Preface- This is a fairly long post. Some parts were written in real time and others were after the fact so it may be difficult to follow. I didn't proof read the entire thing so there may be some grammatical and spelling errors. For that I apologize... _______________________ My trip looks like this. 5 days in LA for work, then drive to Vegas and spend 5 days there on vacation. While in LA Iâ€™m staying at Commerce Casino. In Vegas, Iâ€™m at The Rio. My bankroll is $2500 of which I am hoping to take at least $2200 to Vegas. So my stay in LA needs to be conservative. My vacation starts in Vegas, I just need to get survive LA. _____ Monday, June 22, 2009 My original flight to LA was scheduled to leave at 1:40 PM. Decide to try and catch an early flight on standby. This turned out to be a great decision as my original flight was delayed 3 hours at DFW. Get to Commerce around 4PM and buyin to a $40 NL table. Iâ€™m in seat 5. First hand dealt was uneventful. Second hand I get 7s9s in the BB and the table limps around. I check and the board comes out with 2 spades. Iâ€™m in with 3 others. SB checks, I check, one guy bets out $6 and everyone calls. Next card is a spade making my flush. SB checks, I check, next players checks and then last player bets out $10. SB folds and I jam allin. A fold and a call and Iâ€™m allin heads up. Blanks on turn and river and I take a nice pot. After a couple hands I move to seat 2. Iâ€™m tall and like to sit at the end of the table. After a few hands at seat 2 I get pocket 4s in the SB. Again it limps around and Iâ€™m in cheap. Flop comes 4QK rainbow. I lead out for $5, a couple call and then seat 7 raises to $20. I reraise allin with $93 and he calls. He turns over KQ. Turn and river are blanks and I take another nice one. I win the very next hand with AQ on the button and am sitting with over $200. I play another 3 uneventful hours and was considering playing some LHE but since I have a 2:45AM wake up call I decide to just call it a night. I cash out $181. Iâ€™m now thinking I can stretch my day 1 winnings of $141 the rest of the time Iâ€™m in LA and take my entire bankroll to Vegas. I think waiting for monsters and jamming is a winning strategy at these low limit tables. The set of 4s vs. top two pair was one that would have been hard to get away from but the flush was pretty obvious. I was surprised to get a call. Maybe because I was new to the table? But people want to call. _____ Tuesday, June 23, 2009 Got up at 2:15AM and went and did what I had to do for work. Got back to the hotel around 1PM. Decided to buyin for $100 at a 3-6 LHE table. Play for about an hour and my cell phone rings. Itâ€™s work related and I have to get up and head to the room to make some calls. Got up with $99 so Iâ€™m down $1 on the day. I go get a bite to eat and get back to Commerce around 3:30PM. Go to the room for an hour to take a shower and relax and head down to the casino at around 4:30. At Commerce, happy hour is from 5-7PM. Drinks are $2 and the bad beat jackpot goes up to $30,000 at the $40 NL tables. I get on a table after about a 15 minute wait and nothing happens for about 10 hands. Then I get AcQc in middle position. I call a raise of $4 and the flop comes with 2 clubs the non club is a red 9. I donâ€™t remember the action but it was cheap to the river which brings the 9c. I jam the river and get called by a boat. Down $41. I reload for $60 and play about 30 minutes and then catch pocket aces. It ends up holding up and I now have a little over $100 and am even on the day. The very next hand I catch aces again and raise $10. I get called by a couple players and the flop comes 24Q rainbow. I jam and get called by A3 and he catches a 5 on the turn and Iâ€™m dead. Luckily he was short stacked so Iâ€™m only down to about $60. I grind away and get back up to about $80 when I catch AQ. Flop comes AA rag. I check and the turn is a Q. I bet out a small amount and get 2 callers. The river is a T. I bet $10 and get raised allin. Both players call and Iâ€™m back on top with about $220. The 2nd best hand also had a boat with AT. I play another few hands until the end of happy hour and call it a night at about 7:30PM. I cash out $201 which puts me right at $100 up on the day. My 2 day total is now sitting at $241 up. Iâ€™m contemplating playing $100 NL tomorrow but Iâ€™m real comfortable with the play at $40. I guess Iâ€™ll just play it by ear. _____ Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Another winning session. I chickened out and played $40NL once again. I had very little action for most of the 3 hour session. I managed to hang in there with around $50. Taking a few pots and catching a few in the blinds but nothing great. I doubled up near the end when my pocket Tâ€™s made a set on the flop and filled on the river. Iâ€™ll spare you the hand details. Played another orbit and cashed out with $102 putting me up $62 on the day and $303 for the trip. Itâ€™s about 7:30PM now and Iâ€™m gonna take a break and head back down in about an hour. I have to report to work at 2AM so Iâ€™m just gonna pull an all-nighter. I caught a nice 2 hour nap today so I feel pretty good. _____ Thursday, June 25, 2009 Well, I didnâ€™t make it back down last night. I went up to the room and caught a couple more hours of sleep before work. So, I got back around 7AM and slept till 11AM. Went down for an afternoon session at about noon. I won the very first hand I played and then went dead for about 10 orbits. I played a few flops but never made it to showdown. I ended up losing $24 of my $40 buyin. I wanted to reload but I was very frustrated with the cards and decided I needed to take a break before I did something stupid. The very last hand I played I went in with KToff UTG, something I never do, and ended up folding when I wiffed on the flop. Normally I am a lot more selective out of position but it was the first decent hand Iâ€™d seen in a while. I went up to the room and gathered up my dirty clothes and was headed to the Laundromat. I had gotten directions from the bellboy but he didnâ€™t tell me the type of neighborhood it was in. Rather than risk getting shanked with 5 bills in my wallet, I decided to go back to the room and hand wash my clothes in the tub. Went down after washing my clothes at 4:30PM to play another Happy Hour session. Bought in for $40 and cashed out at 7PM with $102. Pretty uneventful. Caught one big hand when my K high flush beat trip 5s. Got up to about $130 and then bled away for about an hour. Up $38 on the day. Gonna call home and then head back down for one more session tonight . I lost $134 tonight. For some unknown reason I decided to play 3-6 LHE again. I dropped $60 in 3 orbits. Iâ€™ll never play LHE again in my life. I didnâ€™t play terrible, at least I donâ€™t feel I did. I bet my hands and would get outdrawn in the end I move over to the NLHE tables and on the 2nd hand Iâ€™m in the SB with 25o. I limp in and the board is 257. I check and it checks around. The turn is another 5. I check, it checks around to the button who bets out $5. I call and a few others do too. Donâ€™t remember the river, maybe a 9. I bet $10, button raises to $20 and I jam. He calls and flips over pocket 77. I reload for $60 and watch Mr. Pocket 7â€™s donk off my money to the rest of that table. I play for about 4 hours and just basically hang in there. I cash out $45. Lost $96 on the day. Up $207 on the trip. Got a wakeup call in for 5AM. Tomorrow Iâ€™m checking out of Commerce and heading to Vegas. Iâ€™ve learned a lot in these 4 days at Commerce. I play mostly online so this 4 day lesson in live poker was very informative. Some general notes from the trip so farâ€¦ 1. Live play is softer than online. I would put the $10NL players on Bodog against the live players at Commerce any day. 2. I spent a lot of time trying to establish a table image. This was not necessary. On my winning sessions I would go several hands and not play anything. When I got a monster, I seemed to always get called. 3. I talked a lot to the players and most are local. I would say 2% are actually hotel guests. 4. Many of the players took time off from work to play and only get to the casino once a month or less. 5. Many of the players drove over an hour to play at Commerce. 6. Players donâ€™t take a half day off from work and drive an hour to sit at a table and fold. Thus, many of my monsters got called, regardless of how I played up to that point. 7. Older players like to see every card on the board, regardless of the cost. 8. Younger players like to force the action pre-flop. Many will go allin with marginal hands. 9. In my opinion, mid pocket pairs are played incorrectly by over 50% of the players Iâ€™ve sat with. More than once I saw players call all the way with a mid pocket pair with several over cards on the board. 10. The Sports Bar at Commerce is marginal. If you must eat there, I recommend the sliders with an order of onion rings. The chips and dip the give you when you sit down are better than anything I had off the menu (fish tacos, French dip sandwich, sliders). _____ Vegas From this point on I will be speaking in past tense. I was able to update my trip daily in CA but in Vegas it all went out the window. Iâ€™m writing this trip summary from my office, 6 days after getting back home. I went to bed at 2AM and got up at 5AM to make the drive from LA to LV. It was actually not a bad drive for a Texan like me. The scenery was different from what I am used to and the rent car had satellite radio so I never lost reception. I stopped at the worldâ€™s largest thermometer and took a picture. I also stopped in Primm to check out Buffalo Billâ€™s and get the lines for the dayâ€™s baseball. I was tired but not exhausted. A couple Red Bulls and the excitement of Vegas helped to overcome the sleep deprivation. I got into Vegas around 10AM and decided to check out the Excalibur. My friend was not to arrive until that evening and the room was in his name since he is the high roller and gets the great rates. So, the reason I went to Excalibur first was to check out the electronic poker tables I had read so much about. When I got there I was pretty disappointed. I was originally planning on playing on them but after seeing them (and the lack of action) I decided to split. I drove down the strip and parked the car at Billâ€™s. Went in and saw their little poker room had exactly zero tables running. Walked over to Ballyâ€™s and had better luck their. The room was full and the list was about 5 deep to play 1-2 NL. After about a 20 minute wait I was able to get on. Played there a couple hours and was pretty nervous at first. This was my first real stab at live poker other than the $40 NL tables I played in CA. I bought in for $200 and it didnâ€™t take me long to get my hands dirty. I took a couple small pots and watched a lot of hands. After about 2 orbits I realized that the level of play here wasnâ€™t any better than the $40 tables at Commerce and was considerably worse than the $10 tables online. I donâ€™t remember how I did exactly other than I know I won a small amount. Maybe $30. I got up after a couple hours and headed to Imperial Palace very excited about my prospects for the week. If the play was this soft throughout the city, I would not come anywhere near my $2200 bankroll. I played a couple more hours at IP and had about the same result. Didnâ€™t get any giant hands and didnâ€™t get involved in any huge pots. Just nickel and dime, ABC poker. Once again, I got up a small winner. On the day I was up around $50. Again, I donâ€™t remember the exact amounts but I do remember that I won a little at each place. Ballyâ€™s poker room- Small but nice. I would say there are about 10 tables in a roped off section of the casino. The staff was very nice, the drink service was average, the waitress was ugly, the comps were $1/hr. The players at my table took it a little too serious for their level of ability. There was one player who was very good, a couple players were above average and the rest were pretty much clueless. Imperial Palace poker room- Not good. The table I sat at was wobbly so every time the guy in seat 3 would put his elbows down the entire table shifted. When he sat up, the table shifted back. This â€œroomâ€ is in the back of the casino and is on pace with the rest of the place. But, the staff is great, the dealers are fun, the drink service was awesome, the waitress was better looking than the one at Ballyâ€™s, and the players were a hoot. Actually, other than the wobbly table, I really liked playing there. That being said, I never went back. After leaving the IP I drove to The Rio to watch some of the WSOP. I was there an hour or so watching the final table of the $5000 mixed hold â€˜em and decided to go up to the casino and walk around. Iâ€™m pretty tired at this point so I need to get up and move around anyway. I went to the sportsbook and got in on 3 baseball games for $20 each. I ended up going 0-3. At around 6PM my buddy texts me and he is in town but he is going to stop at Jack In The Box and eat first. So I go back down to the WSOP and mill around down there for about an hour. Once I met up with my buddy (Mark) we went to the room and got settled in. There was also a 3rd guy in the room (Glen) who was a friend of Markâ€™s who was playing in the WSOP event 51- $1500 NLHE. Glenâ€™s tourney was the next day and he wanted to get some sleep so he didnâ€™t go out with us that night. At about 9PM, Mark and I headed out and decided to go downtown to shoot some dice. We started at the 4 Queens and bought in to a $5 craps table for $100. 15 minutes later Iâ€™m to the felt and not happy. It was the worst craps table Iâ€™ve ever been at. We walked over to Binionâ€™s and peeled another $100 on their craps table. I was able to stretch it out but in the end, same result, down another C-note. I swear to Mark that Iâ€™ll never play craps again. When I think of how long it takes me to grind out a $200 profit playing 1-2 NL it makes me sick. We get back to The Rio at about midnight and play some pai gow. I pretty much break even and call it a night at around 2AM. _____ I get up around 8AM and do nothing for a few hours. Around lunch I head to the MGM where an old high school friend of mine is staying. We eat at the buffet and I meet all his friends. We catch up and basically do nothing for a few hours. Once we part ways I decide to play some poker at the MGM. I played for about 3 hours and ended up about doubling my $200 buyin. Got back to the room around 11PM and went to bed. _____ Got up around 8AM and found out that Glen had made the 2nd day of the NLHE event. The event started with over 3000 players and was down to about 400. The money cutoff was 340 so needless to say he was pretty nervous. I left The Rio around 3PM to meet yet another friend who lived in Vegas. We decided to meet up at Palazzo for a couple drinks. I left there at 6PM and went to The Sahara to play in the nightly $65 tourney. I got there at around 6:30 and played roulette for about 30 minutes and won $19 using the wedge strategy. I got a $1 hot dog and a $1 beer at the bar and then took my seat for the tournament. I busted out of the tourney right before the 2nd break. I went allin short stacked with A9hh and got called by pocket 99. Disgusted, I head to The Luxor to play some 1-2NL. I buyin for $200 and cash out $150 having taken zero pots in 2 hours. From there I walk over to MGM and buyin at 11PM for $200. I quit playing 6 hours later at around 5AM and cashout for $228. I never got below $150 and never got above $250. But I had a lot of fun and didnâ€™t lose my shirt. Luxor poker room- I guess it has moved recently. The board is a clipboard with names written on it. They give no comps. The play is tight and a lot of the players knew each other. Not the ideal place for somebody like me who is barely above average. MGM poker room- Right next to the lion cage. Gets pretty loud as it sits next to one of the bars. Has several good looking waitresses that keep the drinks coming. The play is in waves, several hands of cheap tight play followed by several hands of crazy action. I was able to adjust on the fly but again, I didnâ€™t mix it up with the few solid players I identified and didnâ€™t get involved in any large pots. When I got there the list was 30 deep but it only took 30 minutes to get a seat. They have about 50 tables so the list moves pretty fast. My only complaint is that the tables have a stone border right next to the rail. Itâ€™s nice that your chips are on solid footing but I donâ€™t like the fact that I canâ€™t slide my cards up next to the rail. After leaving MGM I went to Jack In The Box for breakfast. I got back to the room around 6:30 and slept till about 8AM. _____ Itâ€™s now Monday morning. I have 2 full days left in Vegas and I am completely exhausted. I had to return my rental car that morning so Mark follows me to McCarran and we drop off my car. Mark still has his car for the rest of the trip. When we get back we decide to hit the pool. The Rio pool is pretty nice. They have 4 separate salt water pools one of which is a zero entry pool with a small beach. 2 of the pools have waterfalls and the water is just right. The last pool is topless with strippers. I didnâ€™t go into that pool ($30 cover) so I canâ€™t tell you what itâ€™s like. Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s nice as well. After a couple hours we head up to the room. Mark and Glen want to go to The Mirage and play $6-$12 LHE but Iâ€™m not up for any level of LHE. I decide to stay back and get some sleep. I fall asleep about 2:30 and sleep until 5PM. I get on the free shuttle to Harrahâ€™s and walk over to the Mirage. Mark and Glen are still playing 6-12 so I buyin to a 1-2 NL game. I have another nice session winning about $85. Mirage poker room- Very nice room. The tables are nice and the play is weak. The waitresses are hot and the staff is top notch. One of the best Iâ€™ve been to. We head back to The Rio around midnight and Mark and Glen are ready to call it a night. I decide to walk over to The Gold Coast and see if I canâ€™t get into another game. Once I got over there I decide against getting involved in another poker session. I was getting pretty tired and didnâ€™t feel I could give my best game. I walk back to The Rio and hit the sack. _____ Tuesday, my last day in Vegas. To be honest, if my plane was leaving a day early it wouldnâ€™t have bothered me a bit. Iâ€™m tired and I miss my wife and kids. I go back to the pool at 10AM by myself and stay there a couple hours. When I get up to the room, my roommates are heading out. They are going back to The Mirage. I tell them to give me 15 minutes to get cleaned up. After taking a shower I go down and find them playing paigow. We decide to stop at The LV Hilton to place some prop bets. We then head to Harrahâ€™s and park. My roomys walk over to The Mirage and I decided to give Harrahâ€™s poker room a run. I played about 2 hours and won a little over $100. My last hand of the session was pocket AA that I got allin against a short stack and they held up all the way. I was in the cutoff and raised it $10. 2 callers around to the short stacked ($65) BB who decides to reraise me to $25. I reraise him to $110 and everyone folds around and he calls. I flip over my bullets and he flips AKoff. The board is all blanks and I decide to make that my last hand of poker for the trip. Harrahâ€™s poker room- I separate room from the casino. The poker room manager is a cute little girl who takes care of the players. I wanted to watch the Rangerâ€™s game and she put it on for me. The players are about what you would expect. Lots of tourists and WSOP wannabeâ€™s. The waitress was ugly but hard working and very nice. It was 7:30PM and I make my way over to The Mirage. Mark was playing a sit-n-go so I went to the sportsbook and watched some baseball until he was finished. We head back to The Rio around 9PM. I play paigow with Mark for about an hour and get up $50. I wanted to protect my small winnings so I quit and decide to just get a drink at the bar. Mark want to play craps again but I had previously vowed to never play again. After about an hour I go over and Mark is down to his last $50. Then things get hot. A new shooter picks up the dice and has the roll of his life. Mark turns his $50 into $400 and I decide to break my vow. I buyin for $100 and play for about 90 minutes and cash out from the table with $360. The hot shooter was only playing the passline and the hardways and ended up losing $25 during his roll. _____ Wednesday was simply get up and get to the airport. _____ Overall I won a total of $350 cash and a free $100 worth of prop bets. My overall impression of The Rio is that it is over-rated. The table limits start at $15 and go up to $25 on weekends. I was there during the WSOP so that may have something to do with the higher limits. But given the location and the overall condition of the hotel I donâ€™t think it rates those higher limits. I found cheaper games at The Mirage which in my opinion is much nicer and in a far better location. The waitress uniforms at The Rio are the best in Vegas. But other than that, I may never set foot in The Rio again. The live poker in Vegas is nothing to be intimidated about. I found most players think they are better than they actually are. A lot of gamblers and kids who watch poker on TV. I saw a lot of guys overplay their draws and unmade hands preflop. AK preflop is still only â€œace highâ€ until you get some help from the board. I think a lot of players watch the final table on ESPN when it is down to 3 players and see the pros raise big with ace high so they think that is how it is played. They donâ€™t take everything into consideration, especially the fact that they are playing in a full ring cash game, not a short handed tournament. The difference between the two in unexplainably vast. I simply played my draw like draws and played my made hands like made hands and did just fine. I never bluffed, not one time. I think bluffing at a 1-2 table is a losing proposition over the long run. I witnessed several bluff attempts from other payers and in the end they usually got called by somebody who may or may not have known what they were doing. The MGM buffet is awesome but the lines are long. In-N-Out Burger is great. The cafÃ© at Harrahâ€™s is marginal. You canâ€™t get a Red Bull in the can at any casino, only in a glass. The best beer to drink at the pool on a hot day is Bud Light Lime. If you get a chance, go check out the Silverton Casino. It is 2 miles south of The Rio on the interstate across the street from Jack In The Box. If I could do it all over again I would change 2 things. I would have stayed out of the tournament at the Sahara and I would have gone easier on the craps tables that first night. Other than that, I donâ€™t know how the trip could have been any better.