Thursday, April 28, 2005


Is It Down To The Lake I Fear

Those of you who are not of a certain age will need to be told that the title means this is a follow up to my "Where do we go from here" post. Where DO we go from here ? I'm terrible for thinking of plans and then ditching them after a week. So I'm putting this here to make me stick with it, if I do intend to go for it.

I spend too much time online playing too small. I have the mindset "well I don't want to lose more than a couple of $K on this". Which is really a bit pointless considering my poker "tank" is well in excess of that. If you're starting from scratch, it makes sense to start off in a small game and work your way up. But I'm not starting from scratch. When I play too small, even though I think I'm preparing to move up, I just get bored or give up because it's taken me 10 hours to make $100, even if this is a perfectly acceptable rate for the game I'm playing. So I end up not progressing at all. And it could easily be that the smaller games are so different to the medium games (especially the big-bet cash games) that it's no preparation anyway.

I don't want to go broke for sure, but I'm probably too risk-averse and this might mean I'm missing out on regular, decent money on-line. It might and it might not - there's only one way to find out. So my current plan is to take $5K and play some proper games with it. $10-20 limit. $1/2 big bet. Not just Hold-Em, whatever I can find that I think I can beat. Spin it up and if I lose it don't worry about it. It's worth risking this money given the upside of finding, well, an income for life. Quit-work-and-play-the-boss's-head-like-a-bongo-on-your-way-out money.

Comments on the cunning-ness (or otherwise) of my plan are very welcome, as are pointers to the best games at this level (of an evening and a weekend). By E-mail ( if you don't want to invite everyone to the party.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Vegas Wrap-Up

Writing this in McCarran airport. Conclusion number 1 : well worth bringing lap-top along :-)

Results can be summarised very succinctly :

Bellagio : -$2,660
Mirage : -$760
Everywhere else : +$1,930

I will spare you the game selection lecture (game selecture ?)

Small NL cash games are very playable, even for a cashophobe like me. In fact I might even be developing a taste for them. The bad beat I took in the MGM is nothing I haven't had in tournaments a dozen times. No, make that 50 times. You put $200 down, double up, get it all in as the favourite and lose. That's poker baby !

I should make a correction to something I said below. When I said I was playing "as Brunson recommended", I don't mean I was raising pre-flop and taking pots down betting on the flop automatically - that just doesn't happen in a small game. I was playing AA/KK/QQ/AK as Brunson recommends * and apart from that trying to take cheap flops with pairs and suited connectors. Generally if you make something that beats top pair it's fairly clear who will pay you off with top pair (most of them) and who you have to be a bit more careful with (a few decent pros).

Should I have played the $1500 ? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. One day I am going to go deep in one of these and that should be quite a buzz. There's nothing wrong with taking the odd shot if you can write the money off before you sit down.

As for the Series, I have already booked it so I am 90% certain to go. There will be plenty of poker available (Palms tournaments, satellites, cash) to play without ever having to cough up $1500 or more. Perhaps I will only do the latter if I'm well in front on the trip. See you there !

* After the first session, where I would have lost $25 less if I had played KK right (checked it on a 653 flop).

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Cash Game Shark

$40 Rebuy, Harrah’s. 0.75 hours, -$80. What you can do here is turn up as an alternate if you can’t be arsed playing the first hour. It might cost you $10 or so in EV, not a bad trade-off for an hour of your time. I did that, doubled up to 5K without showing a hand and then ran into Aces. You can’t begrudge these hands really, it’s the only way these players can win, and they have to win sometimes or they wouldn’t come back.

$1-2 No Limit, Aladdin. 1.5 hours, +$135. Ahhhh, in the voice of Action Dave, Ahhhh. That’s better. Decent game, doubled up ($100 max buyin) with AK v KQ on a K high flop and nicked a couple of moderate pots too. Suddenly poker feels better - only after this I realise I had run up 9 losing sessions in a row (including tournaments).

$1-2 No Limit, Flamingo, 0.75 hours, -$25. Again a decent game, and you could buy in for $200 here, but there was one drunk who slowed the game down so much and caused so much trouble it was hardly worth the value of his bad play. Sometimes over here they’re a bit too quick to call people for string betting, but when this guy was told “say the amount of the raise before you put it in”, he complained “but I might change my mind !”. Well exactly. I thought I had trapped him with AQ on an AQx flop, and when the third player raised I was thinking ker-ching. I went all in, laughing boy went all in too (somehow he had the whole table covered) and showed his AQ. Third player went “oh” and folded for his last $80 (claiming AK). When I informed this guy he had just cost me $40 * he went “tough shit”. So I could sit there fuming at him and about to go on tilt, or cash out. I wisely chose the latter. I don’t like playing in a fractious game anyway. Notwithstanding that $40 I did lose $35 earlier on through playing a marginal hand before having a look how people were playing - so that was something learned.

* A little truculently I admit.

Won $90 on blackjack. Can’t miss there :-).

WARNING : BAD BEAT STORY FOLLOWS. $1-2 No Limit, MGM, 1.5 hours, -$134. Looked into Bally’s as Hector suggested but there was no game so moved on to the MGM and found a great NL cash game. Won $300 with KK against two hopeful top-pair lovers and then got it all in on the flop with middle set against top and bottom pair. You know the rest. I didn’t trust myself to play well after that so I picked up the rubble of my once towering stack and left.

The cash games here are variable but man, when they’re good, they’re very very good. I’ve basically been playing as Brunson advises in Super System, with the odd adjustment for shorter-stack situations, and in a good game I’ve had a very big edge. I think I’ll be happy to come over for the Series, between satellites, NL cash and $400-500 tournaments at the Palms there’ll be plenty of games to suit !

Later that day Won ANOTHER $100 playing blackjack. Wait a minute, here's a good idea. I could get out of it for the whole trip in the pit ! Right, where's my credit card ...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Mixing It Up

$8-16 Limit, Bellagio. -$106, 1.25 hours. Not too bad a game, there was one mad Scandinavian and a few people prepared to cold-call raises with not much (the big sign of a limit fish according to Miller). Unfortunately I didn’t pick up much except QQ unchallenged on the flop, and lost a chunk with 99 v QQ on a 226 flop. Probably lucky for me that an Ace came to slow him down. Lots of “name” players milling around but this distracted the other players more than me believe me :-).

$55 Freezeout, Flamingo. Mid/30, 1 hour. Just to try it out, wasn’t going to take long either way. Quite a few fish, but some of them were difficult to read. When the button made a very reluctant call of 200 I thought I could make him pass for 1400 more from the BB (with a pair of threes for insurance), but no. Was still a 50/50 against his KT, but I lost.

$1-2 NLHE, Aladdin. 1.25 hours, -$80. Now this was a game. 2 or 3 very juicy fish, and no one else to worry about. To give you the flavour, one guy called a $100 check-raise on the turn, board T885 with three clubs, with T7 no clubs. The check-raiser (A8) actually thought he must be behind (as you would). It was a $100 max buy-in though, which cut your options a little. I put one lot in with a flush draw and an over card against two opponents, missed it, and couldn’t hit anything else. Results aren’t everything but it would be nice to win one cash session before I leave.

$40 NLHE Rebuy, Orleans. 1.25 hours, -$80. Madness. 200 runners, multiple rebuys. Luton on a Wednesday night squared ! If this is what you like, you will love the Orleans if you're in Vegas. Lots of locals, lots of fish, but with 200 runners and 11-handed tables you are going to need some good cards. One thing that's funny in here, you don't have to show an all-in hand. Most people didn't, which I thought was a bad idea. With multiple all-ins, lots of sidepots and a variable standard of dealers, God only knows how many people threw away hands which were entitled to at least some of the pot. I can't see how showing your hand would hurt you at all regarding information seeing as 80% of the field cared about nothing but their own cards. Oh well. I had only gone to meet a guy from Gutshot I bumped into in the Bellagio the day before, but either he wasn't there or I just didn't see him in the crowd, so I wasn't too bothered when my (iffy reraise with) 99 lost to AK.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Where Do We Go From Here ?

$1-2 No Limit, MGM Grand. 1.5 hours, -$45. Struggled with this really. Made it $10 with JJ, geezer moves all in for $200 I pass (other geezer calls all bets for about $80 and wins with A2 - one of the few really bad plays I saw). Raised with KK 2 callers, flop 643 rainbow. Bet $20 1 caller. Turn 5, I check he bets I pass. Make it $10 with AKs, same geezer as KK hand makes it $25, I call. Flop Qxx, I check he bets I pass. At this point I have absolutely no idea whether he had a monster both times or whether he just bet me out having observed how tight I was playing. No clue at all. I should probably have passed the AKs pre-flop, out of position. I’m not sure I’ll ever have the necessary instinct and mindset to play big bet cash. And you know what - I can live with that.

$285 Single Table, Bellagio. 0.75 hours, -$285. 3/10. This was a bit more like it, a couple of weak-loose players and a couple of weak-tight. I doubled up with QQ v A3 and had about double my starting chips 3-handed. Then I went for the semi-bluff reraise with K6s only to find my opponent with AK. It happens. This woman found so many hands in late positions (AA in the cut-off, KK QQ and AK on the button), and played them well too. Sometimes in a satellite someone’s always going to win, or at least be a big favourite heads-up, because of the situations that come their way. That’ll be you as often as anyone else. You just have to win the odd one that’s not “due” to you.

$40 NLHE Rebuy, Harrah’s. 1 hour, -$80. These are quite new to Harrah’s I think and they are tweaking the structure to try to finish them quicker. So now level 4 is 100-200 and level 5 is 200-400 with a 25 ante. Fair enough. With 2000 going into level 4 I felt I needed to gamble. On the Big Blind I pretty much decided to move in if the pot was unraised and there were a couple of limpers. Careful what you wish for - that’s what happened and a limper had KK. Kudos to him. If my move works, I win 800. If it doesn’t, it only costs me 1100 (because I have a 20% chance of winning the resulting 4600 pot, more if someone looks me up with AK). Thus if I get away with it 40% of the time it’s a winner.

As for me, I have to decide where to take my poker from here. I have a system which allows me to make money on the side against weak players. But it’s not really good enough to play at the top level. My weaknesses balance out my technical strengths and I’m about break even at $1500 I reckon. To take it up a level would require a lot of work (and putting a lot of money at risk). And the first question to ask myself is “can I be arsed ?”. Like Krusty in the Simpsons, I’m a lazy, lazy man. The Tao Te Ching tells us that “there is no greater disaster than greed. He who is contented with contentment is always contented”. Setting yourself a goal to win one of these huge tournaments is completely unrealistic. Even if you wanted it more than anyone else, even if you tried harder than anyone else, you have two huge factors against you. Number one, the luck factor which is enormous. Two, while I am sometimes disparaging about “name” players, let me stress that a lot of these guys are very, very good. They have good instincts, good card sense, good temperament and the courage to test you for all your, or their, chips. Funny things can happen and a few weaker players can record a result or two, but that’s the “lottery factor” coming in. You’re not seeing how many of these players are just doing their money. If I’m happy playing small games on the side and making a few $$$ what’s wrong with that ? You might be doing better - good for you. Someone’s always going to be better than me. Good luck to them. As long as they get it quietly anyway :-).

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Champion Of The World

$3-6 Limit Hold-Em, Aladdin, 0.75 hours, -$14. Probably dropped a couple of big bets that I shouldn’t have. Which kills you if you’re playing limit on a regular basis, but doesn’t make much odds on holiday.

$110 NLHE, Aladdin. 2.5 hours, -$110. 14th/65. This must be my very least favourite way to go out of a tournament (not that any are good). I have 5600 chips at the start of the 500-1000 level, with the next level being 1000-2000. I have to MOVE. But I can’t. Every time either someone’s in before me or I have some woeful 73 hand or both. After taking one pair of blinds I feel obliged to move in blind (although having a look just for show of course) next time there’s no action in front of me. So I do, with 92, and a guy who could play the tournament every day for a year and not win finds JJ. Marvellous. The reason I particularly dislike this kind of exit is that I look like a total fish and the other guy looks like the player. I should be glad of the misinformation value really :-)

For some reason there were a disproportionate number of Europeans in here, Germans, Scandinavians, even that rarest of birds, an Englishman I don’t know who played very well. I’m not sure why but the bad English players make me cringe, especially the jovial ones who put up a running commentary on their “play” all the time.

$60 Single Table, Aladdin. 0.5 hours, +$470. 1st/10. I must have found my level - 300 chips to start and 25-50 blinds straight off ! On the fast side :-). Of course against good players this would be a waste of time, however I could say that about any poker game. The fact remains that someone’s going to win, and the player who doesn’t make horrible mistakes has a better chance. Even if my EV in this is only $20 (which sounds about right), that’s pretty good for 20 minutes work (on average). It only took 35 minutes to play the whole thing. The last hand was funny, I find AA and check in the BB, flop comes A22, check check, he moves in on the turn I call (duh) he has K2. He didn’t realise I had won until the dealer pushed the chips to me. So I’m in the $500 at the Aladdin tomorrow. Which at least saves me from being sad and playing online, as I was going to. And puts me $11 up on the trip. Hooray !

$125 NL (1 Rebuy), Binions. 3 hours, -$200. 14/40. The trouble with playing too many MTTs is you can end up like this. Stuck in one, not really getting anywhere, and half wishing you were in bed. I should probably stick to one a day. Anyway I doubled up with QQ against AJ, lost 2K tangling with the chip leader, flopped 2 pair against a straight flush draw and ended up splitting the pot, stole from the SB ran into an Ace, lost, stole from the button ran into an Ace, lost. I was playing ok but the other players were driving me mad. I had two people on my left and one on my right holding continuous conversations with each other (through me). Everyone wanted to run the tournament (make the side pots, move players etc.). They didn’t mean any harm mostly. Had it been a cash game I would have been long gone - but that’s tournaments for you.

$500 NL, Aladdin. 2 hours, -$540. 35 odd/70. This was a nice tournament, 40 minute levels, antes kicking in on level 4 and a relatively soft field for a $500 in Vegas. Half an hour in I'm involved in a hand with 2002 World Champion Robert Varkonyi, who was evidently in town for the PPT. 25-50 blinds, I make it 150 to go in middle position. Varkonyi calls from the big blind. We look at each other, he checks without looking at the flop. Flop is Txx no suits, I bet 200. He makes it 400. I go all in, about 1000 more. OK, so what do you think I have ? Even if you didn't know me. Do you think your (Varkonyi's) AT is good ? Evidently he did because he called it very quickly. His face dropped when I showed AA. I can't for the life of me work out what he was expecting to see. KT ? AK ? 99 ? Who knows. Make your own judgement. They say anyone can win. Frankly I was glad to see the back of him because he wouldn't shut up. The impression he gave on TV of being a geek who couldn't stop talking due to nervousness was spot on, for once.

Unfortunately knocking out a champion doesn't pay any bills. I raise with QJs, run into AA (can't pass as he is too short-stacked). I raise with KJs, run into JJ, and that's that. It's a shame I didn't make the ante level (by about 5 minutes) but if you just sit there and wait for it you'll pay 900, 1200 in blinds which is too much. No qualms about my play. Onwards and upwards. I'm now about $700 down. Thinking about a satellite for the satellite for the WPT but as this is a 1000-1 parlay to ever see any money back it's not all that tempting. I am going to check out the MGM card room tonight to see if these legendary drunken NL cash games actually exist. But first I'm going to the Gamblers Bookstore to see what's on offer. The dude who usually follows these events with his bookstall isn't here, presumably not allowed inside the Bellagio because he's not selling $500 bottles of perfume, ok I'll stop :-)

18/4/05 A quick postscript to the Varkonyi hand, I was talking to a pro about this and he said it was probably just that Varkonyi isn't that bothered about a $500 tournament given how much he has made. Perhaps, but the real point of the story is that by his reaction when the hands were shown, I'm sure he really thought he was in front. Personally I'd rather not play at all than play half-heartedly, which is why I'm easing off a bit over these last few days, as I have had about my fill of poker for now. I think 10 days is about optimal for a Vegas visit. Any more than that and you should probably take at least every fifth day off from poker entirely.

Friday, April 15, 2005


King Of The Nippers

Tuesday - $285 Single-table, Bellagio. 5/10, -$285. Alright, 3 strikes and out of here. Although this was the best value of the three to date, it still wasn’t much. I trod water, won a 50/50, then raised all in with 56s on the button only to run into JJ in the BB. Apart from anything else I’m not going to learn anything in these. I know how to play the things. I’m better off having a look round the other card rooms to see what’s on offer. Already today I have found that the Aladdin are having a $500 tournament on Saturday and a $1000 on Sunday. They are running single tables for these, which should be much juicier. The tournaments themselves could be good value - the $500 is probably worth a punt at least. And I shall have a bash at the Mirage this evening, $130 + $100 rebuys. No antes in the Mirage unfortunately - but let’s see how much of a difference that makes.

Tuesday - $130 + $100 Rebuys, No-Limit, Mirage. 40-odd/100, -$430. Off to the Mirage for some rebuy action. I lose a hand with Queens, rebuy twice, add on and I’m in for $400. The overall standard is a bit better than Harrah’s and Binions, but not as good as Bellagio - as you might expect. I manage to inch back up to around 2000 when I am moved tables. I raise in early position with AJ - marginal, but this is how I’ve been inching in the first place so let’s keep going. Avner Levy calls me. Now anyone who has ever played tournaments in the US knows this guy. He is the King of the Nippers - he makes Stander and Arjen look like kids asking for pocket money. He is also a complete pain in the arse at the table and a very unpredictable, aggressive person, never mind player. So it’s just me and him. Flop comes T77 rainbow. I bet around half the pot. He goes all in, 900 more. At this point there is 1400 in the pot plus his 900 so I’m being laid 5/2 on this call. Now if he has a pair or a Ten, I’m only 3/1 against winning anyway. No way he has a 7. There are a few hands I’m worse off against (AT, AQ) but not many. And I have seen this guy play before. He bluffs a LOT. I’ve seen him limp-reraise pre-flop with QT offsuit (and outdraw KK and have a virtual fit). So I call him.

He has K9 suited. Calls for the King and the 9, doesn’t get them, and stomps off. As he’s passing me he’s going “Ace Jack how can he call with Ace Jack”. I shouldn’t do this but if anyone deserves a rub-down it’s this guy, believe me. So I say “you can’t bluff a mug mate” as he’s passing. He comes back. “What you say ?” - “I said you can’t bluff a mug. Meaning me.” - “[Unintelligible gurble] I don’t even know who you are”. Stalks off again, for good this time. Well exactly. We’ve played before, I remember you, but you don’t remember me. That’s how I made the correct play. Judging by how popular I was on the table after this coup, he hasn’t changed much either. I ought to be careful with this, I have heard stories of this guy swinging for people and being carted out in handcuffs frothing at the mouth. So I’ll just blank him next time. If he remembers me anyway.

Fun being over for now, I keep inching until I find AK, raise it, one caller. Flop A93 two clubs, I bet he raises all in and I call fairly quickly. He has QcJc and hits it. No problemo. I make a rather more dignified exit and we’ll try again tomorrow. I think I’m playing better than I ever have, I really do. The system I am now playing in these tournaments, it’s amazing how it keeps me out of trouble. I can accumulate slowly but steadily, double up when I find the right hand, and then get to work when the blinds start to bite. Something more may be required at the $1500 level but so what. That’s just for taking shots. In bread and butter games there’s plenty of jam on offer, if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, $60 + $40 Rebuy, No-Limit, Aladdin. 13/60, -$60. A few things about this structure take away from the value. For one the rebuy is too expensive (for the chips it buys) so it's best not to take it. Any inequity in the rebuy/original buy-in chip cost is good, as plenty of people will make mistakes, but when the rebuy is too expensive your variance is increased. I prefer it when the rebuys are cheap. Also there were no antes. I trebled up with AJ against QT, KT but lost the lot with TT against AK.

Wednesday, $130 + $100 Rebuys, Pot-Limit, Mirage. 25ish/48, -$330. Pot-Limit tournaments are awkward over here. Half the field seem to think it's mandatory to bet the pot, which stops them from making a lot of mistakes (of course they can't overbet the pot now whatever they do). Half the dealers don't understand it, so they slow the game down and (much worse) tell people how much is in the pot without them asking. All in all, not great value and I couldn't beat TT with my AK this time. Also in the Mirage when there are less than 50 runners they have a terrible flat payout (30-25-20-15-10) which favours dull, defensive play. I did bump into the legendary Fast Francis though, unfortunately he was flying back the next day.

Thursday, $40 (1 Rebuy) NLHE, Harrah's. 3rd/55, +$350. These tournaments kick so much ass, they have to import colons from other countries to meet the demand *. These tournaments rule so much, the Queen's not allowed to turn her back on them **. 3rd again, would have been 4/1 on to win if I hadn't misread one hand. The geezer bets into an empty sidepot on a flop of K73, I figure my KT is behind and pass. Frankly I thought he had a monster, the way he reluctantly called my raise pre-flop and then bet small on the flop. Unfortunately it wasn't an act, he was just unsure, and turned over AT damn him. I still had time to keep my head above water and find 55 3-handed, only to run into AA. Never mind.

In four tournaments with antes, I've finished 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and 3rd. 40-60 runners in each. People just have no idea. They look at me funny when I call from the BB with 48s getting 7/2 against an all-in raiser (and river a straight to beat 99 hehe). And they pass for 4000 in the same situation when there's 17000 in the pot. So who's the fish ? Not I, said the pig.

Bumped into Joe in the Bellagio and scored a free buffet, more importantly we skipped the line ! Bellagio buffet is good I have to admit.

* As Maddox would say

** But that's an original. That's me, original and funny, just never both at the same time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Kicking It Live

Won $100 playing blackjack. Does that count ? Right, in that case I'm up again.

$230 Single Table, Bellagio. 1 hour, -$230. 5th/10. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky with the draw but this was even less value than the previous one. Nonetheless I did pull off a big play. Pay attention now, this is a juicy bone I’m throwing you here. 200-400 blinds, 6-handed, I’m in the big blind. Passed round to the SB who makes it 800 more. Now this guy seems a reasonable player (they all do, damn them), he knows I’m quite short and he might well be at it. I have A6 and I decide that this is enough to take him on with. I have 1900 after posting the blind. So I raise all in, right ? Wrong. What’s the point of doing that ? He’s going to call and the cards will decide. Let’s flat call and see what transpires. Flop comes KT8. He checks. I bet. He passes and shows me 55.

I have just put a huge play on this guy here. He’s passed as at least a 70% favourite, getting 3-1 from the pot. He has given me 2000 chips with this pass, or if you like he has put his hand in his pocket and given me $200. It doesn’t get much better than that in a single table. 9 times out of 10 when you make this play it all goes in on the flop anyway. Let me assure you that I wasn’t passing any flop or any action. In that case nothing is lost. But he might pass the flop, and every now and then he might get it wrong - like here. It’s a free roll. All these people who whinge “it’s just all in all the time” - well do you ever think about calling ? Or are you just as conditioned as everyone else to move all in ? Everyone except me. You fish.

$40 Rebuy, Harrah’s. 4 hours, +$700. 3rd/60. Can’t win in the Bellagio, can’t miss anywhere else. Sadly I do pick up AA and KK in the rebuy period (this would all be much more impressive if I continued my big-hand-less streak). I’m paid off with both of these. The antes kick in and I start to get busy. I’m very lucky with K5 in an unraised pot where I decide I’m good on a flop of J53 and another 3 on the turn, only to find the pre-flop limper has JT. 5 on the river ai ai ! Teach him not to limp. Then I win a huge pot with AK and we’re all about even as we make the last 3. We cut a deal, there’s no reason to antagonise anyone here for the sake of $50 in EV. I turn a straight, go all in, flush draw calls me and he makes it. Good deal :-). $700 more for me dingningningningning. Alright I’m not going to finish 2/3/3 in successive tournaments very often but I do think I can finish top 3 about 3 or 4 times as often as average in these. That’s how much value they are and how much confidence I have in the system I play here. Now I kind of wish I was in Reno or at the 4 Queens again, with two $200-$300 tournaments every day. Still it’s not too bad here. Roll out of Harrah’s $700 to the good, sit in the shade watching a very good live band and even partaking of a Corona or 3. Hey, I’m on holiday !

Monday, April 11, 2005


Vegas Update

Bollocks. I typed in all my results so far with incisive commentary and the Internet connection reset itself and cleared it all out. Oh go on then, here it is again. I'll Save as Draft as I go this time I think.

$2-4 Limit, Flamingo, 1.25 hours, -$30. Just getting settled in. Too small really, there's no reason why I shouldn't play $4-8 or $6-12 if I want to play limit.

$1-2 No Limit, Nugget, 0.5 hours, -$4. Zzzzz. There may be good NL cash games around but this wasn't one of them.

$200 MTT, Nugget, 1.25 hours, -$230. Only 18 runners and a bit of a rockfest. Lost with 99 v AK and made an excellent decision to not rebuy and instead decamp to ...

$125 MTT, Binions (1 rebuy), 5 hours, +$1515. 2nd/40. Good tournament with a decent structure and a very weak field. In this tournament and the next I faced one half-decent player in 9 hours. I was talking to Paul Alterman about this and he said "Well most of them probably aren't as experienced as you". After carefully scanning for sarcasm (a must with Paul), he's right. I have been playing for 7 years after all, so I should have an edge over the TV generation. That was the case here. Once I knocked 88 (caller) off with my K5 (raiser) I was set. I even squeezed $200 out of the winner when I had only 2 big blinds left after losing the all-in coup for the rest (QJ v K5, he cracked and reraised with the K5, I read him for the crackup and called correctly for the pot odds, missed it though).

$40 MTT, Harrahs (1 rebuy), 4 hours, +$450. 3rd/70. I was a bit annoyed with myself after this one as I really ought to have won it, but apart from one 10K mistake the rest was either just the breaks or other peoples' problems (eg slowrolling me with AA). On collecting my 3rd prize the organizer said "stop looking so morose". So you don't want a tip then :-). Morose is a good one mind you, I've never heard Roy or Jeff say that ...

$180 Single Table for $1500, Bellagio, 0.75 hours, -$180. 6th/10. Disappointing lack of fish. What they do here now is, the winner gets frogmarched over to the cage and signed up for the next tournament, end of story. Thus ends the reign of the professional satellite scum. Damn. OK so you've stopped that and squeezed an extra rake out of all the winners, but I think at the expense of also stopping people from wandering in off the street or the casino floor and playing. If they're going to do that at the WSOP that particular party will be over, or at least chucking out before the police arrive.

$1500 MTT, Bellagio, 3 hours, -$1570. About 220/480. Much as I expected. No one was giving it away but no one was bothering me particularly. I worked 3K up to 3800 and then lost half of it with AcKc on a flop with two clubs. No regrets there. After a bit more nip and tuck I flat called from the Big Blind with AJ because I had a tell that the raiser was weak, but I didn't have enough chips to make him pass pre-flop. Flop came Ten high, I bet the rest he called T7s. Marvellous. I may have had an unlucky draw as the overall rate of player dropouts was noticeably higher than what was happening on our table. The only A-list player I spotted was Juanda. Out of my A-list anyway :-). No major surprise, after all $1500 isn't even a big blind in those ridiculous cash games they play.

All in all that's $50 down so far. I note that in 15 hours I have yet to be dealt AA or KK. I'm just saying is all :-). I may have the odd shot at another satellite but I am aware that this is basically gambling with zero EV and huge variance. Apart from that I intend to press up in the smaller tournaments elsewhere, and maybe try some NL cash if I can find a good game.

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