Just got back from Las Vegas. After hearing many good things about the Sahara tournaments (I was looking for good, inexpensive tournaments), I decided to give the Sahara a try. The Sahara has three per day - 11am, 7pm, and 11pm. Buy in is $42. One rebuy is allowed up to the first break at the one-hour mark. Alternates are allowed into the tourney when a player busts out through the end of the rebuy period. Each player starts out with 2000 chips. Blinds start at 25/50 and increase every 20 minutes, so you don't feel the need to jump in with just anything at the start.
Tourney #1: I played in the 7pm tourney. Final field was 157 people with over 100 rebuys. My opening table was pretty tight. Several players were obviously okay, but it seemed like there was a revolving door. Poor player looses chips, rebuys, then loses chips again. New player replaces him, then loses chips, rebuys, loses chips ...
At the end of the second break (9pm), I am way down and looking for my chance to go all in and double up or go home. I get some good cards, and within 60-90 minutes, I am in great shape. When we get down to two tables, it begins to look like I will be in the money, barring any stupid playing or bad beats. A short stack goes all in, and I call with J-J. Guess what? The short stack, who was down to virtually nothing but then hit a series of A-K starting hands, had A-A. Turns out that I catch a Jack on the river to send the poor guy home. That was my only really lucky break in the tourney.
The tourney is set to pay ten places, and the final table is 11. We all agree that the winner will give $100 to 11th place so no one at the final table will go home empty handed. We get down to six places and agree to chop the pot with the four large stacks getting a few hundred more than the small stacks.
Tourney #2: Played in the 11pm tourney another night. Only 65 players this time. The play at my opening table is looser than at my first tourney. If only I had a few cards I could have cleaned up. The woman sitting to my left was a local and very aggressive when she saw fish city at the table. She got some great cards at the start and got a good chip lead. I only had a few good hands the first hour and knew I would be at a big disadvantage vs the big stacks the rest of the tourney.
I played solid poker and made it to the final two tables. Being a short stack, I went all in on A-Q, only to be called by A-K. Fortunately for me, the poker gods were with me again, and we split the pot on a wheel straight.
Got down to 13 and the blinds were huge. Went all in on A-9 suited and was immediately called by the player on my left. She had QQ. She picks up a Q on the flop, so bye bye lightning36. The tourney paid the top eight, so I didn't cash. Still, 13th wasn't so bad considering that I had so-so cards.
Evaluation: Best inexpensive tourneys in Las Vegas due to the number of chips and the blind structure. Some very good players, some very poor. If you enter in one of these tourneys, be prepared to spend a minimum of four hours if you go deep in the tourney, probably six or more hours if the tourney is large and plays to the end. Some dealer errors, but everyone at the tables made sure the errors were corrected. Players were serious but friendly - my favorite kind. If you go to Las Vegas and don't want to spend a bundle on buy ins, these are the tourneys to try.
Decided to play some No Limit Hold Em at the Wynn on my Las Vegas trip. I decided to test the $1/3 tables. The Wynn is a beautiful place with an excellent poker room. Electronic wait list, nice chairs and tables, professional dealers and staff. Prepare to wait 30-45 minutes for a seat for some games. Interesting using the $3 chips.
Session #1: I am surprised to find the play similar to the first hour of an online freeroll tournament. One guy is on some type of drugs and is betting foolishly and seems to be forgetting all poker protocol, one guy is calling hands with crap cards, and another guy with a thick Russian accent is cagey but easy to read. Unfortunately, I get cards just this side of Alaska in winter. I am able to play virtually no hands and am just contributing blinds. I finally go all in after the flop with a pair of Aces with a King kicker and get called by the guy on drugs. I double up, and finally leave the game ahead a little bit.
Session #2: Several poor players and one guy who was super aggressive and intimidating everyone. I keep my cool, and eventually end up with the nut flush after the turn. I bet big, so the aggressive guy must know I have a decent flush. He puts me all in. There is a pair on the table, so I know he is either going to kill me with a full house or enable me to double up against his bluff with two pair. Since he had already played so many crap cards and had bluffed so much, I took the chance and called. Well, you can guess what happened. He was in the big blind and had a 4s over 10s full house. I decided that this was not the table for me, so I left for the day.
Session #3: I get seated at a table of sharks. I know that I need to be on my toes. After several hands I hit a set. Someone chases a straight, and he hits it on the river and takes almost half my chips. Have a pair of Aces with a Jack kicker after the flop, and decide to go all in. Get called by one of the sharks with deep pockets. He has an Ace, but I beat him on the kicker (J to 10) and double up. Fortunately, I am meeting someone for dinner and get out of the game while I am still ahead. The play at this table was too serious for my comfort.
Evaluation: Wynn is a great place to play low-limit NL Hold Em. Better come with a good bankroll, though. The $2/5 NL games had people with several thousand dollars of $5 chips stacked way high to intimidate.
Decided to try the NL Hold Em at the Luxor. Buy in is set at $50. You can rebuy if you lose it. Blinds are set at $1/1/2. When the table was short a few people, the blinds were $1/2.
I was very impressed by the evening manager. He was really concerned with my wait for a table. I got a good vibe being there. Friendly place with a reputation for so-so players.
Session #1: My cards are so hot my hands are burning! I slow play the heck out of them and take down several pots. One guy - get this - hits quad Jacks twice in 30 minutes! He may have had the best hands, but I cleaned up. After quintupling my money, I starting getting cold cards and decided to leave with a big smile on my face.
Session #2: My last night in Las Vegas, so I head to the Luxor at 2am. A NL game is going on with half the table a group of drunken friends. They are making wild bets, so I am staying out of the action with my so-so cards. Finally, I get pocket nines and stay in. After a raise, I decide to stay. A few more raises, and I say "What the heck - it's my last night." I am already pot-committed, so I go all in with my small remaining stack and tell everyone that I am heading to bed. Turns out that the people who stayed in the pot had all overcards and no pairs! My nines held up, and I left the game a short time later after more than tripling my money.
Evaluation: Good management and friendly room. I shall return ...
Excalibur, Imperial Palace, Aladdin
Played some 2-4 poker at both Excalibur and Imperial Palace. Did not get much in the way of cards and left contributing a little to the other players. Excalibur no longer offers its free dinner buffet for poker players, which is very disappointing. The Imperial Palace sandwiches, cookies, and coffees were excellent - a nice bonus for playing there. Both rooms are friendly and have quite a mix of players.
Unfortunately, Aladdin proved to be the worst room for me. Played $1/2 NL and didn't bet big enough to keep someone from chasing a flush to the river. Played in the morning tournamant and was totally card-dead. Nice room, just not lucky for me this particular trip.