Vegas Day One – Flamingo Poker

It’s just past midnight here and I have just got in from my first live poker session in Vegas. I started out the day with a buffet breakfast at about 10am. That saw me through to dinner, which was good. The buffet was about 75 metres long and had just about everything you could imagine. After breakfast I signed up for a players reward card, the card is valid at all Harrah’s property casinos, which covers a fair few of the casinos I plan to play at. I then went and withdrew a bit of a Vegas bankroll for myself from the ATM, as you can see in my pictures I had some fun with it before I stash it away safely. The room here has a laptop sized safe, up until now I’d been locking my computer in my luggage when I went out.

I went to investigate the gym facilities, and it turns out it is a fitness club… which you have to pay a daily fee for. I read that it was $20 a day… so I went straight to the pool. I did a bit of reading poolside, taking in some rays. The pool here is nowhere near as fancy as some of the others Harrah’s properties. The Flamingo, which I played at tonight, as a Flamingo Habitat at there’s and others even have swim up blackjack tables.

After I’d had enough of that I came back to the room and settled in for an online session. I’m going to have to try and strike a balance between getting a lot of hands in and confidence up and not burning myself out. It wasn’t looking good early, I had a few sick hands, but I made a good comeback and finished with a small positive sum. So far on the trip, I’m up over $1000 playing online, but it’s been swingy.

I didn’t want to hit the strip feeling seedy, so I took a shower and then headed out for something to eat. I got a quick burger, wasn’t anything flash and then walked down a couple of casinos to Flamingos. The poker room was smallish, less than 20 tables, I managed to get a seat straight away at the $1/$2 no limit table. The minimum buy-in is $100 and the maximum and the maximum is $300. I just want to stop for a moment to compare this structure with what I encountered at Hollywood Park Casino in LA. There, they had the exact same blinds $1/$2, but the maximum buy-in was $40! I bought in for $200, giving me 100 big blinds, which is what I am used to online. Usually, I would always buy-in for the maximum, but I just wanted to feel out the games of Vegas before I invest that much.

The next two hours of poker, were just about the most enjoyable poker I’ve ever been a part of. The table was really friendly and I won a little, but not much. The guy sitting to my right introduced himself as Chris from California, he was a salesman, about my age, and could talk your ear off obviously. He was downing a few drinks and having some fun, he said he’d come to Vegas for the weekend with $300, most of it was on the table. After he left, and a few others left the table dynamic completely changed, for the worse. Not just in the sense of the chatter and vibe, but the looseness and fun of the game. From that point on I went into my shell, didn’t pick up a lot of hands, and didn’t really say anything.

When it came time for me next to enter a pot raising, the girl sitting two to my left (who was a dealer at another casino) said that she hadn’t heard a peep out of my for a while. I replied “peep”, and from that point on for the next 3 or 4 hours, I was known as Peep.

There is one hand of interest that I am really not sure about. I was in late position with AQ of spades, there were three limpers in front of me and I raised to $12. The small blind (dealer girl) called, as did the under the gun limper, a guy from the south that had been very aggressive and winning at it. At this point I had about $220 left in my stack and both other players had similar stacks. The flop came down Q33, with two clubs. Dealer chick led out at the flop for $30 and UTG made it $90. What the heck!? I just had a bad feeling about the hand, eventually I decided to fold, the more I played with UTG guy afterwards, the more I felt I should have pushed all-in. Maybe I got scared, but my senses were telling me something was up that hand. Dealer girl folded, so obviously she didn’t have me beat. UTG man made the same play several times after that when dealer girl bet out though. If the hand had of been online I think I would have pushed all-in. Still, I really shouldn’t question my instincts, because they are usually pretty reliable. I think what I said/feel about what I would have done online highlights something that I really should stop worrying about. Online I feel like I have a security blanket, I am playing multiple tables, double the hands an hour and I have bonus money and rake back come my way. I am more diversified, I feel a lot less exposed. Whereas in live cash game play, sure I’m paying more attention and probably playing a lot better poker, but in the back of my head I know if I lose a big pot (whether through bad play or bad luck) my time to recover from the beat is a lot longer.

Positive from the night was my discipline; I go up midway through the session, about $90. After a few missed flops and blinding down I was down about $30 at one point. I didn’t get crazy; I just played out time and waited for things to come my way. I got my money in against a short stack AK vs. KJ and it held and it was worth it. I finished the session up $50 and feeling confident for the rest of the Vegas trip. A few words on the Flamingo setup, it is no frills that’s for sure, but in some ways that was kind of cool. The decks of cards we were using were slightly faded and weren’t changed all night; the dealer’s were nice and astute, but informal and less strict. Drinks were free, whatever you wanted; tip the waitress a dollar though. I got to tip the dealer a few times tonight, which feels good after not winning a pot at Commerce Casino in LA the other day.

While I was at the table people there were a few players who were playing in the $1,500 buy-in event at the World Series tomorrow. I am playing in the identical event, but in a week or so. There was a story that one guy had of a friend who played in the $2,000 event and got to sit next to Doyle Brunson for four hours. Usually in a poker game, you wouldn’t want sit down at a table with a pro, but in my case I think it would really make my Vegas trip complete if I got to play with an idol. It’s past 1AM now, time to watch a little Late Night with Conan O’Brien in the bath an unwind.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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