[ I'm continuing to post about my Vegas trip. Much of this may be
boring to those who have been to the WSoP and/or Vegas before, but it
was all new to me, and it will certainly be of interest to those who've
never been, and perhaps some interest to those who have. ]
W.D. and I were now headed on that Monday night back to the Wynn. The
walk back wasn't too hard, but “off-strip” really does
mean “far away”. The Rio to the Wynn walk in the Vegas
fall or winter might be a brisk, nice walk. But, this time of year,
it seemed to tax the body. Once we made it to the Wynn, I couldn't
help but pop back up to the room for a shower.
This actually became a habit of mine; I was taking showers basically
every time we returned to the Wynn after being outside; one of the
days I took three (including my usual morning one). I suppose it's
somewhat decadent to respond to this scorching anti-environmentalist
monstrosity that is Vegas by wasting the precious desert water supply,
but I couldn't help myself. I suppose my version of
in Vegas stays in Vegas is
I took a lot of showers, abusing a
limited water supply. I'm such a liberal goodie-two-shoes —
ooh, I didn't recycle one time, aren't I evil? :)
Before my shower, I called down to add myself to the $1/$3 and $2/$5 NL
HE lists, and was literally able to watch the names move during my
shower via the LCD screen in the bathroom. As I got dressed, I was
three from the top on $2/$5, and headed down.
This game was tight. People were making preflop plays; continuation
bets were winning three-way pots uncontested. I started to feel like
“wow, Vegas games are tough”. When my name rolled to the
top of the $1/$3 list, I was ready to switch.
I joined a friendly table of about three confused tourists, one
semi-pro from Reno, two annoying locals, and the rest WSoP
fans/satellite winners. I was slightly nervous — not that the
stakes were that high — but I was still not fully comfortable
with the idea that I was in the center of the poker mecca at the most
popular room. Even though there were some real ($10/$20, and
$20/$40 blind) games at the adjacent tables, I felt like my small
stakes game was a big challenge.
I quickly realized that the locals were highly experienced players who
sat in these smaller games for the easy money. The Wynn is somewhat
unique in that their NL games have no cap buy-in at any stakes. The
game plays very big, and one of the locals had a wad of $5,000
sitting on the table ready to throw if he got a tourist in a bad
His buddy, a dour-faced portly Lebanese man, who went only by the
moniker, “the Doctor”, couldn't have been more
unlike the people I call “doctor” (such as Tom
Baker or Christopher Eccleston). He was sarcastic, rude, mean, nasty,
and demeaning to the other players. He didn't care if he scared fish
away; he knew more were on the list and was there for the duration.
Even worse, his buddy with the wad thought the Doctor was the funniest
guy on the planet, and, as W.D. eloquently put it,
laughed like a
hyena at the Doctor's lame jokes. These two, and the Doctor in
particular, would figure prominently into our Vegas sessions; he was
part of the Wynn's furniture.
I played reasonably tight for a while, and decided to take a flop with
one of my favorite NL HE hands, 5 3. I was in the big blind with
four other people seeing a $9 preflop raise from the UTG+1 tourist to
I checked the flop of 3 7 K, and we saw the turn of 5 at no charge.
The Reno semi-pro seated two to my right was on the button, and had
usually bet at pots that were checked to him twice, so I went for a
check-raise. Reno didn't disappoint and bet $18, and I made it $45 to
go. The action seemed to fly around to him and he folded quickly. I
flashed my hand toward him, in hopes to show how loose I was playing.
As I moved to land it down face up on the felt (I always show one,
show all without being asked), I realized that someone had called the
$45 cold in between. He was one of the tourists, who, fumbling with
the chips, hadn't put his chips fully forward and his call was
slightly obscured. This was no excuse; I've never done this before,
but perhaps the excitement of playing in Vegas had gotten the better of
me and kept me off my usual observance.
I didn't want my hand to be necessarily dead; I asked the dealer if my
exposed hand was dead as I landed it back face-down in front of me.
(The whole movement ended up being one basic motion: lift, flash to
right, see caller to left, land cards face down.) I didn't know at
this point who all had seen it; I was sure the full right side (1,2,3,4 seats) had seen, but I simply didn't know if the caller had!
The dealer told me my hand was absolutely live, and I said:
half the table's seen my hand, so I'll check it dark. The river
fell 5, and most of the people to my
right gasped and started laughing a bit.
Strangely, my clandestinely calling tourist bet $150 into the pot! I
had no clue what was happening! Had he seen my hand? Did he and the
people around him think I'd shown Reno a bluff, and therefore my blind
check induced this bet? And, why the size of the pot? If he'd seen
my hand, and was making a value bet, wouldn't it be less? I guessed
maybe not, since he would know I was full and would likely pay off a
large value bet. I asked him if he'd seen my hand, and he
I was actually starting to put the pieces together. Just barely, I was
starting to realize that he must have me beat. But, instead, I just
acted too fast. Before I was even done going through the facts, I
heard myself saying
all in and my whole stack was moving
Wait a second, I haven't thought this through, what am I
doing?; the thought flashed across my brain as I heard:
call and saw, through my now confusion-fogged vision the K 5, and I heard,
seen your hand and knew you couldn't get away from it.. What had
So, this marks the largest technical mistake I've ever made,
compounded by the pure silliness of a bad move. Fortunately, he
didn't have many chips left behind, and I was left with about $240 of
my original $600 buy-in.
It was clear I made an insane mistake (one can argue that I have to
call his river bet, just in case he hadn't actually seen my holding,
but going all-in is a luxury that I couldn't afford at that point).
The funniest thing was that, had I not exposed my hand, I would have
had to put him on a naked 5 like A5s on the river and would have been
forced to call. In other words, my exposed hand actually made it
possible to avoid being fully stacked, and I missed the opportunity.
I quickly decided what I had to do. The truth was that I couldn't have
gotten away from the situation had I not exposed my hand. Sure, I'd
made a huge error, having actually given myself an advantage exposing
my hand. But, I decided to put the technical mistake in the back of
my mind for later analysis (which is below), and consider the fact
that I'd have paid off anyway. It was not easily discernible that
he'd failed to bet out and reraise with a better two-pair on
the turn, and I'd never have made that huge laydown on the river.
So, why dwell on it? It was a beat that I only had the possibility of
avoiding because of the exposed hand mistake anyway (or by being a
much better card-reader than I am), so I let it be and restored my
stack with a $400 rebuy. I pretended like it hadn't happened and
started playing again. In my next Vegas Retrospective post, I'll talk
about how I evened up just one orbit later holding — you
probably almost guessed it — a 5 2.
I've now had enough time to think about the technical mistake I mentioned above.
My feeling is that there were two factors at play that caused my
problem. First, there was the obvious excitement I had of playing
in Vegas for the first time. My head was not completely clear; it
was muddled a bit with the exuberance of playing there for the
first time. I should be more careful in the future when I am a
little too excited to be playing poker and calm myself down.
Second, looking back over my whole live poker career, I very
rarely sit in the four and five seats; I basically only sit
there when it's the only open seat or I am trying to get relative
position on someone. I do, upon review, have the hardest time
seeing the action from those seats. So, in the future, I need to
be extra careful when in those seats that I understand the action
that has happened.