Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Poker Room at the Venetian

Last night I finally remembered to go check out the Venetian's new poker room. It's quite nice-looking, probably the third nicest looking after the Bellagio and Wynn. Like the Wynn (but not the Bellagio), it has all the state-of-the-art queuing technology. It also has more room between the tables to walk around than do most places (Bellagio has the least). When I got there I put my name on the list for 2-5 NL. They had about 5 tables of this running, which is quite a lot for a Tuesday night. However, that constituted about half the games running in the room, and most of the other games were 4-8 limit. Most of the tables were empty.

While waiting for my 2-5 seat, I took a seat in a 4-8 game. I was surprised to see that the rake they take there is under 10%. They don't take out the fourth dollar until the pot has reached $80. Unfortunately, when I moved over to the 2-5 game, it turned out that they take the usual 10%. Still, the Venetian seems like an excellent place to play 4-8, and reasonably good for 2-5. They also will give you a $15 food comp after only a couple hours of play, and they'll bring food to the table. I don't have much of an idea of what's available, but I got a hamburger, and it was not so great.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sammy and Chau: NL at the Bellagio

I went back to play at the Bellagio for a few hours and, indeed, I could tell I was pretty rusty. Fortunately, none of the horrible floorpeople were there. I went to the Bellagio because figured it would be the most likely place to have good NL games going at 4 am, and they cap the buyin at $200, which I figured would be good since I expected to be a bit rusty. I had forgotten how cool the Bellagio's poker room is. Playing at the lowest limits available in a poker room, as I do at the Bellagio, makes the atmosphere feel much different from playing at the highest limits, which is what I've gotten used to at other casinos. It's too bad the floorpeople there tend to be so terrible.

The other cool thing about the Bellagio is that it attracts the best players in the world. This morning, Barry Greenstein and David Benyamine were playing with a few other people in Bobby's Room, and Chau Giang and Sammy Farha were playing 100-200 NL with a few other players out on the regular casino floor at a table by the cashier. This is the biggest NL game I have ever witnessed, with a minimum buyin of $20K. As I walked by the table as I went to cash out my chips, Giang was shouting something playfully at Farha. At this point the game had shrunk to 3-handed. The third player (who I didn't recognize) was out of his seat, laughing that he wanted nothing to do with whatever was going on. I stopped behind Giang to watch the hand. It was still pre-flop and there was less than $2,000 in the pot I think. Giang was sitting to the left of the dealer. Now he was standing and leaning forward with his hands on the table as he shouted across it to Sammy. Sammy, like me, was having some difficulty understanding what Chau was saying, but it seemed he had just gone all-in for another $30K.

"So if I say 'yes,' then it's another $30K?" Farha asked Chau. Farha was holding his cards up in the air to allow a woman behind him to see his cards.

"Yes, yes, thirty thousand," replied Giang.

"Ok, put the flop out there," said Sammy. I interpreted this to mean he had called, but Chau reached into the pot and started pulling in the chips. The dealer seemed to have no problem with this, and proceeded to put out the 5 board cards. Anyway, I guess Sammy actually had folded. As Giang began to muck his cards, the third player, who was standing next to me to the left of Giang, reached in and playfully tried to turn over Chau's cards... Giang slapped his hand away, then turned over one of his cards: a king. He then claimed to have had AK, which clearly upset Farha. "I don't know why I fucking laid it down!" The third player claimed to have also had an ace, and tried to get Giang to tell him which ace he had... Chau refused to respond, suggesting that he may have been afriad to be caught in a lie (if he named the wrong suit, the other guy would know he had been lying). I don't pretend to be able to figure out all the motives and double-speak of a world-class player like Chau Giang, but I guess this suggests Giang didn't have the ace... I dunno.

After cashing out, I walked by the table again, and Farha was clearly steaming. He made a raise preflop with about 7 black chips, and Chau asked him how much it was. "I don't know, what does it matter? Here!" Farha responded irritably. He threw in a whole stack of $1,000 chips. I didn't stay to watch the rest of the hand.


I was back on the east coast again for about ten days, and just got back late Monday night. I haven't played any poker since my last blog post, so that's why you haven't heard from me at all. I'm a big baseball fan, and that will be taking up some of my time during the season (in fact, my fantasy draft in Brooklyn was one of the reasons I was on the east coast). It's always a strange feeling going back to the casino for the first time after a week or so off, and this has been nearly two weeks. Maybe I'll start back at 1-2NL for a few days.