Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Home?

In a previous post I made a comment about how much better the floorpeople at the Bellagio were than the one at Boulder station. For the most part, this is true. However, a few weeks ago I realized that at least two of the floorpeople at the Bellagio are also pretty bad. One is named Dave Naif, and keeps the list for the 2-5 NL game most evenings. The other runs the game occassionally in the wee hours, but I can't remember his name. Some of the other floorpeople are much better, such as Tim Rose and most of the people who run the higher limit games.

Last week, as I said, there was a big tournament at the Bellagio and so the poker room was rather crowded. Dave Naif, a white, well-groomed guy of about 65, was holding the list for the 2-5 NL game while walking around the room, so I waited at the podium, where he is supposed to be. It took a ridiculous ten or fifteen minutes before he even returned to his post.

"Hi, Dave," I said. Several nights a week for the past couple of months, I'd given him my name to put on the 2-5 NL list, so I feel like a first name basis is appropriate. Also, he wears a name tag.

"Hi," he says, confused. Evidently he doesn't recognize me. This is a complaint about Dave that I've heard voiced by other players. Supposedly, Dave once carded a regular player three nights in a row. Despite this, I figure he'll eventually recognize me, but I guess it hasn't happened yet.

This is the point where Dave is supposed to ask me what game I want to play and put my name on the list. Instead, he is scribbling things on little post-it notes. I wait patiently for a minute or two. Then Dave turns and walks away.

Five minutes later, with Dave wandering the room again, I turn and walk away, too. I haven't been back. Instead, I've been playing at the Wynn, and a little at the Mirage.

Here are some Wynn/Bellagio comparisons.

Advantage Wynn:

Poker room in the Wynn is much closer to the parking garage than at the Bellagio. This isn't a big deal, though, because I don't mind walking through the Bellagio, which is quite nice. Still, proximity is key.

Rarely takes more than 10 minutes to get into a game at the Wynn.

Mixed game at the Wynn is played at 10-20 stakes. At the Bellagio it is 40-80.

Lower rake at the Wynn, if I remember correctly.

More beginners playing 2-5 NL.

Slightly more attractive waitresses at the Wynn.

If I want to move up in stakes, the 5-10 NL at the Wynn is a more logical progression than the Bellagio's 10-20 NL.

Floor managers are better at the Wynn.

Floor people are equipped with better technology. They have ear pieces so they can communicate across the room without shouting. And the lists are displayed on a screen overhead, which is a common poker room feature that the Bellagio lacks.

Wynn has more transparent comps system. This is a minor factor, since I find it inconvenient to have to stop and ask someone to swipe my card whenever I come and go, which is how the comp system works at the Wynn.

Wynn bathrooms are slightly nicer.

Tables not as closely packed at the Wynn, so it's easier to get around.

Advantage Bellagio:

Snack bar cheaper at Bellagio (but still exorbitant).

More poker stars around.

Slightly better dealers at Bellagio.

I know and like several of the regular players and dealers.

More drunk people playing 2-5 NL at Bellagio.

Also, I have recently played a bit at the Mirage. I like the Mirage for their relatively cheap $100 rebuy tournaments, cheap snacks at the gift shop (this is quite significant), and relatively poor competition. On the other hand, the tables do not have an automatic shuffler, the dealers are not quite as good, and the parking garage is not very convenient.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Oh Snap!

The term "Oh Snap!" is one of my favorite from back in elementary school through high school. Anyway, while combing through the "two plus two" message boards I came across an interesting thread criticizing a recent Negreanu article, which was somewhat derogatory towards "math types" (of which I consider myself one). Some familiar names are represented in this thread. Here is one of the posts. The inside quote is David Sklansky writing in response to Negreanu himself, and the outside quote is Negreanu responding again to Sklansky. This is just awesome, and I especially like the "Oh Snap!" response by one of the message board posters.

For the record, I've seen Sklansky with a woman at the Bellagio, and if she is only 23, well... let's just say there's no way she was only 23.

Forty Minutes

That's how long I lasted in the Blogger tournament. At least I didn't waste too much time!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Negreanu's Blog

While playing the 2-5 at the Bellagio tonight, somebody mentioned that Daniel Negreanu had posted on his blog that he could beat the 5-10 NL game at the Wynn without ever looking at his cards. Hmmm... I decided to check it out and it turns out he was writing about the night I saw him there. He even mentioned that the 10-20 mixed game was full, corroborating one of my stories from a couple posts ago. So for all you skeptical fuckers out there, you can take that as confirmation that I really did almost play with him on Wednesday.

Incidentally I've been doing pretty well in the 2-5 NL games, and Negreanu's comments are making me consider trying the 5-10 NL at the Wynn. In fact, with the way he was playing, I hope he shows up again.

Oh, and that Poker Stars Tournament already has over 1000 entrants, so it's going to take forever, and with such a large field it's probably unlikely that I'll win anything. Should I bother to play it?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Online Poker Blogger Tournament

I came upon this blog, and saw that he had entered into something called the online poker blogger championship. I don't really like playing online that much, but this is free and sounds like fun. In order to play they are making me post the following.

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 1096708

The event is October 23rd. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Quick Stories

I went back to Boulder Station for the first time in a while; I had just busted out of the Mirage NL holdem rebuy tourney and didn't want to play anything that required too much thinking. So, I went and played the 4-8 half kill omaha game. One of the regulars who I've seen there every time I've gone was talking to the guy next to him after losing another pot.

"I hate this game!"
"But you still choose to come and play everyday."
"Yeah, the other day I was talking to this guy who said that if someone told him that he had to come to the casino every night for eight hours and play 4-8 Omaha, he'd be furious and crying Bloody Murder. I thought about it and realized he was right. But for some reason I come here and do it anyway."

Incidentally, I won only one pot for the 2 hours I was there and lost $200.

Earlier tonight I went to the Wynn, and the only table with open seating was the 10-20 HORSE game, where they switch off between holdem, Omaha 8 or better, 7 card stud 8 or better, Razz, and 2-7 triple draw. At first I decided to just wait around because I don't know how to play most of those games well, and barely know the rules to a couple of them. Then I decided to play anyway. I've been so focused on no-limit holdem that it's become rather intense, and I figured it might be fun to try something different. The first game was O-8, then deuce to seven. This was the first time in my life I had ever played this game. The first hand I showed down 76432, the second best hand possible. The next hand I ended up with 87542, and my only opponent had 87543. After staring at the two hands for about 10 seconds I finally realized I had won the hand, triumphantly sliding out my 2 for my opponent to see (he still hadn't figured out who had won either, and neither had the dealer).

Daniel Negreanu had been hanging around and it turned out he wanted to play in our game (just for fun obvioiusly), but the table was full. We were just starting another round of 2-7 triple draw, and one of the players at my table said, "Daniel, play deuce for me," meaning he wanted Negreanu to use his chips to play the round of deuce to seven.
"No, the other players don't want me playing, especially not with all the raising I'm gonna be doing!" Negreanu then sat at the 5-10 NL game instead. That's the closest I've come so far to playing against one of the poker stars.

Despite mostly playing games I'd never played before (or hardly ever), I made $300 in 2 hours. Not bad.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stars in Town

Every few weeks there is a big tournament somewhere in Vegas and many of the big poker stars come to town, and lots of them come to play at the Bellagio when the tournament is not going on. This week the Bellagio itself is hosting the Festa al Lago IV Poker Tournament, so last night there were a bunch of big name players there and several huge games. In addition to the regular Bellagio players like Phil Ivey and Chau Giang, some of the more notable players playing last night were Sam Farha, Johnny Chan, and Barry Greenstein (I think... otherwise it was some guy who looks like him but has a beard). Also hanging around were John Juanda, David Williams, and Daniel Negreanu. The night before I saw the legendary Doyle Brunson for the first time. At one point he left the room on his motorized wheelchair thing and was honking at the cocktail waitresses and others and laughing... he seems pretty laid back. Anyway, in addition to the usual 2K-4K limit game that Ivey, Giang, and company play in, some high stakes no limit games started up, including a 50-100 NL holdem game with a $25 ante. This game only attracted 4 or 5 players, including Farha. Since all the high limit tables were already in use, this game was spread right in the middle of the room. At one point, while I was piddling away at my 2-5 NL game, a crowd gathered suddenly around the 50-100 game. Supposedly, Farha had just lost a $200K pot with two pair to some guy who had had a set. Farha just laughed at all the attention it was getting. When I cashed out a couple of hours later, I walked by their table and saw that the guy who had won that hand was sitting behind two huge stacks of $100 bills and piles of chips in colors I rarely ever see- mostly $1K and $5K but also some I didn't even recognize. Unbelievable. It makes the $400 I made in 2-5 seem kinda meaningless. At least I probably did better than Sammy.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Second Place

I entered a tournament for the first time since I moved to Las Vegas back in July. I used to like to play in tournaments whenever I came to Vegas, but the excitement of them has worn off and I don't think they tend to be as profitable as cash game unless you are very good, like in the top 3% of all the entrants, skill-wise. For the tournaments with entry fees that are worth my time (greater than $200), I am probably not in the top 3%. So basically I would just need to get lucky to win. Relying on luck to win and make a living is not a good idea.

Despite this, I decided to go play in the daily tournament tournament over at Binion's. I've played in this tournament a few times, once sitting next to Cory Lidle. It was also the first place I ever played a live tournament, on the first night I was in Vegas about two years ago, and place second (my friend Ben from college actually came in first). I hadn't played in a week because I went back to Washington DC for the weekend, but I just felt like I had reached the point where I am likely in the top 3% of the players in a relatively cheap tournament like this ($110). Despite not getting a real hand the entire first hour (just stealing the blinds here and there), I was able to place second with some help from a stretch of good cards when the field got down to around ten players (at which point they brought us all over to the well lit "Binion's featured table"). This is only the second time I've placed in the money ina live tournament (I've come in first a few times online), and let me tell you, it is exhausting. I was there for only four and a half hours but my concentration level was so high that now I feel like a ran a marathon with my brain. I'm glad it didn't take much longer. When it got down to heads up I had about $35K and my opponent had $53K. It turns out that the winner also gets a T-shirt and a free pass to the "tournament of champions," to be held November 6. The other guy had actually won the late-night tournament the previous night (which actually finished after midnight, so he won two tourneys in one day!), but he wasn't going to be able to make the TOC, so that was given to me instead. He and I discussed just splitting the rest of the prize money, and I would let him take the T-shirt (which he wanted really badly for some reason), but he decided to play it out instead. He caught some good hands against my not-quite-so-good hands and that was it. I really felt like I could beat him because he was playing way too tightly, but after he got me down to about $15K and the blinds were $3k-$6K with a $600 ante, I pushed all-in with 78o, and he called and won with AKo , a hand well within range for even his overly tight hand selection. That's poker.

If this post was rather boring considering that it was a reasonably exciting story, it's because I am really quite exhausted right now. I can't imagine playing the WSOP events, which take way longer than 5 hours I think. Then again, it was good that I was able to keep up my concentration for so long... maybe I'm just exhausted now because I'm out of "poker shape" after my week long break. Yawn.