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Humility is an Empty Money Clip

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by HurricaneMikey, Jan 23, 2004.

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  1. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

    Jan 25, 2002
    Southeast of Sin City
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Since I’d been cleaning up the table at my regular Tuesday night poker game for the past several months, I thought I was pretty good at this game. I’ve played every week since last July and made over $1500 playing 2-4 Texas Hold’em exclusively. The past couple of months have been especially juicy, as I’ve banked about $350+ in the last two weeks. Of course I’m pretty good—just ask me. I figured it was time to sharpen the skills a little bit and take a trip down to Tunica to see if I was actually a good player, or just good at beating the same people every week.

    I didn’t go out on Friday night, just stayed home, packed a suitcase and went to bed early. Going to Tunica is a bit different than going to Vegas, so the pre-trip anticipation isn’t nearly as pronounced. In other words, I got a good nights’ sleep, unlike the night before a trip to Sin City. I woke up at 5 am, grabbed a shower and got on the road 45 minutes later.

    The best road trips start early in the morning—there’s something about seeing the sunrise, with nothing but freeway ahead and a big gas-guzzling Lincoln underneath, sipping a cup of hot Exxon-station coffee and listening to Oldies radio. I was Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, on my way to hustle up a game or two.

    It took me about four hours to arrive in lovely Robinsonville (none of the casinos are actually in Tunica), and I pulled into the valet at Sam’s Town and traded my car keys for a slip of paper. Just a minute later I was doing my best George Clooney as I rode the escalator to the second floor of the casino. The poker room at Sam’s Town is fairly decent—there’s always a couple of 2-4 games going on, maybe a couple of 4-8 tables, and one 10-20 game as soon as all the locals wake up and arrive.

    There was only one game going on, so I checked into the desk and asked them to put me on the list for the first 4-8 table that opens up. Rory, the gal in charge at the time, asked me if I’d like to get into the No-Limit tournament that started at 11 am. I’ve never actually played no-limit before, although like the rest of us, I’d watched my fair share of it on TV. Couldn’t be too hard, right? They didn’t have to twist my arm too much to get me signed up. I gave them $50 and they gave me a chip with my table number and seat assignment on it. I now had an hour to kill. Hmmm…an hour to kill in a casino… What could I possibly do?

    I went back downstairs and wandered the floor. There was a craps table going, but I didn’t want to get in on the middle of the roll. I found an empty $10 blackjack table and sat down, hoping to go head-to-head with the dealer. The dealer had other ideas, though, and took her own sweet time shuffling, adjusting the table, talking to the floor person about the drop box, making change, basically doing everything except dealing the cards. I even managed to order a drink, have it delivered, and drank about half of it before I got my first two cards. In that span, four people who had no clue how to play sat down and bought in. Let’s just say that I lost $100 before I got my second drink. I was not impressed with the blackjack at Sam’s Town.

    I went back upstairs to the poker room, sat down, and waited for the tournament to start. It wasn’t too long before they announced that all players were to take their seats. I was in seat 5 on table 3—directly across from the dealer in the middle of the table. I like to shoot craps from the end of the table, so I kind of prefer the end at the poker table, too. Oh well, I sat where they put me.

    They passed out the tournament chips, and offered an immediate re-buy for just $10. I figured I’d need all the ammunition available, so I gladly gave up another ten bucks for a small stack of thousand-dollar chips.

    Nobody at the table looked too intimidating, and the gal next to me even told us all that this was her first tournament ever. I wasn’t going to offer that much info, so when she asked me if I’d ever played in a no-limit tournament before, I announced with supreme confidence that not only had I entered several, I’d won a few, too. I just hoped that my play wouldn’t expose my first bluff of the day.

    When they dealt the first hand, I was praying for rags so that I could just fold and watch. I did not want to be the first person to bet, ergo, likely the first person to lose. Luckily I got nothing for the first few hands and managed to limp in when the big blind came to me. I flopped an open ended straight, made it on the turn, and the two other players folded to me to let me rake my first pot. It felt pretty good. I played fairly conservatively, because my goals were to 1) not be the first person eliminated from the tournament (nobody wants to be that guy), and 2) not be the first person knocked out of my table. Luckily I met those goals fairly early.

    I was getting the feel for it after a few rounds and managed to steal the blinds on a stone-cold bluff. I figured the name of the game was survival, so other than that, I didn’t get involved in very many hands at all.

    It only takes one hand to get knocked out, however, and it happened to me when I went all in with pocket Kings, got called by pocket Jacks, and a jack came up on the flop. I think I placed around 37th out of 60—better than expected. I discovered that no-limit hold’em is a whole different game, and it sure is a rush to make a $3000 bet, but an even bigger letdown to lose it.

    After getting knocked out I put my name back on the list for a 4-8 game, and they started a new one immediately. It was almost noon when I sat down at the worst possible table. There were two pretty good players at the table (much better than me), and a couple of complete friggin’ morons who held any two cards all the way to the river, raising all the way. Of course, having ‘good’ hands in that situation is extremely expensive; as everyone kept making their draws against me no matter how hard I pushed the pot. I’d raise raise raise, and they’d call call call, making their hands on the river every damn time. I had three full houses beaten in the first two hours by higher full boats made on the river. I had Ace-high flush killed when the board paired on the river. I flopped ‘nut-straight’ three times and had it beaten by a flush made on the river each time.

    It was by far the shittiest run of cards I’d ever had. The problem was, the whole town was sold out, so I had to sit at the table for six hours to get the poker rate, otherwise I’d have to pay $145 a night for my room. So I was stuck. The waiting list for the 2-4 table was like 10 players long—I couldn’t even move to a more comfortable limit. I didn’t win a single pot for the first hour and a half, and after four hours I was down more than $300. It was a horrible day at the poker table.

    Not only was I losing, I was noticing how disgusting most of the people in Sam’s Town were. Several people at the tables were in need of a shower, shave, and clean clothes. There were two 1-match-per- pack chain-smokers at my table. The highlight of my day was when I saw some inbred-redneck types straight out of Central Casting. Imagine playing poker at the DMV—that’s what the room at Sam’s Town was like. I did not enjoy it very much at all.

    Finally, around 6 pm I went down to check into my hotel room. The paperwork at the front desk took about 30 seconds, and as I was wandering to my room I realized that I didn’t have any one-dollar bills to tip the bellman for bringing up my suitcase, so I just pocketed my room key and headed back to the poker room instead.

    They kept my seat for me (I was gone for maybe ten minutes), and I got back into the game. I played for another six hours or so and managed to lose only about another $150, which I thought was a pretty good job considering my earlier run. At least they’d knock a hundred bucks off my room rate, I figured.

    I finally left the table at midnight and tried to fetch my suitcase from the bell desk. It took about 20 minutes and damn near an Act of God to get it, and the idiot at the front desk had the nerve to get pissy when I refused to tip them for their lack of service. It just added to my already not-so-good mood.

    After the day’s experiences, it was clear to me that I had no desire to give Sam’s Town any more of my business. The dealers in the poker room were great, as usual, but everything else about the place pretty much sucked. And of course I got a comp for the next morning to have breakfast at the worst buffet in town.

    I slept in till around 9 am and decided to head back to Nashville. Being stuck for $500 and having a lousy time doing it pretty much ruined the weekend for me. I might be the Mac Daddy at the 2-4 table, but the 4-8 game just kicked my ass all day long.

    I showered, packed my bag, checked out by 10 am, and gave the bell desk on more shot at my luggage while I went to eat. The (Not So) “Great Buffet†sucked, as usual, and yeah, you can screw up breakfast. Sam’s Town has started stamping the receipts with big bold letters ‘GRATUITY NOT INCLUDED’ hoping to get people to leave a little scratch on the table, but when it took them 10 minutes to bring my drink, and another five to get some ketchup, I wrote ‘POOR SERVICE DESERVES NO GRATUITY’ on the ticket and left the table.

    I got my bag and car and got on the road. I was done with Sam’s Town at that point. Nothing will get me back into that place. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I decided that I didn’t want to leave in a foul mood, so I decided to stop at the Gold Strike on the way out of town—it was just about eight miles up the road.

    A few minutes later, I turned my car keys over to the valet and was in a much better mood as I stepped into the Gold Strike casino. This place is the best in Tunica, in my opinion, and the inside of it really reminds me of the Monte Carlo. It could compete with most places in Vegas. I made my way to the escalators in the rear of the casino and just a couple minutes later I was signing up for a 3-6 Hold Em table.

    It took the desk about 20 minutes to round up enough players to start a new game, and since I was near the top of the list, they had me fill in an existing game in the corner. I was dealt my first two cards at 12 noon, and won a decent-sized pot with trip queens. My weekend was looking up and my attitude had done a complete 180. I was enjoying myself again.

    We had a good table for several hours and I’d manage to make back about $200, so any thoughts of going home were put on hold. Besides, the staff at the Gold Strike poker room really knows how to take care of their players, and the snack table was full of sandwiches, doughnuts, and popcorn all day long, so nobody had any reason to leave.

    On one hand, I was finally dealt pocket Aces, and I limped in when somebody else raised before the flop. The flop brought my third ace, along with a king and a ten. A lot of people with big pairs or straight draws did all the raising for me, and the turn brought a second king. Only pocket kings would beat me, and if that happened, I would’ve won about $6000 on the bad beat jackpot (anytime you lose an Aces-over full boat, you win the jackpot, so I figured that no matter what, I was going to win some $$$ on that hand). I bet out and got raised. Three people stayed for the river, which made some unlucky schmuck’s straight for him, and he had the bad sense to re-raise me. Bazootch can vouch for the fact that this strategy is generally not a good idea.

    When the betting was finally called, the two guys at the other end of the table were trying to decide who had the better straight when I showed my Full House, Aces over Kings. They were both generally surprised to see just how bad they were beaten. I took my time stacking all the chips and I truly enjoyed every minute of it, while they shifted around uncomfortably shaking their heads in disgust.

    I should have cashed out with my $300 in winnings and got back on the road. But I felt I needed to make back all of the money I’d lost the day before, plus make a little bit to cover my traveling expenses. So I stayed. You could say that it wasn’t the greatest decision I’d ever made. In fact, you could say that it was probably one of the dumbest decisions I’d ever made, because shortly thereafter I suffered 3 truly bad beats that cost me a rack and a half of chips. One in particular has eaten at me ever since.

    I was on the big blind with pocket sixes. It was raised before the flop, so I called. Several people stayed for the flop. It came up 6-5-5. Oh hell yeah, full house! I was first to act, so I bet. I had four people stay, and a jack came up on the turn. I bet again, got called twice. The river brought a king. I bet and the old lady at the other end of the table who raised before the flop and had called all along decided to re-raise me, and as soon as I dropped my chips to call, I realized she had pocket kings. When she turned them over to show me, I was mad enough to eat glass. [​IMG] I have never been so damn angry. I was counting the chips before I got them, so to me it was a huge swing in the wrong direction. Let me tell you there is nothing worse than flopping the top full house, betting all the way, and losing on the river when your opponent pulls one of the 2 miracle cards in the entire deck to beat you. It was truly the worst beat I’ve ever suffered.

    That hand really bothered me for a while, and while I didn’t know it at the time, it was pretty much all down hill from there.

    After several hours, I’d given back all my $300 in winnings on a few other bad beats, and I was floating along even for a few hours after that. Before I realized it, it was after 1 am and I was dead-even for the day. Yep, I sat at that table for 13 hours straight, only getting up to use the men’s room, and the only profit I’d had to show for it was a three-day beard, about a dozen free drinks and some finger-food snacks.

    I decided to take a little break and walk down to the tournament room where the satellites for the World Poker Open were being played. Everyone at my table had been talking about all the famous players they’d seen that weekend, but I hadn’t seen a single one, so I decided to spend about 10 minutes exploring.

    A quick walk-thru yielded glimpses of Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Scotty Nguyen, but one of the other guys said he saw Layne Flack and Gus Hansen just a minute before. I was hoping to see the poker brat Phil Hellmuth, but he wasn’t lurking about. Another guy at the table said he rode the elevator with Scotty Nguyen earlier in the day and said he was very nice and easy to talk to.

    I went back to my table, thinking I still had a chance to make my money back.

    Around 2 am, (after 14 hours for me), they combined our table with another one. They seemed like a fun group, but as a bonus there was a pretty cute girl wearing a Red Sox cap that ended up sitting by me. So my day started to improve a little.

    It wasn’t too long before we were chatting it up and having a good time, and as luck would have it, I found out that she lives in Nashville, too! Ok—back on the winning track! Well, I thought I was on the winning track with my straight draw, when she proceeded to beat me down with a full house and showed it to me on the turn, thinking that there were already 5 cards on the board. So of course when the river made my straight, I just checked to her with a laugh from everyone at the table, and she won a big pot from me.

    Anyhow, while we were both folding away junk hands for the next hour we did a lot of talking and found out that she likes to play a lot of poker, but didn’t have a good game to go to in Nashville, so of course, being a gentlemen, I offered her an invitation to our Tuesday night game. Much to the chagrin of one of the other guys at the table who had been trying to hit on her, we exchanged business cards and phone numbers, and she said she’d call me later in the week. Score!

    Finally, at 6 am Monday morning, I could battle no further. I had spent 18 hours straight in the same chair at the same poker table. I was spent. I was down $60 for the session, never able to get back over the hump, I needed a shower, some food, and about 24 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Unfortunately, I had checked out of my room the day before, so I had to get on the road. I was still fairly awake, and figured a cup of coffee and some food would set me on my way. I said goodbye to my new friend Janis, the desk wrote me a comp ticket for the buffet, and me and another guy from the table went down to eat. It was a good buffet—probably second best behind Harrahs—and worth every penny of the comp ticket! I had juice and coffee along with some eggs and bacon. One trip through was enough for me, and by 6:45 I was standing out by the valet freezing my ass off waiting for my car, listening to ‘Dueling Banjos’ play over the outdoor sound system.

    I tipped the fellow a couple bucks because he was kind enough to have my heater blasting when I got in. I stopped and got gas, more caffeine, and settled in for the four-hour drive back to Nashville. I made it about 40 miles, just past Memphis when the weekend finally caught up with me and I could not keep my eyes open. I didn’t want to be one of ‘those guys’—you know, those guys that always cause the rollover wrecks on I-40 that I manage to get stuck behind every time I drive to Tunica, so I quickly found a Motel 6 and got off the freeway.

    I told the clerk at the desk that I needed a room for half a day and that I’d be gone by 5pm. He offered me a discount and a few minutes later I was passed out in the king-sized bed with the heater cranked up. (It was 22 degrees, snowing, and windy in Memphis that morning). The next thing I knew, it was 4 pm and the sun was starting to set. I took a quick shower and got back on the road, arriving in Nashville around 6:30 that night. And I was exhausted. The weekend had really taken it out of me—I’d lost almost $600 and gotten very little rest in the previous three days. I was pissed off about losing, but more disappointed at the realization that I’m not nearly as good of a poker player as I thought I was. I’ve definitely got some work to do before March in the Meadows.

    Tuesday morning came early, and I dragged myself to work, begrudgingly. It got better when Janis called me at lunchtime, seeing if I wanted to get together that night. Of course I did, so we made plans to meet down at the City Club that night—she would be my guest at the poker game.

    The poker game that night was pretty sucky—it went till 3 am, and we had some people behaving very badly (one had to be removed and asked not to come back), but she had fun and I won $100. We had such a good time together that we did it again last night, and I won another $100. I don’t know how well she did last night, but I know she enjoyed it a lot. (In fact, as I was writing this paragraph, I just got an email from her telling me as much).

    So other than losing my ass, the weekend was quite a success. All my buddies are impressed with me for meeting a hottie in Tunica, and even more impressed that I brought her in as proof. She adds a good quality to our game, and hopefully will make it a bit more civilized. I also found the holes in my game, so hopefully I can learn from all the little mistakes I made at the tables, and turn it around before my five-day marathon in Vegas.

    So as it stands now, for the month of January, I’m up $600 from my Tuesday night game, but I lost $600 in Tunica. My sister, who has a masters degree in mathematics and trains astronauts for NASA, tells me that I’m about even so far.

    Mikey [​IMG]
  2. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Another epic Mikey novel! I printed it out for my hubby to read, since he's got the poker bug pretty badly too. I know he'd love to be there for March Madness, alas it isn't to be this time around.

    BTW, six printed pages. Isn't that kind of on the short side for a Mikey trip report? [​IMG]

    Glad you found your notes! [​IMG]

  3. cruiser

    cruiser High-Roller

    Feb 5, 2002
    Another excellent trip report from Mikey. It was a great read. Damn, I'm feeling the itch to learn to play Poker but I'll stick to blackjack while in Vegas. The first half of the year is the worst for me since our first trip of the year is usually in June. Fortunately, we've been able to get a second and third trip in both 2002 and 2003 so that helps the rest of the year zip on by. This year, we're planning three trips of 5 days/nights each. Mikey, thanks again for my much needed gambling fix.

  4. Dougie

    Dougie I am IN!

    Sep 18, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice 'play' Mikey. It begs the question, is poker gonna soon be pokeher? :rolleyes:

    I will give you lots of dough at March Madness.

  5. Jack21

    Jack21 Guest

    Great story as usual, nice and descriptive. For my trip to Tunica, I was surprised when the casino has single deck BJ where we could hold our cards! A pro cheater would have had a field day there!

    See you in Vegas for MM!

  6. Stan of PDX

    Stan of PDX Tourist

    Jul 21, 2002
    Mikey, a great read. Your depth of detail is amazing.
  7. WisRip

    WisRip Tourist

    Dec 31, 2003
    Great reports...I have been reading all of them on your website. My wife even started reading them.
    I too am a MM guy. We have a small group (just the guys) that heads out every March. A matter a fact last year we were down at the LV Club for most of Saturday...probably crossed paths. Last year I was with a couple of "Downtown" Virgins...but after our Saturday night I think that I will get them down there a few times on this next trip.

    I didn't think that I was going to be out there this spring because my wife will be 6 1/2 months from having our second child. I told her that I wasn't going and she said that I should go that she would be fine. (What a woman!) I had my plane ticket bought in a matter of days.
    We are staying at Terribles this year. My buddies are bigger Sports Betters then I am and enjoy Terribles because they have a lot of TV's and never a line to make a bet. They also have great Comps. Don't usually have to pay for our meals.
    I also am a poker nut. And love Black Jack, just a novice at Craps (plan on sharpening skills in March).
    Hopefully some day I will have the ultimate pleasure of being blessed to be at same table when Mikey has one of his killer rolls. (Probably with some little honey on his arm!)

    Anyway I hope everyone has a great time in March, lord knows that we will try!

  8. Jer

    Jer I kinda did a thing...

    Jan 20, 2002
    Southern California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Ouch Mikey...

    Dude, i'm working on quite a "trip report" on when I went down to the Barona Valley Ranch last weekend.. I played poker again for almost 30 hours in days...

    I hate to admit it, but I have been crushed by the "pocket Kings" as well, and have a HORRIBLE jackpot story as well....

    The way I see it is, 4-8 is a tough game... When you walk to the table and you see the houses built by chips, you need to go back to the 3-6, or 2-4.... [​IMG]
  9. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

    Nov 25, 2002
    Twin Cities
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I seriously doubt it. Just a bad day at the office. Remember how Phil Ivey left last years WSOP? It happens.

    I like how you describe the folks at the Sams Town tables, needing shower, shave... 36 hrs later, isn't that you?
  10. ritilinkid

    ritilinkid Believe it or not I'm walking on air.

    Jan 11, 2004
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Absolutely loved the poker trip report, I laughed, I cried, and really happy you won a girl. [​IMG]
  11. Nevada Kid

    Nevada Kid VIP Whale

    Feb 26, 2002
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Always love reading about your trips.
  12. Coaster Hubby

    Coaster Hubby Poker Stud Cowboy

    Jan 25, 2004

    Your trip reports are great! My wife (Coaster Kikky) was reading your trip report to me. I made some comments, and my wife says, “Well, why don’t you finally join the board and post your comments?†I can’t argue with that. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of reading the boards as a lurker, and it’s past time for me to join and start participating.

    As someone who has recently gotten the poker “bug,â€I don’t think the problem you had this weekend is that you’re a bad poker player. I’m not an expert by any means, but I think you just ran into two things that can make life very difficult playing low-limit hold em in live casinos: the rake, and bad players. The rake makes a huge difference in 2-4, 3-6, and 4-8 hold em. A fairly typical rake is 10% of the pot, up to $4. Let’s say the average rake per hand is $3. If you assume that you’re playing 20 hands an hour, that’s $780 out of the pot during the 13 hours you played at Gold Strike. That’s a lot of money in a low limit game. Plus, there’s the tokes for the dealers. I think they fully deserve the tips they get, but it’s still money out of your pocket. It’s hard to finish ahead in any 2-4 or 3-6 game if you play long enough. :(

    I certainly understand your frustration with people who have no business being in the hand repeatedly catching miracle cards on the river. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 2-4, 3-6, or 4-8 game where such people don’t exist. In the long run, you make money off of them, but there are going to be times where they repeatedly catch the miracle cards and are grabbing another rack for their chips. :mad:

    As odd as it sounds, you might enjoy playing for higher stakes if your budget can afford it. I enjoy playing 6-12 hold em more than 3-6 or 4-8. First, the rake is a smaller percentage of the pot. Yes, the players are better, but a lot of the players are actually paying attention to what other players are doing. So, if you raise pre-flop, people will fold borderline hands instead of chasing their miracle draws. Also, you can try and be more creative against better players. For example, this weekend, I was in the small blind with 9-10 of clubs and called. The big blind, who clearly knew what he’s doing, raises, and I (and 3 other players) call. Flop comes out 9-4-2, with two hearts. I bet out with top pair on the board, and big blind raises again. That tells me he has a big pocket pair. Turn is Ace of Hearts. At this point, I know I’m beat, and in a 2-4 or 3-6 game, I’d probably fold. However, I don’t think he has a heart, and I check and call hoping for a bluffing opportunity. I get what I need on the river - a fourth heart. I bet, and he has this pained expression on his face. He clearly is agonizing, flips up a pair of aces (hoping to get a reaction out of me), and asks the rest of the table, “What should I do?†He then folds the Aces. It didn’t help his mood any when he insisted on seeing my cards and I showed him my hand.

    In a 2-4 or 3-6 game, many of the players would just automatically call or raise because they had 3 aces without noticing the 4 hearts on the board. In a 6-12 game, there will be more opportunities to bluff, steal the blinds, and be creative. Of course, you’ll have more players trying to make moves on you, also.

    As Doctor Al said, everyone has bad days at the poker table. You just have to learn what you can from the bad times and wait for the cards to hit you. Hang in there! [​IMG] [​IMG]

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