Was it a Mirage or was it a Circus Palace?

Reports & Blogs by twriter Posted

Having qualified for the quarterly Mirage freeroll and finding a cheap airfare for a long weekend, I registered for a Saturday slot, grabbed the flight, and shopped around for a cheap hotel. The dirt-cheap rates weren't available to me at the IP or my other haunts, but I scored a room at, of all places, Circus Circus, for about $120 total for the 4 nights.

The Southwest pilot made good time from SFO and we hit the tarmac a good 20 minutes early Thursday evening (the 9th)--only to find our gate occupied. We had to wait more than 20 minutes for that plane to push away because it ran into a minor problem, so the terminal carpet came behind schedule a bit. And then I found another Vegas strangeness: the rental car counters are hella far away. Sure there's a regular shuttle bus, but it's a good 10-15 minute ride from the terminal. Someone please tell me why they built this nice new building so, so far away from the terminal. (I mean, if you're really gonna go that, build a fast & straight rail connection.)

Got to Circus Circus. It was the first time I'd ever set foot in the place. Almost no line at check-in. Following the advice I'd read on TripAdvisor.com, I asked for--and got--a room in the West tower. Facing away from the Strip and fairly high up, it was nice & quiet. The bed was comfortable, the TV was nice, the water was hot quickly, so except for the dishonest "resort" fee, this turned out to be quite the weekend deal.

I couldn't wait. I needed to hit the felt, so I made my way down to the Mirage. As soon as I got a seat, I recognized form a previous trip a maniac, a young black guy, and unfortunately, he was on my immediate left. I requested a table change immediately, and was able to move before long. The other game was nice and quiet. Unfortunately, I wasn't hitting a doggone thing. I ran into some unusual preflop 3-bat action when I woke up with AKs and ran into QQ and hit a 7-high flop. Awhile later, the maniac's game broke and he ended up at my table. I decided to head out, even though I was down $64. I think I won 3 pots in 2 hours.

Friday morning, I was up early and at the Mirage to get the first $3/$6 game going at 8:30. One of the great things about morning at Mirage, besides the AA cracked, is Bill the dealer. He not only does a good job, he's a great character. He revealed a happy personal tidbit while I was there and I congratulate him again. Meanwhile, early on, while we were still shorthanded, I got two black AA twice and couldn't get 'em cracked. (That's a possible $150 each for those who are counting, and with a short table, the won pots aren't all that large.) Shortly afterward, I got two red AA, but we were still shorthanded and I still couldn't get 'em cracked. IN fact, in the first couple of hours, I was getting some monster hands: AA, AA, AA, KK KK, QQ. But I was winning small pots and losing big ones. I got KK again and a guy 4-bet preflop with what turned out to be A6o and he went runner-runner gutshot wheel to take a really, really bit pot. Another AA and I finally crack 'em for a $75 bonus. By the time the promo was over, I had had AA, AA, AA, AA, AA, KK, KK, KK, QQ, QQ, & QQ. The last AA held up when soem guy cold-called preflop w/ 52o, flopped 2 pair, and got counterfeited on the river. Still, I was winning mostly small pots whenI won with the big pairs and losing big ones, so by then I was down. The table broke and I move to the last table running. Twice in one orbit I raised w/ 10-10 and ran into JJ--by the same guy! I hot top pair w/ K-10 and a woman calls the flop bet to get a draw on the turn and hits her single overcard on the river. I get AA yet again and they hold up. QQ goes down, and I get AA yet again--and this time everyone folds to my preflop raise. I don't think I've ever had so many big hands in a session--and have so many go down in flames. By the time I got up at 7:30, I had said bye-bye to my initial $100 buy in plus two additional $60 rebuys. Oh, one other note: in 11 hours of cash play I flopped not one set. (and I had quite a few more pocket pairs than just the big ones I mentioned.)

I had actually considered playing the Friday night tournament to get some practice for the next day, but they had only 8 entrants by 8pm, and I wanted to see at least 2 tables.

I took a break for some food and went back to Circus Circus, where I found the poker room. It looked like a sad little place. Interestingly, two games were going, and both were short $3/$6 games. I sat down in a bit of a crazy one. A couple guys on my left were playing TV poker. I just sat back and folded a lot--until I 3-bet a blind straddle. 4 players cold-called, and a naked A-high bet into a KKx board. I raised, and still got cold callers. I shut down a bit. One cold caller behind me had 10-10, but when A-rag got called on the river and the dealer push a big pot to me, he started whining up and down. I decided I didn't need this and I got up right away, after just 30 minutes, up $74.

Back to the Mirage in the morning, and a got a short 45 minutes in before the freeroll began. I had actually gotten 2 stacks up, but runner-runner flush took most of it.

For the freeroll, the poker room was very full. Unfortunately, I got THE worst dealer in the place to begin. Other players were asking her questions about the tournament, and she said she didn't know. She needed help understanding how the re-entry placard system worked (it was really simple). She is a horrible dealer; she doesn't run the game well at all, and I even saw her roll the deck once to look at her watch in the middle of hand. I decided to play pretty TAG. I nearly doubled up in an early round when I open-raised from EP with 99 and got one caller. I hit a set(!) and bet out. The one caller check-raised all-in with what turned out to be the nut flush draw, but a paired board on the turn put me in good shape. I was still almost doubled up at the first break, 2 hours in, but the blinds were such (and my starting stack smaller than average) that I still had "only" about 20BB. I was down to about 12-13 big blinds and in the BB when a guy 2 seats to my left made an unusually large open-raise. Everyone folded to me and I saw K-10o. I thought for a minute. I believed this guy saw me playing tight and folding lots of hands. I believed he was trying to steal the blinds from EP, so I shoved. And he thought for a long, long, long time. He tried to get info from me, but I sat stone still. He finally decided to call (damn!) with QJs. I got my money in ahead, but a Q on the flop sent me too the rail after 3 hours. Turns out I was about a 56%-44% favorite, not all that much, but I still think it was a good play on my part. (I welcome differing opinions.)

Back to $3/$6. The table had 3 calling stations to my left, and they all would repeatedly cold-call my open-raises. Yuk. After several hours, the biggest PP I've seen is JJ, and when I find QQ and get a whole lot of action on a K-high flop, the QQ has to go in the muck. I do get an AA to hold up heads up on a co-ordinated board. We get a no-limit boy who comes in and starts raising 2-3 times per orbit, and then another couple of kids who just won't STFU. The young guns are being so aggressive, but they are also driving away the fish. Several have left, and I finally get tired of the noise and leave after 5 ours up $42.

I decide to head out east on Tropicana and see the Muppet movie for $1.50.

Sunday morning I'm up extra early because I got 2 free breakfast/lunch buffets when I checked in and I wanted to take advantage of one. I still got the the Mirage in time to get the second-to-last seat in the first $3/$6 game of the day. Early on, I raise PF with 99, get several cold-caller, and flop AAK. Oops. I do get some good big aces and hit flops, but I'm getting outkicked. AQ vs. AK, AJ vs. AQ, etc. Frustrating. By midafternoon, I realize that I've been playing cash game poker for more than 24 hours and I still have not flopped a set. Statistically, that is just plain awful. Lest you think this is just whining, do the math. Figure 20-25 hands per hour as a conservative estimate. Over 24 hours, that's 450-500 hands. Of those, about 1 in 8 is a pocket pair on average (and I think I've been getting them a bit above average). Figure at least 50 pocket pairs, and on average, about 1 in 8 should flop a set. So, statistically, I should have flopped 5-7 set already. Sets pay off big, and can be the different between winning and losing sessions. To have had zero and no be further down is a small miracle. Not long afterward, I finally hit a set with QQ, and got some action on a K-high board. Not long after, I hit another with 88 and got 2-pair to pay me off. I got AA and lost to flopped set w/ 33. I hit top set w. JJ, but got no action and dragged a smallish pot. The NL players started to show up, so I headed out, down $26.

Off to the IP and the mixed game. For awhile it was short. But I still like this game. It's one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on. I was not running well. A number of times I was drawing 3 times to nice lows and just missing. I scooped a huge baducey pot with a 76 low and a 64 badugi. But then, I find 1234 in Omaha/8, flop 54x, and miss. I start with 432 in Stud/8, see lost of high cards on the board around me, and still can't get a low. Still I played until the game broke, until 3am, a bit more than 2 full rotations of the 10 games, but I end up down almost $100.

Monday I decide to sleep in. A little. I make it to the Mirage and get in the 2nd game at about 10:30. A spend all morning looking for my first bonus-hours AA since Friday and finally get it near the end--only to flop a set and turn a full house. OTOH, they were in to high-hand bonus time, so I ended up with both the pot and a $75 bonus, only the second one I'd hit all weekend long. Then I get KK cracked by 74 cold-calling my preflop raise (because they were sooooted, of course), finding reason to stay by hitting the 4 on the flop and getting lucky with a turn 7. A short while later, 4 players cold-call my preflop 3-bet w/ KK, and this time they hold up. I get up at 5:00 because I have a plane to catch, up a whopping $12 for the day.

Over the 4 days, I ended up playing more than 40 hours of low-limit limit games (with almost 35 of those hours $3/$6 at the Mirage). Gee, I qualify for next quarter's freeroll. Maybe I'll have to plan a trip for the third weekend in May--especially because I'll be there in March, where I expect I'll rack up enough hours to put me up a notch in the starting stack category and give me a better chance.

Meanwhile, I cannot end this trip report without mentioning the bright, shiny orb beaming throughout the Mirage poker room. It occurred to me that next door, in the Ceasar's shops, there's a store with the tagline "chocolate by the bald man," and with Chris' new appearance (I still say he disappears when he turns sideways now), the Mirage poker room is "[poker by the bald men."

I should add too that the freeroll was, I thought, very well run. You can tell Chris enjoys it when circumstances such as this require him to be out in the room (and behind the microphone).

I do appreciate most of the dealers at the Mirage too (and I'm sure they like seeing me, at least the ones who aren't diabetic). Bill is fun in the early mornings, Steve is VERY fast and runs the game well, and I saw one other (I didn't catch the name) shut down table talk twice when there was still action. Many of the dealers have interesting personalities, and it makes it more enjoyable than if they are just card pitching, pot pushing robots.

No interesting or big meals. No outrageous outings. This trip was all about the poker. And I didn't run very well, which left me less happy than I would be otherwise. So if you've made it this far, I hope I didn't bore you too much.

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  1. Enjoyed the report. For part of the read, I'm feeling like a novice knucklehead. I mean what's a cold caller, what's it mean 'got counterfeited', a baducey pot, and a badugi - I'm sure at least one of these is sexual, so I suppose I don't want to know.

    Then I come across a line and realize why I actually win at this game despite having no street cred. As expert as you are, the odds of getting dealt a pocket pair IS NOT one in 8. Simple math: the first card is totally random... faaaaaget about it. But the second card gives you 3 chances to get a match out of 51 cards left in the deck. That's 1 in 17.

    So maybe you shoulda flopped a set in 3-4 times in 24 hours. Then too, if you raise bigtime with your AA or KK and everyone folds, you never really get a chance to hit the trips. So the number comes down to 2-3 times. Still unlucky not to even get one, the effect is still you're an unlucky guy.

    Request for feedback: a huge preflop raise by even a nominal player is usually either Ace-King or JJ, QQ, KK or AA. I would have to be on a huge roll to call with K-10o. Only going against a maniac would I argue in favor of the K-10o call. But obviously you read this one right this time.

    Maybe everyone else knows pocket pairs are a 1 in 8 and I'm wrong. Probably so in fact. I get these things wrong all the time...

  2. @biffo99

    Cold-caller: someone who just calls 2 or more bets at once.
    Got counterfeited, say you have 10-9 and the flop comes A-10-9. Turn comes an A. Now you have aces & 10s with a 9 kicker.
    Not going into badugis & baduceys other than to say they are not sexual, but can sure get you whipped if you're unlucky.


    Yup, you're right, and I should know better. Pocket pairs about 1 in 17, and if you get one, sets about 1 in 8. I've corrected the OP.

    Oh, and raises in limit? It rarely thins the field much. Not at all unusual to see 5 players or more in a raised pot before the flop ever hits.


    I'm playing limit, so no one can make a "huge" preflop raise. If I have position, especially against a looser player and if everyone has folded to me, I'm likely to stay with K-10. 3 bets to me and it's going in the muck every time.