. You are allowed one re-buy at $50 for 3,000 chips. The re-buy can be purchased at any time through the first two forty-minute rounds. Rounds are 40 minutes long, and the blinds start out slow --$50 and $25, then $100 and $50. The slowly increasing blinds make for some excellent tournament play. No worries of having to go all in with the first decent hand.

Having recently cashed in some online events, I was feeling confident heading into my trip to Las Vegas. I decided to play in the Caesars nooner on Tuesday, September 5. What a tournament it was.

Some people buy the re-buy right at the start. I decided to wait this time, leaving myself an option to go all in in the opening rounds but still be in the tourney if I lost the hand.

My table had only one maniac who kept raising almost every hand. The rest of the table consisted of a mix of weak and seasoned players. I felt like I would be able to do okay with my group.

Early on, a flop gave me a nut flush draw. Hoping for the chance to double up early, I chased the flush but got no help on the turn or river. Getting little else pre-flop, I contributed blinds and saw my stack go down too low to chase anyone out of a hand, so I re-bought earlier than I planned. At the first break, I had lost my entire starting 1,500 and had to depend on the 3,000 chips from the re-buy.

After losing more chips with promising hands but no help on the flops, I found myself the lowest stack at my table. I decided to turn extremely aggressive and take my chances. No limping in for anyone if I had a hand.

Key hand: My first chance came when I got pocket 6's in early position. I went all in waited for a call. One player who was new to the table and appeared cocky decided to call with J-10 hearts. No one else called, and the guy got no help on the flop, turn, or river. I doubled up and put the guy on tilt. I grabbed the rest of his chips several hands later when I had a high pocket pair and he went all in with junk.

I then had a torrid streak of cards come my way. I knocked out one short stack when his J-J all in ran into my Cowboys. I had many other good hands and worked myself into a decent position.

It took a long time for the field to get down to 20, but soon we were there. Most at my table had relatively small stacks compared to the leaders at the other table. We thought that most of us wouldn't make it. The final table paid nine.

Key hand: I was staying in virtually no hands and got A-Q spades. I raised and got re-raised. I went all in and left the other player a tough choice. He had pocket nines, but was unwilling to call me since I had been playing so few hands and we were close to the bubble. If he called, one of us was out or down to almost nothing.

Key hand: I was in the big blind and had K-rag. Four people were in the hand. The flop was K-rag-rag. The small blind checked to me, and I checked, figuring that the small stack in late position might try to buy the pot. There is a check after me, and the small stack went all in. I called. He had A-rag and was in big trouble. The turn: A! I got no help on the river and was afraid that I would be a bubble boy.

The poker gods, however, are sometimes merciful. I got pocket 10's and went all in. I got no callers this close to the final table and built my stack back up. A few hands later, I again got pocket 10's and got no callers to my all in. I was alive!

The other table had some huge hands, and several folks from that table went to the rail. My table ended up having five of the final nine. We took a short break before the final table began. I called my wife to generate some good karma. I also told her that I hoped I wouldn’t speak to her again for some time – meaning that I was going to go deeper than my current 8th of 9 standing.

First out at the final table was a guy who made a terrific call early in the game. I am not sure what he was trying to do, but I guess that he was trying to buy the blinds by going all in with a dangerous flop -- flush and straight possibilities, all high cards. Unfortunately, one of the chip leaders had the near nuts and called, sending the guy to the rail in 9th place.

A hand for the ages: I was in the big blind and was dealt A-10 diamonds. The chip leader made a raise and was called by the shortest stack, who was now all in. There was not much difference between 7th and 8th place money and I only had a few more rounds of blinds, so I decided to go all in and pray for some diamonds. The other players turned over their cards. The chip leader had A-8 clubs, and the short stack had A-K red/black. The flop came with all black cards, and I figured that I was out or would have virtually nothing left. But wait - two of the flop cards were a Queen and a Jack. The turn: a King! I slammed my fist on the table edging and yelled "straight!" The river was of no consequence, so I knocked out one player and almost tripled up!

We got down to five players, and two had short stacks. I was hoping that they both would go out so that I could talk about a chop with the other two big stacks. One short stack, however, repeatedly got good hands and caught cards. He built up his stack, and soon there were four of us left. I proposed a chop, and the other players agreed to look at a proportional payout based on chip count, which I knew would be a good deal for me.

The chip count guaranteed me just short of 2nd place money. The blinds were very large and the luck of the cards was now too much of a factor, so I thought it wise to take the guarantee.

End result: A cash of $1,365. Not bad for an afternoon of poker.

Funny note: One player complimented me on my excellent play while short stacked. My reply: "I am used to playing short stacked!"

I spent over 40 hours playing $1/$2 NL ring games this trip, mostly at Bally's. When not at Bally's, I was at ...


Only played about an hour at the Lux this trip. I was having such great success at Bally's that it took me two days before I ventured up the strip. Unfortunately, while the temperature in Bally's tended to be cool, the temperature in the Luxor Poker Room was unbelievably hot. I was dying in there, and decided that I needed to get out. I was dealt pocket 9's and raised. The guy to my right put me all in (only about $60 at the time). Since I was ready to leave, I called. He had A-J. Nothing on the flop, nothing on the turn, then ... an Ace on the river.

Although I only played an hour at the Luxor, I still think highly of their management. It was just not for me this trip.

MGM Grand

I had only played at MGM once before (at a $2/$4 Limit table), so I was looking forward to trying the NL tables I had read so much about.

I felt very uncomfortable at my table. A few locals, a couple people who didn't talk, and a strange vibe were what I found. I was dealt pocket Cowboys and raised. One guy called me, saying "I shouldn't play this, but I got my favorite hand." Unfortunately, I had no idea what his favorite hand was, but apparently others at the table did. Turned out that he had Q-J spades and stayed in the hand since the flop produced high cards and a spade. I hit my set and bet up, but he stayed with me. I bet up after the turn, and he stayed with me. He hit a runner runner flush on the river and took half my stack. Funny thing - after that suckout, he never looked at me as long as I was at the table. Nice suckout, Clyde.

I ended up losing one other hand on the river to a flush. I was still pissed about losing with my Kings and failed to see the flush draw on the river. That told me that it was time to leave and go back to Bally's.


What a great place this was. Good, friendly vibe and a mixture of decent players, guys who thought they were, and ATM's. The management seemed to do a great job in keeping the electronic list moving, and the dealers were pretty friendly and did not make a tremendous amount of errors. I did very well playing tight-aggressive at the $1/$2 NL tables, but next time I will end my sessions a little earlier so that fatigue won't lessen my stack.

Sometimes things have a way of working out. On one hand, a dealer flipped over one of my cards - a Queen. I don't have to tell you what my other hole card was. The flop: yep - a third Queen comes. However, the board was dangerous. As it turns out, I would have put one woman all in. With a big flush draw, she would have called, and I'd have lost some big money when she hit her flush on the river. Funny game we play, huh?

My Worst Ever Bad Beat

I was in my final hours of my trip, almost ready to head to the airport. Just enough time for one last session at Bally's.

I got terrible cards and only played a few hands in two hours ($1/$2 NL). Then ... I get pocket 8's and raise $15. I get a couple of callers.

Flop: Q-7-8. I raise $25 and am called by one player. I put him on A-Q or K-Q. He has only been at the table for a few minutes, but appears to be a decent player. He is going nowhere. I am feeling good.

Turn: Q. He he- The guy has a pair of Queens with a good kicker and thinks that he has the best hand. I am deciding how much to raise and settle on $100. Unfortunately, I do too much thinking and didn't announce my $100 raise. I divided my chips into two stacks of fifty and put the first one in. I immediately move the second one in and am told that my bet has to stay at $50 since I didn't verbally declare the $100. Fair enough - it looked like a string bet.

River: Q! Arrggghhhh. I check, and of course, my opponent bets $100. I am almost positive he has the fourth Q, so I lay my hand down. One guy at the table says, "You must not play online poker. An online player would never lay that hand down." I respond, "I do play online poker. In online, you can't read all that you can at a real table. I am almost positive that he has the fourth Q, probably with an A." The winning player turns over his cards: A-Q. Runner runner quads.

That loss made for a swing of about $350 in my bankroll. But it could have been worse, right? I tip the dealer a few bucks for strictly enforcing the rules and saving me fifty bucks. How many times does the losing player tip the dealer?

I already have my airline tickets reserved for my next trip. Thanks to all the people who post trip reports. One of the keys to succeeding in Las Vegas, in my opinion, is finding the poker rooms and tournaments that fit your bankroll and style of play. After that, you are in the hands of the poker gods. Good luck at the tables!

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