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Sunday, October 30, 2005

From the Mirage to the Canterbury
So B and I were in Las Vegas this past weekend . . . arrived late on Thursday, left Monday afternoon, stayed at the Mirage for the first time and played a lot of poker there. I'll cut to the heart of the matter . . . how'd I do?

It was the most strangely low-variance weekend I have ever spent in Las Vegas. I played about 20 hours of poker (I know the number of hours I played because we got the poker room rate, and so we each had a time card to track our play), and finished down $21 (I played nothing but $3/$6). I'm sure that I tipped more than $21 just to the cocktail waitresses, and since I got a ton of drinks out of it I am not really unhappy with my results. But the lack of any big ups or downs even within individual sessions was really weird. For example, I played 11am to 4pm on Friday afternoon -- finished down $6. Then we went to Margaritaville for dinner, spent a few hours walking the Strip and getting hammered, and I played from 11pm to 3am -- playing like a maniac and having a ton of fun doing it -- and finished down $6 again. Weird, weird, weird.

The $3/$6 tables were for the most part even weaker than when B and I last played at the Mirage in August 2004. Most players were very laid-back, with fewer players taking things too seriously or complaining about their luck than I expected. Which was nice. There was also very little raising pre-flop, which was very, very nice. I probably could have had a significant win on the weekend if I had played more sensibly or not gotten stinking drunk on both Friday and Saturday nights, but I had a ton of fun playing the drunken clowny semi-maniac.

Funniest poker moment of the weekend (or least the funniest one I remember): B, myself, and two of friends from New England are all at the same table, late Saturday night. I've been raising with any pair preflop and second pair post-flop, losing a lot of small pots but winning some big ones from players trying to police me. Basically I'm being the kind of player I hate to play with, but I like to think I do it in a drunken fun way; I play aggressively but don't act cocky or malicious, and concsciouly try not ot make anyone angry at me. Or at least it seemed that way after 10 Captain and cokes. Between our New England friends and two Indian women in their 50s who were laughing at my antics, I was really hamming it up. I kept knocking my chips stacks over so finally I mushed them all together into a big pile in front of me. Yes, I was very classy. Anyway, at one point I raised with A9o (something I'd never do online) and I get reraised by a guy in his thirties who is playing fairly solid poker and thinks I am an idiot. And he's pretty much right because I hit my 9 on the raggedy flop and bet into him the whole way. He shows Kings and B is just sighing and shaking her head when I show my hand. I start rambling: "Oof. Ouch. Guess that not a good play. I thought he might have Ace-big or maybe a lower pair. I think I might be playing too loose. Blah blah blah . . ." I ramble on for like a minute, then drunkenly realize I am drunkenly rambling, so I stop myself and state, deadpan: "Yeah, but I'm a solid player." The entire table erupts on laughter, the dealer actually puts down the cards and is wiping wetness from his eyes, and everyone is parroting the line the rest of the night. Never before have I played the buffoon so well.

So you could say that I did not take my poker all that seriously. Long term this could become a problem for me, but I've always said that people have different reasons for playing poker: There's fun, there's profit, and there's the satisfaction of improving your game. For me, in Vegas, the poker is primarily about the fun. And that's what I love about the Mirage: At $3/$6, at least, most people are there for the fun.

Wearily plodding through work this week, and thinking about the weekend in Vegas, I decided I definitely wanted to play at the Canterbury this weekend. First of all, I wanted to see if I could take the looser, more aggressive play that worked for me in Vegas and apply it when sober and well-rested, for profit rather than just kicks. Second, I wanted to see if the Canterbury players would still be as laid-back and passive as they were during the racing season (which ended on Labor Day). I was not disappointed and won $110 yesterday. Of course it could be variance, but with my bankroll having survivd Vegas intact, and now with a boost yesterday, I am going to commit to heading down the Canterbury at least once a month.

Back to Vegas. This was the first time we stayed at the Mirage, and we really liked it. The room was not that different, and I think the Flamingo actually has a better buffet and a better pool, but we really liked two things about the Mirage. First, the service: Checking in was easy as pie, whereas we've had problems in the past with that at other hotels, and it can really put a damper on your weekend. Second, it just seemed so much less crowded. [Update/edit: Oh yeah, and the poker room!]

So, we played poker Friday afternoon, then headed over to Margaritaville Friday night. We had a group of twelve people -- my mom, aunt, sister, and cousin, and 3 other couples -- but after an hour of hanging out and downing rum drinks, we got a table. A guy came over and made balloon hats for everyone, and much silliness ensued. Leaving the Margaritaville and heading north, I popped into the liquor store that's right before Harrah's and got a bottle of champage and opened it right on the Strip (which I knew would impress a couple of the Vegas newbies). One of my non-poker-playing buddies got the blackjack itch and we ended up sitting down at a $10 table even though none of us really wanted to risk that much. Happily I left up $120, my buddy left up $60, and my other buddy only lost $10. Then we headed back for more poker -- on Friday night I played at the same table as my buddy Campbool and wasn't quite a big a buffoon as I descibed above (that would be Saturday night).

Saturday we hit the pool. I rented one of those rafts, which for whatever reason I've always wanted to do. Then it was more poker and I had another low-variance session. For dinner on Saturday we hit the Bellagio buffet. Getting there early, we checked out the poker room and saw Daniel Negreanu and Erik Lindgren entering the room. Negreanu was walking around saying hi to a lot of players; several people also approached him for autographs and pictures. I urged B to say something to him but she, like me, just felt too silly playing the fan. We also spotted Mel Judah. We never did make it over to the Wynn, which is where I had thought we might spot Negreanu.

Saturday night my one buddy was still itching for low-limit blackjack, so we headed Downtown. That was also a better place to manage the big group, since we could all just meet under the light show on the hour. I ended up playing mini-baccarat (what a dumb game) and blackjack at the Plaza, and I lost back most of the $120 I had won. I was a bit diasppointed to find that the Golden Gate no longer sells their shrimp cocktails at the bar -- you have to go back to the deli area, and there was a long line. Oh well. Later that night we ended up back at the Mirage poker room, where I engaged in the buffoonery described above.

In retrospect drinking so much on Saturday night was not the best idea, because I had already organized for everyone to meet at the Mirage sportsbook at 9 on Sunday morning so we could grab good seats for the football games. Somehow I managed to get up at 8am (after going to bed at 3) and place my $55 bet on the Bungles, who lost. But it was pretty good time. I bought mimosas for all the ladies present and that went over very well. Unfortunately, drinks are not free for bettors in the lounge area -- you have to be up in the inidividual theater seats. The Eagles won but failed to cover the spread, so my family (who are from Philly) were happy but not thrilled. Everyone else wisely went and took naps or hit the pool once the afternoon game started, but my sister and I stayed to watch the later games. I made back $50 on Dallas (again, it was a low-variance weekend), and my sister hit 7 out of 8 on a crazy parlay in which you pick whether each teams's score will be even or odd and things like that. If only Denver had kicked one more field goal . . . I'd always wanted to do a day of football at a Vegas sportsbook. It was a lot fun, but it's not something I'll want to do every time I'm in Vegas.

I took a nap after the late games, but I was still pretty much a zombie playing cards on Sunday night. So I mildly regret drinking quite so much on Saturday night, but Vegas has that effect on me.

Hmmm . . . I think that's it. Just like last year, I had a great time, and playing at the Mirage reminded me how much I love live poker. Last year that enthusiasm was dampened by several so-so sessions at Foxwoods, but so far I am really loving the Canterbury.

Comments:
Good times! Glad you were spared the Vegas losses! How'd you like Mirage's poker room? Good enough, it sounds like? I still haven't made it there.
 
I had my one and only Hellmuth explosion at the Mirage poker room. After that, if I take a beat playing live, I order a tall Cap'n Coke and walk out for a bit.
 
A fun read. Another great poker blog is loveablerogues.blogspot.com located at loveablerogues.com
 
fun post - enjoyed the great writeup.
 
Hey Shelly,

Again, sorry we missed you! Yup, the Mirage is my favorite poker room (I've only played at the Bellagio, Luxor, Excalibur, Flamingo, and once at the Monte Carlo years ago).
 
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