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23 days of low limit poker

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  • 23 days of low limit poker

    One of the most satisfying parts of ny 23 day trip was to see my low limit poker play had improved enough to put me over the break even point.
    I can't even fully explain what happened. I have noticed improvement in local games. Certainly, I have tightened up even more. Also, I lay down more losing hands.
    And in Vegas I worked hard for table selection.
    However, I just could sense that my brain was working in a new way and making controlled and clear decisions, sometimes on an unconscious level.
    Ironically, although I know that the 3-6 and 4-8 games better overcome the rake, I lost money there. I won at 2-4 and the spread limit 1-3-6 at El Cortez.
    I could sense that the higher level games, expecially those with kill pots, could potentially yield higher profits, but somehow whatever was happening below my conscious level was not happening there.
    I won at Suncoast's 4-8 with full kill, but it was just getting great cards at the beginning of my play. So I bet out and looked like a new guy on tilt when actually I was getting prime cards all in a row right as I sat down. It was such a run of luck that the table was shy of me, so I stole a couple hands as well.
    I ended $150 ahead, but after lunch lost $100 at a 2-4 game there that was just too loose, with guys reraising on nothing preflop just to get a big pot. There I was unlucky or I'd have cleaned up. However, playing prime cards cost me money when the flops did not match, and I was forced to lay down. A guy might cap my Ace King preflop and then catch his low junk on the flop.
    I lost again at the Golden Nugget. All my friends rave about this game and yet I could not seem to get my traction. It is a 3-6 with a full kill going to 6-12. The pots I won were small. I was sorry I played there.
    I'll play 2-4 next time.
    I am always attracted by both the American Casino Guide extra $10 buy in coupon and by 4 hours of play yielding a buffet comp that just about covers the cost of the cheaper weekday breakfast buffet.
    Golden Nugget has a great buffet with my favorite smoked salmon, capers, onions, tomatoes. And I've learned how to mix cream cheese and horseradish to produce a half way decent creamy horseradish sauce.
    I played well at the local dominated early morning game at Imperial Palace where the old guys gather more for the cracked Aces than to play poker. Here were the Three Musketeers, three guys who sit together, get up together, certainly signal when they have the Aces so the pot is big enough. They talk and play and leave together. They are very funny.
    Some other really tough players are there too, and I made some really wrong bets against one old guy who beat me every time.
    I met Fitz, and old buddy from the El Cortez game years back. That was pure pleasure. He and I talked, too much for the old regulars, and I showed my Resort Fee article and we got caught up.
    I like this guy.
    He reminded me that Harrah's was giving Veterans a free one day buffet pass on Veteran's Day and I remembered I had brought my DD Form 214.
    It worked too. I had a breakfast at Paris and a supper at Caesar's.
    Fitz had a run with cracked Aces and also with the cracked kings (starting at 11 AM) He was really lucky.
    Our hours were added up to qualify for a freeroll, and I won one of those for a free $140 when the final table split.
    I also ran into Mohave (or Drawing Dead), an old board buddy, and he gave me a ride out to North Vegas to get fed at the Lucky Club and invited me another night to Rio's Diamond Lounge.
    So by playing at the Imperial Palace I managed to realize four meals.
    Also, Imperial Palace puts out some pretty good cookies. One or two of them with a Caesar's packed with as many olives as the drink waitress can fit makes breakfast. I think tequilla is better than vodka in those clamato based drinks. Followed with coffee and Sambucca I don't need any more food to start my day.
    I met a fellow from Alberta named Gary, a fine fellow who reminds me of one of our poker buddies here at home. They have the same facial look. It was eerie. I played with him in a few places over the week. He was conservative and good. Another guy from Calgary just lived in the Imperial Palace. He was a bit annoying. Narcissistic and negative. Perhaps if I were a great lover of sports it would have been different as he did seem to lighten up and laugh if he could talk about a hockey game. However, our first conversation I noticed that he had nothing good to say about his own Canada. He was complaining about their casinos not being as good as Vegas, and perhaps that is true for all of us, but I started talking about what a fine job Canada does at Niagara Falls and how much it rises above the work the states have done, and I could see that my praise cut into his griping in a way that made him uncomfortable.
    ( to see my Niagara Falls poker trip click here and scroll down below the green tomato post)
    Non Vegas Poker:local Foxwoods, Turning Stone, Four Winds, Tampa, Chicago Horseshoe others )

    One night at the Imperial Palace a fellow from Pennsylvania had a shirt that said he was drunk and had lost his horse. He was drunk, and he was full of fun.
    I joked with him and he came around often for another round of lost horse banter, even when he was playing at the next table. Some of the more quiet and conservative ladies were annoyed, but this was my bread and butter.
    The next day at the freeroll he had sobered up, changed his shirt, and did not even remember me. It was an amazing transformation.
    I kidded him. Asked him now that he found his horse could he look for his party self. He laughed.
    The dealers are just great at the Imperial Palace. One looks just like Chandler from Friends and has the same mannerisms. They always remember my name.
    At one point a fellow leaving the table and got permission to splash the pot with the last of his chips, $16. Of course, everyone was in the hand even though the flop came with two kings. I had the only pocket king. It was low kickered, but it did the job. So I tossed the dealer $5 that hand.

    The worse thing about this poker room is that the bathroom is a long, long walk. It is annoying. Instead of running to fit the bathroom between blinds, I just started going just before my blind and coming back at my leisure and then waiting for the blind to come around. That gave me some time to see the Dealertainers. Great little acts. It was a fine idea.
    Another negative is that Harrah's has decided that 2-4 poker play was getting too many comps. So they reduced the dollar an hour to fifty cents and the tier credits were chopped as well. Most of the locals will be affected because they all have diamond cards from almost daily play. I lose 50 cents and hour, but I don't think the tier reduction will bother me. I never am diamond, not with just a couple trips a year.
    I can't seem to tell if my free room offers will dry up as well. We'll see.
    What needs to happen is that the locals need to go to a 3-6 game and then get back the dollar an hour and more tier credits as well. If that happens, I'll be thrilled. To have 3-6 take over as the basic game in Caesar's casinos would be a great advantage unless the tourists keep playing a 2-4. Right now the 3-6 interest lists never make a game. There is just so much room for limit poker and 2-4 dominates that room.
    One young fellow named Doug played almost every day and I heard that he is supporting himself with this 2-4 play. He was a fine and friendly young man, without affectation or that bravado that is so annoying in some younger players. We could not help but like him. He was tough to beat. I watched him come and go and realized that he was letting table selection determine whether he stayed or not. I need to do that.
    Another regular was Louie, an old guy with Parkinson's and a very distinctive hat. There was lots of jokes about Huey, Louie, and Dewey. One day a drunken player decided he was Huey and refused to be called anything else.
    Louie was a conservative but good player. He was in and out of the game often. I don't see that it gave him an advantage to make his blinds a larger percentage of the hands he saw, but that is the way he played.
    Louie was best friends with Jimmy who features my last trip as a fellow player at the Eastside Cannery.
    I was sad to hear that Jimmy died. He went in for a hernia operation, they found all sorts of things wrong, and he died of a heart attack while in the hospital at 55 years of age.
    Action Jackson told me the sad news.
    Now there is a funny story.
    Action showed up at the Imperial Palace and I asked if he was going to play.
    "Well, I am a little short." he said.
    So, I gave him $20 to buy in.
    He came and talked with me a while, but when he seat came empty, I looked around and he was gone.
    I hate to see this character, who used to be so full of fun and craziness so down and out. I generally buy him a meal when I come to town. I'd have given him $40 if he'd asked.
    He deals the World Series and is considered a very skilled dealer. He never drinks when he deals. They he goes traveling to find other jobs dealing games around the country.
    I had good comps at the Flame last trip and asked Jimmy to tell him I was in town, but Jimmy never passed that on.
    Well, I'll see him again.
    And chew him out for not playing poker with me.
    El Cortez used to be full of fun and crazy characters. Most of them have been 86'd and remaining are for the most part dull old men who say very little and are a bit grumpy.
    I'm tired of grumpy old men talking of operations and recent funerals. And if i wanted to play poker with quiet, serious guys, I'd play no limit and not drink.
    So I play less at the El Cortez now.
    And the way they jerked me around while I booked this past trip also discourages me.
    I played very little in their slots this time. I played a bit in the old slot machine near the elevator that is the last of its kind in Vegas. I hit too, and quit ahead.
    I guess I should thank them for pushing me over to the Gold Spike where there is a heated pool, free wifi in the room, and good television. I had booked there two years and been attracted back to the El Cortez, but now I'll go there as my main home downtown.
    Flamingo poker was also delightful. The dealers there know my name as well and they are full of banter. Steve, an old guy, calls me whitehead. He bought some silver strike rings from me to give his kids, realizing that they are quite unique. Once he held back half the pot to see if I would notice, and I did not. The table gave me a good razzing. And of course, having tipped for the first part, I had to tip again for the second in appreciation of the joke.
    Bill is very funny. He is a teasing dealer.
    All the dealers are full of fun and they treat me well there.
    Once they let me change tables even when it left the table I was leaving with an extra empty seat. One night I moved my table twice before I found people I could beat, and then I took home $150 even with plenty of alcohol and some inbetween advice to a fine looking woman from Alabama sitting next to me who was very new to the game.
    Flamingo also has a very small bad beat bonus now. That would take the edge off getting four Jacks beat by a straight flush as I did last year at the Imperial Palace.
    In addition, locals at the Imperial Palace who play 20 hours get twice the chips for the weekly freeroll. At Flamingo, once the base hours are met, everyone gets the same. Then too at Flamingo there is now an automatic chop. The last fifteen players get $100 each. No debate.
    One day at Imperial Palace we chopped, but in order to agree to it we had to pay the high chip person $5 each and cover a dealer tip of $5 each as well.
    The woman who was high chipped had about as many chips as the rest of the table combined. Had I been her I'd have pissed off the rest and put off chopping at least until it was down to four. She would have just needed to play blinds and fold the rest of the time until more people were eliminated. However, there is a great deal of peer pressure to chop.
    Generally, I like chopping because whenever I am at the final table I am uncomfortable and I need a restroom break that is not coming until the game is over.
    And both the Flamingo and the Imperial Palace have long hikes to the restroom
    Of course, all this will change before I got back. The new Linq project will combine the Imperial Palace poker room with O'Shea's poker room, give it a new name, and perhaps a new location, hopefully a spot closer to the bathroom. Who knows if the same dealers will be there.
    I played two 3-6 games. At Mirage I played late afternoon and always found it was full of regulars who were tight and tough to beat. I lost money. Also the dealers were less friendly. Getting rake reduction was harder. And one dealer got annoyed at me when I went to the bathroom and broke up one game.
    I don't like playing 5 handed with little rake reduction.
    Let them get as annoyed as they like. At 2 AM the table is not going to fill and even if I wait a bit for a seat at a combined table, I'll get one soon enough.
    The other 3-6 at Bally's has always been tough on rake reduction for short handed play. They always have to ask the floor and the floor is always slow, and then it is like they are doing us this huge favor by dropping from 5 and 1 to 4 and 1. In past years this made me angry. Now I just cash out and take a walk, come back and put my name on the list again if I think I can get a full table.
    I did like the Bally's game. For one thing I earn my full dollar comp and I get credit there that will give me free rooms for my next trip. For another, it was really just like a 2-4 game, full of tourists and easy enough to beat. I did not beat it. But that was just the luck of the river.
    This 3-6 at Bally's however is a late night game. I waited my last time playing there about 30 minutes for there to be enough to play, and then there was no dealer and we waited another 15 minutes at a full table for a dealer to show up. This was at 8 PM.
    For late night games like this I need to sleep in the middle of the day. I always wake up early. However, the heated pool at the Gold Spike and the 8 AM games at Imperial Palace give me plenty to do before I am ready for a nap. With the right nap, I can play the late shift poker, the shift that usually pays better than anything else all day.
    The best example of this was when I went to bed at 5 PM and woke up at midnight to play the 1-3 spread limit game at the El Cortez. There was only one old guy local there, Alex. I got him started telling stories, and he would not quit. He had things to tell us about all the Presidents and plenty of personal stories. He never listened, just talked. At times it distracted him, an added benefit.
    The rest of the players were average to bad and the average ones left to go home.
    I was playing with a short table here, but remember the rake caps at $2.50 here.
    A young man to my right was full of bravado and wanted to project a table image that he was a wild and crazy poker player who knew the game inside out. His favorite strategy was to bet $3 in the dark preflop. Now, remember, this is a game that has just a single one dollar blind, so his bet created a huge big blind that only he paid.
    Then came a hand where I held a nine of hearts with something that did not catch. On the river the board had five hearts, including a 3 and a 4. I bet $2, the fellow to my left called, the poker expert raised to $5 and I figured I might be beat, but I called and the other fellow called.
    I had the only heart.
    As the dealer pushed me the chips, poker expert said, "Wait, wait, we all have a flush and we split."
    "No," Tim the dealer tells him. Dewey's nine of hearts plays.
    "But I only raised because I thought that to win a guy needed an Ace of hearts to beat the king on the board."
    So we called the floor which at the El Cortez is Jimmy just a few steps away.
    Jimmy explains to the poker expert how flushes are valued and all about the best five cards.
    I collect the pot, and the game begins to break up.
    "Well." says poker expert, "that is not the way they play in Florida."
    Now I had not challenged any of his "knowledge" up until then because he was the fish and I did not want to slip the hook out of his braggart mouth, but since the game was breaking I said to him, "At what casino in Florida do you play that has this ridiculous rule?"
    And he put on a sheepish grin that said, of course, he played no where in Florida at all and certainly no where that supported his sense of poker.
    I took close to $200 off that table that night. At the El Cortez that is a huge profit.

    I did not play at Eastside Cannery for more than a few minutes late one night because I spent the night there in the lounge listening to some of the greatest Latino sounds I have ever heard. Monday night the Claudine Castro band
    Claudine Castro
    plays and she is just wonderfully full of energy and stage presence. There is an occasional hint of English, but most of everything is in Spanish and authentic. When she gets the audience to tell countries of origin, there is Chili, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and more.

    I did not play at Venetian. All my poker buddies swear it is a money maker, but Wild Bill just made $20 when he went. I made $22 that same night at Flamingo and put hours toward free rooms.

    The entire 23 days I only hit one bonus pay. I took the last of the cracked kings for $50 at the Imperial Palace one afternoon.
    Meanwhile, at Suncoast I had Aces cracked twice and would have lost a third time had my Ace of Clubs not seen the fourth board Club on the river. At Imperial Palace I would have made $200 on those losses and almost broken even for the trip. The insurance of cracked Aces is something to consider.
    Also, it means when I am against pocket Aces and drawing, I will get all the free cards I want because my opponent also wants me to win. This makes straights and flushes easier to achieve. The house pays off the pocket Aces and I catch for free on the river. Finally, when a guy raises preflop after eleven AM at Imperial Palace, I can put him on queens and when an Ace or King comes on the board, I can bet with just one in my hand. The bonus changes the game.
    I was disappointed not to see quads at least once. However, coming out ahead on my poker play without those bonus benefits makes me know that my play is better now and I look forward to another trip next year.

    I lost my last two days, but I saw that the losses were simply lucky rivers and my opportunities were very slim because I did not have decent cards dealt to me.

    I did not play the Palms although it was recommended. Mohave told me the cracked Aces promo had been withdrawn, so it did not seem worth bothering to go there.

    It was a fine trip. I like to think I will be mentally ready for the next one. I hope so.