Poker season upon us again...any interest in updates?

Discussion in 'On The Road Again' started by mb227, May 5, 2018.

  1. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Well, arguably it is ALWAYS poker season for me since I travel for tournaments, but the BIG stuff is about to be upon us. I have two trips this month to Vegas (one was actually this past week for a Seniors event at Venetian) and then still have yet to firm up the June/July WSOP and related travels.

    If there is enough interest here, then I can post some sporadic updates. If it was just going to be a cure for insomnia and the forum equivalent of dust bunnies rolling around, then I won't worry about it...
     
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  2. El Sapo

    El Sapo Bevo's BFF

    Subscribed. :hookem:
     
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  3. Vol Horn 4 Life

    Vol Horn 4 Life 2,500+ Posts

    I'm in. I'm no poker expert and probably won't post here much, but would love to read up on what a pro's life is like.
     
  4. Dionysus

    Dionysus Admin Moderator

    Interested
     
  5. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Not sure I can help much with the life of a pro, but I can tell you about being an avid player who likes playing the tourneys ;)

    Admittedly, though, of the 'pros' I have known through the years, burnout seemed a real risk. Some have even gotten out of poker and moved into other, more stable ventures (although some went the other direction and plowed large sums into cryptocurrency trading ventures).

    As a cash game player, I am generally not going to venture much beyond the $1/2, $1/3 and $2/5 NLHE games. Tournaments are something that I still try to stay under the $1,500 buy-in threshold. Most events are just triple-digit entries, often under $500.

    Balancing tournaments with a real job CAN, however, be a grind. Example was last week. Venetian had a Seniors event on Thursday. I flew out to Las Vegas on Wednesday night, played my event, busted out and went to play some blackjack and then had a red-eye back into IAH. After a few hours of quick rest at the lake house, I came into the office. I was feeling it by mid-afternoon.
     
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  6. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    There have been month seniors events going on in Vegas the past few months. I flew out for one in April at the Wynn solely because they have kept it as a traditional ante. I am NOT a fan of the recent push to change the ante process to just one ante from the big blind (some are tying it to the button instead of the big blind). I had two nights comped at the Golden Nugget and I found a $29 fare each direction (double it since I had a carry-on) on Frontier. Tournament was a $400 entry.

    This was one of the few events where I felt like I ran like a god for the first dozen levels of so. Limp in with suited connectors and flop a draw to both a straight and a flush, with a possible straight flush out there as well. Connect on the turn for my straight AND a flush and get paid off, knocking someone out in the process. Shove pocket 9's and run into ace-king...and hold...twice against the same guy. One of the two hands, I sucked out for a flush when a king hit but it completed the flush. Yay me.

    At one point, I was getting close to twice the average chip stack. I got greedy...raised in early position with pocket 9's and a short-stack shoved all in for about 40K chips more. I called and lost the hand when he flopped an ace. Oh well...still above average. But it was like my mojo got stolen...card dead the rest of the way through with no big hands.

    I held on long enough to get to the final two tables though and was still consistently around the average chipstack. Unfortunately, it was getting late enough that I felt like I had to go into push-fold mode and was not getting good hands that I felt I could shove all-in with. The point of doing so is to be content to just collect blinds and antes. If the hand was going to be good enough to call pre-flop, you reach a point where it has to just all go in the middle.

    We went for about two hours it seemed playing hand-for-hand. 12 were getting paid and we were down to 13 players. A deal was offered for everyone to kick in $40 so that the bubble (last out before the money) basically got their entry fee back. It was refused by a couple of players...so we continue. Eventually the deal is advanced again and this time it gets agreed to by all...bubble soon bursts.

    I wind up busting out in 10th when I shove something like K-9 suited but run into A-x in the same suit. I don't even have my flush draw potential to fall back upon. So, eight hours on the day and I pocket roughly a grand. Back out my entry and travel expenses and I was still up for the trip.

    Coming back from Vegas with more than you left with is always a good thing!

    The other good thing for me in this one was that it broke a string of getting close to the money but just missing. It sucks to play well and then just miss collecting SOMETHING.

    After I got back to my hotel, I went to the steakhouse at the top of Binions. They had an interesting item on their appeteaser menu...chicken fried lobster. Take a 12-ounce tail, massage it thin and then fry it up like a chicken-fried steak. Quite tasty and not overpriced...was something like $40 which is not outrageous for a tail that size.
     
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  7. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    I mentioned the tournament last week...this one was at Venetian. Turned out there had been one the day before at Wynn and I looked at changing my flight. As it worked out, it was just as well that United wanted $75 to change to an earlier flight. The Wynn only had about 90 entries in their $400. Not that the Venetian had many more...we ended up with about 110 runners.

    I just qualified for the seniors events last year. Turned 50 literally the day cards went in the air at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Seniors event. The structure sucked, but I figured I HAD to play it and might even have gotten a mention as the year's youngest entrant. Didn't work out that well as I was card-dead and busted early. In the past year, I get a lot of comments that are people jokingly wanting to question whether I was in the right place. I feel 50+ many days but admittedly don't look the part.

    One thing I like about the Seniors events is that people actually TALK. Not much of the sunglasses, headphone hoodie wearing anti-social nonsense. And they are meaningful conversations about all sorts of topics...makes the day go by much easier.

    Anyhow...I was slowly chipping up when I look down at pocket Jacks in early position. I HATE pocket jacks...there are so many ways to play them and they ALL seem to be wrong LOL! I make a smallish bet and get called in a few places. Flop comes out J-3-3. I was liking my hand but...damn...early position, hard to bet much and get paid off. I lead for about 60% of the pot (somewhere around 2500 chips if I remember right) and get called in two places. Turn is the case jack. I should have gotten an award for my acting on that one...I go with the same bet and get called by the woman a few seats to my right. Turn was a meaningless 7 that completed no draws. After much pondering, I made a small "come at me" bet...smaller than the flop and turn bets. She shoves all in and before she could even finish saying "All In" I had called. She did not show, but I suspect she had aces or kings.

    Strictly speaking, in a tournament, all-in hands are supposed to be exposed. But I am not someone that wants to be THAT person, so I didn't push the issue. I am content to just knock someone out of an event...no sense in rubbing salt into the wound.

    Rest of the day did not go well. Three or four hands with AK that I couldn't connect with and had to get away from. And five or six hands where I flopped the nut flush draw and could not get any help on the turn and river. Ultimately, I shove with Ace-nine suited but run into kings. I busted out in the low 40's and went back to my hotel.

    Felt as though I had played reasonably well through the day but missing a cash is never fun.

    After returning downtown, I went to play blackjack at Binions...caught the third base seat in the single-deck game and so I was seeing five other players decimate a deck before it got back to me. It was a productive few hours. I left when some millenials arrived and insisted on their double-down cards being face down. I reminded them that in single-deck, that harms the others at the table. They didn't care. I colored up and left.

    Next trip is Memorial Day weekend, flying Saturday night and playing Sunday. Flight back is Monday evening. Elected to burn some points and took the American Airlines flight for the return home, although it means connecting through PHX.

    Schedule for June still has to be sorted out...airfare this year is not as good as it was last year. There are events every day if I had the time to spend all of June out there though. Each major property with a poker room has a series that runs parallel to the WSOP. Planet Hollywood, Orleans, Wynn, Venetian, Aria, Golden Nugget and even Binions have tons of events. Buy-ins can be found from a few hundred on up to the nose-bleed One Drop (basically a one-mil buy-in). Most of what I play will be under a grand per event...and I expect to cash enough of them to at least recoup expenses.
     
  8. El Sapo

    El Sapo Bevo's BFF

    Great read, I hope you'll update from time to time :hookem:

    In person I play at the same stakes you do ($1/2 - $2/5) but I've never played in a casino tournament before. Here in Cen-Tex I don't have a whole lot of options for poker so I mostly play online penny stakes ranging from $20-$50 buy ins. I can afford more than this but I simply don't trust the security of online games so that's the most I'll wager. Global Poker (the one that advertises on Facebook) has soft real money games btw. I can see how the seniors tournaments would be pretty cool... less attitude... interesting conversation etc. Reading your stories I forget how aggressive you've got to be in tournaments. I used to be decent at tourneys but time and patience have made me a better cash game player. Nowhere in any of this am I implying I am a good player, btw.

    ...and here, you and I will always have common ground. When I look down and see pocket jacks I don't excited, instead I wonder how much $ I'm going to lose. I tend to play jacks pretty fast until the inevitable overcard(s) start hitting the board and people begin shooting back at me. Once in a blue moon the jacks will hold up. :facepalm:
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  9. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    There are a few card rooms around the Austin area. I have not played any of them, but they run the same model as some of the ones around the Houston area. Membership that can be daily or monthly and then a 'seat rental' where the costs come out of the pocket as opposed to chips off of the table. It is a grey area in which they seek to stay within the language of the law. Not sure how much they do on tournaments, but it is at least an option for the cash games...

    Like you, I am not a fan of the online games, and was not one even before Black Friday. I much prefer to see my opponents and know that they aren't colluding from across the country or world.

    Like you, I have a preference for the cash games. I've had tournament events where I literally folded every hand for a couple of hours straight save for a big blind where it was limped around. Being card-dead is just no fun but if you try to force the action and it doesn't work out, you are done for the event whereas in a cash game, it is a matter of just calling for a chip runner.

    LOL...I think many a poker player feels the same way about jacks, no matter whether it is no-limit or one of the other games.
     
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  10. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Side note...had considered traveling to New Orleans this past weekend since they had a Circuit event going on. Women's event was Saturday and Seniors was on Sunday, both at the $250 price point and both slated to begin with 10K in chips.

    Very glad I did not go for the women's event...they not only had a small turnout (64 total entries) but it appears the chip stack to start the event was slashed to 8K. It would have pissed me off something fierce had I gone and found that out at the time I got to the table. I raised the issue to WSOP on Twitter Saturday afternoon/evening and got zero response. This influenced me enough to stay home Sunday.

    I have not got a straight answer about starting stack yesterday...the online clock sure made it look as though it was also shorted to 8K. However, late in the afternoon, someone changed it to reflect 10K as starting stack...this occurred after some posts had been made in which I indicated that it would seem to be a Gaming Commission issue if starting stack was not what had been advertised.

    So...as things stand...next travel is still set for a few weeks from now with the seniors event at Venetian on the 27th.
     
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  11. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Weekend #1 down...played the $400 Seniors No-Limit event at the Venetian. Played well for most of the day but got seriously crippled late when I four-bet shoved pocket jacks pre-flop and ran into pocket kings. Flop was an uncoordinated board that was 7-high so all the chips would have been in the middle at that point anyhow...

    Bust-out hand was at a point where blinds were 800-1600 with the 100 ante and I was under 9K chips. I was going to be facing the blinds in two hands, so I viewed the weak King as my potential best opportunity to gain a few chips and shoved pre-flop. Unfortunately, I got called (by jacks, just for the irony) and never improved.

    The Venetian is using their convention center for their Series this year. Much more space and far better lighting than the set-up they used last year just outside of the sports book (although being able to watch the games through the day was a bonus). Also has a nice food court set up for the Series. Convention hall has bathrooms close to the tables and the drink servers were plentiful throughout the day.

    Cash games were generally good over at the Golden Nugget. Even managed to hit one of the progressive high hand jackpots when I flopped quad-10's. Better yet, I stacked a guy in the process. I look down at pocket tens, lead out from the early position I was in and get called in a few places. Flop was 10-10-6. I checked in an attempt to induce a bet. No luck. Forget what the turn was but I checked again...this time, guy leads for about $60 and I go into my acting routine and try to talk out the sequence as though I am worried about flush or weird straight draw possibilities. I eventually call (was not too horrific on the time). River comes out and I lead for a little bit more than the turn bet had been, which was enough to put him all in. He calls and instamucks when he sees my quads...

    Later in the day, I get to see a flop with 5-4 off-suit for $2 and flop two pair. I lead out on the 10-high board and get raised. Two other callers and I called. Turn gives me the full house. I get paid in two places. River comes out and I make it $100 to go. Unfortunately both fold.

    Blackjack tables were not kind to me...although it did not help that there were some real idiots that sat down and split a c-note between them. They had no situational awareness whatsoever. I colored up and left not long after...made nice with the pit boss who understood. Nice to be able to say you are trying to keep close to the count without having to admit to counting LOL!

    Got back into Houston at about 2:15A this morning and then an hour to the house. Up four hours later to go meet with a DA a few counties over to get some records on a client's case. I'm a little tired at the moment to say the least...

    I fly back out this weekend. Have made flight reservations but not the hotel reservations. Was in the Golden Gate this past trip because it was the cheapest place that had rooms for the duration. Quaint is an overstatement...I have seen prison cells that might have had more space than this room did. And they have the audacity to charge a resort fee even with no coffee maker in the room. The bed was at least serviceable and I get that I am not spending a lot of time IN the room, but I expect a couple of simple things like a chair and bedside table. Golden Gate has NEITHER...

    Rockets let me down in the sports book as well...would have been paid nicely if they could have held on. I had them getting points, on the over and on the money line, with a parlay added into the mix. At least I did get paid on the Golden Knights taking game 1 of the Stanley Cup...parlayed them and the over on goal total (5.5). They had the over met in the second period when they let the Caps tie it up at 3.

    Other than the time at the Venetian for the tournament, I spent no other time on the Strip. Everything else was time spent downtown. No food reports this time either. Was tempted to do the $12 steak and lobster at Tony Roma's (the rib joint) but the line was out the door. Not worth it since I knew the lobster would not be worth the wait...and for ribs, I could have just gone to the place in Binions (which does a decent half-rack deal for cardholders). The Chicago-style pizza joint at Four Queens does do a decent pie though and is not overpriced for what it is.
     
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  12. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Just back in from another three day jaunt...flew out Saturday early AM and arrived at LAS a little after 9AM. Breakfast sandwich served in United first class cabin did NOT agree with me and, not long after de-planing and getting into the terminal, I was ante'ing up in the first women's room I came to. Felt much better after that, although I did get robbed a few minutes later...almost four bucks for one of those little aluminum bottles of Coke. Took a cab over to the Aria and got checked in, although it would be a while before the room assignment would be known. Bag was put in with the Bell while I kept the tourney backpack since I had an 11AM event.

    With the hour or so to kill, I started out at the Sportsbook...had a few tickets still needing to be cashed from whenever it was that the Rockets played Portland. I just had not been back to the Aria since that game and remembered to take them with me. I then got registered for the Omaha 8/Better event that was set to kick off at 11A. Went from there to get on a table in a cash game and they had immediate seating in a $1/3 game. I went ahead and took it. Roughly an hour later, cashed out, up $280 on the session. Don't remember any memorable hands but I am sure there was an all-in somewhere that I got paid off on.

    The O/8 event only drew 144 entries, which was disappointing. This would mean 15 got paid. Unfortunately, despite running hot for a while after a table change, I busted out in Level 14 when we were down to about 40 left. Oh well...

    Since the long day had taken its toll on me, I just went upstairs and did a crash and burn not long afterwards. I did splurge and take the back of Snickers minis from the fridge. Of the over-priced mini-bar food, it seemed to be the best value such as one can call value in those situations.

    Sunday AM, I woke up before 5AM Vegas time. It was too early to get up but I couldn't really get back to sleep, so I rolled out of bed around 615A, showered and went downstairs to see what games were running. Bravo Poker app is good for a general idea but has been known to be off a little on waiting lists. There was an immediate seat at one of the tables running $2/5. I bought in for $500, not realizing that it is now a $1K max buy-in. I could have topped off but kept it where I was. I played for about three hours and cashed out up just shy of $200 for the session. My intent was to go over to the Rio, grab something basic to eat and then play the 1P Daily Deep Stack (a $250 buy-in with 20K starting stack).

    I hit the cab stand, door guy tells the cabbie "Rio- poker" and I echoed that to the driver. Apparently he had no clue about the World Series because he blew the turn for the poker entrance and goes to the main drop point. I had a $20 bill out and was just going to have him give me ten back. I point out that, for his future pax, when they say Rio-Poker, it meant the backside convention. Instead of just acknowledging, the idiot chooses to not only keep the meter running and coast through the drop point, meandering around to the west side of the Rio. I ask where he is going and he is clueless. I tell him to just give me ten back and let me out...he claims he cannot make change for a twenty. After expressing a few choice words regarding the situation, I call the Taxi Authority. They dispatch someone enroute to the Rio but also suggest I call the cab company. I call them and the supervisor then calls the cabbie...who finally answers after about the 7th or 8th ring. Then we sit some more...and continue sitting. He finally circles back to the front of the Rio and goes to get change from someone. Instead of ten back, I tell him I want $12, that he blew any meaningful tip. After I exit, he apparently was able to circle back through and pick someone else up, but he would soon return to the Rio since the Taxi Authority had the cab company get him to return so that the 'positive ID' could be made for the purposes of the citation. I hate being 'that person,' but some people simply should not be driving.

    I was done with the Taxi Authority people with enough time to grab a quick brat to eat which was more than enough for me at the time. I got short-stacked within the first two levels when I just was not connecting with the board in any manner that would allow me to continue. However, I had made a slight comeback and was very near the starting stack when I look down at pocket kings. I three-bet them and got called. I lead out on the Q-high board and get raised. I re-raise and he four-bet shoves. His betting pattern to that point was not consistent with aces. I insta-call. He turns over jacks and proceeds to go runner-runner for a straight.

    The manner of bust-out had me a little tilted, so I elected not to re-enter. Instead, I buy in for one of the $1/3 games that was running. You name the hand, I likely played it. I was taking pots left and right with everything from 7-2o to 5-3 sooooted to pairs and big aces. For a while, I was enfuego...I button straddle and raise only to have the old guy next to me raise all in for maybe $180. I had QQ and insta-call. He turns over kings but I spike the Q on the turn to take the hand. At some point, I decided it was time to call it a day and went by the Pho place at the Rio and got an order to go.

    As things played out, I made the right decision skipping the Sunday event at Aria (triple-draw mixed event [A-5, 2-7 and Badugi]). They did not even get 40 entries. Their turnout yesterday for the 2-7 triple draw event was even worse, drawing a total of 19 entries...not sure if it was the setting or the event. The Aria tourney location this year sucks because it is right across from the poker room and two restaurants, so you get a lot of people smoking right next to the ropes. Add horribad lighting to the mix and it just was not a pleasant experience.

    The real fun came yesterday (Monday). I am up early again and go downstairs to inquire about a late check-out. Denied. So, I wander to the poker room and get on the lists for $1/3 and $2/5. I considered the open seat at $5/10 but they were far deeper in stack sizes than I felt comfortable stepping into . New table for $2/5 opened up around 8AM and I again bought in for $500. A few bought in for $1K, a few for $300 and the rest were like me, buying in at $500. Roughly six hours later, my stack size had come back down to ONLY $1650 or so. I had been closer to $2200 at one point but took a ~$500 hit when the flopped set of queens ran into a flopped set of aces. Oh well. Somewhere during this time, I finally get around to checking my email and doing the online check in for my flight home...good thing. I was thinking I had a red-eye and it turned out the flight yesterday was actually around 4:30P. I order table-side food service using some of the comps that have accrued and do the filet pho with spice level kicked up to around 8. By this time, many of the other players that I opened the table with had moved on and the dynamics were changing. It is one thing to have a good-sized stack when you have been playing with the same group...entirely another when it is new people coming to the table and they treat you like a person with a target on your back. I was content to book my profit and head to the airport.

    Hit the Sportsbook before I left...had an Over/Under ticket from the Astros game to cash and then also put some $$$ down on Game 4 of the Stanley Cup. Took the Golden Knights on the money line and took the over on goals (5.5). I also put ten on the prop bet that they would win by precisely three goals. That would have paid back at 8/1 and I felt it had a good shot since they don't generally lose multiple games in a row. Suffice it to say, they were not motivated enough to play a complete game and got down early. Lost the prop bet and lost the money line bet but got some of that back with the over/under bet. It would have been a good story for them to win the Stanley Cup as an expansion team, but it looks like that won't happen now...they need to win three straight, and while they have home ice for two of those three, I don't see it happening. This would have been as good for them to win as the World Series was for Houston after Harvey.

    Flight home was generally uneventful. Since it was American, that meant a connection somewhere. This time around, it was at D/FW, where we sat for a while waiting on a gate to become available. We had arrived early and, apparently, the D/FW staff were insistent on trying to put us at the scheduled gate instead of getting the plane into an open gate. It was close to 9PM, so it isn't like they had a ton of other flights coming in. Once inside the airport, I had to take the SkyLink around to a different terminal, and realized that I should have grabbed something in Terminal A...they roll the sidewalks up early in that pit known as Terminal C. It was worse than Terminal A at IAH.

    Next trip out is Sunday...come back on an early flight Wednesday and then go back the next night.
     
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  13. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    Oh yeah...forgot to post this little gem...
    [​IMG]

    That was somewhere around mid-session Monday. That is 11 stacks of red and almost a full stack of green in addition to four blacks (counting the one used as a card protector). You can do the math...

    The blues are sort of irrelevant LOL!

    Hoping for more of the same next week...
     
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  14. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    More later, but it was a busy two weeks. This most recent trip was the most productive, with a Final Table in the Planet Hollywood Seniors event and a deep run in the $800 8-max NLHE at the Venetian.

    Two trips in ten days with only a day and a half home in between them...Imma one tired poker player right about now.
     
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  15. mb227

    mb227 1,000+ Posts

    As promised...the updates...

    There were actually two trips between the 10th and my flight home on the 19th. The first saw me hit Las Vegas on the evening of the 10th. Staying downtown, I was entered in The Marathon at the WSOP (Rio).

    The Marathon is a little different from your typical NLHE event. It has 100 minute levels with a 15 minute break after each level. Regular tournaments are anywhere from 20-60 minute levels and a break after about two hours. This one has also been referred to as a mini Main Event since it starts with almost the same number of starting chips (26.2K vs 30K on the Main). Entry fee is $2620. Can you tell where the marathon concepts entered into the mix LOL?

    This was the first event I have played in a long time that was actually structured as a multiple-day tournament. I bagged on Day 1, but let me tell you...that last level (we played six levels ) was a mental grind. I ate dinner when we had the break after Level 4 but went for the Pho since I wanted to avoid anything heavy that would make me drowsy. Had a few hands that were really frustrating including one where I had to open fold aces on the flop. The guy who was in the hand with me was the same one that had picked me off a few orbits previously when I had kings and he had called bets with junk that competent players would have folded given the betting pattern. Ugly flop with aces and I just didn't want to risk going out against a made hand and having to hope for runner-runner flush or straight cards to come.

    Eventually made it back to my room and looked at the table draw for Day 2. It was interesting in two ways. First was that nobody had a huge number of chips. Some tables had one or two players that were over 100K and we had nobody that was much over 50K in chips. I was somewhere in the middle as I recall. The other oddity was that we had five women at the table. It is uncommon to see many women in tourneys that are not the ladies-only events and to have five at one table on a Day Two redraw is just...rare.

    Got to the Rio for Day 2 and learned that Doyle Brunson had announced his WSOP retirement and was playing in his last event. The featured table was just over my left shoulder, so I got so see a little of him in the $10K No-Limit 2-7 single-draw event (they were down to the last two tables). Thought it was neat that his kid was seated at the same table...Todd is competent but I am sure there was a little finagling to make that happen.

    I wound up busting out of the Marathon in the second level of Day Two. Had been crippled on the last hand of the first level when I cringe call an all-in from the woman to my left. I had seen her make that move several times already with Ace-King and once with Ace-Queen. I had AK and hoped we were just flipping. No such luck, as she had pocket tens. Flop included a 10 and at that point, I needed runner-runner for a straight. Oh well...

    In Level 2 of the day, I was able to get one double up that got me back to about 8500 chips. I find another shove opportunity with K-10 suited. I get called by J-7 suited and, alas, a 7 on the river sent me packing.

    Flight home on the Wednesday AM red-eye put me in the office and home for about a day...to the extent I could call it home. Mom was taking care of my cat for me and so I just overnighted at her house Wednesday and Thursday. Early AM flight back to LAS on Friday. The lay-flat seats on United are pretty sweet. Will definitely look for them again on future trips. Even if not laying flat, that foot rest is nice to have and makes even a three hour flight far more comfortable!

    Got to Vegas and took a cab to the Aria. Room was not ready so I stored the bag. Went to the poker room but the list was already pretty lengthy. While I waited, I looked over the schedule to see what events were kicking off on Friday morning/early afternoon. I already knew I did not want to play the Aria tournament events since they have embraced the Big Blind Ante concept plus the tournament areas leave much to be desired. Lighting sucks and they did little to control the smokers on the rail.

    I elected to go over to the Venetian and play the $800 8-max NLHE event. They were running three Day One's and Day 1A of many events is often the easiest to get through since the entry totals are often lower and the field occasionally softer. Day 1C is often the opposite from what I hear...

    I broke my usual rule of only firing one bullet. I felt I had played well, but I busted out when my QQ got cracked. I walked for a bit and then fired bullet number 2. I don't do this often. Won the first hand at the new table when my small pocket pair hits on the uncoordinated flop. A few hands later I rack up more chips when I make the hero call on a board that just didn't have a feel of being what the Villain hit. He had fired three barrels and I just called the first two. Had to tank-call the third but with ace-high, I felt that, at worst, we were chopping. Turned out he had queen high and I was good.

    A few hands later, I get into it with the same guy. I have aces in early position. I make a raise over the big blind. and it folds around to him in late position. He raises and I pop it to 11K. He calls and we see a flop that was something like eight high and not really coordinated in any manner. I contemplate and just shove all-in. He calls and turns over...aces. Surprisingly, I would have one more hand in the event with aces against aces and saw it two other times. This was about three times more than I could ever recall seeing it in my years of playing live poker...

    As the day progresses, I look at the board and saw that we had a little over 200 entries for the day. We were playing to the end of 15 levels or to 11% of the field remaining. It would turn out that we played fifteen levels and narrowed to a little over 30 players.

    With about a level to go, my table broke. I get moved to a new table and see that, two seats to my right was a former Main Event runner-up. To my immediate right was the guy that would turn out to be the Day 1A chip leader. Better to have both to my right than to my left. I was struggling but was at least still alive. On one of the last hands of the night, I decide to come along for the ride holding something like 3-4hh and make a straight before all is said and done to basically double up.

    I bag for the second time in a week and know I am coming back for Day 2 which would be on Monday. Numbers would later put us with 149 starting Day 2 and 96 getting paid at least $2K. I was around 90th in chips, so I knew I had work cut out for me. I played somewhat tight but not completely nittish...I have no problems folding things like Ace-King pre-flop though and did so twice when we got close to the money bubble. Somehow, we broke the bubble in the first three levels, just as it was coming up on the break.

    I had been a little relaxed coming into Day 2 since I had managed to Final Table the Seniors event at Planet Hollywood. It helps with the mindset when you have some good outcomes in this short of a period of time. More on that one in a bit...

    I kept rocking and rolling along at the Venetian and was inside the top 50 but was not gaining traction on my chip stack. I just stayed right around 250K. On my bust-out hand, I have a raise in front of me when I look down at A8hh. I was tempted to raise, but decided to call and re-evaluate depending on action behind me or on the flop. The Big Blind winds up pushing all-in. He had about the same number of chips as I had and I knew that I would likely do the same with any ace or any face or with small pocket pairs. I took larger pairs out of his range. Against small pairs, I felt good with the overs and I had the shot at a heart draw.

    I called the shove and was up against pocket sixes. I don't improve on the flop although the insult to injury came with sixes on the turn and river to give the guy quads. I could have found a pre-flop fold but was hoping to double up so I could ladder into the 30's (if not higher). Pay jumps came about every eight spots. Without a win on a hand, I wasn't sure I would have made it to the next jump. I will go back and forth over the hand, but I still don't know that it was the WRONG play there taking everything into account (other than being results-oriented). Out in 46th and a decent payout nearing $3500.

    The Seniors event at Planet Hollywood got started on Saturday (my birthday). $600 buy-in that I showed up late for. Not real late, but probably 20 minutes of the first level had gone by. Blinds were low enough that it wasn't a big deal.

    As the day went on, I ran relatively well. Never got out of hand and rarely got caught with my hand in the cookie jar. The real moves would come as we had pared down from roughly 400 entries to less than 60 remaining. One hand, guy bet his AK really light and I called from the big blind with A6ss. I don't remember what the flop had, but there was a spade and maybe another potential draw. I check and he bet small again. I call. Turn is a spade that also put out a straight draw in addition to my nut flush draw. I check and he bet small again. River was the king of spades...KA-effing-CHING! I ponder...and ponder...stand up and look at the table...look at the clock...look at the table...shove all in...AND GOT CALLED!

    It was not a call that knocked the guy out, but it DID double me up. A few hands later, I am in a hand with him and have K-9 offsuit with a king-high flop. He shoves for what he had left and I had to think...yeah, it was a king, but a crappy kicker. I call and hold up, knocking him out.

    As the next few levels went on, I continued to run good, knocking out several players and eventually getting up to about 1.3M chips. Best hand was the one where we went from three tables to two. I shove with AQo in the small blind...big bling turns over KK (oops). Flop is AA9. She was pissed...gone from the event but pissed. Unfortunately, birthday run-good stops at midnight...or at least it did for me. Could not catch a hand at the final table.

    I had come along with a few pre-flop calls holding KQ or KJ but was not hitting. I get down to about a half-mil in chips and raise in early position with K-Jo when late position short stack shoves. I call for about 200K more and he turns over queens. I don't improve. A few hands later, I have A-10 and push all-in only to be called by pocket aces. Out in 9th with a payday of about $4300.

    Sunday was a quiet day for me. Went to the Mob Museum and did a few other things, but no cash games.

    Sports book was good to me as well...Astros hit big on the two games I bet them. Also did well with Tceh when I parlayed them on the money line and the under in that first game against Florida. I had screwed around too long and missed the cut-off for the Texas game by a few minutes...guess that was a good thing for me but damn I wanted the 'horns to win that came against piggy.

    Flight home was set for 1A on Tuesday. I checked out of the Aria shortly before midnight. It was worth it to me to pay for the extra night so I had a place to crash for a while instead of having to force myself to stay awake all day. Apparently checking out before midnight saved me the fourth day resort fee. The bill showed the last day as as an 'early departure assessment' but the rate was the same as the nightly would have been.

    There are still events on the schedule that interest me, but work is slammed at the moment...so not sure if I can get back out there for any of the final events.

    I will be back within the month though...am looking at buying a condo out there and want a day to just look at properties. Have an agent that is sending me listings and has set up some searches.

    Barring a last minute trip, the next tourneys will likely be related to the series coming up at Choctaw Durant late next month and running into August.
     
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