Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Refreshing Break in Vegas


After my trip to the Bahamas for the PCA I decided to make a slight de-tour before coming home by chilling in Vegas for 8 days. This was my third trip to Vegas. Previously I've just visited Sin City during the WSOP in the Summer for extended 6 week stays primarily with grind-on-the-mind so it was quite refreshing to come to Vegas just to relax and enjoy everything the city has to offer outside of the abundance of card-rooms.

I was staying with one of my American friends, Kenny, who had relocated and moved into a pretty sweet bungalow just south of the strip with a big pool, garden and huge rooms with an impressive looking kitchen. Unfortunately over the "festive" period some local pikeys burgled him when he was back home in Miami seeing family so the house was looking pretty bare. My other good friend Zach made the flight down from Michigan for the week. Our trip was probably quite good timing as it would allow us to give Kenny a good moral boost and have fun Vegas-style.

One of my favourite things about Vegas is the food. Being a fat bastard this is always pretty much a highlight of the trip. If anyones interested I can recommend a whole host of restaurants/bars/fast food places I could recommend and I'm no way near sampling all the city has to offer. The thing about Vegas food that I think a lot of tourists don't realise is that in my opinion just a short drive off the strip you can get some incredible restaurants/diners/fast food joints and everything is so much cheaper! I won't actually go on too much more about the food as it's literally making me hungry as I type this but here's a photo below. Mmmmm :)

I decided to hire a convertible Ford Mustang for the week which was on offer by Hertz rentals for my stay so inevitably couldn't wait to get out of the city and try this piece of all American Muscle out on the desert roads. Just a side note, after a whole week of doing wheel-spins and bombing around from place to place my fuel bill for the trip was only $40, must be nice to be American! Alas, back to the story. One of the first trips we did was making the 50 minute drive-out to the snow-capped mountains just outside of the city. Our destination was mount Charleston where you can actually go skiing and snow-boarding. How weird is that? Just outside of this incredibly hot desert there are ski resorts within an hours drive. Pretty cool regardless. The hike up to the top of the mountain is incredible. Dark blue skies with the sun shining off the icy snow patches. Really scenically beautiful and most likely the best hike I've ever had. At the end of the walk which took us to a great frozen water-fall which flows in the Summer months there's a huge frozen icicles hanging from the rock face. It didn't take us long to start sliding down the ice until we almost got crushed by some falling ice from the cliff face above. Ooops :p

We also had another great night out seeing the dubstep group 'Skrillex' at Surrender in the Wynn. Lot's of pre-gaming beer pong with hidden shots of various liquors and an awesome atmosphere at the club resorted in an amazing night out. I've not actually had that many nights out in the past on my Vegas trips. I used to do a lot of clubbing as a student at uni, but since graduating other than on holidays I really very rarely go. In Vegas in previous years we've always stuck to the bars rather than the somewhat pricey clubs but after seeing Skrillex I really think I've got to try hitting the clubs again especially on my next Vegas trip in the Summer.

Now to the gambling, what the city's famous for. I did very little pit-gambling just spewing off a couple of $100 messing around having drinks playing video poker. We did manage to get a few sessions in at the poker tables though. In total I played 3 sessions of $1/$2 and predominantly $2/$5 coming out with a $1000 profit on the trip. Unfortunately this could have been a bit more if I didn't lose a $2400 pot spazzing queens into Aces in a $2/$5/$10 game with a missippi straddle but what do you do. I enjoy playing cash in Vegas way way more than in England. I'm not sure why, maybe the lower rake, nicer scenery, efficiency and softness of the games. Who knows. Maybe it's just I like to sub-conciously gamble in Vegas but feel retarded if I spew money at the craps or roulette table. Anyway it was nice to run good over this short sample and book a tidy cash win. Zach and I also decided to flick it in for a couple of $1ks happening at the Red Rock casino a few miles off from the main strip (awesome casino btw I really liked the vibe in there). It was a $1k/$250k gtd re-entry tournament with 3 flights. My day 1a table was hilarious. I was the youngest guy on there by 30-40 years and the play was a joke. I guess it was mainly just old locals as there seemed to be almost no advertising for the tournament series and obviously no online satelittes and I feel that most of the sicko tournament guys that live in Vegas were in Australia or in LA for their respective series. The table talk did get very interesting though and with the addition of Dave Sands (Doc_Sands) I found out that 3 of my 8 table mates had played the PCA $100k super-high roller a week earlier. Sickos! 2 of them were 60+ billionaires that were both planning on playing the $1m WSOP 2012 tournament too and Doc_Sands the very good tournament pro that managed to get 2nd in the PCA $100k. Why he didn't make the trip to Australia I don't know but he certainly made the table tougher. I didn't get much going in either of my entries running AK into Aces and doing my stack off to Doc_Sands with AhTx on KhJh7x flop in a 3bet pot. #OntoTheNextDonation right?

So overall I had an incredible time. It's kind of weird seeing Vegas not in the peak of the Summer, but even in their winter-time it's just like a British Summer. Blue skies and you can get away with a t-shirt/shorts combo in the day and wearing a jumper at night as the temperature drops. Although I'm just at Vegas airport at the moment, I'm already looking forward to my next trip over in the Summer for the world series. I think this upcoming trip will be shorter than previous years. I aim to go up to Montana for a few days prior to the WSOP trip hunting/camping/fishing and enjoying the great natural outdoors before plumetting myself in the Artificial wonderland that is Vegas for a couple of weeks. First priority though is to bink another WSOP package, and hopefully this time get the money for it :)

GL at the tables guys.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

PCA Trip to the Bahamas!

I'm currently sat in Miami airport waiting for my connection to Vegas from Nassau in the Bahamas where I spent the last 9 days donating in live tournaments, relaxing by the pool and eating mediocre food! It still feels weird for me to be sat in this airport now and to not be allowed to fire up any of my poker skins and play an online session without fear of getting my account frozen. But that's a different matter. Sort it out yanks!

In the end I really enjoyed my time in the Bahamas. Despite what seems to be the ongoing trend in the poker community the Atlantis resort is, in my opinion, a great getaway and a great place to spend a week in the sun especially in January whilst most of Northern Europe is grey, wet and horrible. Sure, the food in the Bahamas is very bland and expensive but what can you really expect? It's an isolated group of Islands in the middle of the sea without any farms or ability to grow fresh crops. On the food front I wish there was more fresh local produce like more fresh-fish and fruit as opposed to lot's of over-priced burgers and pizzas but whatever, no-one comes to the Bahamas for the food anyway! I think people like to complain a lot more than they probably should, so I'm going to focus on the positives and point out the factors that resulted in me having a great week.

I've never actually been to a resort like the Atlantis, but the hotel pretty much occupies this massive island just off the main Island of the Bahamas. The Island the resort's on is called 'Paradise Island' which probably leads back to a lot of peoples criticism of the place. It is pretty artificial in the fact that this Island is custom built for the hotel and the entertainment complex that it holds. But in my opinion, it does it really well. Throughout the Island there is a huge network of pools, hidden coves and river networks all interwined and surrounded by really well kept tropical fauna and palm trees. What's more the beaches on Paradise Island are incredible. Picture white sands and clear warm waters. It really doesn't get much better. Throughout the island there is also some amazing sea-life. Not only are there the very well trained dolphins and sea-lions which do tricks on demand (artificial blah blah blah whatever a dolphin  running 20 meters backwards across the water like a Jesus-style Micheal Jackson moonwalk impression is cool enough regardless!) but there are also other bad-asses like hammer-head shark pools which you can view circling below you as you clamber across swaying rope bridges. As well as a range of other sharks, starfish, tropical beasts of various shapes and sizes the animal that most impressed me was the stingrays. Some of them were literally monstorous in size about 4 meters long. I always thought they were pretty small on the whole but a few of these were absolutely massive. They were so elegant swimming past each other too and they look so alien I was pretty amazed. I guess it's the little things that count :)

One of the best times I had on the Island was on the lazy-river. The resort somehow also doubles as a massive water-park intertwined with various slides, shoots and waterways all designed to be accessible by plonking your fat ass on an inflatable tube and just lolling away to wherever the current takes you. It's also pretty awesome how they have massive conveyor belts that once you've looped around to the end hoist you up to the top of another slide so you can start all over again. A perfect way to spend an afternoon in the sunshine.

Now onto the poker. I played the main and had a pretty good table draw. The only recognisable names on my table was one of Moormans horses Chronic420 (pretty aggro, spazzy) but he was to my right and Mike Leah (GoLeafsGoeh online, a very good solid TAG) but he was to my left. Other than that the table just had your typical live setting of button clicking tards and old nits. I played a solid style, picking on the weaker players on the table and chipped up relatively variance-free from the 30k starting stack to 55k.

I got a kind of lucky donation on my way though. At 75/150 a bad older guy from the States who obviously had far too much money and was being super-splashy raised in early position to 450 and I made it 1100 on the button with AKo expecting him to flat almost his entire opening range which for an old guy from his position was pretty wide as far as I had seen so far. He was talking to the guy next to him, pulled in the 250 and chucked 2 5k chips out there making a raise to 10,100. I looked at him and I was almost entirely sure he hadn't meant this which was confirmed by his face going bright red and him looking like he just shit himself really bad. I shoved and he snap folded so that was a nice little chip-up. I think if he hadn't had been chatting to the guy next to him and didn't look like he genuinely just shit himself it could be a closer spot as people definately like to fake mis-click live and everyone falls for it. I guess it's kinda douchy and angle shooting but whatever if it works it works!

My downfall started at 250/500/50. An active player opened from early position to 1500 and got a flat. I flatted behind in the cut-off with JJ. 3-bettings certainly an option but we both had over 100 big blinds and I really didn't want to get it in at that point or get 4bet bluffed so I elected to flat. It folded to the big blind who was a young kid but really wasn't that good. He was from Canada and I'd seen him mess up a few times, not value-betting when he should and just doing stupid stuff. He had 16k to start the hand and 3bet to 4300. I'd seen he was definately capable of squeezing light before and 3betting. I'd got the better of him 3/3 times so far on the day and felt he was getting frustrated being down to half stack. Still I think with that sizing out of position and given the early position of his raise I should fold my jacks if it comes back to me. As happened, it folded back to me, I thought meh he's enough of a spazz and clicked it back/called into his aces. I think for most people it's a clear fold given his sizing pre and that there's a fairly good change he just peels with a hand like 2-8s and probably sizes 9-T's more as my table was pretty hood to 3bets and I expect he wouldn't want to play a pot OOP with a hand like 9's or T's that flops pretty badly with more than a pot sized bet behind in his stack.

In the end I accumulated a little more, made it to the penultimate level of day 1 and got in kings v QTo in a 3bet pot on a TTx board with Chronic420 when I was a little too shallow to be getting away from my hand vs. him specifically.

Other than that, I played a few of the side events in the later part of the week as the weather turned a little more sour. I felt like I played well and had deep runs in 4 out of the 6 tournaments I played. Unfortunately that didn't mean a whole lot as I only cashed for $640 mincashing a $300 turbo. I came 10 off the money in the $1k side getting coolered near the bubble. I got deep runs in 2/3 of the ridiculously soft $300 turbos I played and came 9th with 5 paid in the 2p2 HORSE event. On the plus side, I played 4 live sit'n'go's on the trip. 2x$220 and 2x$430. I managed to win one of both buyins for $1k and $2k respectively and had a $400 bonus in the $430 after 5 of us got involved in a $100 last longer at the table. So it wasn't all fail :)

I'll just explain the 2p2 HORSE event now as it was honestly the funnest tournament I've probably ever played live. I would love it so much if the UKIPT could spread it on their stops. The basic rules are that every player gets dealt 3 cards face down. THe button then looks at his hand and chooses which variety of HORSE he wants to play. The games that those don't know are all limit: holdem, Omaha 8 or better, Razz, Stud Hi and Stud 8 or better. So for instance if the dealer chooses holdem, the blinds are placed and every player discards one card. Similarly if it's omaha every player gets another card. The limit games were really fun and the mix was great. Most people chose razz/omaha/holdem which are by far the funnest games in the rotation. In the stud games when they were chosen there was also the added strategy of choosing which card you want to put face-up. For instance in razz, the highest card has to bring in so based on what cards other people show affects your decision for what card you should show. Not only due to blockers but also due to your position on 3rd street betting and not wanting to bring-in if you've got a bad hand! I'm not very good at mixed games but after playing that really really wish there was more low-buyin mixed games on the poker tour. It was such a fun change to just grinding NLH full ring which can get so so boring. There was a really fun atmosphere at the tournament and everyone had a great time. Please stars, more of this at your future tournament stops!

So that was my week! I had a great time and enjoyed seeing the sun again. Now it's onto Vegas. I'm going to probably chill a few days doing the usual vegas stuff of eating out, a bit of pit gambling and just enjoying life. And then later in the week there are a few $350 side events for the WSOPc at Caesers and a $1100/$250k gtd tournament at the red rock casino which I might donate in. Should be fun!

Gl at the tables all.