Thursday, March 27, 2014

Loose Calls at the Bellagio

A few months ago I played at the Bellagio for the first time in a long time, since this post here.

As a matter of fact, it was on Christmas Day. I figured the Bellagio was the perfect spot to get me feeling the spirit of Christmas.

Actually, that’s not true at all.  But it reminds me of something I found amusing from my day job during the holidays.  Inputting data into PokerAtlas, I noticed that one of my colleagues had entered a special tournament series for the Hustler Casino in L.A.  It was a holiday poker series called “The Larry Flynt Holiday Poker Classic.”  That tickled me. As I said to the colleague, “Because nothing says the holidays like Larry Flynt.” 

You will notice I have never once mentioned the Hustler casino on this blog, until now.  And it’s a pretty safe bet you won’t see me mention it again.

Speaking of PokerAtlas, the site was completely redesigned late last year, and has been continually upgraded and refined since then.  It features poker tournament information for all of U.S. and Canada.  Check it out, I can assure that a lot of my own blood, sweat and tears went into that site.

Anyway, getting back to the Bellagio, it certainly behooves me to play in all the big rooms at least occasionally.  Additionally, a month or two before, the new manager over there, Craig, invited me to check out the new look of the room.  They took out a few tables and rearranged the others to make it roomier.  They also installed cell phone chargers in all the tables (as many rooms have). Craig wanted me to play that day, but I had to work, so I promised I would be back and give the room a try in the future.  Craig is trying to change the room’s image away from being a room that is only interested in high rollers to one that caters to players of all bankrolls.

And so I went over there in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas.  Since I’d last played there, they had changed the lowest NL game from 1-2 to 1-3.  So after a brief wait, I was called to a table.  I must admit, I did appreciate the extra room.  Last time I played there it was so cramped.  I just wish they’d build in cupholders into the tables.  I have the same complaint about the Aria.

Things got started right away.  Second hand, I was dealt a couple of Aces.  It had been raised to $10 in front of me.  I made it $30. It folded to the raiser who just called, even tho he only had $15 left after calling.  It was low, dry looking flop and I put out $15 and he called.  I showed my hand after the river came out and he just mucked.

A few hands later, as the dealer was dealing me my first card, the lady to my right went to reach for her first card and flipped over my card.  It was a five.  My second card was a five as well.  The out-of-play card of mine was replaced by a Jack.  Easy fold.

The very next hand I was dealt pocket 5’s again.  Both this time and the time before, both fives were red.  I limped in, missed the flop and folded.

About two hands later I got two red fives yet again.  I limped in, and this time I flopped a set.  It was 9-5-3.  Since it was a limped pot, I bet $10 and got one caller.  A 6 hit the turn and I bet $20 and he called.  A deuce on the river put four to a straight on the board.  I checked.  He bet $50.

This guy had just come to the table, hadn’t really seen him play any hands.  My gut told me to call and so I did.  He had Ace-9 for TPTK.  My set was good.

I limped in with 9-8 of hearts.  The guy to my left made it $18.  Two others called before it got to me.  Since I would close the action I decided to call.  There was a 7 of hearts on the flop and I don’t remember the other two cards.  I was done with this hand.  But when the guy to my left bet $20 and the other two called, I had some crazy lapse and decided to call as well.  After all, I did have the back-door straight flush draw.  I thought I was a nit?

Well the turn was a 10 of spades.  No flush possible for me now but I did have the open-ended straight draw.  So the same guy bets $40, one guy went all in for slightly less and the other guy called.  How could I fold now?  I couldn’t.

Which was good, because the 6 of spades on the river gave me the straight.  There was no flush possible, I had the absolute nuts.  I suppose I should have either checked or bet smaller, but with the size of the pot I couldn’t see putting out less than $100.  No one called.  The guy who had been all in and was still alive just mucked when he saw my straight. 

That put me up over $300 and I was liking the Bellagio just fine. 

You may sense from that hand that I have a tendency to make some loose calls.  Yeah.  Well on the next hand I’m about to describe I paid for it.  I limped in with 9-8 of diamonds.  It was a limped pot and the flop came 9 high, two diamonds.  Pretty good flop for me.  I bet $15 and had one caller.  He had a stack almost as big as mine.

A diamond hit the turn, completing my flush.  I bet $55.  Should I have bet smaller?  That was more than the pot, my thinking was that I didn’t want to give him good odds to call with a single diamond that was higher than a 9.  But if he had a big diamond, particularly the Ace, is he ever folding there?  Anyway he called.

My fears were realized when the Ace of diamonds hit the river.  This time, the guy led out (he had been check/calling until now).  He put out $100.  My first instinct was to fold, surely he had a bigger diamond than a 9.  But I thought about it more.  Not long before, this guy had lost some chips with a big bluff.  Plus, he was Asian.  I couldn’t get away from the thought that the fourth diamond gave him an excellent opportunity to bluff.

So, after a bit, I called.  Ugh.  He had King-10 of diamonds.  He was ahead of me from the turn.  He didn’t need the Ace on the river.  I was really upset that I had given away a good chunk of my profits by playing so badly.

I won one more hand before calling it quits.   I limped in with Ace-10 of clubs.  The flop was all clubs.  It was checked to me and I checked, deciding to slowplay for once.  The turn was the Ace of spades, and the same guy who had beaten me in the previous hand bet out $15.  I made it $35 and he folded.  It wasn’t much revenge, honestly.

I left a winner and I liked the room.  I haven’t been back there since—mostly out of habit—but I will return soon, I’m sure.

According to Twitter, today, when I post this, is "National Cleavage Day."  If I known earlier, I might have done an entire post dedicated to this juicy topic.  But sadly, the picture below will have to do.


  1. What's your quarrel with the Hustler Casino? It seems ironic considering the body of some of your content - you'll have to keep us abreast of this issue...

    1. Sorry, Coach, but working in the poker biz there are some things better left unsaid.

    2. abreast LOL.i see what u did there.

    3. Not sure if "breast' is what I associate with that magazine.

      I tend to think more of a hot dog stand:

  2. Replies
    1. Thought you'd like 'em, anger. Yes those are SOME boobies!

  3. Good recap. Quick discussion on one particular hand - and a problem I've noticed which is quite common at 1/2 1/3 games... getting value out of a 4 straight board:

    ... I flopped a set. It was 9-5-3. Since it was a limped pot, I bet $10 and got one caller. A 6 hit the turn and I bet $20 and he called. A deuce on the river put four to a straight on the board. I checked. He bet $50.

    First comment is why a $10 bet on the flop? Make it $15, allowing the turn bet to be larger than just $20. If these players are calling $10, they're going to call $15. Even with a $10 open (and a caller), bet more than $20 on the turn - you can get more in there and still be reasonable (i.e. get a caller on the turn). The point that I'm making here is you have a very strong hand - you should get max value even though the hand was a limped hand.

    Finally, given the action and given the hand, it's plausible but not likely for him to show up with a 4; the hands he can be calling the flop / turn with are very commonly top pair (i.e. 9x). You somewhat concede the pot when you check through - hoping for a cheap showdown, but you're almost never getting a cheap showdown when he's bettering you (i.e. he has the 4 for the obvious 4 straight). You put yourself to a tough decision by checking, allowing him to bluff you off the hand - whereby at this level, very rarely (exceedingly rare, in fact) are players ever bluff raising the river. Therefore, continue to bet a sizable bet on the river (I'd look for around $40), and comfortably fold to a raise, rather than check the river hoping to showdown your strong mid set. IMO, you got lucky that he bluffed the river - and were put to a tough decision which you flipped correctly.

    Lessons learned: At the core, make larger bets on the flop & turn. Bet a comfortable-sized river bet. Evaluate the board run out before being scared of a 4 straight board just because it's a 4 straight board - and think about the likelihood that he holds a 4 for the 4 straight or a 78 for the other straight. Get full value from your strong hands!

    1. Thanks, TPM, always glad to get your feedback.

      It's funny that you made the comment you did, I've actually been getting some advice, and feeling it myself, that I have a tendency to bit too BIG on the flop and the turn, too interested in taking it down there rather than risk a suckout.

      Also, you know a lot of people would have slowplayed that flopped set there on a rather dry board.

      I think my $10 flop bet was pretty much the pot, I dunno how I could have bet more. But I probably could have bet more on the turn.

      Getting value on the river is definitely an issue for me. I know I am way too comfortable just checking and seeing the showdown cheap. The phrase "He'll only call if he's got you beat" is too ingrained in me.