Monday, June 11, 2007

The Rumours Are True

It turns out that the stories out of the previous 5 WPBT Vegas meetups are true. This is a fantastic group of people. I apologize for the mega-post, but if I split this up, I'll forget too much.

Day 1

I landed at 10:30pm Thursday night as planned. By the time my bag came out, and the surprising shortage of cabs at the international terminal was overcome, I checked into The Orleans, changed, and was downstairs by midnight. Bowling had finished before I got the hotel, but Pai Gow was just starting.

Having never been to The Orleans before, I wasn't sure what the layout was like. I somehow managed to walk right past the Pai Gow tables and wandered the whole floor. I was eventually able to find the place though. A jersey with "Zeem" on the back and another with "Falstaff" made it pretty easy. I sat down and put forth my first of many $100 for the trip. Pai Gow, besides being made for long periods of free drinking, is easy when you catch non-stop flushes and straights. Aces help too.

Bayne, The Penners, Pokergnome, Pirate Wes, and others were in and out, but we did manage to get a table of nothing but bloggers at one point. Ending up $100 at Pai freakin' Gow is a good way to start a trip. Though not as good as immediately meeting some great people who convince you to put money on a table and booze in your belly.

The hand of the night was easily Penner the 2nd's quad aces with jacks high and a king kicker. Even the floor supervisor had to say, "what the hell?" Unfortunately, nobody saw the 7-card straight flush.

Day 2

Friday was pretty much open until the planned drinking and mixed games at the MGM, so I met up with LJ/P(rince/van)haribo at TI to play in the 11am $60 tournament. She got there before me, but I found and joined her in the Coffee Shop for breakfast. I may have missed the Bellagio buffet with Fuel, Iak and Hoy, but I've got no complaints. After all, LJ is far cuter than any of those three (this could start a battle with the Iak fanclub, but I just don't swing that way - doctors have horrible hours). Meanhappyguy was on his way to join us, but turned around with a bad case of "feeling like crap."

One thing I forgot about the tournament was how quickly the blinds move from the 2nd hour onwards. I made it past the first break, but eventually went down. This turned out not-so-good since I then dropped a couple hundred bucks to the slots in the next 15 minutes before coming back to check up on LJ's progress. She too went out before the money, just in time to meet up with a couple friends of hers from NY. Lucky me, they enjoyed the craps, and I won a bit back.

Somehow, it was time to register for the 2pm TI tournament, which is identical to the 11am. This time I made it to 4th, and the money, which brought me closer to even, but not without a rebuy on my part. LJ's friends also signed up, but didn't make the final table. Off they went to the Tropicana to lose money there.

Alone, I lost more to the slots, and wandered the strip, slowly heading back in the direction of my hotel. Weaving in and out of casinos on the way created a sine wave of profit and loss as I'd win and lose on various slots on the way. At this point, I began to think I may have a problem. By the time I got to New York New York, it was time to meet up at MGM. A quick cab ride to the hotel to reload the funds and clean up a bit, and I was heading back.

As I was rounding the corner to the Sports Book bar, I ran into LJ again. Being the only blogger she'd actually met, I was her means of finding the rest. They were, as promised, drinking away at the aforementioned bar. Futher introductions were made to IG, Hoy, Chad, Carmen, Meanhappyguy, BrainMc, Columbo and more. Turns out the planned mixed games were now canceled, which sucked not a small bit. So after some imbibing, we decided to just play cash. a 3-6 HORSE game was started, and us low-rollers who didn't want to actually lose money opted for 1-2 NL instead. Actually, a good chunk of the higher-limit players donked around 1-2 as well, which was quite the amusing sight. As I waited for my name to be called, I noticed a missed call from one Instant Tragedy. I grabbed a drink and returned it for the requisite dial-a-shot. Ah technology, enabling drunks over thousands of miles.

As 2am approached, with no Waffles sightings, LJ was up a TON -- enough to buy into the Ladies event instead of satelliting -- and felt like throwing some of it away at the 2am TI tournament again. I obliged, since I was up a bit but hadn't caught anything in a while. Winning one big pot on my second last hand sealed it. So no Waffles, us "new generation" (although I've been there as long as most) aren't pussies, we just got sick of waiting for you and moved on. I went past the first break again, but decided at 3am with too many donkeys, a shortish stack, and A6d in front of me, that it was time to double up or go home. I went home. LJ had been knocked out earlier, which was undoubtedly to build up the karma for her WSOP run.

I really should say something about the donkeys to my right. Two guys who I couldn't put older than 23 who obviously had limited live experience. I'd guess one (let's call him A) had played live a couple times, but never in an MTT, and the other (B) was completely clueless. Both these morons would CALL down to the river with the worst hands I'd seen so far. A board of A75JT with a flush draw would be bet from the flop down by an opponent, and they'd flip over K3o for the loss. Shit like this happened more than once. Then they'd lean in to see how they lost. Seriously, not a single pair, draw, or even a decent high-card hand that they'd throw chips after. Let me reiterate - they'd CALL this shit down. (A) got knocked out early, and stayed at the table. The dealer pointed out that he had to "move back" and he grudgingly obliged by pushing his chair back but STILL LEAN ON THE TABLE. The dealer would ask again, and his response was "I'm as far back as I can go!" The rest of us pointed out he had to actually be AWAY from the table and he almost started whining about it. Our waitress brought him a scotch he'd ordered earlier and he settled in, glad he had his "glenfiddy" finally. That just about got me smacking him - I hate misplaced arrogance, and this tool was bleeding it. Are you really going to act sophisticated with a glass of 12 year-old Glenfiddich in front of you? I'm seriously doubting it was the 40. Anyway, (B) was just as bad, except he'd obviously never played live in his life. He couldn't track blinds, position, bets, cards, or anything else. Minbets that didn't cover the min, checks to raises, etc.. The sad part is that he outlasted me. I felt worse for the poor guy to their right, who actually knew how to play and couldn't figure out what these two were playing with their retarded calls. He could have made a mint off them. That's what I get for playing a donkey-level tournament. Next time I'm in Vegas, my buy-ins are going up.

Regardless, I was out on a stupid call and push on my part, and was asleep by 4:30 for a solid 4 hours of sleep. Which made it about 10 hours out of 72 so far.

Day 3

Up at 8:30 and ready and rearin' for another day, but no word from Iak or Fuel re: breakfast. So it went to plan B. I tagged along with LJ (my new bestest Vegas Blogger friend, I think she now takes the record for most mentions in one post) and her friends for brunch at the MGM before the big blogger tourney back at the Orleans. I just couldn't bring myself to actually consume food at Orleans. Brunch was solid, and it was back for the tourney where sign-up had begun.

What a mess. I'm neither the first, nor will I be the last, to bemoan the state of this year's WPBT tournament. From the prick of a director to possibly the worst structure I have ever seen, this was a disaster. This is by no means a knock on Falstaff or Sloshr, who did a great job of setting this all up. 2500 chips, 15 minutes, 25-50, 50-100, 75-150, 100-200 +25, 150-300 +25, 200-400 +50, 300-600 +75, and then I was out. I may have added a level in there. Green chips were in play until the final table, and there were 80 BB available with 2 tables left. The fact the tournament went as long as did was a testament to how tight people were playing with their short stacks. It just wasn't poker past the 3rd level. Throw in being told to "keep it down" because they had "people who play here every day" when quads were rivered by Fuel against Aces, and it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

That said, the turnout was great, and many, many more of this motley crew were met. Pauly, Waffles, Don, Spaceman, Blinders, Weak Player, and many more, and some I recognized but didn't actually get a chance to meet.

Final three came down to Grubette, Spaceman's Wife and Waffles. Also known as the closest Waffles will ever get to a threesome. Waffles out 3rd (naturally the first to finish in this menage), and some great girl-on-girl action led to Mrs. Spaceman taking it down shark-style. Congrats!

During the match was the search for a real tournament to play in. Venetian didn't run one on Saturday, TI and others couldn't handle the volume, Caesar's affordable one wasn't until 11pm, Planet Hollywood was full, etc, etc.. So we went back to MGM and their wonderfully profitable cash tables. But first, I placed a call to the much-missed Katitude for a promised dial-a-shot. At least she was there in spirits, if not in body. Man I'm hilarious with the puns.

A few hours, a couple hundred bucks up, a couple bad beats, and it was time to break for dinner with Fuel, Pokergnome, and CC. 10:30 Saturday night at the MGM means NOTHING IS OPEN. Just the Studio Cafe. Luckily, the food was fine, if not quite what were looking for. Actually, the french onion soup was really good, if not as tasty as mine (I really should do a food post sometime).

Back to the tables, Card death and a loose table as usual makes it hard to turn a profit. Lucky for me (and everyone else), the wet dream of all poker players sat down. No, not Shana Hiatt in skimpy bits, but that glorious combination of alcohol, money, and absolutely NO clue how to play the game. I never got his name, but the 3 of us on his left got his money. When your game is "raise to $15 pre-flop, go all-in on the flop" with any two cards... you're going to lose. Lots. He eventually got up and moved to a 2/5 table for some unknown reason before moving to yet another 1/2 table. He was greatly missed.

LJ was at my table to start, but quickly left (I'd be sick of me by now too, but I swear I got put there purely by chance), leaving me bloggerless. Luckily, I had a good table, with at least 3 other chatters. The huge stack on my right was all kinds of cute, the guy next to her had plenty of that dry humour I do so like, and the man with 1 giant tower of chips (just calling for someone to kick the table) was more than happy to play along.

A quick quiz - board of A3JAQ all red, 3 hearts. Bet and called pre-flop down, $200 in the pot. Caller to this point raises all-in for around $400 into a big stack (dry humour guy 2 to my right). Loooooong time in the tank and the stack calls. Raiser flips over pocket queens for the flopped queens full of aces and the former stack slams down his cards with a mighty "FUUUUUUCK!" and a storm off. What did he have? We originally put him on an ace, but then figured it HAD to be jacks for him to make that big of a call with a flush on the board and two aces with two faces. We never found out as the dealer moronically said, "I can't show you his cards unless he lets me." when he was asked to flip 'em before they hit the muck. The floor director cleared it up later that he should have flipped them regardless of the player's desire since it was a called hand. Needless to say, our friend left shortly thereafter, although I did see him wandering around the WSOP the next day. Glad no seppuku was involved.

Once the cute asian girl on my left who had some solid poker skills and was good conversation left with her boyfriend, I decided to call it a night at 4am, down a bit on the game, but still up on the night.

What I should have done is jumped on the Blogger table earlier in the night for the +EV fun of it all. If I had been up or even for the trip at this point, I probably would have without a second thought, but I actually felt like winning money. That said, on this night it was loads of fun to watch them. On Friday they'd given a few grand to the tourists, but tonight they managed to take it back. It started off the same, with money going the wrong way, but the bloggers soon found they had some pretty large stacks in front of them. They then made it a de facto 5/10 game with their bets and raises. Lots of money to be won, if you had the balls. The funniest thing I saw was the last 5 of them getting up at once to call it a night, and the 4 tourists on the other end who had just sat down look in bewilderment that the table had suddenly disappeared.

I wandered the floor looking for straggling bloggers and chatted with Fuel at his 5/10 game and Iak at his 1/2 (2/4?), before running in to Hoy, who was wasting time until his 6:30am flight home. We chatted for a solid hour before heading out, and I had a feeling the next morning might be a bit rough.

Day 4

Up at 10, and it was rough. The severe lack of slumber over the previous 4 days was finally catching up to me. Luckily, I had moved my flight from the 1:40 to the red eye at 11:20, so I had only my noon checkout to worry about.

After getting together at half-speed, I checked out on the TV (and avoided the ridiculously long line at the counter), dropped my bags at the bell desk, and cabbed to the MGM for more poker. I didn't see anyone familiar around, but I wasn't there to socialize. About 3 hands into the game, I knew I was at the wrong table. Something about my opponents was a bad mix. It's not that I was facing sharks or donkeys, but just a tough table to read. It got worse when the woman who sucked out huge on my the previous night sat to my right. After a few hours, I pushed in my last chips in with AsKx on a K-high flop with two spades. The guy who called my pre-flop raise with 78s called my push and caught the 3s on the turn. No more spades on the river ended my play.

So I did the only sensible thing. I went to the Rio to cheer on LJ, who was kicking ass in the Ladies event. After all, why move my flight if I wasn't going to cheer on my new friends? IG and Change100 were already out, CC, Pauly and Carmen were doing their thing for the press, Waffles was playing cash, and Don was checking out the action. Don and I found LJ at her table, with a great-sized stack in front of her. One didn't doubt that she was 4th in chips. She played her table right, and made some great moves, and continued to chip up. Most impressively, she trusted her reads.

It was one hell of a table. Kathy Liebert was to her right, and went out soon after we got there. Another woman 3 to the right had a monster stack and decided it was her duty to play the LAG. I only hope she went out early with the reckless plays she was making. To LJ's left was a tight aggressive player who chipped up huge in the time we were there. From a barely-there all-in to the table leader. Luckily, the table broke not long after she got that monster stack.

I wandered back into the Rio to lose more money. What caught my eye, besides the pros strolling around, was the number of people I recognized from tables at the MGM and the TI tournaments. All poker players eventually make it to the Rio it seems. On my way back to the Amazon room I met LJ and Don heading for dinner. After checking two full restaurants, we headed for the Tilted Kilt for some pub grub. Good fries, good beer... all was well. Don and I gave what advice we could, and answered a flurry of questions, but in the end it came down to "play your game, and be aware of the situation every time." After the walk back to the tables, I left to catch my flight home.

Orleans, airport, and waiting around for the plane. The flight had filled up fast, and my standby status turned into my last gamble. One that I won this time, as I made it on, sitting in the emergency exit row with its ample leg room. I don't remember the flight, as I was asleep from takeoff to landing. Interestingly enough, while standing in line on the way TO Vegas, a woman behind me got yelled at for being on her cell phone... on the way back, she was another standby passenger who I was seated next to. But as I said, I slept the entire flight, so conversation was minimal.

I walked in my front door, and checked out pokernews for the Ladies' status, and then decided my best move would be to play poker. I didn't get the token in a level 1 18 sng, but dominated the $6 short-handed one to buy into the Hoy. Oh addiction, I know you well.

And now, hours later, it seems LJ has recovered from her WSOP knock out, and the Loonie I gave her as a card-capper is to be blamed for her bad luck. I'll take full responsibility. I just hope that means I don't have to make up the difference between 97th and 1st. :)

As for the $5 left in my wallet? A piece of advice - if you're not willing to lose, don't play slots. Me? I'm just glad there aren't any within walking distance of me. That said, I'm still up over the last 12 months in them. I just have to learn to quit whilst ahead. Regardless, my losses for this trip are far less than anything that could be considered significant in the grand scheme.

And I think, depsite the numerous mentions and congratulatory post, that LJ deserves her own bit here. We both went into this thing mostly blind. Of all the people there, I had only met two of them previously (Iakaris and Fuel), and she hadn't met anyone. While Vegas is totally do-able solo, it's good to have a go-to friend along, and that's what LJ very quickly became. I can honestly say the trip would have been stretches of "well... now what will I do?" between blogger events if she wasn't there. As it turned out, I had an awesome time, and she played no small roll in that.

The trip was great, and exactly what I needed. Some 40 salt-of-the-earth people gathering for drinking, gambling and general good times is something not to be missed. For those who sat on the fence too long to decide, it was your loss. Friends were quickly made, and good times had by all. I have every intention of being there come December, which promises to be bigger and better. If you don't plan on going, then I think you should maybe see someone about that head trauma you've obviously suffered.


SirFWALGMan said...

Good to finally meet you Astin!

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

I was kicking myself all weekend for not going. It depends on when in December it is but as soon as the date is set, I'll try to make sure that I have that weekend open.

Irongirl01 said...

Absolutely Great meeting you Astin.. Iak may be Mr Supermodel. but I may have to move you to co-leader of sexiest male blogger along with Shaniac... You got gorgeous eyes

Stay away from the slots... negative EV.. Maybe you and Kat can mosey on down to TROCK or Ill mosey your way for some more blogger fun

Anonymous said...

Nice to meet you Astin. Hopefully we'll see you back here in December.

CarmenSinCity said...

It was awesome to meet you!!!!! Hopefully next time we'll get to hang out more :)

Astin said...

It was great to finally meet everyone else too. Now I just need to finish the psychological workups on each of you so I can manipulate you at the tables. :)

IG - awh, now I'm all red :)

Alan - you'd best get down there. One can only kick oneself so much before the bruising starts.