Monday, December 04, 2006

A scant week and a half after my brief but profitable shot at 100/200 PLO, I took another shot at a big game, 25/50 NL. Not quite as big, perhaps, but I managed to actually play for a few hours, in the meantime playing the biggest pot of my life.

My friend and I showed up at the Bellagio looking for some live poker action to break the monotony of online play. It was a slow night. The 10/20 had already broken (the first time I'd ever seen that happen) and the 5/10 was going on one table but was the only game that had a waiting list. There appeared to be seats at 15/30 and 30/60 limit,'s limit.

Well, our only other option was 25/50 NL. My friend was hesitant. I was a little worried, myself. Neither of us had played that high before.

"Look, I don't want to play crappy limit where I won't care but could still lose a lot and we can't get into the 5/10 game so I either want to take a shot at the 25/50 or just totally donk around at the 8/16," I told him.

"I'm not playing 8/16."

"Then 25/50 it is, c'mon."

We each bought in for $4k in a game where the typical stack was closer to $15k. We continued to show our noobness by each posting only one green chip to come in. "This is going to be fun," I remember thinking.

I didn't make much of a splash for the first couple rounds, until one particular hand. UTG limps. A bunch of other people limp. I check my BB with 5h3h. The flop comes 4c 6h 7h. SB checks. I check. BB leads for pot, about $300. Folds around to the SB who calls. I check-raise to $1000. UTG moves all-in. SB folds. Well, if he limped 74 UTG, more power to him...I call. He rolls over AhKh. I have visions of going home after only 20 minutes of playing. However, my hand holds up and I double up to about $8k.

Hmm...maybe I should go home anyways?

Hell no! I'm here to play. So feeling a bit more confident, I go through a few more rounds as my stack gets whittled down a bit with a couple check-folds on the flop in multi-way, raised pots. Then with $5650 in front of me and the table covering, I run into the biggest hand of my poker career so far.

A few limpers and a good player who's been playing it really loose and aggressive in position raises to $300. I'm in the SB and look down to see AsKs. I reraise to $900 fully expecting to take down the pot right there. But UTG calls, MP calls, and LP shakes his head and throws in his $600 call.

Flop ($3650): Ah 7s 4d. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough reads on the players to try to get tricky. The last thing I wanted was for it to check around and then be stuck OOP in a big pot with one pair on a potentially scary board. I had to bet. But how much? I wanted to bet close to pot, but I only had $4750 left. A pot-sized bet is already 3/4 of my stack. I could do a half-pot bet, but screw it! All-in! I open push.

At this point I figured my hand was face-up, and would only be called if one of my opponents hit their set. UTG immediately counted out $4750 and then started looking at the stacks of the two players to act behind him. Uh-oh. He thought a bit, what seemed to me to be him deciding whether to just call or raise. He must have 77 or 44, I thought. Ultimately, he decided to only call.

MP was next to act and immediately groaned (as I would find out, he was also quite a terrible player, or at least he played terribly that night). He took time to think for a bit. Given that my hand was essentially face up and UTG called I had to put him on quite a hand, too. Did he flop two pair? A7s or A4s? Does he have 44 and afraid enough of UTG's antics that he thinks his bottom set is no good? Finally he called, too, while LP turbo-mucked. The dealer raked it all into the pot. I started deciding whether after the hand I should donate my last few blue chips to the dealer or cash them out. Then I figure, well, one of them could have a straight draw and the other AJ or something...

Turn ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d) Jc. I groaned a little more inside. But then something baffling happened. Check, check. Wha? Now I know one of them has 65. The dealer prepares to deal the river. No 8, no 3, no 8, no 3, no 8, no 3...

River ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d Jc) 9d. Check, check. MP was already shaking his head.

Still expecting to lose I flipped my cards over, and kind of shrugged as if to say, "as advertised." MP mucked and later said he had 65. UTG, who I fully expected to roll over at least two pair or something, sat there and looked at the board, looked at me, looked back at the board, looked at his cards, looked out into space a bit, then back at the board and finally released his hand.

I didn't believe it until the dealer pulled his cards into muck and $17,900 was shipped my way, in multiple shoves. I started shaking. And smiling. And stacking and stacking.

I wish I could say I walked out of there $14k richer, but you win some and you lose some, and I was done with winning some for that day. I completely air-balled a few raised pots, made a terrible play when I paid off a super-tight guy's full house on the river when I had a flush. I flopped an OESD+FD against a guy's TPTK and we got it all in (I had him well covered) only to watch his hand hold up. My stack whittled, whittled, whittled down and finally around 8am I left, still up, but nowhere near as up as I had been.

As a coda, despite having to practically cajole my friend into playing, he went on to play in that game each of the next few days, doing very well, and then went on to LA where he sat at 50/100. I, meanwhile, have played one short session of live 10/20 since.


Anonymous Mat "Roc" Thomas said...

Great post, hope you play live more often. I enjoy reading about live play a lot more.

4:20 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...


long time reader here. great post and i also enjoy reading about live play more.

reading your blog is like living out my dream. i almost quit my job and moved to vegas last winter to play cards full time. i was going to live in las palmas apartments in paradise rd. at the end, i just didn't have enough balls.

anyways, i'm going to be in vegas from the 10th-14th(Sunday-Wednesday). i will be playing 4 12+ hrs sessions. my stakes are 2/5-5/10NL and 20/40-30/60LH. just want to get your opinion on where the juciest games are at those stakes.

my last trip to vegas was last winter and i played the 15/30LH at the bellagio and 20/40LH at mirage. i couldn't find any 2/5NL action anywhere. the bellagio's 2/5NL 200max is garbage.

so, if you could give me some suggestions, i'll appreciate it.


11:14 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

also, best place to play some low stakes PLO and HORSE.


12:15 PM  
Blogger eric said...


I enjoy writing about live play a lot more. But I gotta go where the money is. Which, given how I've been doing online recently, may very well be live now.


For 2/5, you really can't go wrong anywhere. I've played in both amazingly good and not-so-good games at Bellagio, Wynn, MGM, Venetian, Rio and Caesar's. Scratch that, I've never been in a not-so-good game at the Bellagio. And it isn't 200max any more, I think it's 500max now.

For 5/10, Bellagio and Wynn will be the only places that have it going regularly. Last I heard, MGM, Venetian and Caesar's only occasionally get a game that big going.

For 20/40 the Mirage is it, for 30/60 the Bellagio is the place to be. Wynn also spreads 30/60 semi-regularly, but it's nowhere near as juicy as the Bellagio 30 game, which is just out of this world incredible. If you do LHE, do the Bellagio 30 if you can.

For PLO and HORSE, really, any low-limit mix games, the Wynn is it. I was in a 2/5 then 5/10 PLO game the other night, and 10/20 mix goes semi-regularly. I actually have started that game quite often. I'll show up with a friend and we'll start a heads-up 10/20 mix game, but by the time we're getting our chips, the game's always at least four- or five-handed. People just come out of the woodwork, and within 30 mins often the game is full. So you can always try doing something like that. And the best part is you get to pick the games.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Mathew T said...

Eric, I dont know if you remember me. I was played with you a bunch of times in Austin. Mainly limit 4-8 to 15-30. I was the big Indian guy everyone would joke was polynesian sometimes people called me "rock" as well. Anyway I have been reading your blog for a couple of months and It's great. I really hope you keep at poker because it would be great to hear about you making it to the BIG game.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous bil said...


What do you tip a dealer on an 18k pot? Just wonderin.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Whats up Mat, its the Duck(howard).

Where are you at now? You been in Austin lately?

10:54 AM  
Blogger eric said...

matt of course I remember you. I actually asked a few austinites about you recently, but as far as they could tell you fell off the face of the earth. What are you up to? Still playing poker? Working at Dell?

Bil, I have this issue with NL, whether it's 2/5 or 25/50. When a big hand comes up, I concentrate on it so much that I tend to, er, forget pretty much anything besides the hand. And if I win, there's such a release of built up tension, that I'm not really thinking about things until a few minutes later.

Yes, I stiffed the dealer--temporarily. I remembered an orbit later and tipped her $2. I felt bad because she's my favorite dealer, too. Maybe I should have gone with a red.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

you can always protect your chips with a dollar or two, when you win a pot just slide cards and chips forward. no worries about forgetting there

or just tell the dealer to say the friendly words, 'nice hand sir'

2:50 PM  
Blogger eric said...

duck, that's what I do. However, when a hand goes to showdown, the cards come out from under the chip and that's that. I usually remember anyways--it's pretty much ingrained by now, especially in limit--but I've found when I get into a big NL pot that goes to showdown, I sometimes forget in the bit of adrenaline rush.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Mat "Roc" Thomas said...

Eric,Duck and all austinites. Just a quick update on me. I left Austin for Chicago 2 years ago, spent a year in Chi-town. Quit my job and played poker most of my time there. But I got burned out and needed a change of went back to the motherland. So right now i am in Bangalore, India. I still play poker online u can find me at 5-10NL on pokerroom or fulltilt. Or donking my money away 15-30limit and PLO :). Anyway please accept my invation and join me in India for

I am about 90% sure of going to the event and it would be great to see some familiar faces instead a bunch of Euro trash. Goa is a great destination that not many Americans know of. Anyway take care guys and GL at the tables.

6:31 AM  
Blogger eric said...

hmmm I may have to really consider that. I've been looking for any excuse to get out of this country for at least a while. Any sats or supersats on any of the major sites?

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