Ok, maybe it was my fault a little bit.

So ... I quit being a truck driver about a week ago, at least for the next six months. After I was done with that I was traveling to San Diego California, and as a completely unplanned coincidence I happened to be passing straight through Las Vegas. Also, I just happened to have three nights of time to waste before I needed to be to my destination. Well, what could I do in such a circumstance? Was I to just drive through Las Vegas without stopping? I don't think so!

The first night was actually quite uneventful. The hotel I stayed at was a few miles off the strip to keep the rates down a bit, and I arrived at around 10pm local time Thursday October 16th. I had been driving all day on Thursday so I had no plans to go to any casinos that night. I booked the room for three nights and would be leaving on Sunday morning to finish my drive to San Diego because I had an appointment for Monday morning.

Once I got into my hotel room I did a little research online to try to decide where I should go to play some poker the next day. Of course my first thought was to go to the Bellagio. I looked on the Bellagio website, found the page about the poker room there, and saw that they listed their smallest tables as $1/$3. I was planning on playing $1/$2, and my live playing experience in the past didn't really see stellar results as I explained in this blog post if you are interested in reading about it. I hadn't played live poker since that time, and I was honestly quite nervous. I imagine that $1/$3 plays quite similarly to $1/$2 live, but I didn't want to try it quite yet. I looked at several other casinos online, and ended up finding that the Treasure Island poker room said they have $1/$1 poker tables. I decided that I would try that. I figured that a lot of people would still play very loose, and I could play tight without worrying about the blinds.

On Friday I slept late, then screwed around most of the day and finally ended up getting to the strip at a little after 5pm. The hotel where I was staying was south of the strip, and had a free shuttle up to the Mandalay Bay casino. The shuttle only left at certain times during the day, and I hopped on the 5pm one. I walked up to the Treasure Island casino from there. Later I found out that there is a bus that you can ride up and down the strip all day for $8 or something, but I didn't know that at the time.

It was around here that I found out how very out of shape I am. I have been sitting sedentary in a truck for the past three years, lol. My legs were sore, and I created a rather impressive blister on the bottom of my right foot about the size of a nickle by the time I got up to the Treasure Island. I was still having a good time despite these things. I was checking out all of the sights, and watched some street performers along the way. I happened to be passing the Mirage right at 7pm when they had their outdoor fire show starting so I watched that. I have been to Vegas one time back in the late 90s, but that feels so long ago it seems like I was seeing it all for the first time again.

Treasure Island is right near the Mirage so I arrived there a bit after 7pm. I went to the poker room, looked at the tables they had open, and saw that the smallest tables they had open were $1/$3. I guess the $1/$1 were not a big success or something, but for whatever reason they didn't have any open even though their website said they had those tables. I still didn't feel comfortable with the idea of playing $1/$3 so I went back outside.

I walked back over to the Mirage and went in there to see what they had available in their poker room. They had several tables of $1/$2 going so I decided it was time to quit stalling, sack up, and play some poker. I got on the list to play. There was only one guy ahead of me waiting for a spot, and next to his name they had written "[not 14]". I asked the lady at the desk what that meant, and she said that the man didn't want to sit at table 14. I asked her why, but she said that she didn't know. I kinda thought maybe if he didn't want to sit there then perhaps I shouldn't sit there, but I didn't act on this thought. I went over and sat down on the little two person love seat they have available for people to sit and wait to be called for their tables. The "not 14" guy who was on the list ahead of me sat down there with me. This couch was quite small so while we were sitting there cuddling I asked him why he didn't want to sit at that table. He said that he didn't like it because you can't see anything out into the casino from there so it was boring. I could see what he meant as that table was behind a wall type thing, but I decided that I wouldn't care if I got put on that table as I didn't want to be distracted by other stuff anyways. After a few minutes I did get put on table 14.

I played at this table for about four and a half hours in total. It was a ten person table. Slowly my stack started dwindling down as I was still quite nervous and self conscious about playing live coupled with the fact that I was being dealt garbage. I was getting the feeling that many of the people at the table played there a lot as several of them knew each other by name, and they knew all of the dealers it seemed. I started out with a 100 BB stack of $200, and I thought that if I got to around $100 I would top back up to $200. I wasn't sure how I would go about adding to my stack, lol. I didn't know the rules as far as this is concerned, and I didn't want to just up and ask everyone at the table: "Hey, I'm a giant fish, how do I add to my stack so you have more to win from me?" I'm sure someone would have been happy to enlighten me. I had dwindled down to about a $90 stack. I had actually pulled another $100 out of my wallet and had it sitting on my lap trying to decide what to do with it when the following hand happened.

The guy on my right was UTG in seat #2 and opened for 5x or $10. This guy had been playing a pretty tight and careful game. I think he was from some eastern European country by his accent, but I'm not sure where. I didn't really want to get into a hand with him very much, but I had been getting crap for cards so when I looked down at AKo I decided to raise with the intention of getting it in. I only had about the $90, and made it $25 to go. It folded around to the BU across the table who was one of the guys who seemed to know everyone and he flat called, then it folded back to the UTG guy on my right who also flat called. The flop came JJ8 and I couldn't help but be instantly reminded of the hand that I got felted with (one of the times) the last time I played live $1/$2 where I had AA in a similar stack size and situation. The flop in that old hand came JJ5, I shoved with the AA, and got called by QQ and the river was a Q. Back to the present hand the UTG guy checks, and I was feeling pretty frustrated as it seemed like I couldn't hit a hand that night. I let it get to me and made what I feel is a pretty bad play. I shoved my last $65 into the pot of around $75. I did think I had fold equity as they both just called pre, and the flop was pretty unlikely to have hit them, but these guys don't know that I have done the same thing with AA before in a similar situation. Now it's to the BU and he starts talking about the hand to the UTG guy. He says "I hate to fold, but you know he has aces or kings. The problem is that he could have AK." I was too petrified to say anything at the time, but I realized later how bad etiquette this was. After a little bit the BU guy folds, and when he folds he shows his hand to the UTG guy. I didn't get a good look at it as I was staring at the felt, but it was either a small pocket pair or he had paired the 8, I'm not sure which. One of the other players not in the hand reprimanded the BU for showing it. I was still petrified. The UTG guy tanks for a bit more, and seems like he is about to fold, but then he says "Well, it's such a small amount I guess I have to call" and he calls with QQ. The turn is a blank and hallelujah! the river bails me out with an A!

This puts the UTG guy on mega tilt, and he quietly berates me (he was sitting right next to me) for the next ten minutes about how bad it was and that I didn't "deserve" to win after such bad play. He went off on a little tirade in whatever his native language was. He says that I only "had 12% chance to win". Actually it was 24% chance with two streets yet to come, but I didn't mention this to him. I just told him that he made a good call, and started ignoring him. It's weird, but after that hand I really just stopped having any real feelings of nervousness or feeling out of place. I don't think that I played that hand well, but for some reason after that hand I didn't care about "looking bad" or whatever anymore. It was very freeing really.

A short time later I got involved in another hand. I was in the SB with 89o, and there was about 3 limpers before me so I complete and the BB checks. Five people to the flop which comes 458r. I'm first to act, and decide to lead for $8 into the $10 pot because I don't want it to check around with so many people in the hand and likely overcards. I get a call from the guy who was on the BU in the AK hand, and a lady who was sitting on that guys left who had been playing loose passive and losing. The turn comes an A which I thought was terrible for me. I thought it was really likely that one of these two players hit that A as these people seemed to be limping with weak aces all the time. I check and the guy instantly bets out $25. I was watching him as he did it and the way he acted just really looked like he was making a play specifically against me and he wasn't even thinking about the lady in the hand. Then the lady called the $25, and after she calls I was sure that even if the guy wasn't ahead of me then she was. I folded and the guy on my right makes this noise like a rattling sigh and shakes his head, lol. The river comes a 9 so I would have made two pair, but oh well. The guy bet some amount, I'm not sure how much, and the lady called. He had 96o, and she had A7o so they both had gutshots (or an inside straight draw?) with one over card on the flop, and the lady took it down with her pair of aces. I didn't say anything, but I was feeling pretty good about my read on the guy and my fold on the turn.

The bad news is that eventually I did lose my stack at this table. After I had been at the table for four and a half hours I was feeling quite tired and I knew my game was suffering from it. I didn't stop playing and leave as I should have, and I ended up calling off a shove pre-flop that was a terrible call. I'm not going to relate the hand, just trust me, it was terrible. It was vs someone who had joined the table about 45 minutes earlier so at least it wasn't to one of the afore mentioned players, lol. I momentarily considered buying in for another 100 BBs, but I'm happy to say that I decided to leave as I was very tired and I think I would have just lost more. I got a taxi and went back to my hotel.

That nights play didn't have a good result monetarily as I lost $200, but I actually started feeling really good, lol. I was doing my mental review of everything that went on and I gained a ton of confidence as I thought about it more and more. I started to realize that these players that were at that table were not very good for the most part, and I felt like I could beat that table just playing a tight TAG style. I wasn't planning on going back to that specific poker room that weekend, but I figured the experience would transfer over to my next table just fine.

The next morning, Saturday, I took the shuttle back to the strip at 11am. I wanted to play during the afternoon. The last free shuttle going back to the hotel was at 7pm, and I thought that if things were going great then I could just skip that shuttle, keep playing, and grab a taxi later. Otherwise I would just play the afternoon and then head back to the hotel on that 7pm shuttle.

I decided that I wanted to play at the MGM Grand which is pretty close to the Mandalay Bay where the shuttle dropped me off. I had walked through the MGM Grand on Friday and looked at the poker room there. They had a very busy poker room with a lot of $1/$2 tables running when I had gone through. I considered playing there Friday, but I had the "Treasure Island plan" so I just passed through. I got there at around 12 noon, and got on the list to get a seat. There was only a couple of people ahead of me on the list.

I was sitting there for a few minutes and looked back up at the list of people waiting for a seat to $1/$2 and suddenly there was 12 people on the list. Shortly after that they opened up a new table which I was assigned to with 8 others. At this poker room they had nine person tables instead of ten, which I found to be much more enjoyable. It's amazing how much more room you have when there are only nine people at the table compared to ten. I though it much more comfortable. I had never been put at a table where they were opening it brand new for the day so that did make me slightly concerned for a minute as I didn't know what to expect. They had us buy our chips at the table instead of at the cage. Once everyone had their chips the dealer dealt out one card for each player to find out who would get the button. I think I got a ten or a jack, but a guy two to my left got a king while nobody got an ace so he won the button. The dealer made a joke about the fact that since he won that "hand" then he was the only one at the table who had a chance to win every hand. That player made a comment like "Yeah, and $600 later I will be wishing I hadn't even sat down" joking that he expected to lose.

My feeling of confidence from the night before was still active and I was feeling very good starting out. I had learned from the night before that I need to make time to take a break after some hours to avoid playing tired or losing focus so I set an alarm on my phone for three hours, then I planned to go get something to eat and maybe play some more after that.

It was only about 15 minutes into the session when I picked up QQ from an early or middle position, I don't remember the exact position. It folded to me and I made it $12 as seemed to be the standard. I don't remember how many callers I got, but I don't think it was a lot, maybe two. I don't remember the exact board run out for this hand. On the flop it was low cards and looked pretty safe unless someone had made a set. I was first to act, led out and got called by the guy two to my left who had won the button to start the table. The turn was another low card. I barreled and got called again. The river was another low card. I'm sure there was possible straights out there, but the guy in the hand with me was acting pretty passively. I decided to go ahead with a third barrel, got called, and took it down with my QQ. He didn't show his hand, but he said it was a pocket pair so I'm guessing TT or JJ as those would have been over pairs to the board. A good start to the day for me.

I'm only telling the story of that QQ hand because I think it may have influenced what happened in this next hand. This happened about an hour later, and my stack was back down to about $210. I was in the CO with QTo, and had one limper in front of me. I had not played a hand in what felt like a long time to me so I decided to raise it up mainly as a steal attempt but also possibly to isolate this limper who was sitting on my right. This guy was funny because he would limp and any time I raised over his limp he would throw his right hand up in the air and shake his head like he just couldn't believe it was possible then usually fold when it got back to him. I was out of $1 chips so I put three $5 chips out and said loudly (I thought) "Twelve" to the dealer meaning I raise to $12. I got a call from the guy two to my left in the SB who was the same guy from the QQ hand above, and the limper guy on my right folded. I was expecting $3 in change after raising it to $12 with the three $5 chips, but I wasn't watching the dealer super close and before I realized he didn't give me change he had put the flop out there. The flop was 89J with two clubs giving me the nut straight. I looked at the flop and said to the dealer "I said my raise was to $12", but actually happy that the pot was bigger since I had flopped the nuts, lol. He said he was sorry that he didn't hear that, but it was too late because the flop was already out there, and he couldn't make change now. I immediately waved it off saying it's fine. The SB checks it to me and I make it $20 into the pot that was a little over $30. He calls. The turn was a red 4 so I still have the nuts. SB checks to me and I make it $50. I glanced at the SB stack size and realized that he had only started the hand with about $70 in chips and to call my bet was actually for more chips than he had left. I was kind of disappointed that he didn't have a larger stack while I was sitting there with the nuts. He was holding the remainder of his chips with his hand sort of umbrella like over them with the fingertips touching the felt so I couldn't see that actually on the other side of the chips he had another $100 bill in cash on the table so instead of starting the hand with $70 he actually started it with $170 and I had him covered. He threw the $100 bill out there to make the call on the turn, and the dealer gave him change in chips. The turn was a red 2 blank, and I was excited. It seems like it never happens that you flop the nuts and it's still the nuts by the river, lol. I saw that blank and I just immediately said "I'm all in!" ... so the dealer says "you have to wait sir", I very intelligently said "huh?" and the dealer reminded me that I had to wait for the other guy to act first. Luckily, the SB guy just said "It's fine, I check, he's all in, I call" and put his remaining chips out there and turns over AA all within about three seconds. I show the nuts and tip the dealer. The SB guy decided he was done and left the table saying to me "Nice catch".

Suddenly I was up to about $380 stack, but over the next couple of hours I gave some back in a few hands. One was where I flopped bottom two pair and had to fold on the river when I got counterfeited. The other was where I opened with AJ of spades, and got one caller. The flop was KQ4r with a spade. I c-bet and get called. The turn is 6 of spades giving me the nut flush draw and a T still gives me nut straight so I barreled and got called. The river was another Q, not a spade. I check because I don't think he's folding whatever he was calling twice with. He checked behind with QJo and went to showdown ...

I was getting close to my three hour mark and thinking about getting something to eat. This is when I made a really bad mistake due to lack of focus. The table had gotten quite loose, especially this one guy who was playing probably at least 80 percent of pots. He was basically playing similarly to an online 2nl 85/40 maniac type. I was in middle position with the maniac guy yet to act about four seats to my left in the SB. The guy to my right is still the arm waving limper guy and he limps with another limper in front of him. I have AKo both red cards, and I decide to just limp along because at this point the raises were just getting called by everyone. There was a young lady new to the table on the BU and she limps along then the maniac guy raises to $12. The first limper folds, arm guy calls, I call, young lady calls. I miss on the flop which was 286 with two diamonds, and I think I'm done with this hand. It checks around and the turn comes a 9 but I'm not really looking at it. I'm thinking about getting some food. The maniac guy bets $10 into a pot of something like $46. The guy on my right calls, I fold, the young lady calls. The river is a Q. The maniac guy checks, and then the arm guy on my right comes out and bets $60 into the pot that was around $76 by then. I was surprised and started paying attention again. The young lady goes into the tank for a little bit then calls and the maniac guy folds. The guy on my right turns over AKo with the K of diamonds and then I finally see that the 9 on the turn was a diamond, and the Q on the river was a diamond so he had the K high flush. I realized that the AKo that I folded were both red so that meant that I had folded the A of diamonds, nut flush draw, on the turn to that tiny bet and I would have made the nuts on the river while the guy on my right had the second nuts. The young lady had JT for the nut straight. I'm not sure if she had a diamond or not. As things went down I don't think that the girl would have called if I had still been in the hand and I had raised the $60 bet from the guy on my right, but I'm almost 100% sure that he would have played for his whole stack. He didn't have a full 100 BB stack, but if I had stayed in then the pot would have ended up being in the $300 range. Lesson learned. Stay focused!!

I left the table after my three hours were completed, up $85 and went to get some food.

After eating I walked around a bit. I decided that I would go ahead and take the 7pm shuttle back to my hotel instead of staying out late.  I figured that I would go back to the Mandalay Bay where the shuttle would pick me up and check out the poker room they have in that casino. That way I could just play until it was time to get picked up by the shuttle and not worry about trying to walk back at the right time.

I walked up to the poker room in the Mandalay Bay and saw that there was basically no wait for $1/$2. I was happy to hear that their tables were nine person tables instead of the ten person variety.

During my first round at the table I was in the SB and had 52s. There was about four limpers ahead of me so I decided to complete the SB and see what happened. This hand is where I made another card reading error. The flop came 345, but all I saw was that I had top pair and no kicker. I didn't even realize that along with my top pair I had an open ended straight draw. I was in the SB, I led out, and got called by one guy. I felt like the hand was super vulnerable. There is basically no card I wanted to see on the turn as I didn't recognize my straight draw. Actually there was a card on the turn that I wanted to see as another 5 arrived. I led out again and got called, and I was feeling pretty good about it. I had no kicker, but wasn't getting any indication that he had a 5 also or had flopped a set that was now a boat. The river was an A, and I liked seeing that because I thought it was possible that he was calling with A high and now he had paired it. I thought my three 5s were very likely ahead. I led out again, and got called. I turned over my hand and said "I got a 5". The dealer very quickly saw that I actually had a straight and announced that. I felt pretty sheepish. The other guy in the hand hadn't turned over his cards yet, and he was looking at my hand and he sounded really confused as he said "What is it?". The dealer said it was a straight, and the other guy mucked his hand. I was slowly slipping under the table in embarrassment. I mumbled into my belly button that the five was probably good. I don't know what the other guy hand. He never said.

I ended up leaving that table up $55 so that brought me to up $140 on the day, but down $60 when including the previous night. I was still feeling pretty good about it though. I definitely learned a lot and now feel like it's realistic that I could be able to beat those games in the future. I'm happy that I stopped instead of just passing through. I guess this blog post would have been much shorter if i just kept driving, lol.

In other news, I live in Mexico now so I can play online for real money again.

Thanks for reading!