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Old 06-13-2005, 04:15 AM
Mark Heide Mark Heide is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 646
Default Las Vegas Trip Report During The First Week Of The WSOP

Don't worry, there are no bad beat stories in this post. I had so many of them it would take me weeks to write about them.

I Left for Vegas on Thursday from Chicago. During my flight, I reviewed Harrington On Hold'em and Ray Zee's split poker book.

I arrived at the Barbary Coast and checked in at about 11:00p.m. and took a taxi to the Rio. While waiting in line to register for the WSOP I found out that the $1500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament was sold out and they were only registering alternates. Being an alternate was not acceptable for me because it was likely that the person I was replacing will be one of the inexperienced players that I would like to play against, plus there would already be players with large chip stacks and I would be one of the medium stacks at the table. This would alter my strategy and I would have to maneuver around these players carefully, it would limit my ability to pick up pots from some of the inexperienced opponents since the player with the big stack will have become fearless with their big stack, whereas the inexperienced player is more cautious playing too tight or too loose. Plus, I would hate to miss the first hour of the tournament to play pots when the blinds are small.

After I registered as a WSOP participant, I decided to play a $175 No-Limit Hold'em satellite. I sat down at a table of players whom I have never played with before, so I consider this an advantage to be at a table of unknown players.

Everyone starts with $1000 in chips and the blinds start out at $25-$25. On the first hand an early position player raises 5 times the big blind to $125 and everyone folds. The following hand I'm in the 3rd seat left of the big blind, the first two players fold and I have 5s5d and raise to $125 just like the player on the previous hand. I decided to raise with this small pair to either pick up the blinds or pick up the pot on the flop if my preflop bet gets called. I chose to raise 5 times the big blind because I believe that I would get raised if someone had a great hand and get called if someone had a good hand, and figured the size of the raise would eliminate players from calling me with ace-rag and small suited connectors which would make it difficult to put my opponent on a hand, plus I would not want a multiway pot with this hand when I am out of position to play it. I figure if I had just called the blind I could easily be raised from behind and will have to let my hand go.

The player in the cutoff seat calls and the button and blinds fold. I figured since he called he does not have a great hand but a good hand, so I put him on AQ, AJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, or 22. If he had AA, KK, QQ, JJ, or AK I'm sure I would have been reraised before the flop, since they usually play those hands fast in a satellite.

I get a good flop of 3d6s7c giving me a gutshot straight draw. The pot size is $300, so I bet half the pot. I figure this to be the correct bet based on the texture of the flop and my opponents possible holdings. If my opponent has AQ, AJ, 55, 44, or 22 he should fold because he is not getting the correct pot odds to call. If he has TT, 99, or 88 he will reraise to define his hand or call since he has an overpair. If he believes I have AK or AQ he could be thinking that I would have 32 combinations of AK and AQ as compared to 24 combinations of AA, KK, QQ, or JJ and may reraise me if he has AQ, AJ, TT, 99, or 88. If he has flopped a set of sevens, sixes, or treys my opponent will call if he is a good player since my likely holdings could be AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK, AQ, or AJ and there is no flush draw on the board. If he believes I have AK, AQ, or AJ he will hope that I improve my hand on the turn so I will bet it and become committed to the pot.

My opponent calls my $150 bet. This kind of narrows down what he could be holding. He may be calling me with AQ or AJ and he could have me beat with a set of sevens, sixes, or treys. If he had tens, nines, or eights I think he would have raised me to define his hand, but he still could be just calling me down with those pairs, so I will devalue these by 50% from his possible hands, because I believe there is a 50% chance he could make either decision.

On the turn comes a Jd and I checked for several reasons. Since, I had put in $275 of my $1000 stack in the pot, I did not want to take the chance to bet again and become pot committed on a hand that I could lose all my chips. The Jd could have gave him a pair.

If my opponent has AJ I would have to give up the pot if he bets. Furthermore, since I checked, he may think that I raised preflop and bet on the flop with a medium pair like TT, 99, 88 or an ace hand like AK, AQ, AJ, AT, A9, A8, A7, A6, or A5 which gives him 114 combinations (12 combinations of AK, AQ, AT, A9, A8, A7, A6 and A5 each, and 6 combinations of TT, 99, and 88 each). Plus, he may also believe that I made a set of jacks and am checking them to trap him, even though this would be unlikely since he theoretically would be holding a jack which would leave only 1 combination of jacks to make a set. Since, the most likely hands I hold based on combinations would be AK or AQ after I had checked, I expect him to bet to stop me from drawing to a K or Q which could theoretically beat him on the river if he has an AJ, so he has to bet his AJ if he has this hand. Another reason to check was that I still had six outs to improve my hand to a great hand if a 5 or 4 came on the river.

After I check the turn my opponent checks. His check indicates that he does not have AJ. If my opponent has AQ that is 16 combinations that lose. I devalued his tens, nines, or eights on the previous round since he didn't bet, and I now devalue his small set of sevens, sixes, or treys by 50%, because he should have bet the turn if he thought I was still drawing to a K or Q to make my hand. I think that my opponent would bet a set of sevens, sixes, or treys so I don't get a free card in order to improve my hand, check AQ because he needs to improve his hand, or check a pair of tens, nines, or eights because he thinks I am bluffing or weak and he wants to show the hands down without losing any chips.

On the river comes the Th. I check on the river to give my opponent a chance to bluff with his AQ, and if he has nines or eights he is going to check because that response would follow his responses from previous rounds. He can only beat me if he has flopped a set of tens, sevens, sixes, or treys that gives him 12 combinations that can beat me, and since I devalued the possibility of him having a set or tens by 50% I will reduce his winning set combinations to 6. If he does have nines or eights I will count 6 of those combinations since I had devalued them by 50%. I estimate my opponent has a 40% chance of beating me. Furthermore, he will probably bluff 50% of the time on the river since I showed weakness on the turn, so I will have to call a river bet. If I had bet the river my opponent would have folded 60% of the time. By checking I gave him the opportunity to bluff on the river, and I would have called that bet.

My opponent checks and shows me AdQc.

I did lose the satellite to some coin flip decisions when the blinds got high. After playing, I took the shuttle bus to Harrah's and had breakfast in the cafe. This cost me $20 which I thought was pricey. Anyway, the good old days of cheap good food in Vegas are gone.

On Friday I took the shuttle bus from the Barbary Coast over to The Orleans to play a couple of low limit tournaments. At noon I played the Omaha 8 or Better tournament. Didn't do well but I can't complain about suck outs because everyone is trying to suck out including myself. In the evening, I played the No-Limit Hold'em tournament but only lasted for an hour after the rebuy period.

I took the shuttle back to the Barbary Coast and walked over to Harrah's and took the shuttle to the Rio. I played two $175 No-Limit Hold'em satellites, but lost on both. But, one interesting hand came up.

The blinds were $25-$25 and UTG bets 3 times the big blind to $75. The next two players call, I call with 9s8s, the cutoff calls, and the blinds fold. Five of us are going to see the flop with $425 in the pot. The flop comes Ad, Ts, 7s giving me a flush and straight draw. Everyone checks. The dealer turns over an Ac on the turn and everyone checks again. The river is a Th, so the board is Ad, Ts, 7s, Ac, and Th. The player UTG bets $200. For sure, I thought this was a bluff. This player started out playing aggressive and I would expect that if he had an ace he would have bet it on the flop. Next, two players fold and I call. Yeah, that's right I just called with one players still to act behind me. I must have thought that I already had my draw and was feeling pretty dumb. Why did I just call? I just was not thinking and was tired from playing all day. Amazingly, the cutoff folds and the player UTG throws his cards in the muck! I collected the pot and did not show my hand.

After playing the satellites at the Rio, I went back to the Barbary Coast and ate at the Victorian Room. They were running their breakfast specials from midnight to 7 a.m. They had quite a few specials for $2.95. I had not eaten since 11:30 a.m., so I ordered two of them the hot cakes with bacon and the eggs with hash browns and toast. This was the best deal for food I found in Vegas, and the food was good along with great service. I recommend stopping by after a night of playing poker at the Bellagio.

I slept in until noon on Saturday, and had the lunch buffet at the Imperial Palace. The buffet was reasonably priced at $10.48 with tax. I had roast turkey and mashed potatoes. After lunch I went to the Mirage and played $10-$20 Limit Hold'em. I got stuck, most of the players played fairly well, except for two of them one played a little too loose and the other played a lot of high unsuited cards. I made some money off of them, but the others took the money I had won plus a rack of red chips. I called it quits in the early evening and went over to the Rio.

I checked out who was left playing in the $1500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament and saw Greg Raymer still in the tournament. During the break, I introduced myself to him since I had not seen him in two years since the last time I was in Vegas. Then Greg said Vince is playing the second chance tournament. I had not seen Vince Lepore since we all had backed Greg for the tournaments in the Tournament of Champions. Too bad, Greg couldn't win something back then. This time Vince had some hair on his head, so I guess he gave up the punk rock look.

After talking with Greg and Vince, I played a $175 No-Limit Hold'em satellite. I was sitting in seat two and actor James Woods was sitting in seat 1. James was talking with everyone at the table. In part of the conversation he mentioned the Super System 2 book, but at least he did not mention Two Plus Two books. The last thing I want to do is to play with people that read two plus two books. Anyway, when there was three of us left, including James we made a deal and split the money three ways. While James was playing the satellite he had a tendency to show his winning card, and talked too much about poker at the table. Otherwise, he played it fine. Since he is a great actor, I would hate to see him learn the Two Plus Two book strategies he would kill the players if he ever learned the strategies in Harrington's Hold'em book.

I went back to the Barbary Coast and played some double deck blackjack for a few hours. The dealer I had would put the cut card in the middle or further back from the middle. Made some profit varying my bets from $10 to $40 dollars depending on the card count. I didn't want to make too big a bet and get observed. When they changed dealers the new one put the cut card in the decks only one third deep and was consistent at this, so I decided to quit playing and go have breakfast in the Victorian Room.

On Sunday I went to the Mirage and ate at the buffet. I thought that $25 for the buffet was overpriced. They had a lot to choose from but the quality was average. After eating I walked by the poker room and noticed they were running a No-Limit Hold'em tournament. I entered the tournament and did pretty well until I took a bad beat and missed the money by five places. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you the bad beat story.

After the tournament I went over to the Rio. I saw Vince talking to David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth sitting behind him at a table next to where the satellites were being run. I said hello to Vince but I thought it best not to introduce myself to David since he probably would be playing the Omaha 8 or Better tournament on Monday. I didn't want him to know that I am a Two Plus Two book reader just incase I run into him during the tournament. I played two satellites with no luck and registered for the $1500 Omaha 8 or Better tournament for the next day.

I got up at 10 a.m. on Monday and caught the shuttle bus from Harrah's to the Rio. Since, I didn't eat breakfast, I stopped at Starbucks and had two bagels and a coffee. I could not believe the outrageous prices. A grande coffee was almost $3.00 and each bagel cost me $2.00 each. I guess they figure they can charge these prices because there is no other place to go inside this casino.

The tournament started about 20 minutes late. I did well during the first two levels and at one point had $3200. For the next two levels I couldn't make any winning hands and my stack of chips was dwindling. I made a deal with two other players at my table for 2% of the prize money. All three of us were on short stacks. I had $600 and the other two had $700. We were well into the 5th level with the blinds at $200-$100. One of the players I made a deal with busts out and about 15 minutes later, so do I. There is still hope that the last one may get lucky and build a stack back up again. I forgot his name, he was from Augusta, GA and said that he made the final table back in 1998. Anyway, I looked around to see who was still playing and found Greg Raymer. He was on a short stack and ended up busting out shortly.

Some media person asked Greg for an interview. While waiting for Greg to get done with the interview, my last partner busted out of the tournament. When the interview was over Greg and I went to the buffet since we both had our $10 coupons from the tournament. When we left the tournament room, Greg was getting asked for autographs and having his picture taken with numerous fans as we made our way to the buffet. It's hard to believe that Greg is so famous now.

The buffet at the Rio is overpriced. I still had to shell out $14 in addition to the coupon. It looks like the good old days of the player buffets are gone. We had dinner and talked about unusual poker hands, players, and fans. Greg told me that one a woman followed him in the bathroom and another licked his face. Now, that's weird!

On Tuesday I slept in late and ate breakfast for lunch at the Victorian Room. Played some double deck blackjack, and went over to the Mirage for the 7 p.m. No-Limit Hold'em tournament. Busted out shortly after the first break. Took it easy and did nothing for the rest of the day, and on Wednesday left for home.
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