WARNING: Lots of poker writing ahead, sorry to bore you!
Somehow, I hit the jackpot again, metaphorically speaking. It was my luck that my brother-in-law was in Vegas at the same time we were and he likes to play poker. Jen agreed to let me play poker after we all had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at the MGM with the girls and my brother-in-law.
Around 10:00 PM I pulled into the valet parking at the Bellagio Hotel, handed the Jeep keys to the valet and walked into the casino heading directly the Poker Room. This would be the second time ever I got a chance to play at the Bellagio Hotel and like the last time I played in 2006, I would leave with more money than I started with.
The Bellagio Poker Room is a bit of a mecca for poker players, some of the largest poker games in Vegas happened here in the mid-2000s. There are still large games today play there, I saw a few poker professionals there playing including Eli Elezra and Chau Giang who probably were playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When I arrived I found my brother-in-law at a 1/3 No Limit poker table. There were a few other tables open so I sat down at a 1/3 No Limit table behind him and bought in for $200. The first table I sat down at had a few interesting characters but many “rocks” who were grinding away. Very shortly, after I arrived, I won a small pot and was up to $245; I was feeling the “bug”.
Unfortunately a short while later I got involved with an East-European player. I re-raise pre-flop when I was dealt pocket Queens, he called and the two of us were heads-up to the flop. The flop came 10 high; he lead out for $35, I raised to $70 and he flat called. At this point, I put him on Ace-Ten and when the turn was dealt another 10, I was fearful that I was behind. He led out almost 50% of my remaining stack, which left me with two decisions, fold or push all-in. I sat silently for two minutes before folding, I was very confident he had me beat and I had him pegged on Ace-Ten. One of the people who sat next to him needled him into showing and he rolled over two Kings, I was behind the whole time and saved my last $160 to fight another battle.
Shortly after losing this large pot, two of the characters left the table and our table got very quiet in terms of action and verbally. After twenty minutes of near dead silence and uncontested pots, I asked for a table change and joined the table with my brother-in-law.
I sat down in Seat 3; my brother-in-law was in Seat 8. I should clarify at this point that I have no friends at the poker table, so I would have no problem taking down my brother-in-law at the poker table. I never treat anyone differently when I play poker; it is about winning the money when you play (and having fun doing it). My brother-in-law is a good poker player a good person, but his chips would look nice in my stack.
Over the next few hours, I would slowly build my stack from $160 to $475. The majority of the hands I won did not involve anything special, nor did I get out of line. I only won a few hands with bluffs, but the majority of hands I won were done rightfully so.
The defining hand of the night was when I was in the small blind; there were 5 other people in the hand by the time the action came to me. I looked down at 5-4 of clubs, a hand I love to play, so I called the smallish raise hoping to see a flop. The big blind re-raised from $7 to $15 to go. Of the 5 people who called, 4 stayed in the hand and I called the smallish re-raise. The flop came Queen-5-4, rainbow. I almost gasp; I had hit one of the perfect flops. I lead out for $15 since I was first to act and two people called me. The turn brought another 4 giving me a full house; it was highly unlikely that my hand was beat at this point so I led out for $45 and one person called me. The river brought a low card so I led out for $50 and the other player instantly folded, looking at the flop before it was mucked I suspect he was chasing a flush draw that never came. I wish he had hit that flush; I could have doubled up through him.
The majority of the time I was playing poker I was entertaining myself with the conversations others were having. There was a older guy, who said he had retired from the Commodities Trading business a few years ago and he was a bit “odd”. There was another guy, in his 70s, who was from Transylvania and had lived in Vegas for 25 years who got so pissed off he threw his cards at the dealer. The third memorable guy was from Arizona who seemed to know everyone and was disappointed he and his wife didn’t move to Queen Anne (he was ecstatic to learn I was from Seattle).
In the end I was getting tired and not really enjoying being up very late. It was around 4:00 AM and I did have to wake up the next morning for work. I clocked out with $456, nearly $256 more than I started with. I played poker for six hours so this works out to $42.66 a hour; not bad.
I really enjoyed playing at the Bellagio, they seemed very player focused and the layout of the room was excellent. Although I prefer playing in other Vegas Poker Rooms, I will try to come here again soon.