Two moments make mundane memorable

Reports & Blogs by twriter about Bellagio Casino Posted

The weekend prior, there were softball and basketball tournaments in Vegas, and I tried to get picked up for a team, but didn't, so very last minute, after finding a decent off-strip rate, I decided to make a weekday trip. The Strip hotel rates had skyrocketed because of two big conventions, one for concrete and one for guns, but I found a room at Terrible's for a bit more than $100 for the 4 nights, and that was the rate I paid because they don't charge the dishonest "resort" fees. (Their in-room wifi is also free.)

Got out of SF good and early, but it was a drive through overcast well into the high desert. But once there, the temps warmed up, just like they did in Vegas itself, and it was almost entirely a t-shirt week, at least when it was light out (and sometimes after dark as well). Checked in to Terrible's and after having read about the limit games at Aria, headed over to the Bellagio parking garage and took the tram over. Found the poker room, only to find only NL games going. I asked the person in front when limit games would go, and her first answer was "whenever we get enough people," a far from helpful answer. I had to press to get her to say that limit games limited themselves (sorry) to the weekends.

So I wandered into the Bellagio poker room to find two pleasant surprises. First, the limit games have been moved to the right side of the room, and they are tracking play. In the right side of the room, tables are not packed in like sardines. What was nice, too, is that the $4/$8 game was not nearly as aggressive as the same game at the Venetian. Unfortunately, even though it was my favorite type of game, loose-passive, I got up at 11:30pm after 3 1/2 hours of play (and a 10-hour drive) down $19. Not the way I wanted to start the poker excursion. Had a dealer there who sat down by saying "$4/$8, the party table." Not sure that's entirely professional. I started out getting AA & JJ, but won only small pots as only few players were in and all folded to flop bets. Had another AA hold up as well. Later, hit top pair in the BB w/ 95, and I CR and over-aggro guy on the flop, but my making 2 pair on the turn gave him his straight; he had bet out on a draw. Toward the end I just went card dead. The game broke, and I was the odd-man-out for the last table, so I just decided to call it a night rather than trying to get used to another table.

Got to Mirage early and got the first $3/$6 game going. This was not my day. Early on, PF raise w/ KK, flopped top set, and got cracked by runner-runner flush draw (not even the nuts). Saw AA twice, but couldn't get them cracked. Went card dead over long stretches. Had to rebuy twice to stay in the otherwise good game, generally loose and passive, but just missing, missing, missing, and when the game broke at 2:30, I was once again the odd one out, so I just decided it wasn't my day there and left down $189. Another thing of note: We saw AA a number of times, at least a half dozen, and not once did anyone get them cracked. Yet the table had someone hit quads 3 times in the 5 hours, including quad 5s twice. Some weird occurrences out at the ends of the bell curves.

Headed over to IP & Hash House A Go Go to get my big burger. Very satisfying. Went back to my room to relax a bit, then decided to head over to the Bellagio again. And again, it was just a grind of a session. Instead of sitting down, getting something going, and getting out, I sat down at 7:30pm and didn't get up until 3:15am. I had a good start. I got a 2nd table going and we played shorthanded for a bit, and I was getting good cards. Then we got an over-aggro player. One hand, I called his PF raise w/ AJs in the SB and flopped J-high. I kept letting him lead the betting, and he bet his KQ trying to bluff right through the river. But then the table filled up with really loose players, and I went card dead once again. I did raise PF w/ QQ * got 4 callers, one of whom called all the way to catch their runner-runner flush. I also saw people calling raises from the BB with J5o, 93o, & 73o. Then came one of my memorable moments. After a few limpers, I called OTB with K-10o. The flop came A-high rainbow and it was checked around. I bet out and got 2 callers. The turn was another A. It was checked around again, I bet, and got one caller, a super calling station on my immediate left. The river was a blank. He checked, I paused and looked in his direction, saw him peek at his cards (I was thinking of just checking it down), and when I saw that, fired one more time. He paused for several long, long seconds, and then folded! Do you know how hard it is to get a calling station to fold? About a quarter to two, I hit only me second set of the trip. No big deal? Do the math. To that point, I'd been playing about 16 hours. Figure at least 30 hands/hour, that's almost 500 hands. As it's generally profitable to set mine in limit, I'd seen flops with every pocket pair. Pocket pairs arrive about once every 17 hands, and when you get one, then hit sets about once in every 8 opportunities. So on average, you should get a set, assuming to see a flop with every pocket pair, about once every 140 hands. (And that doesn't take into account the times when you get to see a free turn or river and hit a set on one of those streets.) To that point, I'd seen 2 sets in almost 500 hands, or a little less than, statistically, about half the time I should have. So it was no wonder that I was feeling like I was running bad. I was! I started getting better cards, but was not getting good results. Once I ot AQ & AJ back-to-back, the aforementioned calling staion on my left cold calls both times, and once hits his K9o with a K-high flop. Later, I get KK cracked by QJ hitting a QQx flop. I got AA cracked by J8 cold calling and hitting 2 pair on the river on a board that had 4 to a straight and 3 to a flush. My stack had gotten ground down quite a bit. Finally, with 3 limpers, it was raised to me and I 3-bet with QQ. Everybody called and saw a 76x flop. It was bet, I raised, and it was 3-bet. I ended up going all-in, but I suspected that the 3 better hit a set. Then the miracle: a Q on the turn. And I was right; the 3 better had hit a set of sixes, but I still dragged a nice $100+ main pot. Not long after than I began to realize that I was getting tired, so although I was sure I could grind my way back some more, I decided it was best to end my session right there, down "just" $59.

The next morning came much too soon. I slept in a bit, but not nearly enough. Still, I got to the Mirage right about the time to get the 2nd $3/$6 game going. Early on, I found 2 black aces. It was raised by what turned out to be the two red aces. Another player in the hand was raising the turn, so I thought we might be beaten, but the river pairing the board gave us both aces up, and a chopped pot, but no bonus. I flopped middle set on an all-club board, and it held up. I got QQ cracked by J5 cold calling, then hitting a turn Q on a AK10 board. And then I got AA again--12 minutes after bonus time ended (but they held up anyway). I had a loose guy on my right. He straddled. Now I firmly believe there is almost always just 2 legitimate responses to a straddle: raise or fold. Well this time, I found AK and 3-bet. The flop was K44 with 3 diamonds. He checked, I bet, he called. The turn was an A. He checked, I bet, he called. The river was a K. He checked, I bet, he folded. Huh?? I called a PF raise w/ A-10, floated a flop bet on a QJx board and hit a miracle K for the nuts. The guy on my right was really an :angry old man," the type who seemed to believe every time he was in a pot he deserved to win. He'd bet & raise with wild abandon. Unfortunately, he finally ran out of rebuys and left, but not before I made myself a nice $72 profit, and I left shortly after that.

Later, I headed back to the Bellagio. Not long after I arrived, I started up a second $4/$8 game. We played short for awhile, then a maniac showed up about across the table from me. I found QQ and raised PF. On a 99x flop, he check-raised me. I called, and then he led out with bets on the turn and river, then showed he was trying to bluff with AQ. The very next hand, I limed in LP with A2s and flopped a flush draw with middle cards. The maniac led out on the flop and turn, and he got out everyone else, but I stayed in to see a river. But he checked the river, and I checked behind, and he showed one card, a busted straight draw, and folded, and I didn't even have to show my A-high to get the pot. I decided that his craziness made it a high variance game, and as I was already up $109 after just 45 minutes, I decided to get up and go.

Thursday was back to a grind. I got the last seat at the first $3/$6 game at the Mirage. I had an interesting hand early. I limped with 33 and hit bottom set on an A-high flop. I waited until the turn to raise, and I figured the guy with me had an ace. The case 3 hit the river and he bet out. I raised, and he just called. He had AA and had flopped top set. He got the aces cracked bonus and I got the quads bonus. But what really surprised me was that he didn't at least 3-bet the river. I mean, you really have to think the second nuts is good for at least one more bet. But that really was the highlight of the game. I went stone cold card dead. I missed a flush draw and had 10-10 run into QQ on an all-undercards flop, but I was just missing all over the place once again--and that was when I had anything to work with. Mostly, I was just folding, folding, folding. All of a sudden a huge pot got built. I limped in MP with QJs. The BB raised and 6 of us saw a J98 flop with 2 hearts. It got 4-bet (I was one of the raisers), and a miracle 10 hit the turn. My turn raise got cold-called by a flush draw that missed on the river. But it was a strange session, one where I had long, long session of nothingness interrupted by the very occasional big pot won. No consistency at all. The table was getting really loose. I had a hand where I hit bottom set with 10-10, but the PF raiser had AA and the board was AJ10. Set over set is expensive when you're bottom set. I raised PF with AJs, and a guy who cold called with 35o hit a 246 board. Yikes. I open-raised form the CO with KQ. The button cold called, as did the BB, whi led into a K-high rainbow flop, called turn and river bets, then just mucked. Huh??? Still, it was more of a one-step-forward, two-steps back kind of day. I never even hit a single flush draw when I came in with a suited ace. I finally hit an end-of-the-day miracle. I flopped a set with 77, then checked a turn A and induced a bet. He called my check-raise and paid me off on the river. By the time I got done, at 10:00pm, a 10:45 session, I had almost gotten back to even, being down just $13. I try to cheer myself up by telling myself that lots of people would have lost multiple buy ins on a day such as this "trying to make something happen."

I know that most of the folks here play NL and really don't understand just how different the limit game is. You simply don't get people to fold with bets and raises a large percentage of the time, so to be most profitable, especially over the long term, you HAVE to be patient, you HAVE to limit yourself to the +EV hands, and you HAVE to bet and raise for value when you're ahead (because you'll get paid off and that's where your profit is). But when the cards just aren't running your way, when you see nothing but trash hands orbit after orbit, when your AK and AQ and AJ miss flop after flop, you simply have to fold. Anything else is a leak that will affect your long-term bottom line. It's boring as hell, but it's winning poker.

Friday dawned early. I had a plan. Get up, get out, get over to the Mirage, get my name on the list, and head over to Hash House for a breakfast for the road. I got back and the game was getting going. Was up and down a bit early, enjoying the usual loose passive game, when I found the 9 of spades and 8 of spades in MP with a few limpers already. I joined the parade--only to have the BB raise. (He told me later he had KQ.) The flop was awesome. The 10 of clubs, the 10 of spades, and the 7 of spades. It was checked to me, I bet, and got a few callers. The turn gave me goose bumps: the 6 of spades. I bet again and got 2 callers. The river was a blank. I bet again and got what I thought was one caller, and I turned over my hand to show the turned straight flush. But I missed (something I usually don't to because I usually pride myself on paying attention) the guy on my right was still in the hand. He just called (he said later he had been waiting to check-raise) with.....


Bad beat jackpot time!!!


Yes, I left a few bets on the table by missing that (who knows how many raises he would have put in). But I still not only dragged a nice pot, I got 2 bonuses. Yet another great thing ab out the Mirage is that they pay all bonuses. So I got the $175 straight flush bonus as well as the $2500 BBJ bonus. Just as I was wrapping up my play for the long drive home, and I hit it big. The dealer stripped the deck, found it OK, and the next thing I know (well, it took awhile), we were getting brought piles of $500 and $100 chips. the interesting thing was that Mark (the dayshift manager) came up behind me to pay me just as I looked at my hand for a new deal, and he saw the same thing I saw: two red aces. It turned out to be a decent sized pot too, and I was in with someone I knew chased a lot of draws, and when he bet out on the river, I thought he had hit one, but alas, I had to make do with only the pot and not yet another bonus. I picked up shortly afterward (like just about everyone else who had been in the BBJ hand) and left to hit the road early instead of staying until the bonus time was over. Not counting the bonuses, I ended the session up $73, which gave me a very small $74 profit for the week for just play alone. That was 23 1/4 hours at the Mirage and 11 1/2 hours at the Bellagio, all over 4 days and nights. That's more than a full-time job.

So I never got my aces cracked, but I hit a quads bonus and a BBJ bonus with a straight flush bonus added. Crazy, eh?

Got to chat with Chris again before I left too, always a pleasant thing. I really like most of the dealers there too. Nice and friendly, and they almost all have good mechanics and run the game well. The graveyard dealers, especially Bill, are especially fun.

Saw some familiar faces, but no AVPers that I recognized (or recognized as AVPers anyway).

Unfortunately, not sure when I'll get back again. While I've still not found work (after almost a year and a half now), I'm starting a night class that meets every Monday through May, and softball season is getting going, so practices are on most weekends, and games start in late March on Sundays and run through June. So my time blocks to make trips have been shortened. (Interestingly, I found really cheap rooms at IP for this very next week, but I have a commitment here on Thursday night. Too bad too; I can get a room for Tuesday through Saturday for a total of a bit more than $60 with my TR card.)

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  1. Congratulations!!!

    So, tell me - would you trade the Straight Flush for those Sets you missed? :smiling_imp:

  2. twriter

    as always it was a pleasure to have you drop by for awhile and a great job on hitting some bonuses!

  3. oh and I don't know if you caught the tweet or not but the very next day we had another bad beat jackpot hit - two quads in a NL game

  4. Very nice report. Makes me want to play at the Mirage. I'll be there Feb 3 to Feb 9.
    Warm up the Omaha H/L game for me. Good to hear that there is still limit poker
    players in Las Vegas.