I've been home from the WPBT Winter Classic for five days now and, like the procrastinator that I am, I'm just now writing my recollections from the trip. Some of the memories are starting to fade from my aging brain already, so I'd better commit them to my blog before they vanish completely.
Overall, I had a great time and I'm very glad I went. The best part was meeting lots of people that I had only chatted with or heard of on line. Although I am probably going to leave some out, the roll call of new faces that I got to put with names includes Dr. Pauly, Iggy, Change100, Columbo and the Mrs., Instant Tragedy, Pokerpeaker, Falstaff, Derek, Otis, AlCan'tHang, Mean Gene, Weak Player, Penner, Blinders, Zeem, The Rooster, Mr. Subliminal, CarmenSinCity, Joe Speaker, Irish Jim, BadBlood, Bacon Bikini Mary, Mattazuma, ScottMc, Maigrey, Garthmeister, Texas April, StB, Biggestron, TraumaPoker, Waffles, Linda Geenen, CC, Johnny Hughes, CK aka B.w.o.P, and undoubtedly more whom I can't remember at the moment. Please leave me a comment if I left you out (or got your link wrong) and I will update this post. I also renewed my acquaintance with the Okie-Vegas crew that I met this summer: GCox and Carrie, Maudie, Gracie, Jordan, TripJax (and ChickJax for the first time), Katitude, and F-Train. Some of the people above, I got to spend a bit of time with; others, I managed an introduction and a handshake and that was it. But it was a pleasure meeting everyone, and I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet even more people who were there but I just plain missed.
As for the reason for the whole thing in the first place: Poker. My performance was, in a word, variable. I played the mixed games at MGM Friday night; went up for a bit, then donked off enough chips to finish my night down about half my buy-in. It was fun playing a variety of games, with a variety of players. At my table during the course of the evening I had Falstaff, Trauma, Mary, the Rooster, Linda, Jordan, and a few others. Everyone was there to have a good time and the play was fairly loose, even by a tighty like me which may well account for me finishing down as much as I did. We played Crazy Pineapple, Omaha 8, Razz, maybe Stud 8, and strangely enough, one orbit of good old fashioned Hold 'Em. All $3 - $6 Limit, thank goodness, or I think I would have had to bail out early or skip it altogether.
The Main Event tourney on Saturday at the Venetian. I decided going in that I was going to stay tight and not take any foolish chances. The structure arranged by Falstaff and the Venetian poker room allowed for being conservative and sticking around for a while. Too bad I couldn't follow my own game plan. The hand that essentially finished me went down something like this (like I said, my memory is getting worse by the hour).
The table had been playing fairly tight. Blinds were 50/100, I still had maybe 5000 of my starting stack of 6000. I was in EP and got AJ (may have both been diamonds). I raised to 400 in hopes of representing a strong hand and getting heads-up or taking the blinds. Carol (whose screen name I don't recall), two seats to my left and almost even with me in chips, called; everyone else folded. Flop had A 9 5, all hearts. I felt like I had to bet my top pair to see where I stood, so I put in around 500. I think Carol raised to about 2000. At this point, I didn't put her on the flush, as I would expect her just to call. I thought she might have another A with possibly a lower kicker than mine and she was trying to get me to fold. I called, leaving me with roughly 3000 or a little less. The turn was a J, not a heart. I caught my second pair, so I bet out. Carol went all in. I thought about it, thinking she was still trying to push me off the hand, and made the call. She turned over 99 for the flopped set. I didn't see that coming, but I should have, as her bets made sense for that holding. I just didn't run through the entire range of hands she might have had. Also, even worse, it was still early enough in the tournament that I could have folded on the turn and had plenty of chips to keep playing. That mistake is what bothers me the most about this hand. Anyhow, I didn't catch an A or J on the river. I had Carol covered by 75 chips, but I lost those a few hands later when my Kd Jd ran into Linda's AK which flopped two more Aces. So, I busted out before the second level was done. I felt really stupid after that and swore, for about the 77th time in my life, that I was done with poker, forever. That lasted about 20 minutes, until I decided to play some low-stakes Limit. I got into a $4 - 8 game which turned out to be pretty soft. I caught a few hands and won a few pots, and then Maudie joined my table after she busted out of the tourney. She did better than I did, catching some monster hands and raking some very nice pots. I only wish I could have made back my tourney buy-in, but that would have taken more time than I had. I wanted to see Second City at the Flamingo that night, so I headed down there and got a ticket to the 10:00 PM show. To kill time before that started, I played some $2-4 Limit for about an hour and a half and finished about $20 ahead. Oh yeah, Second City was great.
Sunday, I played in the noon $60 tourney at the Imperial Palace, after visiting with the blogger gang in the sports bar for a while in the morning. I didn't last long in that one either, but I feel like I just got unlucky this time. I picked up AK in MP, pushed for about 2000, and got called by the BB who showed AA. No help for me and I was out. After going back to the sports bar to watch the Cowboys come from behind to beat Detroit, I went back to the IP poker room and played some $2-4 Limit. This game was softer than the Venetian $4-8, and thanks to a few sets and other good hands that held up, I finished that long session having more than doubled my $60 buy-in. My results for the trip were in the minus column, but I found that I still know how to play poker, at least some of the time.
When I wasn't at the poker tables, I didn't spend a lot of time with the other bloggers. I hung out with the group Thursday night at the Pai Gow tables and even played a little, finishing $20 ahead for the night. Friday, I spent at the Las Vegas Hilton treating myself to an afternoon at the Star Trek Experience, going on both rides and the Backstage Tour. That really was fun for a long-time Trek fan like me. But the rest of the time, I still felt mostly like the new kid at school, not really knowing everyone else who had already been through last semester together and had their friends to hang out with. That isn't to say that anyone was aloof or unfriendly to me; the opposite is true. But I think it is not uncommon for someone who is just meeting a group of people for the first time not to integrate into that group right away. I figure that if I go to another WPBT gathering, I won't be the rookie any more and I'll fit in a little better. Still, my style doesn't match that of a lot of this group, so the hard-drinking and party-till-dawn crowd probably won't be counting me among their number, at least not for the whole weekend.
Since I got home, I have played in the Riverchasers on Thursday and the Donkament on Friday. I didn't do very well in either of them, so my FT bankroll is getting punier all the time. It looks like I will be taking a break from the regular blogger tourneys and playing smaller games to build my roll back up. (I still have some $$$ on Bodog so I will probably play in their Tuesday night blogger tourney at least some of the time.) Meanwhile, I'll be reading my favorite poker blogs to keep up with what's going on in our little corner of the world.
To anyone reading this who was in Vegas last weekend: Thanks for the great time! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, or more. See you at another one soon!