Wednesday, November 30, 2005


There's another series of big tournaments at the Bellagio this week, bringing in the big name players. When I went to check out the 10-20NL game Sunday night to see if there were any fish, there was a five handed game that included WSOP bracelet winners Huck Seed (main event, 1996), and Joe Awada (7-card stud, 2004), and also another guy I don't know, but whose picture is up on the wall in the poker room there. Figuring this was probably not a soft enough table for me, I left.

Most of the big-name players now are sponsored by internet poker sites to play in the major tournaments and wear gear baring their name and logo in exchange for the entry fee for the tournament. Many unknown players are being sponsored, now, too. I met two such players yesterday playing 2-5NL at the Wynn. One guy sat down to my right wearing a polo shirt with "" written all over it. He said he had just come in 10th at some $10K event over at the Plaza. They sponsor him because he is the winningest player on their website, having made around $400K playing mostly $150-$300 limit. He came to play $2-5 because he wanted to play with his buddy, who was already playing at the table. They were about 21 and still in college in Chicago. Anyway, the details of his sponsorship is that they pay the $10K entry fee, but he has to pay his own travel expenses.

Another player at the table was a girl in her late 20's (I think) wearing a "" hat. This is a relatively unknown website, but I had met a guy on the strip a couple months ago who worked for them. He gave me a t-shirt and his email address, and he told me that wanted to sponsor some players. Needless to say, I tried emailing him; unfortunately, I got no response. When I saw this girl with the hat, though, I asked her where she got it.

"They sponsored me for the $1500 tournament today," meaning the first of the big tournaments at the Bellagio. I told her about my encounter with the cardroom representative on the strip.

"Oh yeah? What was his name?" she asked.
"I think it was Josh."
"Oh, ok. He doesn't work for them anymore. I could give you Todd's number, though, if you want."

She told me that they don't pay the entry fees. She didn't explain it very well, but from what I understand, cardroom will add 30% or something to any winnings that you get. While this would be nice, I'd prefer to just get the entry fee paid for, since that would decrease the volatility a lot more. Also, I imagine it would make tax season a bit more complicated. In any case, I figured it was worth looking into.

So, I got Todd's number. Just a few minutes ago I called him and left a message. Somehow I doubt anything will come of it, but it's worth a try.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Reunion Recap

Incredulity trumped hyper-interest at the reunion on Friday. Very few of my old classmates quite believed me when I told them I had quit my job and now lived in Las Vegas and played poker for a living. The first person I told simply nodded when I told him, and then I asked him what he was up to. After telling me he was working and then going back to school to finish up his bachelor's degree next semester, he asked, "so what are you really doing?" Evidently, he had assumed I had lied to him the first time, but he didn't mind. He just wanted to know what I was really up to.

As the night went, word went around about my chosen profession, and several people told me that I had by far the most interesting story they had heard from anyone at the reunion. I expect this is largely because my classmates are mostly boring, but nonetheless, I appreciated the attention. The former "jocks" tended to be particularly impressed, since many of them play poker themselves, but not professionally. My more intellectual acquaintances from high school generally thought that what I was doing was cool, but I also got one or two disapproving reactions. One girl reacted with a part horrified, part incredulous "noooo!" This is the same reaction my mother initially had when I told her that I was seriously considering moving to Vegas. I guess they both had expected I would have chosen to do something useful with my life.

Strangely, nobody got particularly fat. I guess they stayed home. Still surprising, though.

As a side note, my former friend (the class president) failed to give me my fantasy baseball winnings at the reunion. It's sad, really; he was one of my best friends, but obviously my dignity requires that I no longer speak to him. The season ended almost two months ago!

Seriously, though, Alex - give me my money.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

High School Reunion

Tomorrow I'm heading back home to the suburbs of Boston for Thanksgiving. It should be nice to get away from the city lights for a few days and see the family and some old friends.

On Friday night is my 5 year high school reunion. I imagine there will be some comical interactions when people ask me what I am doing nowadays and I tell them "playing poker in Las Vegas."Even here in Las Vegas, most people I meet outside of a poker room have a hard time believing that this could really be all I do to support myself. Still, the incredulous people are usually easier to deal with than the really hyper-interested people, who will undoubtedly feel it's okay to ask me how much I'm making. I'll have to come up with a satisfactory answer to this question before Friday. Usually I just say "I'm not getting rich, but I'm paying the bills." I guess that's a good enough answer. After the reunion, I'll post again and let you know who got fat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More Links

Okay, I'm going to add a few more links to poker blogs that I think are pretty good. Feel free to give suggestions for more links. For now, the only criteria for the inclusion of a particular blog are:

1. At least half of the blog's entries need to be poker-related.
2. I need to actually like the blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Palms and Rio

Friday night I went to the Palms poker room and put my name on the list for 2-5 NL. The list was pretty long, though, so as I stood around waiting, I tried to decide whether to go somewhere else. As I was waiting, Layne Flack showed up and just hung out with a few friends at the poker room. This is one of the weird things about the Palms the I could never figure out. The limits only go up to 5-10 NL, but the big names will sometimes show up and just hang around. Recently I've seen Flack and Joe Awada there, and last year I spotted Phil Gordon playing the 2-5 NL game there. Gordon was pretty sloshed at the time, and so was I (we had both been at the club earlier). He saw me standing there watching the game and asked if I wanted to play... I said there didn't seem to be any seats open, and he said something like "I hear there's a seat open over at the Bellagio," to which I responded "well, if you want to go over there I'd be glad to take your seat." We went on like that for a minute or so but I can't remember what else was said. Anyway, back to the present (by which I mean Friday). After five or ten minutes, the list at the Palms hadn't gotten any shorter. I decided to check out the Rio, which is just a couple of minutes from the Palms. I figured if the Rio was also crowded, I could head back over to the Palms, by which point I would probably be near the top of the list. Fortunately, when I got to the Rio, I was second on the list and got into a game within five minutes.

I shouldn't even be posting this because it's almost certainly unprofitable for me to tell other good players about this, but the Rio poker room is a gold mine, at least on the weekends. The players at the 2-5 NL game there play like low-limit or relatively weak 1-2 NL players, and there are usually five or six people drinking alcohol at any given ten person table. The games are just unbelievable. When I told some of the other players that I like playing at the Wynn, they thought I was crazy. "The games there are really tight... the players are just too tough," they would respond. Well, in light of my recent discovery of the Rio, I have to agree with them.

Let me describe one hand to you. There are a few guys at the Rio who are actually quite good. One of them, a skinny Asian guy of about 40, was at my table on Friday, and he was just running over the table. Of the winning players I saw at the Rio, he was by far the most loose- aggressive (actually, I was the only player who was close). By bluffing people out whenever he sensed weakness, he was winning nearly half the pots at this ten person table, and had built up a stack of over $1500. Nobody else at the table was willing to risk their whole stacks without super-strong hands, and he was capitalizing on their risk-aversion. Fortunately, I don't have the same problem, so when I had AQo under the gun, I just limped in. Normally, it is not correct to try to limp-raise with anything weaker than QQ, but AQ0 is so much better than the average hand this guy was raising with that I felt it was worth a shot. I had about $300 behind. Sure enough, he raised to $25, and when it got around to me, I re-raised it up to $90. After a few seconds, he pushed me all in.... at this point I wasn't quite so happy with my hand. There was now a decent chance he had me beat with AK or even KK, but with almost $200 in the pot and his $210 bet, I was getting almost 2-1 odds on my call, and I couldn't justify a fold. Besides, I still figured there was a very good chance I was either way ahead or only slightly behind (like for instance if he had AJ or 99, respectively). I called and won a $600 pot against his KJo.

There are several other hands worth posting about, too, but I want to give a quick review of the Palms and the Rio, like I did with the Bellagio, Wynn, and Mirage earlier.


$2-5 NL $100-$500 buy-in. Also sometimes a $5-10NL game.

Very small room, only 4 or 5 no-limit tables and maybe 8 limit tables. This sometimes results in long waits.

Parking is pretty easy - I like to park outside. The walk is reasonably short.

The bathrooms are the most accessible of any poker room I know.

Weekends often get overflow from the very popular club scene, which can be quite profitable. However, this has attracted some very good regulars who make the games very tough when the fish aren't swimming. It also means there is good scenery (ie club girls walking by).

Floorpeople and dealers are reasonably good.

I think they have shuffling machines but I'm not sure.

Fast food reasonably close.

I can't remember what the rake is.


$2-5 NL $100-500 buy-in

Small room; only a few games at a time.

Parking can be a pain. Also the walk from the garage to the poker room is ridiculously long.
Update: Actually, the parking is very convenient if you go to the right parking lot. The one off Flamingo is much further from the poker room than the one off Valley View.

Bathrooms nearby.

Rio attracts a loud, raucous, drunken crowd, and this spill sover into the poker room. Like I said, it's the easiest money I've found so far (although 1-2NL at the Stratosphere is very weak too).

Floorpeople and dealers are friendly and helpful, but they don't always seem to have a good grasp of the rules, or don't enforce them very well.

Some tables have shuffling machines (which I like because it makes the game go faster).

The buffet is good and right across from the poker room, but I've only been once.

Rake is unusually high. All the casinos I know of take at most $4 out of each pot. The Rio takes the fourth dollar out when the pot reaches $40. For comparison, the Wynn takes out the fourth dollar at $120 I think.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Well, it's finally happened. Another blog has linked to mine! I realize it must be incredibly bad form to actually post about this, but I thought it was pretty cool and would make an easy post. I was bored and perusing the sites that "Letter Never Sent" links to, and at the bottom is "Caught Up in the Craze." That's ME!!!! Maybe later I'll add a few more links here, too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Missing Plates

Why is it that so many cars in Las Vegas lack license plates? This is something I've been noticing more and more. Every day, I see several cars here without them, at least 2% of all the cars on the road. Maybe it has something to do with this. Before I moved out here, I had a car with a license plate clearly displayed in the rear window for a few weeks, and I was pulled over for it. Since I had a good excuse, and since the plate was clearly displayed, I was able ot talk my way out of it pretty easily. I just don't understand how people with no plates are getting away with it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just a Low Limit Player?

With my girlfriend in town this past week, I played quite a bit of 3-6 and 4-8 limit holdem. That's right, I dropped down and played in the dreaded bad beat fest known as low-limit "no foldem" holdem. Unlike most no-limit players, however, I don't mind limit holdem at all. In fact, I think my psychological make-up makes me more likely to be a successful limit player, as I discussed in an earlier post. Indeed, my hourly "earn" was actually a little better this past week playing low limit than it has been at 2-5 no-limit since I moved out here. Another attractive feature is that the volatility is much less; for instance, it's extremely unlikely I'll lose over $400 in a single day at 4-8, while this is quite common in 2-5 NL. In my opinion, it's also much more enjoyable to play at the same table with a friend, and Brigid did quite well. She has a lot less experience than I had when I first moved up from 2-4 and 3-6 limit games a couple years ago.

Despite all this, I think I'm heading back to the no-limit games soon. My hourly earn is not my only objective, as I discussed in another earlier post. Playing 4-8 limit at this point in my career not very productive in terms of improving my game. For one week, it wasn't so bad to go back and realize what I huge advantage I now have over such inexperienced players. Watching the other players allowed me to review all the basic tells and mistakes that I am always looking for at the bigger games but hardly ever see, and it reminded me of what types of mistakes beginners tend to make and the ways in which people react to bad beats. Now I'm ready to get back to improving my game against the better players again. Besides, my main motivation for playing the low-limit games was that I had a friend in town; that is no longer the case.