Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting more comfortable with bluffs and picking spots - a Vegas recap

A critical part of your game should be adjusting to the type of game you're playing.  If you're playing in a tight game, play loose.  If you're playing in a loose game, play tight.  That's the adage at least - and I'm sticking to it!  As with the prior posts, I'm experimenting with expanding my game in the correct situations, and was able to pull off a few more bluffs this week.  Skip to the end if you don't care about the blah blah blah Vegas vacation recap.

The games in Vegas are an interesting breed - unlike that of the DC area.  Here in DC, people tend to not give up very easily, floating cbets and looking for spots to re-bluff.  Perhaps it's simply a factor of Vegas bringing in a more international flavor with a varied range of wealth types, versus the super competitive dog-eat-dog area that is known as the nation's capital, but the Vegas games seem extremely passive.

I got a decent amount of seat time in, all at odd hours (12am - 4am, 2pm - 7pm, 12am - 2am, etc.) but all told, I got to play 18+ hours throughout my Friday to Tuesday trip (while not playing a single hour neither Friday nor Tuesday).  My wife & I stayed compliments of Caesars Corporation at the Linq hotel & casino  (formerly the Imperial Palace).  The hotel room was decent enough - it was on the scale of a Hampton Inn or similar.   Everything was fresh & new, and the bed was comfortable.  We stayed in a room overlooking the Harrah's pool (which, BTW, is shared with the Linq for the under 21 crowd to use; the Linq has a 21 and older pool only).

Nice butt from the Linq

Decent looking chick at the Linq

Unfortunately, the Linq doesn't have a poker room, so I was forced to go elsewhere for my play.  Across the street from the Linq is the flagship casino, Caesar's Palace, where I got in 3 sessions of 1/2 poker.  Not only was it the most convenient - a mere 5 minute walk, but also I could receive Total Rewards credits for my play, as I attempt to achieve Diamond status (I should be there within 3 months).  The 3 sessions I played there were laughable - the tables were very loose passive, arguably the most desirable type of game: raise and they fold, or they call and fold the flop cbet, or they call and fold the turn / river overcard.  Easy peasy, even though the game selection wasn't that great; it was 1/2 poker but only had 4-5 games going on a given night.  Some interesting things I saw were a guy open shoving a 3 flush river on a double paired board (T T 7 5 5 I think), and his opponent folding face up with Q T, not realizing that he rivered the boat as well.  I saw another guy call down Ten high for no other apparent reason (and actually won the pot).  One other notable was where I freerolled a flush on a 4straight board (I shoved on a turned 2 heart board and my opponent called for the chop only to river the 3rd heart for the flush for me).  I'm sure there were a host of other egregious errors, but I can't remember any at this time.

I played a session during the day at the Wynn while my wife was buying at the ASD wholesale show with her parents.  This setting was a bit more of a challenge than Caesar's - there were some Vegas grinders - 3, in fact.  I was able to take advantage of one of the regs, which is detailed below in the hand history section.  It was during this session that I was able to play with the [in]famous Tony Big Charles.  He and I mixed it up for one footnote of a hand: I limped J9o and he limped AJo (questionable to limp MP with that hand, but what do I know...) and we gutted a turned straight (8 T K -- Q) to get it all in for $80 (I led $25 into the 2 flush board and he raised to $50 or something; I shoved and he called for his remaining dollars).  I don't think I'm ever folding the second nuts for $55 more...  Anyway, despite my play with Tony, I walked away a winner.

EDIT: According to Tony's post, this was a "big pot."  I don't know what his thought was, but he was certainly questioning me on the hand afterwards, wondering what hand I put him on that he would raise the turn - ummm...  sets, 2 pair, AK, any host of hands, but I digress.  A note on Tony for future reference: he does not like to slow play, seemingly ever (the hand above happened fairly early on) - even when it's a blank, draw-free board.  He'll only raise a very small range, and bet the shit out of it when he knows he's ahead.  An example is flopping top set with KK - he pots the flop where he should have checked to let others catch an Ace or a backdoor draw.  Instead, he pots $45 on a board where rarely anyone can have a solid hand.  Tony, if you're reading the post, please take the comments as advice, not as criticism.  Learn from it if you choose to.  Also, it was fun playing with Tony - I don't think I've ever played against him at a table though I've met him 3 times now.

Just Johnny 'n me!
After the Wynn, my in-laws took my wife and I to Bazaar Meat in the SLS casino.  Great eats - just like Jaleo, but classier and more expensive.  The two restaurants share similar dishes, but the Bazaar Meat is centered around steak and different cuts of meat like Wagyu beef and whole suckling pig.  The vegetables dishes are excellent (brussel sprouts, croquettes, asparagus, peppers, mashed 'taters, etc.), the 2 1/2 lb. ribeye was cooked perfectly, and the desserts were out of this world!  We got a bit of a special treatment, since my brother in-law's brother-in law is the head chef over at the Bethesda Jaleo.  For me, though, the coolest part about the whole visit was the fact that we ate at the table behind Johnny Chan (yes, that Johnny F*CKING Chan!!!) and Minh Ly.  Ho hum... rubbing elbows with celebrities and pros are what I do everyday...  I bothered Mr. Orient Express for a picture, and he obliged, as you can see.  It was kinda cool - and I guess I shouldn't be awe-struck, but he's on the phone with someone, ordering something and he's like "yes...  my name is John Chan..."  Who the hell is he talking to?  Shouldn't he be like "yes, it's me - you should know who this voice is!  I'm the man!"  Regardless, Mr. Chan is indeed the man, and he was very gracious to allow a pic with me!  Mr. Ly is pretty cool himself - he seemed like a fun guy as well.

The back of Doyle Brunson's head, wearing a red shirt and tan baseball cap
Scott Seiver in blue, seated
Final session of note was played at the Belagio 1/3 tables where Doyle and the gang were playing 1/2 mix...  oh - I mean 1 THOUSAND / 2 THOUSAND mix.  There was probably $1m + on the table.  I wasn't able to get a good pic of anything, but Scott Seiver was there, as was Jon "Pearljammer" Turner (I think it was him), Patrik Antonius, and a few other players I didn't recognize.  Anyway, my table at the Belagio had an international flair, as described below.  I found the general feel of Belagio to be similar to that of the Wynn, but the room was far more accommodating to grinders.  First, they serve Fiji water, which I think is more expensive than the standard fare.  All alcohol is free, and they'll bring you whatever you want.  The servers and dealers are super professional.  The only other items worth mentioning are that new players must post and new players can post behind the small blind, in between the small blind and the BTN.  That rule is totally weird, FYI - you wind up effectively with 3 blinds: BB, SB and the new player blind.  IMO, stupid rule, but again, what do I know...

Final item before we go into hand histories: it seems universal to Vegas that the they have a modified Mississippi straddle where only the UTG & BTN may straddle.  If the BTN straddles, there are a few rules: first to act is always the UTG, if the pot goes unraised prior to action to the natural BTN position, action jumps to the SB, then the BB, and finally the BTN.  If the pot is raised prior to the natural BTN, the BTN acts and then SB, BB.  Strange rules, but once again, what do I know...

The Hand Histories

Wynn 1/3:

Aggro has a newly doubled stack of $160 raises to $15 and I call with QJo along with 2 others.

Flop comes K K 6 dd.  Checks to aggro who leads for $20.  One caller in between and I raise to (I think - no notes) $50.  Instamucks all around and I scoop.

Belagio 1/3:

I'm sitting at a truly international table; 3 Italians (the Italian to my right is a poker coach and professional Stars grinder on Stars Italy), a girl from China, a Brazilian, a guy from Denmark and a Russian who I'm pretty sure fancies herself a pro (I'm going to write a post devoted solely to this chick later in the week / next week).

I call AQo out of the BB to a $15 raise from the Russian who's been playing fairly tight / aggressive.  Notably, she's frustrated because lately, every time she opens, she's getting 3bet and shut out of pots.  This time, we see a 3 way flop (I think the Danish guy calls): 3 5 6 rainbow.

Russian cbets $25 into the $45 pot and I just call to see what materializes on the turn.  Turn is a 4 completing the rainbow.  I lead for $45, repping 77 and after a long time, she opts to flat.

River is an 8.  I pause for a bit, thinking about bet sizing and put out $125  (I wanted to say - "if you're calling $45 on the turn with a bit of hesitation, I put you on a solid overpair and want you to call, but I don't want to make it an easy call for you.  Therefore I put out a roughly 3/4 pot bet.", while I'm thinking, "I've seen you fold hands, and I know you can fold this hand.  I'll make it easier for you by betting more than a stack of red.")  This stops her dead in her tracks - she tanks for about 5 minutes before finally opting to fold.

Belagio 1/3:

Same table as above, $6 raise from UTG+1, called in 5 spots ($30 in the pot) and I'm in the BB with KQo.  I look, think, and 3bet to $38.  Folds all around and I scoop a decent pot.


  1. Didn't realize you posted an update on your trip while posting my comment.

    Looks like you had a good time.


  2. Great trip report sir! Sounds like a fun time. Surprised that the pool at the linq looked so empty. I've been afraid to stay there, thinking the pool, which is small, would be packed. Anyhow . . . keep grinding, and maybe I'll see you in the diamond lounge soon!

    1. July / August is down time for Vegas so it was not packed there at all. It was a 21+ pool, so it's probably a lot of fun when it's packed. We walked over to the Caesars Palace pool too - and it was awesome - big area!

  3. Thanks for the excellent report and the photos.

    1. @MOJO - It was a nice vacation... can't wait to get back in the seat now that I'm at home.

  4. The Button Straddle at the Caesar's properties is different from what you mentioned above. The action starts with the SB, then ends with the button player as last natural action.

    Nice report, I'm on my way out there next weekend Friday-Sunday.

    1. Interesting that you mention that, cokeboy99. While I was playing my last session at Caesar's (Sunday night), they actually changed the rules. They changed it to a $5 straddle, action starts with UTG, just like described above. Prior to Sunday, though, you are correct - action did start with the SB.

      Good luck out there next week - the games are super soft. I highly recommend playing the Caesar's property.


Blog Archive