Aug 11
by Don

The one thing I know about playing poker in a Vegas card room is that it is not as easy as your home game, but not as hard either.  The key is to choosing the right game for you.

More often than not Lori and I primarily play tournaments while in Vegas.  We do this for a number of reasons:

1.   Protects your bank role- Your cash outlay at any one point is the cost of the tournament.  This is great for money management.

2.   Tournament play extends your play- What I mean by that is by the size of the tournament you can probably play 5-6 hours pretty regularly (assuming you are average to above average player).

3.   Tremendous upside- Your potentially winnings far out pace the actual cost to enter the tournament.  For example, a small $50.00 NL Tournament with 60-70 players can net you $1600 to $1800 if you win it all.  Not to mention simply cashing can be rewarding.

4.   Everyone starts at the same place- Someone can’t just sit down and buy in for 5x the amount in tournament play.  This levels the playing field a bit.

5.   Prevents you from spending even more money- If you are having a bad blackjack run.  A nice tournament can save you money because you are not playing the house, you are playing other people.  There is no house edge in tournament play.

Cash games have some advantages too:

1.   No long term time commitments- You can come and go as you please fitting in a 2 hour session is not a big deal.

2.   Table Selection- You can size up your competition before ever posting a blind.  This could be very profitable if done right.

3.   One or two hands makes the session- Get tricky with a set or flop a flush and you just doubled up in real money, and that’s nice.

4.   Choose your limits- There are all sorts of games running at all times at all levels.  You are not forced to play only at a $5/$10 table if that is not your game.  Again, great money management.

Of course there are differences in how you play a tournament game vs. a cash game (which we will talk about later) but generally speaking tournament play provides a great value for your bankroll over all.  And with just about every casino in Vegas having a card room, there is a tournament starting at all times so finding one is never hard.

Jun 7
by Don

Well Lori did in fact soldier on, but was plagued by the same run of being card dead that I had earlier and was knocked out after the dinner break in 52nd place.  This was a great run by her that fell just 7 spots short of the money, so she was left feeling bummed.  I told her that this was just a tune up for her event on Sunday and that if she can duplicate the effort she would be rewarded handsomely.

So here are two things that were a little crazy and only could happen in Vegas.

The first is a very pregnant cocktail waitress actually started having contractions in the poker room.  The Paramedics came out of no where and there was an alarm that went off throughout all of the Venetian.  It was pretty crazy.  What’s even more bizarre is that it happened about 30 ft. away from where Lori was playing and she had no clue.  How she missed this is beyond me, but then again its Vegas and crazy is the norm.

The second oddity was how the Venetian handled the whirlwind that was Paris Hilton.  She was “hosting” the night at Tao and everything was nuts.  They closed off the escalators that are next to the poker room that lead from the casino floor to the Shoppes above.  I didn’t know that they could do this, but for about 40 minutes we were cut off from the outside.  Strange. 

So I am playing a little Black Jack and basically getting my skull kicked in when this paparazzi storm cloud blew through the main casino floor and right by my table.  Thankfully I am not someone who is all about celebs per say, so I was happy that Lori had the camera as everyone was scrambling to take a picture.  It was quite a mess.  I have never seen that many security people in one place, but just like that it was over.  I have to say she looked older than when I have seen her in the media, but seriously what the hell do I know?  I just want that 11 double down versus a dealer 6 to actually pan out.  Unfortunately for yours truly I get a 4 for a 15 and the dealer turns a 5 to go with the 16 that he is showing and well you know the rest.

I need a drink.

Jun 6
by Don

There is something that is hard to explain about Vegas, and it’s the 4 hour sleep cycle.  For whatever reason, I have the hardest time getting more than 4-5 hours of sleep at any one time.  We are in a beautiful suite at the Palazzo with an amazing King size bed.  Of course none of this matters.

So we mill around for a bit in the room until we go down for breakfast, which is always great because it is at the Grand Lux Café.  These are the same people who own the Cheesecake Factory, so you know the food is good and plentiful.

Now we head over to the Poker Room at the Venetian to start our Deep Stack Tourney.  What’s nice about this one is that they give you $15,000 in starting chips and 40 minute blinds so there is a lot of play for your money.

I am basically card dead for the first 3 hours with not much happening.  The blinds go up to $200/$400 with an ante and now things are moving.  I get involved with a short stack that flops a sneaky set.  When I get the King high flush and all of his chips are in I am more than pot committed at this point.  So seeing him turnover eights full, just makes my stomach turn.  I just look at my remaining $4,000 and think that my day is coming to an end.

Our table gets broken up and I sit down at a new one two from the big blind.  I fold a couple of times and get 55 in the big.  I call a minimum raise and now am in a 6 way pot.  Well I flop a nice little set of my own and I think that I might have life yet.  There are two diamonds on the board and the small blind looks down at his cards and then puts me all in with a sloppy throw of some chips.  Sure thing.  I am just hoping that my set holds up, but of course the small turns over 96 of diamonds and the river produces the 10 of diamonds; for the flush.

I am now out, but Lori is still soldiering on so hopefully she will make us proud!

More to come…

May 30
by Don

I have read a ton of poker books over the years and I have to say that Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide (Amazon) is one of my favorites. Barry is a top pro and is respected the world over. He has a very inviting and easy style about his writing that I really enjoy.

The photography throughout the book is vivid, appropriate and engaging; which I find refreshing as compared to the norm for this type of book. I think that I enjoy it more than most because it assumes that you understand the basic premise of no limit and it truly gives you some insight to a higher level of play. He uses real hands that he has played and tournament scenarios that help visualize the points that he makes.

There is a small amount of poker theory, but again it’s well illustrated and thought provoking. There is also a forward by Doyle Brunson that is very good, but that’s just icing on this already great cake.

This won’t be the first book in your collection, but it’s one that you most certainly should have if you are serious about playing at the next level. It’s also nice enough to be on your coffee table and your folks won’t even know the difference.