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A Wild and Wacky Game

May 8, 2009

Temperatures here in Vegas are already pushing 100, and it’s not even mid-May. Now, I’m not complaining about the heat, especially after spending the past two years in rainy, dreary Dublin, but I just can’t bring myself to turn on the air conditioner this early in the year. So, in an effort to beat the heat last night, I took a trip down to Caesars to play in their nightly $160 tournament.

It was a fine plan, in theory, except that I keep forgetting one thing about Caesars – I never run well there. Never. Last night went better than usual in the fact that I broke even (for my third straight session), but it certainly didn’t do anything to change my opinion of the room.

So, what happened? In the tournament, the answer is not much. I lost half of my $10K starting stack early on, but managed to make it back along with an extra two grand by the time we reached the first break. After that, my usual Caesars luck took hold, and I donked out shortly before the second break. Actually, donking out isn’t exactly fair. I lost most of my chips when I made a standard button raise with A-7 diamonds after the action was folded to me. Both blinds folded and the woman playing from under-the-gun called. The flop came K-2-J with two diamonds, and she shoved. We had pretty equal stacks and, with the nut flush draw, I called. Imagine my horror when she turned over K-2 off suit for a flopped two pair. WTF? Needless to say, I didn’t improve, and I busted out the next hand when I called an all-in for my last 1K blind. As it turns out, I flopped the house while holding A-8 off-suit, and lost when the other player turned his house with Ace-King.

Figuring I hadn’t suffered quite enough yet, I decided to jump into a new $1/$3 game that was starting up. And what a game it was. Epic, in fact.

Honestly, I’ve never seen a game play like this before. At least half the table was straddling and people weren’t shy about getting their stacks in the middle with the thinnest of draws. Some highlights (or low lights) include two hands where I raised the straddle from the small blind. In each case, I had a fairly strong starting hand (pocket 10s and A-Q suited) and I raised to $30 after at least five other players had limped. In each case, everyone who limped called my raise. Again, WTF?

You couldn’t push players out of pots on this table and slow playing a hand was simply suicide. If you caught top pair, you bet. If you had a draw, you bet and hoped your opponent didn’t have a better draw or redraw. You got your money in and hoped your hand held up. In my case, I burned through my first buy in when my flopped straight got flushed on the turn, and immediately rebought. I kept trying to pick my spots and finally managed to take down a few sizable pots near the end of the night, bringing my chip stack back to $700, which covered both my cash game and tournament buy-ins for the night.

I’d like to say I learned something interesting from the session or that I came up with some great revelation, but the fact is, I was too busy trying not to get run over by the maniacs all around me to have any meaningful insights. I tried my best to play the players around me, betting into the guys I knew would call with any two, and staying away from the one or two rocks* at the table. Other than that, it was mostly ABC poker. Of course, it was really fun ABC poker, but ABC poker nonetheless.

So, while I still run like shit at Caesars, I have to say I’ve never found a wilder game anywhere in this town except for when the blogging crew gets together for mixed game madness every six months or so. I’m really tempted to go back for more.

*Rocks is being defined very loosely. Pebbles is probably a better descriptor.

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