Archive for category Vegas Summer Reports
I know I’ve been slacking on blogs this week, but I have been putting my writing time to use working on a novel. Two novels actually. When I get tired of looking at one of them I switch it up and work on the other one for awhile. It’s possible that one of them will make me money some day, which is something I probably can’t say about this blog, so the novels take precedence sometimes. I’m headed back to Minnesota late tomorrow night, and while I may spend the evening tonight grinding cash games, my Vegas summer schedule is basically over and it’s time for a wrap up.
WSoP Cashes: 0
Years since this last happened: 5
Final tables made in 30 days in Vegas: 8
First place finishes: 2
Action sold: $5,230
Backer’s return on action sold: $14,711.25
Number of people who bought this action: 1
Return On Investment for this person: 281%
Age of single malt scotch we consumed in mass quantity to celebrate: 18 years (this scotch could vote!)
Amount of time it took me to bust the razz event after PokerNews published an article calling me a Master of Razz: 47 minutes
Miniature cupcakes consumed by me at Blake Bohn’s dinner party: 7
Hookers rebuffed: 39
Hookers not rebuffed: 0
Current lifetime record in “Ho or No” prop bets: 17-0
Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins who think my Ho or No record is comparable to their 1972 season: 0
Single table tournaments chopped heads up with John ‘The Razor’ Phan: 1
Total single table tournaments played: 1
Hours of audio books listened to while grinding cash games: 34
Date that two-time bracelet winner Frankie O’dell called me the worst mixed-game player he had ever seen in his life: June 25th
Date that I final tabled the triple stud event at the Venetian AND won the HORSE event at the Nugget: June 25th
Times I had played two final tables in one day before June 25th: 0
Cups of Bailey’s and coffee consumed: 24
Cups of Bailey’s and coffee paid for: 0 (gotta love Vegas)
Words written: 17,000
Days in Vegas: 31
Days I missed my wife and dogs: 26
That’s right, not long after I get back to Minnesota, I’ll be walking in to RF Moeller and asking them to chop a ring in half for me.
“You’re chopping up your first place prize?!?!” – John Hayes
“Seriously?” – Tom Hammers
“You’re chopping what?” – Matt Kirby
Let’s start with a little back story and maybe it will all make sense at the end…
A few years ago I was at a final table where the idea of making a deal was brought up. The exact words were -
“Let’s chop the money and play for the trophy.”
To which I responded -
“Let’s chop the trophy and play for the money!”
No one thought my idea was nearly as good as the first suggestion and we chopped the cash up instead, but the thought stuck with me. How much fun would it be to chop a trophy? I’ve never heard of anyone doing it before, and I had this picture in my head of a big band saw ripping down through the center of a trophy and two players each holding up their half for a victory photograph. I liked the idea. And I tried to make it happen. At least fifteen times I have tried to make it happen, getting friends to agree to chop a trophy if we get to heads up.
I got as far as five handed at a tournament at The Wynn last year with a player still in who had agreed to chop the trophy if we got heads up. Wynn trophies are stone replicas of the Wynn building, big heavy things, and it would have been fun to hunt around for the right place to chop it neatly in half, but I busted in fifth and the trophy went home whole. Every time I play an event where I have a trophy chop agreed to ahead of time, the trophy must breathe a sigh of relief when one of us busts out. Like a turkey pardoned by the president on Thanksgiving.
On June 17th I played a satellite at Running Aces. Winners received a $600 tournament buy-in at The Golden Nugget for the Poker Player Championship, $400 for travel, two nights at The Nugget, and a limo ride. Not only was the satellite a good deal for $125, but Running Aces added two seats. I was pretty shorts tacked at the end, and it is very likely that I got my entry because of those two extra seats. I was already planning to play the event, and with a nice little satellite close to home, I couldn’t pass it up. I almost skipped it because my flight to Vegas was leaving that night, but I checked the structure and decided that I would have enough time to win a seat and still get to the airport.
Pay Flaherty, a fellow Minnesota player who also got his seat in the Running Aces satellite, agreed to chop the gold championship ring with me if we should get to heads up. The odds of this happening were slim, but as any poker player knows, long shots come in, and this time the prize took a bad beat the third place finisher busted leaving Pat and I heads up. I went on to win, running good in the heads up portion and flopping trips against Pat’s two pair, but he played well.
Pat isn’t just a Minnesota player, the odd coincidence is even bigger than that. I met Pat when he worked at the post office down the block from my office a few years ago. I often went there to mail off copies of my book. When he saw it was a poker book we started talking poker every time I dropped by. I knew the guy from Minnesota before I ever played poker with him, and there we were in Las Vegas, heads up for a pile of cash and soon we’ll be chopping the championship ring in half.
The Player’s Championship also has a large cup style trophy, like the Stanley Cup of Poker, which has the winner’s names engraved on it and it lives in the winner’s home casino during the year before returning to the Nugget for next year’s championship event. In the next month or two it should be sitting in Running Aces and will spend about ten month’s there. Maybe I can take it out for a night, like Lord Stanley’s cup. I checked before the event, and they will definitely NOT allow us to chop it in half. Tournament staff informed me that the idea of chopping the cup itself in half was not even an acceptable topic of discussion and I got some strange looks. I was just asking.
I’m no Jack Handy, but…
I’m downtown tonight, staying at The Golden Nugget. I won a two night stay along with a tournament entry for the Poker Players Championship at Running Aces the day before I came to Vegas, so I decided to spend a few days downtown. I figured I would play some cards, have a few beverages, and get some writing done. Mission accomplished so far.
I spent the last two weeks in a beautiful condo thanks to my pal Donna Lawton and I’ve spent lots of time in the high rent district when I haven’t been playing poker. When I have been playing poker, it’s been in nice casinos with great service, clean air, and my every whim available in an instant. For a price of course.
Last night I went out with two friends for a few drinks on the strip. A $14 s’mores martini with real marshmallows, a few other drinks, and an excellent meal earlier in the night, made for a wonderful evening, and even my company was high rent. Two good looking people with of high IQ and sound mind. Then I threw a few things in my backpack and headed downtown. A short drive, but it might as well be a different planet.
The poker games aren’t great downtown, though you might expect them to be pretty good. The buy-ins are unlimited in most of the games, even the $1/2 no-limit, which is almost the only game available downtown. The players are definitely odd, but they don’t make as many mistakes as you might expect. After multiple trips downtown I have yet to find and really readable and loose table like I can usually find at Caesars or The Rio.
There are more players on drugs, with blatant mental health issues, and many more tourists, but they just aren’t soft enough. And there are too many grinders. Online grinders who don’t know much about Vegas and aren’t well off enough to be staying at The Rio and playing big games all day. There are a few at every table, and a few locals who may not fit your expectations when it comes to a solid local cash game grinder but they play fairly well. The games are also raked higher downtown, with The Nugget dropping a shiny silver half dollar every time the pot hits $5. Every time I hear the clink of that metal coin falling in the rake slot, it’s a reminder that something is different here. An unexpected sound at a poker table where clay or resin chips supply almost all of the noise.
I went for a walk on Fremont streets to get some exercise and see what there was to see. Not my first walk down Fremont street at night, not by a long shot, but the first time I have been able to clarify my thoughts enough to put them into words. Maybe it was because I was alone and just walking casually as an observer with no companions to serve as a distraction. Maybe it was the contrast after such a sophisticated week. But the Fremont street experience was especially powerful this time.
At first it felt like a county fair in a poor town, but there’s more to it than that. A lot of things in Vegas are fake. The whole strip is just a facade with fake landmarks and imitation ethnic food cooked by people who have never even visited the regions where the food originated. The entertainers are all actors and the smile on the cocktail server’s face isn’t real either. The grass is artificial turf and the statues are hollow. The whole things is more like a movie set than real life, but it’s so plush and polished that the suspension of disbelief is easy. When you are treated like a king, it’s easy to believe you are a king.
Downtown, the facade is worn and you can see through it in so many places that the holes in the curtain, and the tired actors behind it, draw my attention more than the stage itself. Things are gilded here, but the gold is worn off in so many places that the surface underneath is the real fascination.
My fellow wanderers, the other attendees of this strange carnival, seem so different from me that I am separated from the pack, watching as an observer rather than a participant.This was what troubled me. They were all enjoying themselves. Dancing as if no one was watching, drinking a cheap frozen drink from a container made in China, reveling in each other’s company as if it were all new to them. They didn’t care about the holes in the curtain, or what was backstage, or who else was walking by, because they were busy having a good time. I felt out of place, but not self conscious. Different, but not inferior. When I was younger I might have felt superior to these people, as younger people tend to do when they don’t understand something, but now I was just a little sad and a little confused.
These people are not beneath me, no one is. I don’t see the world that way. But they are in such a different place it’s hard for me to imagine being like them. Maybe I’ve spent too many years at the tables and now I’m always watching for the sleight of hand instead of enjoying the illusion. I’ve certainly lost my fascination with the magic of it all. Maybe I’m a little callous and I can’t relax like they do in this environment, but just last night I was relaxed and enjoying myself completely, so I know I’m not completely jaded by the life I’ve chosen, taking money from lesser players, hunting for the less experienced and those who don’t have the killer instinct that so many of my companions have. Maybe I just need to spend some more time around my old friends. Normal people. Real people.
I guess it’s just odd that it’s all so obvious downtown. The singer in the rock band has a wig on that doesn’t even remotely attempt to look like real hair. And the back up dancers don’t have on sexy matching outfits, they just aren’t wearing much. Their dance moves aren’t in sync either, but they look like they are enjoying themselves, like maybe they don’t hate their jobs like so many on the strip probably do.
I should really like it here. There are no trust fund kids with white belts and white shoes and $200 blue jeans. There are no pathetic two hour lines to get into clubs where acceptance into the club means you are accepted into a club of your peers. No hordes of tourists getting in my way because the sprinklers are about to go off at The Bellagio in time to soulless pop music. But maybe what I don’t like about the strip is that it looks down on downtown. And maybe that’s what bothers me. That I feel more comfortable in a place where I like the people so much less.
Or maybe I’ve been in Vegas too long already. Maybe I’m too jaded and I just want to be home with my wife and my two dogs and sit on my back porch. Maybe I miss making my own Sangria instead of paying $8 a glass for it. It doesn’t feel like homesickness. Vegas just doesn’t feel like my town anymore. Perhaps I know it too well and there really isn’t that much to like. Like a friend that becomes less interesting as you get to know them, or a new toy that loses it’s luster after a few years. I used to feel like I was home when I got off a plane in Vegas. Now it feels like a place that I used to live. I can come back to visit friends and see how things have changed, but I know it isn’t my place anymore.
Trivia fact – The condo that I’m staying is on the corner where Tupac was shot. I walk over the spot where he died every day. Seems like an odd twist of fate given my full name and the suspects in his murder.
I’m going out for an adult beverage, so I’ll make this quick. And that means… A list!
1. I took fifth in the main event at Binions. It wasn’t enough to get me out of makeup with my big buy-in backer, so there’s no celebration, but it’s news in my life. The structure was amazing, easily the best structure of the summer.
2. My wife is awesome and very supportive and deals with the odd life of a poker pro very well. I’m lucky to have her. She’s also an awesome photographer, and if you ever need pictures in Minnesota, check her out at lmjoriginals.com.
3. I have a million notes about things I should write about in the blog, and not enough time. Longer blog coming up soon.
4. I still hate the Venetian and I’m definitely in favor of the growing boycott movement. Screw them.
5. The mixed-game dealers at the WSoP were pretty good last year. This year they are awful. I don’t know what changed, but we had a dealer who didn’t know any of the games and also didn’t speak English so that we could help her out. And she was stubborn. It was a nightmare.
6. I have been loving the cash games at Caesars. It’s mellow but very profitable. I could almost like playing there for a living. Almost. I still hate poker though.
7. I’ve been writing more fiction this week. Should fiction have a place on the blog? What if it isn’t poker related?
8. There is no number 8.
9. If you are looking for a place to stay in Vegas that is more than just a hotel room, check out The Platinum Hotel. I couldn’t be happier with the service, the people, the location, and the amenities. It’s a condo hotel, full kitchen, laundry, whatever you need is all in your room. And they are big. I love it.
In this episode Fox makes a powerful enemy…
You may have heard of Sheldon Adelson, the CEO and founder of of the Sands Corp. here in Nevada. Sands Corp. owns the Venetian which is currently a popular poker destination, but may not stay that way for long if he keeps pissing off poker players. He has come out multiple times against online poker saying that it will be bad for families and for the business. This hypocrite runs one of the biggest gaming companies in the world and he says that poker can be addictive while blackjack is not? Seriously. But only online poker is addictive? His live action poker room is somehow different?
Adelson says this -
“”It’s a threat to our society — a toxin which all good people ought to resist,”
and another nugget of of hypocrisy here -
“”That skill base in my opinion is just a bunch of baloney. To get a card, that’s not skill based.”
and he is in support of strengthening the Wire Act to make online poker illegal.
In 1992 a law was passed, supposedly to protect amateur and professional sports form the evils of gambling, which makes betting on sports illegal except in states where it was legal at the time of the passing of the law. There were three other states with limited betting going on, but what the law basically amounted to was a monopoly for Nevada. The primary benefactors of the law, namely Vegas sportsbooks, spent lobbying money and probably a healthy number of bags of unmarked bills, supporting the law because it gave them an incredibly valuable monopoly.
Now Adelson wants the same thing for poker. He wants poker to be in his casinos, and in fact The Venetian just remodeled and expanded their poker room last year to make it one of the largest and busiest in the country. He just doesn’t want competition. Definitely not from the internet where expenses can be lower and lots of players can enter the market. I think he’s worried that the online poker rooms might kick his ass. What do we do in America when we run into competition?
I would like to say we get better and we learn from it and we offer a better service or a better product. The sad truth is that in today’s America we often just find a way to kill it. If our company is big enough, we do it by paying off lawmakers with campaign funds and dinners with lobbyists to get a law passed that protects our business and kills the competition. That is exactly what Adelson wants. And his company may have enough cash and influence to make it happen. They may try to take away our right to play a game of skill in our own homes because they don’t want to lose money. And who wins the battle of money vs. freedom? You know the answer to that. Freedom can hardly afford a lawyer.
But there might be a way to win this one. We are the source of the money. They make that money from us. If we stop going to the Venetian and the Palazzo, then their reason to oppose the law disappears because they aren’t making money from us anymore and there is nothing left to protect. We need to stop going to the Venetian. Not for a week. Not for the summer. Forever. If they don’t support us and our right to play poker, then we don’t support them.
Don’t just stop going to the poker room. Stop playing video poker, stop staying in the hotel, and tell all of your friends. When people hear about a boycott, they may not even care about why, they just go somewhere else. Sands Corporation is the number one enemy of online poker right now, and any real progress will be nearly impossible with their voice speaking out against it. Let their fancy new poker room sit empty for awhile and see if Adelson doesn’t change his tune.
I have some Venetian events on my schedule that I’ll have to skip, and I will miss the dinner breaks at the Lux, but I won’t go back into the place unless it’s to find some people at poker tables and tell them why they shouldn’t be there. If you have always wished there was something you could do, then now is your time. Stop going to the Venetian and the Palazzo and spread the word. Tell everyone you know. Post it on facebook and on twitter. Wear a Boycott Venetian t-shirt (I know someone who is working on getting them printed now). Do something.
If you are going to join the boycott, below are a list of excellent tournament series you can play instead. Cash games are great at The Wynn, Caesars, Aria, The Rio, The Bellagio, and a host of other rooms around town as well as The Golden Nugget downtown.
Caesars has a nice little series going in a beautiful, quiet, tournament room.
The Golden Nugget has a nice series going on, with a nice $1k main event.
The Aria is a great alternative to the crappy Venetian and their summer series is in full swing. The cash games are great too.
Binions has a nice series going on as well.
So go play somewhere else. You won’t see me in there unless it’s to hassle them about something. Clearly the Venetian doesn’t think we will do anything. They are so used to dealing with slot zombies that they really think that no matter what they do, we will just keep giving them action. Let’s show them that poker players are different and boycott the place. Anyone who plays there is giving money to a group that will spend it on lobbying efforts to stop online poker and we should let them all know how we feel about it.
Anyone who wants to make an effort to promote the Venetian boycott, or get the word about what Adelson is doing, should feel free to reproduce this blog post anywhere they like. If you want to learn more, follow me on twitter @foxpokerfox or read this article from the Poker Player’s Alliance.
I meant to write something last night, but I was tired from playing all day in the triple-stud event and had to get up early today to play the final table at 11 am at the Venetian. Then I was gong to come home and write about it after I busted in fifth place at about 12:30, but I was reminded that there was a HORSE event that started at noon at The Golden Nugget, so I went over there and played that for 13 hours. About 2 am we chopped four ways and I got the big end. I had the chip lead from three tables on, but when we got down to four players my opponents were all solid and the blinds were getting huge, so I feel good about the chop. I got more than second place money anyway, which is pretty nice for a four way chop.
That makes two final tables in one day, and a very tired Fox. I have a bunch of notes about things I should write about, and not a lot of energy left tonight, so it’s list time again.
1. The Nugget has the best chairs of any tournament venue in town and cheap food too. A $5 burrito and free bottles of water saved me $10 vs. the poker kitchen at the Rio.
2. The dealers at The Nugget were a little lost when it came to HORSE, with better dealers at The Venetian in the triple-stud.
3. The Nugget experience included a homeless guy attempting to bum money from me while I was getting paid out, and two hookers offering their services as I walked away from the cage. I declined both the hookers and the homeless guy and kept all my money, though I reassured the homeless guy that things would get better and told the hookers that it wasn’t them (it was me). Overall the Nugget experience was a good one, and the nice quiet tournament room is great compared to the loud 80′s music and slot machines at the Palazzo.
4. For some reason the Nugget only offers three free hours of parking. They don’t want to encourage people to gamble all day and spend a bunch of time in the place. That was odd. Free valet everywhere else I have gone to play a tournament, but $12 to park my own car at The Nugget. Annoying.
Oh yeah, I promised some people on twitter that I would tell the angle shooter story.
Late in day one of the triple-stud event, I bet the end in Razz with four low cards on board. I had paired up twice and had nothing, and the pot was huge so I expected him to call often, but it was definitely a profitable bet given a small but significant chance that he would fold a better hand. He thought for awhile, and said “I don’t think it’s any good, and flipped up two of his down cards to show me a made nine. The way he did it looked like a fold. I assumed he was folding. But I still should not have reacted at all, and I’m sure I did.
Then he asked me “Is that a fold? Is my hand still live?” I explained the rule to him, and that he would get a one round penalty if his cards were exposed and he chose to call, but that I thought his cards were already dead. I should have been silent. He then had the dealer call the floor and I asked him “Did you intend to fold?”
He said “That’s a fold.” and pointed at his cards that were face up. I assumed the dealer had heard it, so I said “No worries about the floor, he folded.” which he took to mean that I wanted his hand dead. I did of course. He waited for the floor, and there had been so much commotion that no one else claimed to have heard him say that it was a fold. He took the penalty and called, winning a huge pot and crippling me. I fought back and outlasted him (he busted 7th, I was 5th), but he took at least $500 in equity from me with that move.
His name is David, and he has a total of about $27k in lifetime earnings, so maybe the money for a cash meant so much to him that being shady was worth it. Maybe he intended to fold and then jumped at the opportunity to change his mind. Maybe he’s just an angle shooting douche. Either way, I learned a lesson and I won’t react to that ever again. I’ve seen that angle before, but it’s never worked on me before and I’m more annoyed about that than the equity it cost me.
The question I have is about his intentions. This can not have been an honest mistake because 1 of 2 things had to happen.
1. He intended to fold. Which means he folded. He toss his cards forward and showed me some of them. Then he denied his intention to fold, lied about it, and essentially rescued his cards from the muck winning a huge pot in exchange for a one-round penalty.
2. He never intended to fold. If this is the case, then he sure had me fooled, which must have been his intention. He faked a fold to get a reaction from me.
I’m not sure which is worse, but I’m leaning toward #2. Either one is bullshit, but #2 is premeditated (1st degree scumbaggery) while #1 was spur of the moment (3rd degree angle shooting).
Luckily karma got him. He started the final table with 26 antes, and folded the first 25 hands, went all-in for his last 1k chip, and busted as the first guy out at the final table. Who has two antes in a stud game and doesn’t put the extra one in on 3rd street with any three cards? He was also in the HORSE event over at The Nugget and didn’t cash, while I went on to chop for the big side. I also removed his last name. He’s probably a dumbass who didn’t know any better and I’m over it.
Frankie O’Dell was also in both events, and busted in 4th in the triple-stud. He walked around the room Hellmuth style at one point raving about how I was the worst poker player he’s ever seen. Ever. It was just a little blow up, he didn’t mean anything by it, and I was laughing and egging it on. It was nice to be the worst player ever and make two final table in the same day. That has to be some sort of record right?
Also, it’s much colder at the Nugget than it is at The Rio, Venetian, or Palazzo, so bring a hoodie. I haven’t needed one at the other places, but I had to run over to Binions and buy a $15 sweatshirt because I was freezing. And can we all agree that an hour is way longer than we need for dinner? Did they think I was going to get a five course meal while I was on break from a tournament?
No cashes so far. I chopped the only sit and go I’ve played, made a few bucks playing cash, and won a satellite the day before I left, but in actual tournaments I am 0/9 so far. I’m definitely getting the volume in though, which is easier when you bust early so you can reenter. I’ve made day two in both the WSoP events I played, but no cash in either of those, and it’s getting old watching all my friends have deep runs while I go to bed early so I can bust another tournament or two the next day.
Tomorrow is a $600 HORSE tournament at the Venetian, which will be nice since the 11 am events are actually in the newly renovated Venetian poker room instead of the Palazzo surrounded by slot machines and blaring 80′s music. Second worst music in a poker room, with Running Aces holding on to first place by a significant margin. I have yet to hear Twister Sister in the Palazzzo. I love Aces, but c’mon man, that music has got to go.
I feel like I’m playing pretty well, though I definitely blew it on a hand early today for about 15% of my starting stack.
I raised the king-queen of clubs from the cutoff seat, and both blinds called. The flop was a queen, four, five with two diamonds. I bet, and only the big blind called. The turn was the deuce of spades, and we both checked. I wanted to get a worse king to call me or a missed draw to bluff on the river, but I should have bet again and folded if he raised.
The river was the nine of diamonds, bringing in the flush, and my opponent thought for a minute and then bet a little less than half the pot. When is this ever a bluff? Against a random in a tournament in Vegas? Never. I thought it could be a worse queen, but I couldn’t beat queen-nine anymore, and a significant percentage of the time a random player will check and call with a bad top pair hand on the river. This left a fairly small possibility that he had a worse queen, almost zero chance of a bluff, and the rest of his range is either a better made hand that was going to check-raise the turn, or a flush. I called anyway and he showed King-Trey of diamonds for a flush. I wish I was better at poker. I really do.
The title of this post refers to the blog in general. It’s a scattered mess. I would really like to make something out of it, maybe get a few advertisers or some sort of sponsorship deal that pays me a few bucks. I enjoy writing it, but I need to clean it up and find a little more focus if I’m going to get enough readers to make it worthwhile. I don’t know if I should be focused on entertaining stuff, funny links etc, or strategy and pearls of wisdom. Now that anyone can register and comment, maybe I’ll get some feedback from readers. Yes, I finally fixed it and you can register and comment. In fact I encourage it, a little discussion would be nice.
Speaking of a scattered mess, I can sense one coming now.
Congratulations to my pal Donna Lawton (@cure_mtm on twitter) on her fifth place finish in the Rio daily yesterday. $235 buy-in, $9k cashed out. Nice ROI!
I busted the WSoP Razz event yesterday late in level eleven. My day two table was super tough, with Max Pescatori, Peter Brownstein, David Singer, Perry Friedman, David Levi, and not a single fish unless you count me. Apparently PokerNews reporter Chad Holloway doesn’t count me as a fish in this event though, he did a great little write up about me an hour before I busted. There is no direct link to the article, but it’s about a third of the way down THIS PAGE. If Chad is going to put my blogs on PokerNews, I had better start doing a better job of writing them!
I busted the Razz event early enough to make it over to the Venetian for a $300 Survivor tournament. This was my first one of these, and I have been curious to see how well they work. A survivor tournament is basically a satellite for cash. The top ten percent get a little over eight buy-ins back. The rake is a little high for a satellite at $250+50, but the field is very soft. The structure is ok, but not great. Levels are fine, but starting with 12k and at 50/100 blinds makes it a little bit of a speed ball at the start. Profitable I’m sure, but not incredibly so. The slot machines and constant bad 80′s and 90′s music at high volumes are pretty irritating in the Palazzo room, but the staff was great and it’s comfortably spaced.
Pro Tip #1 – If you want something quick and cheap to eat at the Palazzo while you are on break, head over to The Coffee Bean and grab one of their egg and potato burritos. They’ll heat it up for you and while it will be a little bland on it’s own, the green salsa makes it a great little meal for $7. Finding food that cheap in the Palazzo is rare, so take note of it if you are trying to keep expenses down.
Pro Tip #2 – If you take my advice from pro tip #1, you may be tempted to try the egg sandwich instead. This is a huge mistake. I made this mistake for you, so that you won’t have to. Have you ever had an egg salad sandwich with a little dill mixed in? It’s a nice touch. Now picture an egg sandwich with all of the dill you have seen in your lifetime somehow crammed into one sandwich. Now multiply it by a galaxy of dill. You are still two orders of magnitude below the amount of dill flavor that was in my egg salad sandwich.
You know when you get a strong mint and it feels like your whole head is full of mint and everything looks a little blue-green and cold through your mint tinged eyes? My whole world was dill. Everything looked green and I felt like someone had crammed dill directly into my brain through my nose. Did I mention the dill? Ugh.
I couldn’t be more pleased with having a rental car in the city. I have always taken cabs or walked in the past, but having a car is great. Every casino has a free valet, and the WSoP valet station is right at the back door of the Rio. Vegas is an easy city to drive in as long as you don’t try to cruise down the strip, and things like getting groceries, or hitting up a restaurant you heard about, are much easier with a car.
Pro Tip #3 – Get a rental car, but don’t get one from the airport. The shuttle from the airport, and then a shuttle from the shuttle stop, finally got me to the rental car place I had booked online as an “airport car rental” when in fact we were so far from the airport I could have booked a flight to a closer airport. Then they hit you with a big “airport fee” on top of your rental. This airport fee is significantly more than a cab ride to a better rental car company, and it would be fast too. And how the hell is there an airport fee when I had to take two shuttles from the airport just to get to the place. If it had been a shuttle fee it would have made more sense, there were more shuttles involved than airports.
I’m loving three things right now -
1. The My Stack app from PokerNews. Any time I am in an event you will be able to rail me just by watching the chip counts on PokerNews and I can update them from my phone. Now you don’t need to be a big deal and get coverage, because you can put yourself in the coverage by updating your own chip counts. Get it for Android or iphone in the app store.
2. The bottle of Glenfiddich 18 year that my pal Tom picked up for me. Damn that is good scotch, thanks buddy!
3. My new poker shades from Blue Shark. I didn’t wear them in the Razz event, but I have worn them any time I am playing no-limit holdem and they are great. I got the Hoyt Corkins model because they are light and easy to wear, and I’m really happy with them. If you stop by their booth at the WSoP, tell Kerry that you are a friend of mine and he’ll probably charge you extra. but he might give you a discount. It’s a gamble.
By the way, neither Poker News nor Blue Sharks is paying me to write about them. Not that I’m above that. If you want to pay me to write good stuff about your product, just shoot me an email. If I don’t hate your product, I’ll be happy to be bribed into writing wonderful things about it. I have a price, and at the moment it is not expensive. Not at all.
Today was day one of the Razz event at the WSoP, my favorite tournament of the year. I’ve cashed the last three years in a row, and last year’s 17th place finish was my deepest run yet. I’m hoping this is my breakthrough year. It was a long day, which leads to short blog posts, and lists are easy, so…
Stuff you might care about -
1. I bagged up 23,000, well above average, and will be restarting tomorrow with around 130 players left at 2 pm Vegas time. You can follow my progress on twitter @foxpokerfox or on pokernews at http://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/2013-world-series-of-poker/event-33-2-500-seven-card-razz/chips.htm
2. Also still in contention at Tom Hammers with a short stack and Adeel Qureshi with an average stack. Both are strong players and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them deep in the money.
3. My table was fun today, with Brett ‘Gank’ Jungblutt, Tom McEvoy, Cindy Violette, Marco Traniello, and a number of other well known players.
4. Our first dealer, in a $2,500 buy-in event, did not know that Stud poker games start with one card up and two cards down. She really didn’t know that. Not her fault, she did her best, but who the hell thought she should be dealing this event?
5. I played a $275 sit and go today while I waiting for the Razz to start, and ended up chopping it heads up. I knew my opponent was strong, which is why I agreed to chop, but I didn’t know how strong until after we chopped and I found out that it was John “The Razor” Phan. I didn’t tell him that he is the most profitable opponent in my PokerTracker database from back in the day, and that I had made nearly $22,000 from him playing cash games. I never thought he was very strong playing cash online, but he played great in the SNG today.
Going to sleep now.
I’m finally on the ground in Vegas and excited to get started. So many people I know are doing well that I want to get in there and start crushing. I was rooting hard for Tom Hammers in the $5k HORSE, but he’ll have to settle for a min-cash this year. Still impressive in one of the toughest fields of the series.
I won a seat to the Player of the Year tournament at the Golden Nugget in a satellite at Running Aces. It was a surreal experience playing a tournament in Minnesota to win a seat for a tournament in Vegas and then flying to Vegas that night. I’m looking forward to the tournament on the 4th of July, especially with eleven other players from Minnesota in the field with me.
Tomorrow is the Razz event where I have cashed three years in a row, but for some reason the WSoP won’t list my cash in it for the last two years. Last year they list Jared Bleznich as cashing twice instead of putting my name in 17th place. Did I piss someone off at the WSoP? I even emailed them earlier this year about it and never heard back, but that’s customer service at the Rio. If I was a seven star I could probably get it handled, but poker players and customer service are both pretty low on the priority list at The Rio, so I’m not going to waste any more time on it.
Speaking of how irritating it is to play at The Rio and at Harrahs properties in general, why can’t anyone put together a contender for the WSoP? I know it’s an old brand that every donkey loves and they all think it’s important, but donkeys are easily swayed. Let’s start off by looking at the contenders.
The Venetian Deep Stacks
The VDS was doing really well there for awhile, but they made a few mistakes along the way. They have raised the rake high enough that the smaller buy-in events aren’t any better than any other series, and are worse than some, driving many players away to other lesser known series. They also failed to capitalize on their growing series by offering a special trinket to make players feel like they have something important to shoot for. Sharks aren’t there for trinkets, but the sharks go where the fish go, and the fish go where the fame and fortune and pretty trinkets are. That is why the WSoP still survives. The fish want a WSoP bracelet because they think it will make them special and change their life. It doesn’t, but try telling a fish that. It’s their dream.
The Venetian needs to offer bracelets, rings, or maybe some sort of trophy that sits in the Venetian poker room that has every winner’s name on it like the Stanley Cup. A lapel pin or a badge might even work. Something that allows fish to say “I have a Venetian Deep Stacks xxxxx” and pretend that it’s prestigious and they have accomplished something. Add money, offer huge guarantees, do something bring in the fish and make it a big deal, and you can actually compete with the series. You have an awful lot of hotel room to fill, and those poker players will gamble on your gaming floor as well if they are staying at your property because it is their main focus. If they just pop over for an event here and there, and then head back to The Rio, then you don’t get that business.
The Aria took over the title of the coolest place to play cash games a few years ago, but they seem less interested in drawing big tournament fields and making their mark in that arena. I’m not where they would put a big poker tournament, but it’s a huge building, there must be somewhere to put it, and any time they draw gamblers into that building they are going to make money. Everything is expensive, though much of it is worth spending cash on unlike the Rio’s twelve dollar burritos, and having people in the building makes them significant money. If they were to get serious about tournaments, I really think they have the clout to make their mark and challenge the WSoP as well.
When they sold the name, Binions probably lost all hope. They do run a pretty good series of their own during the WSoP, but it’s just a bunch of poker tournaments. Without something special, they won’t get any bigger than they are, which might be for the best since they probably have space for anything too big.
The Golden Nugget
The Nugget has a nice space for tournaments, but much like Binions they really don’t have enough space for a legitimate WSoP challenge. I would love to see the two properties work together to offer a downtown poker series and have five or six events a day with bigger buy-ins and some sort of place of honor for winners in both rooms. With the two rooms combined and a wide variety or events, they might be able to lure a lot of players downtown. Hotel rooms are cheaper, everything you need is nearby and food and beverage are cheaper too. Maybe other places nearby would even offer to help out just to get a huge number of poker players to come stay downtown during two slow summer months.
With low rake, good structures, and a nice variety, I think both rooms could be full and players would elect to stay at the properties downtown rather than at The Rio, giving them a chance to make some of that gaming and food and beverage money that is staying mostly at The Rio and Gold Coast the way things are right now. Once word got out that the real value was downtown, many pros would go there to eat the fish that would swarm into a big series downtown and the fields at the Rio might get tougher and smaller. Some people will always play the WSoP for the prestige they think that comes with a series bracelet and some pros who are independently wealthy, or just stupid, will always want to play in the toughest fields. Some people will also see downtown as slumming, but I’m happy to leave them at The Rio and The Aria while I eat all those fish downtown.
The MGM has a good card room, and they have Matt Savage, the most well known tournament director in the world. They also have a ton of players already staying at their long term condos during the WSoP, but they would need to get serious about a large tournament series to compete. A little gold lion statue for each winner might be neat, and they definitely have the space somewhere, but they don’t even have a tournament series going on this year, so while they might be able to compete, they don’t seem at all interested in doing so.
The Rest of the Field
While I love the Wynn, they really aren’t close and will probably never be that serious about poker tournaments, and The Orleans still has a reputation as a dirty hole in the ground, so they aren’t even contenders at this point. Obviously no other Harrahs properties will fight with the WSoP, so Caesars will stay where they are with a smaller series. Other poker rooms just don’t have the staff, the space, or the knowledge to compete, and most of them have no interest in doing so. The WSoP will be the 500 pound gorilla of tournament poker until somebody else starts working out and gets up near the same weight, and unfortunately I don’t see that happening any time soon. I guess I’ll see you at The Rio.
I’m headed to Vegas on Sunday night, and staying for a month, so I’ve spent most of the week at home getting things done and hanging out with my wife and my dogs. I’ll be playing poker at least 12 ours a day for the next month, so taking some time off right now seems like the best choice. Other than spending time with the family and resting up, I’m also preparing for Vegas in other ways. If you read my blog often, you know I love numbered lists…
Things I’m doing to get ready for Vegas
1. Looking at the new Blue Shark Optics product line. I can’t say enough good things about Blue Sharks and how much they will help your game. I know the good folks at Blue Shark, and they give me a great deal on a pair every year at the WSoP where I can try on ten or twenty pairs to find out what I like. Once a year seems to be about the right replacement rate too, I either scratch or break them by the time the WSoP rolls back around. There are no other shades that are even close to Blue Sharks, and with the strong fields in Vegas during the summer I will be wearing them most of the time. If you buy some, tell them I said hi and you might get a discount.
2. Getting some new cargo shorts with big pockets so I can carry everything I need for a long tournament day. Two extra cell phone batteries, headphones or ear buds, cash, wallet, cell phone, Blue Sharks, business cards, an E-Cigarette, and who knows what else I might need on a given day. The pockets on a pair of jeans or board shorts just won’t carry enough stuff comfortably and backpacks are banned at The Rio this year so I’ll need big pockets.
3. I just bought a new laptop so that keeping up with this blog and other writing I will need to do will be simple and easy. I bought a chromebook, and I love it. It starts up in 6 seconds, doesn’t catch viruses, and it’s small, light weight, and inexpensive. Perfect for traveling light and working in lots of different environments.
4. Buying protein bars. I have a lot of weird food allergies that mostly involve fresh fruits and vegetables, so it’s very tough to eat healthy in a casino. I’m also allergic to spending $15 on a burrito at the Poker Kitchen twice a day, so some protein bars in my pockets will save me some money too. Your brain power and mental toughness are badly degraded when you get hungry, and with a short break every two hours you will sometimes find yourself playing hungry if you don’t have a snack with you.
Have you seen the ridiculous amounts of money that Minnesota players are winning in Vegas this summer? Over $700,000 so far, and we will almost certainly break the million dollar mark by the end of July. Check out this list of cashes at MNPokerMag.com.
I’ll probably be playing the PPotY satellite at Running Aces this Sunday before I fly out to Vegas. Great satellite, and I was planning to play that event at the Nugget anyway. And they are adding two seats!
I’ve already covered where to play tournaments in Vegas, but I get a lot of questions about where to play cash games and most people flock to the least profitable spots to play cash games against other solid players, local pros, and ultra-tight bonus grinders. If you are playing poker for money, then go where the soft players are and get away from the strong players. If you just want to say that you played poker in a room that will make you sound cool, then tell everyone you played cash at The Rio or The Venetian and ignore the rest of this post.
You will probably be playing $1/2 or $1/3 no-limit holdem games, and the best places for those games are the less glamorous rooms at lower end hotels. The Venetian will be the toughest place for these lower limit games because so many local grinders will be playing there. They like the room because the rake is low and the tables are comfortable with a wide range of tables to choose from. If you are used to the room and know who the regulars are, then it’s probably just fine to play there, but for the rest of us it’s better to go where every table is soft and we don’t have to worry about table selection. The Aria is nearly as tough as the Venetian. While there will certainly be soft players in both rooms, they won’t be as soft as some of the lesser known rooms.
The Rio will have a huge number of games and lots of action, but the chairs are uncomfortable, the food is expensive, and the dealers are clueless. And last year there were many instances of extra cards in the deck and nothing was done about it. The cameras don’t work well in the Rio, and there are better places to play smaller no-limit games.
Caesars has good $1/3 games, and the slightly higher stake can increase your win rate, though the rake is slightly higher. You will find more annoying drunk idiots at Caesars, but if you can tolerate them you will find that they lose tremendous amounts of money. The room is nice, the food is good, and the chairs are above average.
The smaller rooms are where the real money is. Put in a few sessions at a place like Planet Hollywood or Harrahs and you will see why they are so profitable. Your opponents will be lost, and some of them will be playing in a casino for the first time. If there is a big sporting event, like the NBA finals happening right now, Planet Hollywood will be particularly good because the sports book is right next door and the gamblers will come play poker and pay more attention to the basketball game than the poker table.
If you are playing at a room with lots of table choices, look for a game where people are happy, drinking, and laughing. If they are having fun, then they are gambling, and that’s what you want. Big stacks aren’t necessarily good, they often mean that the players have been there a long time and the fish have all been busted. Shorter stacks will often indicate weak players, and it’s not like that is all the money you can win. Once they go broke they will rebuy or leave and another player will take their spot and you can bust them too. If your table is quiet and tight, get a table change right away – don’t waste any time on a bad table.
Quick and dirty news both local, personal, and national.
Local – The MSPT is in Walker with their final tournament before the summer break, and Bryan Mileski will be doing a radio show tomorrow night with Cory Cove on KFAN 100.3. Listen in to Minnesota Poker Weekly at 9 pm every Monday night!
Personal – I’ll be starting day two today at MSPT Northern Lights today with 39,600. Blinds will be 1,000/2,000 to start the day, and if I don’t make the final table I will be doing commentary on the live broadcast.
National – The WSoP has announced the Carnivale of Poker, a separate series running during the World Series this year. Most of the early events are Monday and Tuesday, switching to later in the week when the series gets closer to the main event. If you are comfortable playing multiple games (there are some mixed and alternate game events) and going to be in Vegas for the whole series, I think it’s well worth chasing the $100,000 that goes to the top ten point earners in the Carnivale series.
I’m also happy that it adds some mixed game events to my schedule, though I don’t know how many Carnivale events I can play. The rake is high because of the $100,000 for the points race, and I hate to subsidize a prize that I can’t win because I won’t be in town for the first two weeks of the series. It’s tough to beat a $300 + 65 event if you have no chance at getting back some of that $65 later, but it’s a great value for someone who will in town for most of it because so many people will be subsidizing that prize that you have a chance to win.
Tournament season is starting early this year. Starting next week, Running Aces has their Mayhem in May tournament, with five starting days and stack buybacks. As soon as that is over, MSPT qualifiers start at Northern Lights, and after Northern Lights the tournaments start up in Vegas. The WSoP used to be a month, but summer in Vegas has turned into an 80 day poker party with eight major tournament series running. In addition to the WSoP, there are series at The Venetian, The Aria, The Orleans, Binions, Caesar’s, The Wynn, The Bellagio, and The Golden Nugget.
Kenny Hallaert created a great spreadsheet with every tournament series, rake comparisons, and schedules on that you can see HERE. I used it to plan my trip to Vegas, which will be shorter this year, just 31 days.
As soon as the Vegas summer mess is over, the MSPT starts back up. The grind never ends, something we all asked for five years ago. Now that I have the chance to play a big tournament almost every week, it’s all about planning out my time. And of course I’m still working with students, making videos for PokerXFactor, creating content on Grinder U, playing a little online, and Bryan Mileski just told me that he would like to have me be a part of the new poker radio show on KFAN. Oh, and I have to write my article for Bluff this month. Did I miss anything? Probably.
I’ll see you next week at Aces, hopefully at the final table!
Short blog today because I have to be back at the Rio for the restart tomorrow at 2 pm and it’s already 4 am. That’s good news though, it means I’m still in the $10k HORSE. Better than that, I have 56k and average is only 40k, so I’m in reasonably good shape. The field is tough, and I had to deal with Jason Mercier, Abe Mosseri, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Alai, Jen Harmon Read the rest of this entry »
I know, I took a few days off. Quit whining. I busted 17th in the WSoP Razz event for $5,900, and unfortunately it was to Phil Hellmuth who went on to win his twelfth bracelet later that night. And in case you were wondering, I was ahead when we got most of the chips in, but I didn’t stomp off whining about how I should win every event but the donkeys always put beats on me. Grrr. Read the rest of this entry »
Yet another short blog because I made it through another day of the Razz event. We come back with 18 left tomorrow at 2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’m short stacked after losing a couple big hands. I was up to 170k a few hours before the end of the day, but ended the day with 54k. Still a fighting chance, but a little annoying to run bad when so much cash is on the line.
I played a lot with Phil Hellmuth today Read the rest of this entry »
Well a short blog posted very late is good news! I made day two of the $2500 Razz event with an above average stack and way above average skill level. It’s amazing how basic the thought processes are in Razz, even with some very smart players at the table. A number of people were confused by plays I made that I could easily have explained to them with a few minutes and a spreadsheet. We restart tomorrow at 2 pm in the Amazon room.
The Rio is the same old Rio, though slightly easier to deal Read the rest of this entry »
Today was my last day of rest for quite some time. I didn’t really rest, you never do what you work for yourself, but I didn’t play poker. I did walk through a few card rooms to confirm that things hadn’t changed significantly since I was in Vegas in the spring, and things seem to be about the same as they are every year at this time when it comes to cash games.
Tomorrow I play the WSoP Razz event. Read the rest of this entry »
I was going to write about some cash game strategy and talk about places to play in Vegas tonight, but we’ll just have to wait a day for that.
Once in awhile life comes along and puts everything in perspective. Today is that day for me. A very dear friend, one of my favorite people in the world, passed away after a long battle with cancer this morning. I took the day off today, and will take the day off tomorrow as well. Playing high stakes tournament poker when your head isn’t right is a recipe for disaster. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome Fox in Vegas, a daily report from the World Series of Poker and other major tournament series happening in Las Vegas. I was really hoping to have this thing off the ground sooner, but when no one bought it I slacked off for a few days. I’ll be playing approximately $80,000 worth of tournaments, lots of hours of cash games, and talking to players around the city in an effort to keep you abreast of what is going on.
Some things I will likely be talking about – Read the rest of this entry »