Monday, July 06, 2009

Parting Thoughts (Vegas, the Venetian Deep Stack and Otherwise)

So, back to the grind. Just like that, my whirlwind weeklong vacation has come and gone, and on Monday it's back to work. Just like it was before I left. Same job, doing the same things, and frankly no one here knows or cares about my poker exploits in Las Vegas last week.

In fact, let's be honest. No one anywhere cares about a poker tournament I won more than a full week ago now. It's over. Finito. None of it matters anymore. Sure, I got to go and deposit my fatty check today at the bank across the street, but that was really the last vestige of my trip to Vegas, and now it's over.

From this point forward, just like with all of my other poker wins, it's just back to put-up-or-shut-up time. What I did last week was last week, just like last year was last year. At this point, all that matters is what I do in poker after my big win at the Venetian last weekend. Do I blow half of my winnings off, like I have so many times in the past? Will I play like a complete donkey, like someone who doesn't care about the money after taking in such a huge payday relative to my usual stakes? Am I going to make a dramatic jump up in stakes and try to hit some more large paydays like this one?

Well, I am happy to report, so far so good. Unlike mostly every time I've ever had a big score like this in the past, so far in the very little poker I have played, I've played pretty well. I've probably only run maybe four or five heads up sitngos in playing only maybe once or twice in the past week, and I've won most of them, including all of the ones I've run at the highest buyin I've been playing, the $220 turbos. It's nothing big, don't get me wrong. But the fact that I haven't burned through a couple grand already is the real highlight, and the fact that I haven't played these few sitngos like I can bluff every pot, make every draw and just generally automatically win back every dollar I bet in these things. That would be following the pattern I have exhibited in the past for the most part, but I think taking some time away from the game here since my 27 hours of tense tournament poker at the Venetian has really helped me to keep everything in stride. Hopefully that will continue, and at some point I imagine I will get back in to regular mtt's, which is a grind I haven't quite been ready for yet over the past week. Maybe tonight, definitely soon.

Now, to close the book on my incredible 2009 Vegas trip, I figure it's time for some lasting thoughts and impressions about Las Vegas generally, and about my poker tournament at the Venetian specifically. In addition, I will also offer answers to the questions I've been most asked, whether live, in the girly or in the comments section here at the blog. So, in no particular order:

My first general conclusion is something you've been reading about here consistently for a couple of years from me, but it is just to generally state again here for the record how much better I am at live poker than at online poker. It's a shame because my life is such that I really never, ever play live poker. I could play it more than I do, don't get me wrong, but I find that it either ends up being a huge hassle to find a cardroom that I feel safe at (in the city, where they are all "underground") or a home game where the people are cool and not judgmental, or actually getting to a place where good poker games are spread regularly and legally ends up taking more than two hours in the car. And invariably that means I need to leave work early and/or leave my family earlier than I would otherwise like to, all of which just generally make it a significant hassle compared to just firing up the old pc and playing good old fashioned online poker.

But damn am I better at live play. So many of the big hands I won this week happened as a direct result of something I observed with my own two eyes, something that would have been far less likely to happen if I were playing on the virtual instead of the plush green felt. That nerdy guy who doubled me up like 2 and a half time just in the first hour of Day Two, that was almost all based on what I could read from seeing his face, in particular right after he bet. The huge hand I had against the tournament chip leader during the second hour of Day Two, who knows how aggressive I get there with him if I don't physically see him sizing up my chip stack against his own and then immediately pushing raises out there to try to regain the chip lead from me? Of course, in online poker I would also get to avoid snafus like the idiot dealer mucking the other guy's hand when I am holding pocket Aces, but on the balance, I am just significantly better when I play live poker than when I play online. And that is something I will need to figure out what to do about, given the mix of live vs. online play in my own life is somewhere around 99% online to 1% live (probably much greater than that even). Maybe it means I play less poker online and leave it at that, to help better weight that mix towards live play. Or maybe I try to make it a point to hit up AC or Foxwoods at least once every few months like I had always planned but never got into doing. Or maybe nothing, who knows. But the bottom line is, my ROI over my last three live casino poker tournaments -- two in Atlantic City, and now one in Las Vegas -- is something like 6800%, including cashing and final tabling in each. There's no way that can possibly continue, but no matter how you slice it, my live tournament ROI over my entire lifetime has got to be thousands of percent higher than my online poker ROI. That's got to be worth noting and addressing, the way I see it.

The other general observation I would make following my Vegas trip this past week are not so much about poker but rather about the changes in Vegas overall, and in this I mean just over the past year or two, as well as over the past 10-15 years since I started regularly traveling out to Sin City. I recall writing a year ago after my 2008 WSOP trip about how overtly hookery the major Strip resorts had gotten even when compared to my trips out to Vegas in the summer of 2007 and 2006. I mean, there have always been hookers available, and the guys have always been crowding the strip to hand out their little cards advertising the chicks you can get any time you want just by calling a toll free number all throughout the city. So it's always been there. But it had grown increasingly overt over the past couple of years, and the change this time around was probably just as noticeable. I was probably not in the MGM more than 2 or 3 minutes before being propositioned by a hooker. She was hot too, unlike many of the ho's one frequents anywhere outside of Las Vegas (unless you're the governor of New York, of course). She was asking every guy that walked by her basically if they were free and wanted to party, and she was standing right out in the middle of the casino floor, looking as hookery as they always do and not even thinking about trying to hide it.

More than just the actual hookers though, the visitors to Las Vegas themselves have really noticeably changed as well over just the past few years, as have the resorts themselves since the 1990's days of Vegas as a "family destination". Back in the 90s and even the early 2000s, the big resorts on the Strips built mass-media pools, things like the lazy river at the MGM, the wave pool at Mandalay Bay, etc. which were clearly designed to attract families, young people and just generally people who wanted to come out to the desert and have a good time. It was all about getting the families out to Vegas, and then draw them to pay for the Star Trek show at the Hilton, or over to the Fashion Show Mall, or to the roller coaster at New York New York, etc.

All this has changed now -- not that this is any kind of new news -- and over just the past year or two, the focus has very blatantly shifted back to the "adult entertainment" theme that pretty much dominated Vegas before the 90's explosion in family-style resorts. Now, over the past few years, mostly every resort on the Strip has added an "adult only" pool, many of them topless, and most of them costing an extra cover charge just to enter. Many of the big resorts have topless or semi-nude revue or other "erotic" shows nightly, in addition to the usual Cirque de Soleil and David Copperfield type of shows. And, one of the biggest changes of all in the big Strip resorts has got to be the whole new focus on the clubs that each resort has added over the past couple of years, something that in many cases has always been there in the past, but has now become the literal center of the social scene on the Strip. This is where the visitors from all around the country and the world go to meet up with each other, to let loose and to get sloppy. While this used to happen all over the casino in various places, and all over the pools and other attractions that the Strip had to offer, now it's either happening at Lava or Pure or Tao LAX or Studio 54, or it's not happening at all.

And along with the proliferation and popularity of the Strip nightclubs, each of which features a huge line for several hours each weekend evening, come the most incredible change I noticed this time around, which is that almost every woman you see in Vegas on a Friday or Saturday night in the big hotels is dressed in what is without a doubt the sluttiest outfit she has ever worn. It's incredible, really. And I am not exaggerating even a little bit here, I have literally never seen anything even remotely like it. Ultimately, unless you believe like some of my idiot friends that every single female-type in Las Vegas is a hooker, it eventually leads me to one inescapable conclusion -- the women come out to Las Vegas ultimately for the exact same reasons that the guys do: for a release. To get away from their real lives and participate in the fantasy world that is Las Vegas, all the moreso in the summertime. Anyone who's been in Vegas recently in any of the big Strip resorts on a weekend evening knows exactly what I'm talking about. Vegas has been like this for as long as I've been coming here, but it's always been increasing, gradually, and the difference even from last summer to this summer is just astounding, there's just no other way to describe it.

Not that I'm complaining.

OK what else. Someone asked a good question in the comments regarding any advice I may be able to impart about playing Day Two of poker tournaments, and I am happy to oblige. Keep in mind this is all coming from someone who has played in exactly one Day Two now of my entire poker career, so take the advice with an appropriately-sized grain of salt as a result, but I think this is good advice, it is advice I lived by last weekend at the Venetian, and frankly it's also been useful near the end of Day One as the tables start breaking and the disparity between the big stacks and the small stacks really starts to swell. And if you throw in late Day Ones, that adds in a couple of more good live performances from me so at least gives me a little more standing to even be giving this kind of suggestions.

For starters, I would begin with the old Jim Valvano line: "Don't give up, don't ever give up." It's true, really. You simply never know what will happen in these things. No matter how short you are or how hopeless you have been running, you never know if juts folding that crappy KTs to a preflop reraise will lead you to be dealt pocket Aces on the next hand, and then KK > QQ the hand after that. You just never know, so don't ever give up. Day Two of these tournaments is where things are much more tense, and there is much more big money on the line. It's basically your one chance to go out there and make some serious noise and make a big run at a potentially big cash payout, so don't ever waste it by just giving up and making a dumb call. The awfukkits have no place on Day Two (or beyond).

The next thing I would say about playing late on Day One, or certainly on Day Two or beyond, is do not be intimidated by the inevitable big stacks that will appear at your table. At some point as the number of players diminishes, your table is going to break, and/or a bunch of new people are going to show up at your table, and inevitably some of them will have massive stacks compared to your own. And more than that, they will show up and start playing "big stack poker" right from the getgo, and it can be very off-putting if you're not prepared for it. I'm talking about putting in three consecutive preflop reraises of shortish or even medium stacks, constantly putting pressure on the other, shorter-stacked players to either play pots for all their chips or fold and wait for a better spot. Again, those who have run fairly deep in the large nlh mtts will know exactly what I'm talking about here, but to me there is just no better feeling than watching all those huge stacks splashing their chips around late in Day One or early in Day Two, playing seemingly every pot and reraising liberally, walking by you sheepishly with two or three tables left with an empty rack, on their way to their paltry few-hundred-dollar payout after their version of "big stack" poker finally found them pushing into a monster hand or executing a several-barreled bluff against the flopped nuts. I got to see that happen time and time again on Day Two at the Venetian, after starting the day with 5 of the 9 chip leaders at my table. At first it was very difficult to play against most of the stacks at my table, but once I found the right guy(s) to exploit and got into a few good situations to be able to build up my chipstack, it was thoroughly enjoyable getting to sit by while every last one of those early chipleader guys eventually busted, all before the final table even. The lesson here I think is just to play your game, and don't let yourself be intimidated or in any way affected by how many chips someone else has.

If anything, my approach generally is to try to use people's stack sizes against them however I can once you get fairly deep into an large-field MTT. I know much of this is not new ideas, but ideally, when I'm shortish, I want to isolate the middle stacks with large reraises, because the middle stacks are the guys with the most incentive to fold. Similarly, I open my range a bit when facing allin bets or raises from the shortest stacks, because these are the guys who are likely to be pushing with a wide range in an attempt to grab the blinds and antes whenever they can. And lastly, and most importantly for me at the Venetian last weekend, is playing against the big stacks, which can be a curse as discussed above, but also quite a blessing at times. When you've got a big stack at your table, although that will make it very easy for that person to bully you and the others at the table with large raises and reraises, it also clearly creates some opportunities, and it's up to me to figure out the best way to take advantage of those opportunities. Generally speaking, for me this involves trying as best as I can through my bets, facial expressions, mannerism, etc. to act like my hand is marginal with hands that are actually potentially better than marginal. The idea here is that the big, big stacks in the tournament will be betting and raising fairly actively as Day One comes to an end and Day Two begins, so I generally will try to make bets and take actions that will encourage those loose big stacks to push hard against me with worse hands than mine. A good example is when I just called before the flop with pocket 9s early on against the nerdy guy at my first table on Day Two. I could have reraised him allin right there since he had a large stack and I was fairly short, and he might have folded his pocket 8s, or he might have called my raise. But then when I raised him all in on the 522 flop, he would have been far more likely to fold his 88 than he was when I had just called preflop, and double especially after I acted for two minutes like I might lay down my hand to his standard flop c-bet, when in reality I knew right from the getgo that I basically had to call with the overpair and my stack as short as it was. Again the idea here is that the biggest stacks will generally be playing more loosely than optimal, especially with their bets and raises, so anything I can do once the tournament progresses to Day Two to encourage them to play in that way when I am actually holding stronger cards than I have led them to believe, the chances are increased that I may actually find myself getting paid off in those situations in ways that would not be likely to happen if my opponent had an average, as opposed to well above average, stack.

Another piece of advice that I always always always follow, but which takes on increasing significance as Day One winds down and the final few tables approaches, is to never let yourself get too short that it doesn't matter even if you double up. Again, I am well aware that this is not a new strategy that I have just created here, but I would encourage anyone once they are ITM in a large-field mtt to do whatever they can to resist the temptation to just hold on for the next payout plateau. I mean, can you imagine if I had done that to get from a $740 payout to an $818 payout to make it to 35th instead of 48th on Day Two at the Venetian last weekend? Instead, unfortunately stuck in a spot where I had a short stack and not much room to play against a bunch of big stacks at the beginning of Day Two, I opted to actively invite a race with my ATs by pushing in against a big stack who open-raised from middle position, and I ended up getting called by 66 and I survived with an Ace on the flop. I'll take that result, completely regardless of whether I ended up winning or losing the race, over having folded in my spot -- around 36th of 42 left -- any day of the week on a Day Two, and twice on Sunday.

The last thing I would say generally about Day Two is just that all of your mistakes are magnified once the serious money is on the line. So a good piece of advice that I certainly live by msyelf is to think hard over every decision. The players are generally better once you are through 90% of the field (very loose generalization here, granted), so I also try to be a bit more deceptive, or at least a bit less "by the book" than I might be early on Day One when it's more about accumulating from the dead money before it is gone from the event.

I have also had a number of people ask me how I am able to do writeups of my live play like I do. Do you take notes of hands, etc.? This is another good question. For the most part, in the live events that I actually care a lot about blog-wise (WSOP), I have generally brought a pen and paper in my back pocket from whatever resort I happen to be staying at at the time, and I will just whip the pad out any chance I get whenever I win or lose anything more than a modicum of chips and write down in my own version of poker shorthand what happened to get me the chips, or to get me bad beat, etc. This is the easiest and most efficient way of keeping actually good tabs on my progress along the way, although it does require a certain vigilance right from the start of a large tournament when I have no way whatsoever of knowing whether or not I will actually last any kind of a long time in this thing. But it's something I have done in each of my WSOP tournaments these past few years, and I've been very glad I did it in each case. Sure, sometimes you get a funny look when you go to write something down at the poker table, but who the hell cares.

In the case of the Venetian, I was still kinda bummed when I left for Day One that I wouldn't be playing in the World Series, such that I didn't even bring my usual pen and pad like I otherwise would have to the Rio. And then the next day I was not about to break with the tradition that had carried me to my first ever Day Two by showing up with a pad for that day, and especially given my shortish stack going into the Day Two action, I figured the odds of me being sorry not to have the pad were probably pretty low, but I did go ahead and bring a small sheet of paper that quickly filled up. In the end, I would have loved to have had the full pad with me on Day Two, but as I mentioned it got pretty difficult pretty quickly for me to even use the one sheet I had given the fast and furious action at my starting table on the day. In the end, I ended up calling my own voicemail during every break throughout Day Two, and leaving myself a good long message detailing all of the interesting or big hands I experienced during the previous two hours, and then when I went to start writing my monster recap of the tournament up here in the blog, I just took out my cell, dialed into voicemail and turned on the speaker to hear myself in between Marlboro drags with the update of that two-hour period. It was not as good as actually writing everything down in real time, but still it was a reasonably sufficient facsimile to get me the details I needed for a writeup like this.

I've been asked by several people what I plan to do with the 55k I won over the weekend in Las Vegas. This one is pretty easy: with a new baby on the way, not much. I will drop a little bit back into online poker, but not much -- I've been very strict this year in keeping just a small amount in the online poker system at any one time, and I have felt very good about that decision during the various withdrawal and check-bouncing problems faced by the industry earlier this year as a result, so I don't plan for that to change. Depending on the result of my conversation this week with my accountant, it is conceivable that I may put some of it aside to play in other large-buyin live poker tournaments later this year, as I will in effect only be paying about 66% of the entry fees since the rest of such amounts will be automatic deductions from my poker winnings for the year (unless I cash big, which of course would be a great problem to have). Otherwise, when I arrived back at the beach one day later than planned, I made it clear to Hammer Wife that she can use the money to buy everything she has on her list of items she would like to buy right now, which she was very happy with, and which she well deserves after watching two young kids while away from home while fully pregnant and without any help for five days while I cavort in the desert 3000 miles away. With what is left over, I may rent another place on the beach later in the summer for my family and some friends, but that will depend on how things go with the baby whenever he comes as well as a my vacation situation at work, etc. Mostly the money will just go towards paying down debts -- house, car, student loans, etc. -- and otherwise into savings or maybe the market, depending on if I can find any stocks worth buying at today's prices.

In light of a recent post by riggstad, a number of people have also asked me how much, if at all, I tipped the dealers after winning around $51,000 in cash at the Venetian Deep Stack $560 buyin event. This is another easy one -- in the case of the Venetian, 3% of the aggregate buyins already go to the dealers automatically rather than get paid out to the prize pool, plus they "suggest" that everyone pay in an extra $10 as bonus tips to the dealers on top of that 3% (this is why the buyin is $560 instead of $550, although I understand one can object to paying that $10 bonus portion of the buyin if one so chooses). So, with 772 runners each forking over $560 apiece, that makes for $432,320 in total buyins. Of that amount, 3% was automatically set aside for the dealers already, which is $12,969.60. When we got around to chopping the prize pool with the final four players standing, we discussed the situation and clarified these figures with the TD, and the decision was made that 13 large for the dealers in a tournament where the players played for I think $372k in the prize pool was sufficient already for the dealers, so we did not leave any additional tips, which I think makes sense given the 3% tip that is enforced right off the top. I should mention as well that the TDs take an additional 1% automatically out of the prize pool right off the top, so in our case that meant another $4323 was already allocated to the TD tip pool as a result of our event. In that particular case, I happened to tip the TD a little extra, consisting essentially of the cash I had in my pocket at the time, because that guy really kicked some balls for us at the final table and even before that, taking chips out of circulation in a non-disruptive manner, mediating several annoying disputes among the players over the two-day period, and especially in repeatedly counting everyone's chips and calculating various chop scenarios all during the final two hours of play. But personally, I think 3.2% off the top for the dealers and another 1% off the top for the TDs is sufficient tippage and, although I might have been willing to throw in something extra after a big win, I don't think it was necessary and in our case I was not about to be the only chump at the final table who gave extra to the dealers. Like I said, 4.2% off the top from everyone to the dealers and TDs I think represents a reasonable tip -- that is more than 17 grand to those two groups for a two-day, $372k prize pool event.

One last thing that a million people have asked me is how much of my win do I think was luck and how much was something else? How were my starting cards as a whole?

This one is not so easy to answer, but it's another great question as anyone who has ever ran deep in a large-field mtt will understand. First, my starting cards overall I would say were probably slightly better than average. I certainly did not run through the tournament getting slapped in the face by the deck as we've seen time and again with some people, both in our own online blonkaments as well as in major live tournaments in casinos. I think in 27 hours of play, I received pocket Aces three times, one pocket Queens, one pocket Jacks, a pocket Tens and a number of pocket 9s. I also was fortunate to be dealt a bunch of AK hands, some of them soooted, which was important especially on Day Two as so much of the action came down to allin preflop race situations, where AK is almost never in terrible shape. So while I was not slapped in the face with the deck, the important thing was that I made enough hands that I was able to do something with, as opposed to when you just find J4o after Q7o after 92o again and again and again and are never safe to raise or even call anyone else's bet other than as a delayed steal attempt.

But of course, there is so much more to poker tournament "luck" than just your starting cards, and this is where I think I really benefitted in ways that I could not honestly say I would be able to duplicate again. For example, although I did not flop a set at all during my 27 hours of playing at the Venetian last weekend, I also had the good fortune not to run into a flopped set at all during the entire tournament. The other guy flopping a set has got to be the kiss of death for many an aggressive holdem player like me in a no-limit tournament, and in my case that was just not something I ran into any time I was pushing money into the pot (at least not that I knew of). Moreover, not only did I not run Queens or Kings into Aces all through the two days, but I consistently ended up being on the better side of the few pair-vs-pair showdowns I ended up being up against. I took 99 up against 55 allin preflop late on Day One -- that guy could have easily had pocket Tens instead of pocket 5s, and I'm still likely calling him with my 9s. Similarly, earlyon Day Two against the nerdy guy I ended up pushing allin with 99 on a 522 board, and he called me with pocket 8s. He calls just as readily there with pocket Tens or Jacks, and he raises just the same with those hands preflop as well, so again, there is a significant element of pure luck involved in those situations that I was the 80% favorite instead of the 80% dog in such hands.

The biggest aspect of luck of all, though, that I imagine I benefitted from at the Venetian was my timing, and again this is something that I imagine everyone out there who has won big poker tournaments understands and agrees with. I must have restolen from suspected late position preflop stealers in this tournament 50 times. Maybe more. Most of those times, I was holding garbage in my own hand, but sometimes I had a decent Ace, a middle pocket pair, etc. If any one of those times happened to be where my opponent was holding pocket Aces, and he was short enough where I felt like I had to call his push if he had pushed on me, then I would have just restolen preflop into pocket Aces and been in a world of hurt. In fact, I distinctly remember at least two occasions where I debated restealing from a late-position open-raiser before the flop, ended up deciding to just fold for some reason or other, and then the guy ended up taking down a small pot and flipping up pocket Aces for all to see. More than that, I was allin for my tournament life at least 4 or 5 times on the day, and on any one of those occasions, both on Day One and Day Two, the other guy could have woken up with a premium pair, flopped a straight, etc. None of those bad things ever happened to me in the entire tournament, and to deny the luck involved in those occurrences would just be showing how little I understand what it really takes to run deep in a big even like this.

I think I ended up either 5-3 or 5-4 overall in races in the tournament, and it's probably fair to say that at least 2 or 3 of those situations would have left me eliminated from the event before the really big money of the chop was in play. For example, I distinctly recall early on Day Two against that nerdy guy that I pushed allin with my ATs, and he called with 6s. That was all my chips in the middle, and I was a 49% dog to remain alive in the event, but that was one of the key races that I won. For that matter, late on Day One I played that raise-the-limpers hand when I pushed allin for my shortish 26k stack after 8 players had limped in for the $1600 big blind, and I got called there by ATs, which is the exact reverse of the previous example I just described, and again I won a key race to stay alive and win a crucial double-up. And at the final table I know I pushed allin with AKs for my entire stack, and got called by a guy who had a larger stack than mine and who was holding pocket 7s, and once again I won in a key spot where I was just a slight favorite to take it down. If any one of those three races fall the other way, I am eliminated, either near the end of Day One, or at least when the money was nowhere near the amount available to me at the end of the final table. So clearly, there was plenty of "luck" involved, as that notion exists in its many forms in a large-field poker tournament like this one.

All that said, I once again did not lay a single suckout on anybody through the entire 27 hours of play. In fact, I am proud to say that I never got it in behind, even one time, not even as a 40% underdog. Other than getting in on the 48 or 49% side of a race, I was ahead every single time the money went into the middle, every single time I called, every time, all day for two full days straight of poker decisions. The only suckouts I was involved in were a shorty beating my AJ with his A7 around early evening on Day One, and then the same guy -- who eventually ended up chopping as the chip leader for 70k -- who two-outered me not once but twice with his pocket Tens. So I got brutally ass-raped three times in two days, but laid no bad beats myself and never even one time got in or called any bet as more than a trivial underdog. And I am incredibly proud to have done this in a no-limit event, where any one mistake can and often does lead to elimination. I made literally zero mistakes over 27 hours of high-pressure tournament poker. That is an awesome feeling to feel, let me tell you. Moreover, I played exactly one tournament in my entire stay in Las Vegas -- this after all my talk a few weeks back about playing at least one poker tournament every day, etc. -- and look what I managed to do in it.

So was this a lucky run for me overall in the Venetian Deep Stack tournament? I guess you can decide. My impression is that I clearly played the very greatest poker of my entire life over the 2-day time frame -- never getting the money in behind, never sucking out and not making a single call that I would term a "mistake" at any point over 27 hours of tense and high-stakes play -- but I'm not going to sit here and deny that luck had any part in it. Luck, as is the case with any major tournament run from anyone at any time, certainly played a big role for me as well, extending beyond the traditional "how many times did I get pocket Aces dealt to me" notion to a more tournament-specific kind of luck which weaves its way into almost every hand one gets involved in in an event like this.

Luck, skill, or considerable helpings of both. What matters in my view is what I did with the luck and skill I brought to the table in this event. Hopefully I can get myself into a similar situation in the near future and emerge with a similar track record to what I came up with last weekend at the Venetian.

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Blogger Alceste said...

On the dealer tip point, I was talking with one of the dealers at the Venetian on Friday, and he was pretty adamant that the dealers don't see any of the 3% withheld for "poker room staff." Not sure if he was angling to make sure the dealers got something extra or not, but he definitely had a different take than your TD. (I also heard the TD tell a player at the final table that it was customary to tip 3% out of the player's gross winnings, so again, it sounds like they're telling people different things.)

5:56 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

Did waffles hack your blog and insert 2nd paragraph?

7:22 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...


We had a long discussion with the TD on exactly how the tips work, and I reproduced in my post today exactly what he told us. It never occurred to me that I might not be able to trust what the TD told us, and frankly after talking to him directly, I believe what he told us is the truth.

It would be sick if we were lied to and the dealers did not get any tips out of that prize pool. I highly doubt that is the case though.

8:46 AM  
Blogger NewinNov said...

I was thinking the same thing Bayne. Great posting, very detailed as usual. Don't know how you find the energy and time for such lengthly posts. Congrats on your score.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Alceste said...

No reason to doubt what the TD told you given that he said it to the whole table and that. frankly, it make sense in light of the amount withheld. It just looks like I know a couple folks who ended up paying a double tip Friday night.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Didn't get a chance to congratulate you yet. Awesome job! Lucksak....

10:38 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

If you are interested in finding some safe underground poker in the city, hit me up with an email.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Bodawg23 said...

Sweet post Hammer. Great run in the tourney. I read your blog from time to time and think it's awesome. I emailed your story about the Venetian tourney to my buddy who was in Vegas recently and played in one of them. I titled the email this could have been you... He started reading this and said he remembers most of these hands. He was sitting at the table with you... He got busted by the big stack at your table and was eliminated in the 30's. Again, sweet run

12:54 AM  

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