Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vegas Poker Rooms

I visited 5 poker rooms over the week we were checking out the WSOP and here they are ranked from worst to first.

5. Gold Coast - everything here is pretty run down, the chips look old, the cards are kinda faded. The same could be said for the players, but since the WSOP was going on just across the street there was plenty of games and almost no wait whatsoever. Unfortunately, the highest game they spread during the week was $6/$12. The room is "no smoking" meaning you had to lean over the railing to smoke. It had 8 tables and the players were pretty bad, if I hadn't been so drunk from all the coronas I drank, I would've made a lot more. +$160.

4. The Rio - This room was not in use due to the WSOP so I can't say much about it other than it's tucked away from the casino in between a sportsbook and an oxygen bar. It had about 10 tables and seemed like it would be an OK place to play. I played some $1/$2 No-Limit in the room where the WSOP was being held, the aptly named Amazon room, while sweating the other PokerLizard guys who tried to win the 11 p.m. $225 tourney. I left down $49 when I was too tired to continue.

3. The Palms - For the WSOP the Palms was running tournaments in a large ballroom which was quite nice. The Poker rooms (that's right rooms) are split into two based on limit. One room was up to $2/$4 - $4/$8 or $1/$2 No-Limit and the other had $15/$30. The $4/$8 had blinds of $1/$2 which encouraged a lot of action and was a half kill game. Each of the two rooms had about 8 tables which were no smoking. I played in one $100 buyin NLHE tourney and busted out on the fist hand. I had Ah9h with two hearts on the flop and erroneously thought the guy next to me was trying to buy the pot...which he was...with JJ. So I went to play in the $4/$8 game, the wait was about 20 minutes, but the game was so loose and I was hitting cards that I stayed there all night (from 10:30 pm to 10:30 am), I finally got too tired to play anymore and left up $472.

2. The Wynn - The wait at the Wynn was approximately 1.5 hours, unless I wanted to sign up for $80/$160, so I just looked around. They have a nice room with quality chairs and tables, you can signup for the poker room and check your status from your TV which is nice. It was so crowded during the WSOP that there were people just standing around waiting and waiting. They had about 25 tables going of all types and levels, definitely check it out next time you're in town.

1. The Bellagio - The wait at the Bellagio was also about 1.5 hours so I just checked the place out, everything here was first class, from the chairs to the cocktail waitresses. I decided to go look in on the high limit room. When I got there, Barry Greenstein, Lyle Berman, Gus Hansen and John "World" Hennigan were playing $4k/$8k H.O.S.E (a rotating game of Hold'em, Omaha, Stud, and Stud-Eight every 10 hands) and props (a gambling game where players bet on which cards will come on the flop) to pass the boredom waiting for a whale I suppose. Also, there was Abe Mosseri, who was playing headsup ($1k/$2k - I think) with an Asian gentleman I didn't recognize. Barry was very excited about his new book, Ace on the River, and how well it was doing on I asked him if he was more proud of his 2005 WSOP or his son's (Joe Sebok). He said that he was very proud of his son but really wanted him to do something productive with his life along with poker. The players were gracious enough to let me take some pics which you can check out once our WSOP photo album gets posted. The Bellagio's room should definitely be on any poker player's must see list.

After the Bellagio I went over to the Doyle Brunson party at the Rio and ate. The High-Limit room at the Bellagio would have been busier but the other pro's were all at the party in the VIP area, which was roped off from the likes of me.

Vegas Trip - Day 1 at the WSOP

OK, I've tried to post this 3 times now, so hopefully this'll take...

Sometimes you have to get away from something to see it more clearly. Over the past four days, I was entrenched in the circus of the WSOP, never really able to stop and focus to put together a write-up on the experience. Now that I’m 20K feet in the air above Lake Mead, heading back to the real world in Texas, I can finally sit back and try to piece together the events of this week. So here goes…

We (the PokerLizard crew) arrived in Vegas on Tuesday the 5th and after getting one of us checked in at the Wynn (which has a decent, but not spectacular poker room), headed over to register at the Rio for our press passes. Right off the bat, it was obvious we were in for a long few days. The walk from the Rio’s casino to the new convention area where the WSOP is setup has to be over a quarter-mile. Now, making this trip once is not a big deal. But let me tell you, after 4 days of going back and forth, it becomes quite a grind. Would have been nice if Harrah’s had outside access to the convention area, but then that would go against everything Vegas stands for, right? – guiding the masses through the aisles of slots and blackjack tables.

Luckily, at 10:30 Tuesday morning, the lines at the WSOP were still very manageable, so we quickly got registered as players and members of the press. We headed over to the press room, dropped off our gear, and then went out to the floor. “Massive” is the only word that can describe it – 200+ tables, a cashier/registration area, and a stage for ESPN’s Featured Tables. That first morning, things were pretty quiet. The current event was on break, or hadn’t yet started up for the day, and the only action was in the front area where they were running single-table satellites for that evening’s $225 cash tournament. Having spent most of the 3-hour flight from Houston boning up on Harrington’s tournament strategy, I was itching to start playing.

So, since we had no appointments setup that morning, I rushed over to get into a $50 satellite – 9 players, 2 winners for the 11 pm $225 game. The rounds were aggressive, of course, at 10 minutes, and I think we started with 600 in chips and 25-25 blinds. I started with my typical sit ‘n go conservative strategy, not making many moves without cards until the blinds were worth stealing. People started busting, and soon I was medium short-stacked. Then came my first all-in with pocket 6’s against pocket 2’s and my cards held up, boosting me into the top 3 chipstacks. Then, down to 3 players and just hoping one of them would knock the other out, I picked up 7-9 in the big blind with one caller. Heads up, the flop had a 9, so I pushed all-in, he called, and I won my very first WSOP event. At that moment, I felt like I’d just taken down the final table of a major event – surely my rush would continue all week. Now I just had to wait until 11 that night to really put my skills to the test against a serious field. Bring it on!

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A Lizard's Adventures at the WSOP - Day 1