Arrived Saturday morning (8/16) for a very quick trip and headed straight to Imperial Palace to see if I could check in early. Free tip: the check in desk shift change is at 11 AM and you don't want to be in line then as everything stops for 10 minutes. Tried the $20 trick and failed as I already had a deluxe room and all better rooms have one king bed (oops), was able to get a room and drop off my stuff. Signed up for the IP noon tournament then wandered around the sports book for 20 minutes.
Tournament has three full tables and is a mixed bag -- some players are solid, some are clueless. The woman on my left has clearly not played much (live) tournament poker before -- later on when she gets moved to a different table she asks the floor "did I do something wrong?" and is completely serious -- but she doubled up early on a flopped 8-high flush against the guy on her left who bluffs off his stack with a missed nut flush draw. I don't remember many hands and basically I'm short stacked much of the way and stealing blinds to stay alive, but here are four key hands. With ~16 players left UTG limps, MP makes a standard raise, I shove from SB with KK and get called by MP's AK and double up. And finally I have some chips to play with and now start to bully the table with my medium stack. When we hit the final table, the woman who started on my left is still the big chip leader. But she's giving many of the chips back with her passive play -- limping or calling raises and check-folding on the flop. I just need to get her in a pot and finally it happens. I raise from MP with ATs and she's the only caller from the blinds. I whiff the flop but she checks and I continuation bet 3/4 of the pot. She thinks a long, long time and finally calls (I'm worried about bottom pair or a small PP which she won't let go). Check-check on the turn, river is an ace and she bets out. I consider two pair or AJ/AQ but make the crying call and she shows A5. She called my 3/4 pot bet on the flop with no pair, no draw, weak ace which was typical of how she played. Glad she donked off those chips to me and I bust her in fourth soon after. Stacks are short enough that this innocuous pot makes me the chip leader. With three players left I hit the unlucky hand that costs me the tournament. Button folds, I shove in SB with A2 (stacks were so short I didn't have any other raise size) and BB wakes up with AJ and doubles through me and puts me in 3rd. A couple hands later the big stack shoves OTB, SB calls and I'm ready to ditch anything but AA and hope to move up. I fold and SB busts with JJ vs AA. I get second for a $240 profit.
Head to Excalibur where I want to play one last time before they go electronic, though I've never had much success there. Early on I raise pre-flop with 66 and get an A-T-6 flop against an opponent I'm pretty sure has AT when he bets out and re-raises on the flop. The river is an ugly ace and indeed he turns over AT to take down a big pot. Fortunately this happened at the 2/4 limit table while I was waiting for my NL seat and cost me $30 not $300. Break even in half an hour of 2/4 but drop $200 in a short NL session with a couple bad plays and some bad luck (the loose wild guy making a bad call, assuming he can't see my cards, and drawing out on me in a $300 pot with top pair vs my bottom two). Mood was pretty glum. Dealers were apathetic and players were surprised and confused about the move to electronic tables.
Head to TI for the 7 PM Head Hunters and manage to drop some more money in the cash game in an hour waiting for the tournament to start. My very first hand I lose $80 when I flop trips from BB and the flush draw gets there on the river. I have a perfect records in TI tournaments -- I've played 10 times and never cashed a penny :). Seems like I always pick up a good draw in a big pot am priced in but can't get there. Early on with 25/50 blinds and two limpers I raise to 300 with AdJd get one caller behind BB and both limpers call for a 1525 pot. Flop is 8-high with two diamonds. It's checked to me and I check hoping for a free card and figuring I don't have fold equity 5-handed. Player behind bets 700, folds to me, and I call (2925). Turn is a blank and I check-call a bet of 1000. River is a blank, I check-fold and he shows QQ. Deja vu and with a shorter stack I can't get any bounties, but I still have 50 BB. Eventually build my stack and then have the key hand of the tournament. Player with QQ in the previous hand has built a huge stack and raises 3 BB UTG+1, folds to me in the blinds and I call with TT. (I hate TT here -- it's not strong enough to push, it's too good to fold when I'm ahead 2/3 of the time, but the stacks aren't big enough to play for set value and I'm OOP.) Flop is 9-8-7 rainbow and I check-call. Turn is Th giving me top set but four to a straight on the board and a flush draw. I lead out and he calls. River is a blank, I check and he bets 1/3 of the pot. I decide the pot is too big to fold and don't believe he smooth called with a jack and make the hero call and he shows KhQh for a busted draw. With that I have a pretty big stack and the rest is easy. I eventually bust the 4th and 3rd place place players calling desperate pushes with king-rag which surprisingly is ahead both times. Get heads up and keep catching cards and knocking down his stack before we get all-in with Ace-high vs. queen-high and I flop an ace. Cashed $530 with bounties for my first TI cash.
My friend Meier has arrived by this time and we go grab some dinner. We play 1/2 at the Venetian for a couple of hours and while the table is pretty tight I cash out up a hundred -- flopping sets with 33 and AA. We think about playing more at IP but crash -- I've been up for 21 hours straight and know better. Up at 9 AM and sign up for the mixed game (we're 5th and 6th on the list) and take an open seat in the 1/2 NL game. "Josh" on my right is a drunk Red Sox fan, has likely been up all night and is still putting away a drink every 30 minutes. Still he's playing junk and catching cards like crazy (cracked AA with K7 where he flopped top pair turned two pair and rivered a boat), running his mouth a mile a minute about baseball, and driving the table nuts. I know he's going to give it all back. Unfortunately when I get him all-in with two pair he shows a bigger two pair. Ended the three-hour session dead even before getting some breakfast where we had the creepiest waitress I've ever seen in Vegas.
Played an uneventful 4-hour session at TI before heading back to IP for dinner before Meier and I joined the mixed game. Meier crashed about 11 but I played until 1:45 just long enough to give back my profits and wind up down $30. Given that the mixed game players are pretty solid and $12/person/hour leaves the table in rake and tips that's a good result and I had a great time hanging out with LVM and meeting some other AVPers. Crash for a few hours before getting up at 5 to catch a plane. See the mixed game is still going but choose to sit in a 1/2 NL for 45 minutes. Make a $40 profit and head to the airport.
Overall I finished up big in tournaments but gave most of it back in cash games though still turned a profit. And I had a blast. Can wait to go back in November when I won't be as rushed.