Monday, August 15, 2005

Wow, Monday already? Time for a few days off.

I played a lot of hours this past week, about half online, half live. I've fallen into a pretty consistent pattern--play online from 9 or 10pm to about 1am, and then go play live until 6am. Eat a nice, big, artery-clogging, comped meal and then hit the sack.

Up until last night, this entire week was one huge upswing. I couldn't lose. Every session, live or online, I was winning, often quite big. All told, it was my second most profitable week to date.

I was running so hot, I hit two Royals, on back-to-back nights. One was online at Party, and the other was live at the Mirage. Some places give you $500 or $1000 for hitting a Royal at their casino, at the Mirage of course I just won the pot. The third day I didn't hit a Royal, but I did get a straight flush on Party.

This brings my total tally of Royals to about ten. Three live, and about seven, maybe eight online. Some people go a lifetime without ever hitting one. I know one guy who plays a fair amount of poker who says he's never even hit a straight flush. So even though I play thousands of hands per week, I definitely think I've hit more than my fair share of Royals. Interestingly enough, all my live royals have come from AKs. Once with hearts (flopped), once with clubs and now once with spades, each of the latter two made on the river with a gutshot Q coming in. Diamonds, I'm waiting for you!

This past week I temporarily switched allegiances. Instead of hitting the Bellagio 30/60, I was at the Mirage every night playing (eventually) in their 40/80. I say eventually because they often had just one table going that simply did not budge, so I was often forced to play in other games for a couple hours before getting in. One night I spent all night playing in their 2/5 NL game while the 40 game stayed set for five straight hours. Finally someone left at about 5:30am, but by then I was way too tired.

When I did finally get into the game it was great. Amazingly great. I mean unbelievable. I'd heard horror stories about how tight the Vegas 40 games were, and I know that a fair number of local pros play in that game, so I've been hesitant. Well, all the pros were on vacation or something, because the game I played in was better than many 4/8 games I've played in. Six or seven to the flop, often unraised. Amazingly rich, amazingly bad players who kept rebuying and rebuying and paying off every hand even though it was obvious their opponent was exceedingly strong. Seriously, at what level to people stop playing A3o for a raise, and then calling the preflop raiser down only to (of course) be shown AK or AQ? Except it's even better than that, because at 4/8 the guy will just meekly call down from the start whereas at 40/80 the players are aggressive enough that the A3o guy will put in a few more bets before shutting it down.

Anyways, speaking of NL, I tried the 2/5 NL at the Wynn, Bellagio and Mirage. Very juicy at all three places, although the Wynn game seemed tougher (small sample size issues of course apply). The Mirage game was terrific. For the most part, everyone played exceedingly straight forward. If I hit TPTK and bet big and the guy kept calling, well he had TPW(orse)K or some other pair or draw. If he raised big, he could beat TP and so I could confidently lay it down. Simple, easy and straight forward.

One hand, I raised with AA, guy called with J8, flop came 843, he bet, I went all-in and he called (!?!?!). "I know I'm beat, but I call anyways." Wow, what better words are there to hear? I guess except when you're bluffing...

I'd say the Bellagio was probably the softest of the three games, but the $200 min/max buy-in is very limiting. I like the $200-500 buy-in structure of the Mirage. The no-cap at the Wynn is nice, but when half the table is sitting on $1000 or more, it does get a bit unnerving. I'm still just a baby NL player, thankyouverymuch. $500 is plenty.

Maybe one of these days I'll work my way up to the 10/20 NL level. I think that's a good goal to have. I don't need to ever become a world-class NL player, but I'd like to become proficient enough to hold my own in most games/situations.

Anways, I did say every session was profitable "until last night." What happened last night? I got together with a buddy and decided to donk it up at Aladdin's 3/6 game. Wow 3/6 is boring. At first I was trying to play reasonably, but it's 3 freakin' 6! Not only that, but most of the hands were three or four ways at most. That is most definitely not how 3/6 should be. Soon enough I was straddling every time I was UTG, was was raising and reraising every time I got 24o and in time the table was a madhouse, with 6-9 players in preflop, often for two, three or more bets.

I of course dropped $235. Besides the straddling and occasional loose preflop raises, I wasn't playing that badly. Paying off a little too much, that's about it. No my problem was that I was actually running badly for the first time in a while. Every gutshot was hitting against me, every person who was dead to runner-runner was, well, runner-runnering me. I was seeing so many two and three outers come in, I thought I was on Party.

One hotshot sat down with his friend and began talking about odds and strategy and stuff (boo!), and then after getting sucked out on a few times (thanks to my livening up the table a bit) complaining about how "if this were NL, I would be able to push you guys out!" And saying stuff like, "That's 3/6 hold 'em for you, where you can't get the donkeys to fold. They just call raises with their Q3."

I was near him, so I calmly asked, "But don't you want that?"

"No, I want them folding that trash. The most solid player in the game raises UTG, it gets three-bet,"--hehe, that was me with my Q5s, btw--"and this guy calls with Q3 and wins?"


After he finally left the game in disgust, he came to me and said, "Let me give you advice, you're hanging out here trying to win money from [certain fishy player], well, you might get his money but you also might go through $500 trying. He might win it all from you. It's all luck at a game like this."

To which I of course had to reply, "Thank you, I don't know how to play this game. I need your help."

His friend was a little more level-headed and told him that, "He knows what he's doing, you don't need to give him advice."

Hotshot's reply of course was, "He probably needs it!"

Young males' egos are quite amusing sometimes, especially at a poker table.

But it was fun. I played until 10am, which is way too late, so now my schedule is even more screwed up. But whatever! That's the beauty of not having a wage-slave job that I have to plan my entire life around.

Anyways, I really need a couple days off. Maybe I can use the time to finally unpack all these boxes still sitting in the middle of my living room.


Blogger d said...

Is the variance very big in the Bellagio 30/60 and the Mirage 40/80? What size bankroll would you feel comfortable with playing in these games regularly? Do you find the quality of these games to vary depending on the day of the week?
I'll be visiting Vegas at the end of the month, and I'm trying to decide which games to take a shot at.

12:35 PM  
Blogger eric said...

Well, I've only logged about 40-45 hours at the Bellagio 30/60, and about 10 at the Mirage 40/80, so I don't have much of a sample size to draw upon, but I'll answer your questions as best as I can.

If you find the right games, the variance is rather low because both struck me as rather loose/passive. Now "low variance" at 30/60 or 40/80 still means you should be prepared to drop $3000 on a given night, but that shouldn't be a regular occurrence. My biggest drop was a bit over $2500 in a single night at the 30/60, and about $2000 in a night at the 40/80 (both times I made comebacks that same night).

Compared to the 40/80 at the Commerce or the 40/80 at the Casino Arizona, both Vegas games are much, much less swingy than those other ones. And that's simply because the players are much less aggressive. Although it happens enough, fewer pots are three- or four-bet preflop, and when they are, there usually aren't five or six people in. Someone going three bets at the 30/60 here means a heck of a lot more than someone going three bets at the Commerce, where all that might mean is they possibly hit bottom pair.

As for bankroll, it all depends. If you're just coming for a weekend and wanting to play, I'd bring at least $6000, and probably more like $8000 to play with. That should be sufficient, and enough so that if you lose it over that one weekend, you're probably getting out played. If you're going to play them regularly for a living, well, your bankroll should be much, much larger.

The quality of the games does vary, but in my (limited) experience, not by a whole lot. The 30/60 at the Bellagio will have a couple more touristy types on the weekends, but even during the week--at least late at night when I like to play--they're still usually pretty soft. There are a lot of local regulars, but a surprising number of them aren't very good to begin with, anyways. I've played in some quite good (read: profitable) games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The Mirage game, which I just started playing in the past week, was pretty tough on Tuesday night, but on Friday and Saturday nights it was a dream game. It was 4/8. Everyone limps; if someone raises, everyone checks to the raiser. Of course there were one or two tough spots, but otherwise the players were amazingly bad.

Have you never played in a 30 or 40 game before, David?

7:20 PM  
Blogger d said...

Hi Eric,
You answered exactly the questions I was interested in. Basically, I want to have some idea of how much cash to bring with me. Also time of day is of interest. I'm thinking of resting up to play midnight to 6 am.

I've logged about 90 hours at live $20/$40. I was almost an exclusively online player until just less than 3 months ago when I decided to take the big hit in returns and start learning to play live.

$6-$8k? I was unsure if bringing 100BB was enough, but it sounds pretty passive from your description. I'd prefer to never have less than 50BB available so that I won't have to play with scared money. I'll only be in town for 2 days, with the vast majority of time for poker, but occasionally hooking up with some friends who will be in town for a bach party.

I had been under the impression that the 30/60 at the Bellagio was frequent a very high action game. I interpreted that to mean that it was not a passive game.

I guess I have a few other questions. If you were only visiting for a few days, would you prefer to spend more time in the Mirage 40/80 or the Bellagio 30/60, and why?
How common/rare is a good game? On weekend nights, how many of each respective game are running? Do you tend to watch the games before joining, or do you get a seat and then ask for a table change if you think another table would be better? Are the floor people good about taking care of table changes? (e.g. do you have to tip them so they don't forget about you?)


12:03 AM  
Blogger eric said...

I would have at least $6-8K, but bring more if you think you'll be uncomfortable otherwise. Since you'll only be here for two days, I'd imagine losing that much would either mean you're really bad (which I doubt) or you just had an incredibly bad run of cards. I find it's hard to lose 100+ BBs in a two day span, but it can happen. Especially if you'll be pulling marathon sessions.

The 30/60 can be a high action game. I've had tables that were three-bet six or seven ways preflop on a regular basis, but that's the exception. The norm is a rather loose, passive table. Now, that's loose, passive by middle limit standards; it's certainly more aggressive than most 10/20 or below games.

Of course, the time of year matters. August is a pretty slow time in Vegas with fewer tourists, so having a lot of locals makes for more passive play. I've been to Vegas twice in March and each time the games were certainly more loose-aggressive with lots more "hotshot" tourists in town.

To answer your other questions, I'm not sure which I'd prefer, and I actually can't answer that accurately because I really haven't spent a whole lot of time at the Mirage 40 game. Based on how they play, either one would be great, but I might slightly prefer the Mirage game based on how I saw it play this past weekend.

However (and this answers another of your questions) another point to consider is seat availability. Especially on weekends, the Bellagio 30/60 can have up to four or five tables going (almost always at least three until late night). Each time I was at the Mirage they had one and only one 40 game going, making for a long wait even if I was first or second on the list. Because of this, the Bellagio might be a better bet simply because you're more likely to get into a game quicker. But if you show up early enough, I'm sure the Mirage should be fine. Plus, the Mirage has 20/40 which I'm sure your comforable at, so you can play there in the meantime. (And, fwiw, the Mirage 20/40 is probably one of the most consistently loose and wacky games I've ever seen. I've been at looser, wackier games, but never one that sustains such a high level of each, day after day after day.)

Since there's usually some wait at either place, I'll watch the games before joining. At the Bellagio, with often three game running, I'll try to rank them based on known players and apparent action level, and then if I get my least-preferred table I'll immediately request a table change.

Both places are very good at taking care of table changes, and I've never had to tip or anything.

Another thing to remember: after playing, always ask for a food comp. The Mirage is pretty good about giving them out at any time of night. The Bellagio likes to make people wait until about 5am or so, but you should be able to get one then.

Good luck with your trip. If you can beat 20/40, you should definitely be able to hold your own at 30/60 and 40/80. And let me know if you want to meet up at the tables--I'll probably already be there anyways.

3:52 AM  
Blogger d said...

Thanks for all the info. I always forget to ask for the food comp. In the city I live in, it is against the law to provide comps to entice people to gamble, so I'm just not used to it.

I'll be in town on the 27th and 28th. Let's meet up if possible. I know what you mean by the time of year; the first time I went to the Bellagio was during the world series when I was trying the 15/30 game which had crazy action compared to when I tried the same game about 3 weeks after the series.

At this point, I'm leaning towards playing 30/60 at the Bellagio on Saturday night, the 500+40 at the bellagio on sunday during the day, and then depending on how long things go in the tournament, I'd like to check out the mirage games on sunday night.
Do you still check that poker wannabe email account?

11:46 AM  
Blogger eric said...

David, you can send me email there, I'll check it.

7:19 PM  
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