finishing up the long overdue conclusion to my vegas trip report! it will probably be a little less detailed than the first chapter, as it’s been a few months since my trip!
wednesday june 29 :: venetian ladies event
the venetian ladies event was fucking. incredible. i was the youngest person at my table (with the average age of poker scene these days, that’s an accomplishment!) and most pots were limped 6-7 ways, unless i raised the limpers, and they’d get annoyed and grumble but fold anyway. or they’d get annoyed and call, and then check/fold the flop. it’s not often i get to be the young whippersnapper at the table who’s causing all the trouble! i don’t think i showed down a hand once in the first couple levels, just raise some limpers and take it, or c-bet and take it. this was so easy and i loved it! i got myself in a really stupid situation though, when i was in the big blind in a 7ish-way limped pot with 84s. the flop was Q84 rainbow, which was nice for my hand. i wasn’t quite sure (and am still not sure) what the most optimal way to play this hand was though, given the vulnerability of bottom 2-pair on future streets. i discussed this hand with a couple people afterward and the opinions seemed equally split between leading out versus checkraising on the flop. anyway, i decided to lead out for a pretty large bet (probably 2/3 pot or so), and got two callers – one older woman who was generally a calling station, and the button, who was the only other young-ish person at the table, an asian lady in her mid-30s with a baseball cap. she had been playing very tight, but aggressively in the hands she did play, and was one of the only other players putting in pre-flop raises, c-betting, etc. the turn was a 3 of hearts, which was one of the only turn cards it was great seeing, but it was the second heart on the board. i decided to lead the turn again; middle-aged calling station lady gave up her hand, but the button raised my bet about 3x.
this had now become a very awkward spot. i don’t remember now what the blind levels and stacks were so i can’t give exact numbers, but the amount of her raise was about half of my remaining stack. so this became a situation where i would need to commit myself to the hand if i wanted to proceed. i was confident based on my read of this player that this was almost never a bluff, but i was also very confused about what value hands she could be doing this with. i assumed given her tight play until that point, she would almost never be in there with a hand like Q8, even if it was suited. i also thought it unlikely she would play 43s, though it seemed a hair more likely than Q8. i was 100% certain she would have raised a string of limpers preflop with QQ and about 90% certain she would have raised with 88 and AQ, so those were all out. that left 44, KQ, or QJ in the range of hands she might limp behind preflop, call on the flop, and raise on the turn. i could beat two of those hands; however, i couldn’t see why she would ever want to raise on the turn with either KQ or QJ.. unless – could i give her credit for a semibluff!? what if she had now picked up a flush draw with top pair, which would be a legitimately big hand?! sitting two to my right, she had no doubt been observing my aggressive play and general running-over of the table, and maybe she wanted to take a stand and teach me a lesson! obviously that was what was going on. i pushed all in! and.. obviously ran into the only hand she really could have in that spot, 44. she had me covered by a little bit and that was the end of my ladies event. once i thought through the hand afterward i realized what a huge mistake it was to get in with 2 pair in that situation. she was just never ever bluffing and it was also unlikely she was even semibluffing. at the time it seemed crazy to conclude that she had to have the last two 4’s in the deck, but that was absolutely the only hand that made any sense, and i should have been able to fold. i was beating myself up about it for the rest of the afternoon.
in the evening i went back down to the poker room and played a little cash, and also got to meet katie dozier aka hotjenny314, who was still hanging out in the ladies event and ended up making a deep run! also earlier in the day i finally met one of my first internet poker friends sketchy1 who was playing a more fancy venetian event at the same time as the ladies event. on this trip it was awesome to be able to meet so many people i’d been talking to online over the last year. when i’d visited vegas in 2010 it was more just to party since i only knew a couple of people from poker, but this year i was finally starting to feel like i had a bit of a community going on.
thursday june 30 – sunday july 3 :: WSOP adventures
on thursday i packed up groupie headquarters from the lavish Palazzo and relocated to the Rio. the rooms were way not as nice, and this was made even more painful by the fact that because of weekend rates i was paying twice as much for my room (not sure why they think they can call it a “suite” just because they dump a couch in there; it was the size of any regular hotel room) at the Rio than for my very decadent Palazzo suite. but i didn’t care too much – i wasn’t there to hang out in my room!
i got situated and went downstairs to meet up with rob who was hanging out for the TD convention, and we walked around a bit and checked out what was going on in the Rio. we stopped by to rail my former coach alex in an omaha8 event and ran into a bunch of awesome kids i’ve talked to on twitter including marie-lizette and writer jen! after some socializing i moseyed over to the registration window to register for the ladies event the next day, and then headed for one of my favorite vegas destinations – the hooker bar – for some champagne and video poker while i figured out the rest of my evening.
i knew there was a TWSS (the girls twoplustwo forum) meet-up happening at the cosmopolitan, a fashionable new hotel on the strip, and i was eager to meet up with katie and jen shahade and some of the other fine females i’d been conversing with on the internets. it sounded like it was going to be a ton of fun – but that was kind of the problem. i know myself too well, and i know that once i get to a party with a bunch of fun people and drinks aplenty, there’s no going back. i was going to be playing my first ever WSOP tournament the next day, and i couldn’t risk having a hangover for it!
the palms is right across the street from the rio, so walking over there and chilling in the cash game for a little while seemed like a good low-key plan. the palms poker room was a tad more confined and underwhelming (er like 8 tables??) than i expected, and they only had one snotty waitress who came around maybe every 45 minutes, which was kind of irritating. but the table was a lively bunch which made the game a really good time, and i’d never played live PLO before so that was exciting. i stayed for a couple hours before heading back to rest up for the ladies event.
friday july 1 :: WSOP ladies event
thanks to my non-getting-drunk smarts, i woke up refreshed and ready to tackle the ladies event. i got some coffee and some breakfast and mentally prepared myself for what would be my first WSOP event ever! i thought i would be more nervous, but since i’d already played one of the dailies at the Rio and had hung out for a couple days walking around the tournament area, i felt calm, relaxed, and ready to grind. i always underestimate the time it takes to walk through a casino, and i found myself a couple minutes late for the 12pm start time and rushing in a panic through the casino floor and down the seemingly-neverending hallway that leads to the tournament area. on my way to my seat i ran into mariana, a friend from college who had come to town with her family and was also playing the ladies event. i was indeed a few minutes late, but luckily i had nothing to worry about – there was some kind of nonsense presentation on stage and then lots of music over the loudspeaker and a “flash mob” …yeah. so the tournament was delayed for a good half hour and i was there in plenty of time.
my table seemed like a very good one at first glance. there were four or five older ladies to my left, and a couple of french girls to my right. i figured that they would be the opponents who would give me the most trouble so i was happy to have position on them! one of the french gals was spazzing and dancing around to the “flash mob” and everyone seemed to be in a really good mood. despite all the cheesy intro stuff i do love the vibe at ladies’ events. they are much more friendly and less serious than in regular tournaments. of course, there were a dozen or so dbag guys who decided they were going to crash the party, and whenever one was eliminated the whole room would erupt in cheers and applause.
the BS justifications that some guys have for playing this event are just so ridiculous that it barely even merits arguing about, but since this was my first year playing the WSOP ladies event i feel i should have an obligatory blog rant about it. these guys want to play a soft event, plain and fucking simple. they aren’t doing it for the “principle” or because it’s “unfair” that women get their own event. they are doing it because the average player in a ladies event is far less skilled or experienced than the average player in a regular bracelet event. i would estimate that for at least 90% of the participants, the ladies event was the only tournament they would be playing at the WSOP, and for the majority of them probably the only tournament they would be playing all year (aside from maybe some other ladies events). there are just far fewer female pros than there are male pros, and everyone knows it.
but do you want to know why ladies do (and should) get their own event? i’ve heard varying estimates that women made up between 3 and 5% of the entrant pool this summer in mixed events at the WSOP. that is downright fucking absurd. some women (the obnoxious annie duke comes to mind in particular) like to argue that there shouldn’t be ladies events because “women are just as good as men” and “should be able to compete on a level playing field.” well i agree with both those things, so what is the explanation for why the fuck there aren’t more women playing poker? obviously, women have historically been oppressed in the majority of world cultures. we have made great strides in the last half-century with regard to equal work and education opportunities. when my grandmother got her ph.d. in the 1950’s she was one of the only women in her department. nowadays, more women are going to college than men! so why is there still this massive inequality in the poker world?
i will tell you the reason. the poker world is one of the last bastions of unadulterated, unabashed misogyny. mosey over to any twoplustwo forum and be prepared for animated .gif avatars of gyrating girls in thongs, and random “NSFW” photos of random slutty chicks in bikinis popping up in any random thread. expect to see more comments about melanie weisner’s boobs than her poker skills. when you turn on a WPT broadcast, expect to see more models paid to stand around in skimpy strapless dresses and stilettos than there are female players in the tournament. poker culture delights in objectifying women to an extent that it would be very hard to match in any other industry. because of this pervasive attitude, i’d estimate that playing live poker is about 2-3x more work for a woman than it is for your average male player, because of all the unwanted attention you have to deal with at the table and in casinos in general. every time i enter the card room i am met with “hey baby”s and “what’s goin on little mama”s and most recently, “oooh there she blows!” (er i think i’m offended, but what does that even mean)?
there is no way guys have any idea of the bullshit we put up with on a regular basis simply to play this game. a savvy player will figure out ways use it to her advantage, and adapt to the guy who thinks he can bully you and push you off hands because you’re a girl, or the guy who thinks you always have the nuts because girls are tight, or the guy with a pocket full of roofies who is scheming to buy you a drink. i do think being female is an asset in poker, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still annoying. in my opinion it is best to keep a jolly atmosphere at the table because it keeps the game looser and people aren’t as upset to lose money or keep buying in. i’m friendly with the fish who flirt with me at the table because i want them to play pots with me and give me their money, but then i risk getting followed to the parking lot and getting asked for my number.
if you are a guy reading this and thinking “oh, rough life, guys think you’re hot and want to flirt with you, must be nice” please consider this thought experiment. think about when you sit down at a table, and there’s always one really annoying guy who keeps yammering on about random shit and won’t shut the fuck up. now imagine that every time you sit down at a table, that really annoying guy ESPECIALLY wants to talk to YOU. doesn’t matter if you have a hoodie on. doesn’t matter if you have your headphones on. you are always the target for the most annoying people at the table. or imagine there’s some ugly skank who wants to get all up on your jock whenever you see her, and you have to go out of your way to avoid her. now imagine that every time you go to play poker, you are sitting down to a table with 8 ugly skanks who want to get all up on your jock, who are constantly making comments about you and trying to chat you up. would that be fun for you?
it takes a really strong woman to be able to deal with this shit, and in my opinion that is the reason more ladies don’t play poker. the vast vast majority of women who play ladies events would likely not even consider playing in a mixed event. the chauvinistic environment and the lack of any real effort on the part of male poker players to fucking step into this century is the reason that women deserve their own event. women are already disrespected thoroughly in poker; please don’t add insult to injury by trying to infiltrate our events under the guise of “fairness” or “equality.”
anyway end rant, back to the tournament! the overall level of play was certainly higher than in ladies events i’ve played previously, but the table was playing pretty much as i’d anticipated, with the euro girls playing aggressively and the older women checking and calling a lot. i chipped up playing actively and winning small pots in the first level, but had to raise/fold a couple times as people eventually started playing back at me and 3betting. i tightened up a bit and didn’t play many hands in the second level, and everything was going smooth until just before the first break. i was sitting on just under my starting stack of 3k chips, which was about to become 30bb at 50/100 so i knew i had some work to do when we returned from break. they announced the break over the speaker with about :20 left on the clock and everyone began to gather their stuff to get up from the table, but the dealer, who’d been in the midst of shuffling, said “wait guys, we can get in one more hand!” dun dun dun….
it folded quickly around to me in middle position as everyone was ready to get to the break, and i looked down at AK of diamonds, pretty nice hand. i felt like i probably wouldn’t get action because of the break, but when i opened i got called by two of the older ladies, one to my direct left and one in the big blind. the flop was AKx with two spades (the ace and whatever the other card was. yeah i’m pretty sure you’ve already figured out what’s gonna happen here). but looked like an awesome flop obviously, and even awesomer that the big blind donked right out into the pot. i went ahead and raised because of the flush draw, got flatted by the lady to my left, and the big blind folded. at this point i probably had about 1.5x the pot left in my stack, and the turn of course is another spade but i just don’t think there’s any way i’m ever folding. so you guessed it – i bet, get raised all in and call off vs KJ of spades and don’t boat up. sigh. i was pretty sure she had a value hand since why would she be bluffing, but i knew i had outs if she did have me beat. i did consider checking the turn and seeing what she did, but i didn’t want to give a free card to a lone spade, and anyway i just didn’t think i was folding there no matter what she did, so yeah. two ladies events, two ugly 2-pair hands i couldn’t get away from to send me out the door.
my friend mariana had also busted from the event, so we went over to check out the free slippers. here are my “1K slippers” as she termed them!
we walked around for a little while, and snapped a fan photo with poker legend doyle brunson in the hallway.
i was still feeling pretty juiced up from the ladies event, so i went ahead and registered for the daily deepstack at the rio. it was uneventful; played for a while, went kinda deep but no cash as usual. i busted just around dinnertime and was starving and not too interested in the food options in the poker kitchen, so i wandered around and found a pretty nice steakhouse on the 50th floor of the rio. i got a salad and a nice espresso martini to drown my sorrows, and included was some bread and possibly the healthiest portion of butter i’ve ever seen:
mariana was also playing the deepstack and busted a little while after me, so we met up later for some drinks and gossip. we railed whatever final table was going on in the thunderdome for a while, but railing in the thunderdome really sucks; you can’t see anything that’s going on and the announcers do a horrible job of calling the action. i did get to meet poker photographer and twitter legend BJ nemeth who was snapping pics in the thunderdome, and i also got to say hi to matt matros who was going deep in the mixed limit/no-limit event. matt and i have been playing boggle (it’s a word nerd thing) online for a while on facebook and have some mutual friends, so it was awesome to finally meet! i believe this is at the final 2 or 3 tables.
so a really fun day all in all, despite bricking both my tournaments (and indeed, all the tourns i’d played up until that point). playing the ladies event was an awesome experience and i was really happy i was able to sell enough action to make it possible. i think i was more disappointed that i didn’t come through for my investors than for my own sake, but i have no regrets about playing and will almost certainly play it again next summer if i have the opportunity.
saturday july 2 :: the final failure
on saturday i played the deepstack again, and unsurprisingly played for 6 or 7 hours and fell short of the money once again. nothing interesting to report, and being pretty experienced with bricking live tournaments at this point it didn’t faze me too much. also, matt matros was now at the final table of his event so i got to go rail in the godforsaken thunderdome again! whilst railing i also met some of his fun buddies including lana o’brien and action bob, who also plays the boggle. in keeping with the theme, yet another word game fan and poker sicko nick abou risk turned up to rail as well. despite how hard it was to follow the action at the final table, it was a pretty exciting night because matt won! bracelet #2, such a badass!
we met up with him later on to celebrate at a tapas bar with a bunch of people. so fun!!
so, that was my vegas trip. it’s kind of odd, but the whole experience dramatically increased my confidence in my game despite not cashing in anything. i think i got a good handle on what the tournaments and the structures and the level of play are like. and also just the experience of playing at the WSOP and actually being able to hang made me feel optimistic that i will eventually have some live success.
unfortunately though, the vegas trip was a pretty big “shot” for me to take, and it did not pan out as i was hoping as far as results. as i said i have absolutely no regrets and had an amazing time, but since the trip was exceedingly unprofitable, i was left with very few poker-playing options when i returned. in my next blog i’ll update you about what i’ve been doing post-WSOP!