Thursday, July 28, 2005

Well, I'm now in Vegas for good. The drive out here from Austin was pretty nice. There's some great scenery along the way, and of course there was also Phoenix with the Casino Arizona where my friend and I stopped and played for three days.

The CAZ poker room is interesting in that it's in a big circus tent. It's a fairly large room (45+ tables) that, despite some of the horror stories I've heard, seemed to have some of the friendliest, most attentive staff I've seen in a card room. In many card rooms (including my beloved Bellagio), the staff often seems uninterested, grumpy or, in the case of chip runners, is simply nowhere to be found. But at the CAZ, they were quite attentive and always seemingly in a good mood.

Another plus is that one can get food served right at the table, usually quite promptly. This highlights one drawback of the room, though, as one doesn't get any food comps and so has to pay regular price (although with an apparent "25% poker discount" that supposedly discounts the food, but compared to the price paid by whom? Are they trying to say that the enormously losing blackjack and slots players aren't comped even more than poker players? Doubtful).

The games themselves were pretty good, although I was limited to playing Sunday-Tuesday nights, missing the prime Thur-Sat stretch. Apparently there's a $150 max-bet rule (whether it's in all of Arizona or just for Phoenix, I don't know), so instead of NL, the CAZ featured a 5-150 spread limit with a $350 max buy-in. I played only a dozen or so hands at that game before getting called to my preferred games, but it seemed like a potential gold-mine, as there were lots of youngish, over-eager players putting a lot of money into pots without much in the way of hands.

The max-bet rule at times also resulted in there being both a 60/120 game and a 75/150 game running, strangely enough.

While there I played the 20/40 game the first night, 40/80 the second night and then 40/80 and 60/120 the third night. Yes, I tried 60/120 for the first time ever when I was at a 40/80 table and somehow everyone there was convinced to change the limits to 60/120. I agreed to the change since I had a good read on all the players and felt like I might as well play them for more money. A funny thing happened though--once the limits increased, the soft spots on the table suddenly tightened up and started playing more reasonably.

Playing that high took a little getting used to--nothing is more fun than playing a game where losing two hands results in a $1000 loss. One other annoying thing about that limit, at least at the CAZ, is that it was played with $10 chips. Almost every limit game I've ever played in has a 3/6 or a 4/8 chip-betting structure--for example 3/6 and 4/8 use $1 chips, but 15/30 and 20/40 use $5 chips, making them 3/6 and 4/8 with $5 chips instead of $1 chips. 30/60 and 40/80 uses $10 chips. The 80/160 at the Bellagio uses $20 chips. It stands to reason that 60/120 would use $20 chips, but nope, still just $10 chips, which I found quite aggravating, having to put piles and piles and piles of chips out there just to raise.

Overall, I did okay at that level--broke about even. I did well in both the 40/80 and 20/40 games, and so posted a decent if unspectacular win for the trip. I made some very poor decisions on a few hands, though, so if anything the trip showed I really need to work on slowing down my decision making while in a hand.

A funny hand at 40/80 (funny because of one opponent):

I hadn't played a hand in forever, and was at a table that seemed to be tightening up, so I felt confident in open-raising from UTG+1 with 77. Despite my optimism for either winning the blinds or getting the pot heads-up, I end up with six callers (!!). Flop: 875. Well, that's better. The flop ended up being three-bet five ways, and the turn brought (875)8. I bet, call, call, call. Four see the river (8758)7. I bet, and one by one my three opponents looked at their cards, looked at the board, shoulders slumped, defeated, trying to find a way to call this large pot thinking of any hands they could beat before finally giving up and mucking.

Okay, it was quads, but not too interesting a hand overall, until afterwards, as one of the guys who was still in on the river asks me what I had. I don't usually share, but I did figuring there's a decent chance no one would believe me anyways.

Me: "I had pocket 7s, so I hit quads on the river."

Him: "I had J9, for the double-gutter. You got lucky, hitting that 7 on the river."

Then he made the comment that just floored me.

Him: "I mean, there were more tens and sixes in the deck then sevens. I was more likely to hit than you, you just happened to be the one who hit."

What? What??? This guy plays 40/80? Helloooo, I didn't need to hit anything.

All I can say is holy shit is poker juicy right now.

But now I'm back in Vegas, ready to return to my regular Bellagio 30/60. Despite my recent foray into 60/120, I probably won't be doing the Bellagio 80/160 at least for a while yet. I'll also try the Mirage and Wynn 40/80 games, which surprisingly enough I haven't tried yet, mostly due to the horror stories of how tight they were.

And, oh yeah, I'll also try to actually play online again at some point. I mean, it is more profitable than live play by a factor of about three...


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Hey Eric,

Be there in 3 weeks. Just started a blog.

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