Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Guest Post: Norwegians Invade Venetian (Part 1)

Allow me to introduce Eivind Brenne. A few days ago, Eivind messaged me on Facebook and told me he was a long time reader of my blog, and asked if I would be interested in publishing a guest post about his recent adventures in Vegas. He gave me a few details about his trips and I of course said yes.  When Eivind sent me his write-ups I was very impressed, and I present the first part below.  The second part, about a follow-up trip, will be presented in a couple of days.  Eivind always visits Vegas with his fellow Norwegian buddy FM.  Enjoy!

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First of all, thanks to Rob for letting us write a guest post for the best poker blog on this planet!  As we have a lot of ground to cover, this will end up as a two-part post covering two visits to the Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza (DSE).

Let’s start with some background data. We are two Norwegian guys who absolutely love poker. We also work together in the oil & gas industry, so this leaves us with some room to play poker between the work sessions offshore. We try to be in Vegas 2-3 times a year and lately we have grown into big fans of the DeepStack Extravaganza at the Venetian. I live in Bangkok where gambling is highly illegal, so Macau and Manilla are my close by choices for poker. My buddy, let’s call him FM, has a house up in Maine so he can hop on his Harley and drive down to some local poker rooms if he wants. However, nothing beats Las Vegas! There is something magical with this town. I can’t describe it. The feeling of coming up the escalators at McCarran Airport and seeing the huge “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign gives me goose bumps every time.

Before we kick off, let me throw out a few teasers of what we are going to cover in these posts: Two Venetian tournament wins, Heads up with a poker pro, the mother of all bad beats with the dreaded pocket Kings, DanielNegreanu, the $1,100 MSPT tournament and In-N-Out Burger.

The first trip took place in October last year during the October weekend DSE at the Venetian. I booked my trip with a Chinese airline that flew directly from Beijing to Las Vegas. I put all my money into my bankroll for this trip, so I decided to fly in cattle class. Not that bad actually, but once we got to Vegas I was almost the last person out of the airplane. On this day the customs and border control decided to check all passengers arriving from China. I immediately started to regret leaving the airplane as one of the last passengers. I ended up waiting 3 hours in customs queue. The problem was that most of the Chinese passenger did not speak a word of English and needed a Chinese interpreter. My buddy arrived at the same time but had to sit outside the rental car center for 3 grueling hours waiting for me. Once there we got our rental car. As we decided to use all our money for poker play, we had booked a midsize car from Hertz. It was cheap and not much of a car.

Oh, did I mention the car we had on a previous trip to Vegas? Those days were before the collapse in the oil & gas industry so we treated ourselves with a Ford Mustang GT500 booked from Hertz. Excited about the car, we came to the Hertz counter and the lady there asked us. “By the way, would you be interested in upgrading to the Ford Mustang Penske GT?” She shoved us a picture and it took us about 10 milliseconds to hand her our credit card and say YES, YES! Boy, what a monster that was. Specially tuned Mustang for Hertz only, 650 horse power with an automatic gear box. My buddy FM got the pleasure of driving it first. You could hear the car rev up from two floors down in the parking house. Driving out from the rental car center FM decided to see what it was good for and floored it as we were coming out of the first 90 degree turn from the rental car center towards the motor way. Holy crap!! We almost spun around, and white smoke could be seen in the rear mirror. We desperately fumbled around to find the traction control button and clicked it as soon as we found it. It stayed on for the reminder of that trip. See below for some pics of that beauty.

Let’s snap back to reality for this trip. We got the keys to our red Hyundai with a whopping 78 horse power. As we cruised down Las Vegas Boulevard with the windows open, all that was forgotten. We checked into our downtown hotel, grabbed a slice of pizza from one of the famous pizza shops on Fremont street and headed up the strip. As the DSE did not start until the day after we arrived, we decided to have a warmup session at Aria playing in the 7pm tournament. Nothing to report here. We busted out long before the money and called it a day.

Well rested we headed for the Venetian the day after. As soon as we handed the valet parking attendant our car keys and a couple of bucks, we headed over to In-N-Out Burger for a nutritious breakfast. A double cheese burger, cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake were what we needed before the poker marathon started that day. Back to the parking at the Venetian again…when I said we gave the valet parking attendant a few bucks, that was tips, not parking fee. The Venetian is right now almost the only casino that does not charge for parking.

First off was a $200 tournament at Noon. We played for about 5 hours and did not cash. Off again to In-N-Out Burger to reload some energy before the 7pm $200 bounty tournament. We sat down, and I had a fairly good run in the early levels. Once the antes kicked in our table broke and I was moved to a new table. Immediately I noticed a player there that was very competent in handling his chips and played solid poker. A bit later I found out that his girlfriend was sitting two seats to his left, and he was coaching her. She did play solid poker as well, and we soon found out she worked as a dealer and floor at another strip casino. Once I was moved to this table, I went card dead for a long time. The girlfriend of the good poker player seemed to build her stack slowly and was well above average stack. Down to about 15 bb, I looked down at a couple of ladies. It had been a raised in front of me, so I thought about it for some seconds and pushed all my chips in the middle. The girl I mentioned before went into the tank and started talking to herself about odds and that she was supposed to call with her hand. Eventually, she called and flipped over A-J off. My Queens held up and I was up to about 30 bb. After this I won some small pots and worked my stack up to about 35 bb when the following hand occurred. I was dealt A-Q suited and raised first in. The girl looked at me and re-raised me. I had seen her raise with a wide range before, so I decided to 4-bet. She thought about it for a while and pushed. At that point I was pot committed so it was an easy call. She had pocket 9's for a classic coin flip. Right there on the flop I hit my Ace and she did not improve. As she was packing her stuff and wishing her boyfriend good luck I stacked my chips and had nearly 80 bb in front of me. Time to play some serious poker! The final table came along, and the bubble busted. They paid 9 places and the top was $2.851. Each bounty was $50.

At this time, I had the second biggest stack on the table and opened up my range to take advantage of the smaller stacks. My buddy FM busted out before the money and was railing the final table together with the girlfriend of the good player. They started talking and FM shortly found out that the good player was indeed a very good player. Actually, it was not until later that we found out on the Hendon Mob that he had $7,9 mill in online earnings and $2,7 mill in live earnings. He had finished top 100 two time in the WSOP main event. His biggest cash was over $500k. He was truly a poker pro. However, he was a very nice guy and was not a complete maniac. Let’s call him NPP for Nice Poker Pro. At around 4am, I was heads up with NPP. I was thinking. “Crap, I knocked out his girlfriend earlier.” He was not interested in making a deal as he thought he could outplay me. He was probably right in believing so. I had a 4:1 chip advantage when we started heads up play. I was expecting NPP to really crack up the aggression, and indeed he did. I decided that the only way I could defeat him was to do the same. We were both playing very aggressively for about 30 min before I found out that he was very good in putting maximum pressure on me when he judged me as weak. I decided that I had to capitalize on that and decided to set a trap. A few orbits later I looked down at A-K off. I looked on my cards for a while pretending to be weak and casually threw out a call only. My trap had worked! NPP insta-pushed all in and I insta-called. When I insta-called NPP said something like, "Ohh, you got the goods?" I flipped over my A-K and he flipped over A-7 off. No one improved, and I took down the tournament with Ace high! As a gentleman that NPP was, he shook my hand and said, “well played sir.” I thanked him and said “likewise.”

My friend FM and I have a deal that we split all the winnings on our trips to Vegas to smooth out the variance of poker. I cashed out  a bit over $3k (Including some bounties) and gave $1.500 to FM. It was now 5am in the morning and we stopped by Carl's Jr. drive in before we headed to bed. I could not sleep for a while as adrenaline still rushed through my veins. We decided to skip the Noon tournament the day after and go straight for the 7pm $200 tournament again.

This one was a bit different as it was rebuy tournament. If you bust out you could rebuy for $100 for another full stack. You could also rebuy if you were at or below the starting stack of 12k chips. Obviously, I re-bought as soon as I sat down and had a good 24k stack to start play with. We quickly realized that it’s going to be fireworks around the tables with this kind of structure. Boy where we right. The maniacs kept playing even crazier than they usually did, and they rebought plenty of times. FM and I were kind of sitting back a bit playing it a little bit tight until the rebuy period finished. I think we made a good choice and we ended up chipping up a bit in the first 6 levels. Now after the rebuy ended play tightened up a bit but it was still quite crazy. I was moved to a new table and had one good hand quite early on. I turned quad 9’s and got some chips form my opponent. The guy I played with in that hand usually bet all streets, so I decided to check on the river. To my disappointment he checked back! I showed by quads and he patted his shoulder for not betting again on the river.

After my quads, I went insanely card dead. I was not playing a single hand for two hours. Just bleeding chips. One of the new guys at my table asked me why I did not play any hands. The guy sitting two to my left said jokingly “He only plays quads”. Then, an older gentleman to my right from Italy tangled with the big stack. Preflop there was a raise and a call by the Italian. The flop contained a deuce and there was some hefty betting going on. The turn brought the third flush card onboard, and straights were certainly possible. More betting took place and the river card put an open ended straight draw out there. His opponent pushed all in and the older gentleman tanked for quite some time. Eventually, he folded his cards face up. He had pocket deuces for a flopped set. At least, that was what he thought he had! Immediately after he folded his deuces face up another player at the table said: “Dude, you folded a boat!!” The Italian man went ballistic. He did not see that the board paired on the river. He was beating himself up badly and the table talked about nothing else for the next 30 min.

Later, the Italian man’s mistake turned out to be an advantage for me. First, I doubled up with a low pocket pair for a playable stack. Then I got it all in against the guy that took the Italian guy's chips. I had J-J and the other guy called with A-T. He did not improve, and I now had another decent stack. Sometime later I tangled again with the same guy. We ended up all in and I had A-K off. The other guy had A-Q suited. Nice, I said to myself. Our stacks were almost equal, and the winner of that pot would be the chip leader. Right there on the flop a Queen hit. Ouch… I started thinking that sure, I could not win two tournaments in a row. This was just the poker gods correcting the odds. I took it with a smile and started to get up. The turn brought a J and I now had a Broadway draw. Sure, I would not hit the 10 on the river I thought. The dealer dealt the river and BOOM. A beautiful 10 of clubs hit. I sucked out to take the chip lead. Ohh my budda, I started thinking. Could I really take down another tournament the day after the first win? I peeked at the screens and saw the first price was now $5,098 after they had counted and added the rebuys. FM was still in the game as well, with a decent stack. Shortly thereafter, the last two tables broke, and the final table was set. I was in Seat 9. A seat I quite like as I can relax my feet there. This tournament was played 9 handed. FM was in seat 6. He had a playable stack and was not yet in shove mode.  Some guys busted out and we were two away from the bubble. They paid 4 places today. The min cash was a decent $1,133. This was due to the inflated price pool from all the rebuys. A few orbits later I had added a bit to my stack as I again took advantage of my stack size and raised bigger preflop to steal the blinds and antes.

Then, a hand started that saw one guy knock out two players. Bingo! We were both in the money! A few hands later FM 3-bet a guy and got 4-bet. After some consideration he called. FM held J-T suited in hearts. The flop came 8h-9h-Jx. What a flop! FM now had the mighty open ended straight flush draw with top pair. FM was going nowhere with that monster draw and they ended up with all the chips in the middle. FM now had half the deck in outs with two more cards to come. His opponent tabled the dreaded pocket Kings. However, FM had to improve to win. Sadly, we all know the story. Everyone around the table said. “Too many outs man… Too many outs!” Indeed, it was. He did not improve and was all out. He cashed out $1,133 and again he was on the rail waiting for me. As a joke he came over and said. “Are you going to take it down again?” Sure thing I said with a laugh.

My opponent knocked out the third guy and that took us to heads up play. I was on cloud 9 and could not believe that I was sitting heads up again just 24 hours after my last heads up match. This time I felt a lot better. Loaded with experience from my last heads up play I started with a slight chip disadvantage. Not by much though. I felt I had the older gentlemen under control. Ok, let’s call him OG for older gentleman. OG was far from a nit, and knew he had to open most of the pots when heads up. I kept raising him a lot and slowly took a slight chip lead only by cranking up the aggression. From earlier I saw that OG pushed with medium cards some time. Then I look down at a beautiful hand. It was A-K suited in diamonds. Sweet I thought. I raised to 3x and OG only called. The flop came all low cards with one diamond. Immediately, OG announced “All in”. Wow I said. There were no real draws on the flop and he did it so fast I smelled a bluff. I went into the tank for a while and started looking at him. OG was like a statue. He did not want to make eye contact, so I started talking myself into calling as I was more and more sure he was bluffing. I did have two overcards and backdoor equity to improve with two more cards to come. I closed my eyes and threw in a 5k chip and announced “Call.” He flipped over his cards. Q-J offsuit! I could not believe I was actually ahead on the flop. The dealer dealt the turn…Brick….Then he looked at our cards and prepared the river. Another brick! Whohoo. Again, I had won my second tournament with Ace high. OG looked at the board and looked at the dealer and said. “So that’s it then?” Yep said the dealer, that’s it. OG was far from unhappy as he cashed out $3k. FM came over to me and we simply could not believe that exactly 24.5 hours after I beat NPP heads I had done it again. FM handed me his $1k payout and I went to the cage to cash out my $5k. I was $102 below the limit where they would withhold tax and I had to fill in all sorts of paperwork. This is because they deduct the $200 buy in from the $5k tax limit.

With my pockets full of cash, we went to pick up our red Hyundai that was in the valet parking. Again, we had no other choice than to stop at Carl's Jr for a burger on the way home. When we were waiting for our burgers, I handed FM a tad over $3k back for 50% of the profit we had that day. As it turned out, the Carl's Jr. attendant had messed up our orders and gave us two lousy hot dogs instead. I did not notice that until I came back in my room and opened the box. Well, with a big smile on my face, I ate my hotdog and enjoyed yet another sunrise over Las Vegas Blvd.

After the burger… Ehh, I mean hotdog, I was lying awake and could not sleep. Finally, I got some sleep and we came in very late to Venetian the day after. That was it. We played in DSE events for the next 5 days but did not cash or final table anything else. We had lots of fun playing some cash games around the strip and continued to enjoy our In-N-Out burgers.

That’s it for part 1. Part 2 has some nasty bad beats, Daniel Negreanu, the dreaded pocket kings, the $1,100 Mid states poker tour, and you probably guessed it…. even more In-N-Out burgers!

Stay tuned….

Part 2 has now been posted and can be found here.


  1. Purely by the length of the post-- you are somehow related to this gentleman? 😁

    1. Ha! No sir, I have no Norwegian blood in me. I kinda of wish I was, maybe some of his poker skill's would be in my blood!

      And guess what, Lightning? The second part is even longer!

  2. Wow. It's always great to discover a long-time blog reader who I didn't even know existed, and doubly so when he introduces himself to me with a great two-part guest post. Thanks so much Eivind!

    Really fine post, and congrats on the back-to-back tournament wins, a very rare feat indeed. Way to go. And great story on the Mustang you rented.

    I guess they don't have In-N-Out in Bangkok, huh? Wow, you sure do love those In-N-Out Burgers!

    1. We planed the next meal at In-N-Out while we was still in there Rob, And to the Mustang, I was pull over by a State tropper after 8 minutes behind the wheel.

    2. Yea, me and FM have kind of been "stealth reader" of your blog.

      Sadly no In & Out in Bangkok. It was actually from your previous posts that we discovered this place and gave it a try. Boy, did we like it. I'm hitting the gym hard these days to compensate for all those cheeseburgers :)

      Writing a guest post was our pleasure for reading all your good stories about our favourite city. I actually had a cracking good time writing them last weekend too. Felt like I was re-living all the fun (and pain) from the trips.


    3. Wow. So I tipped you guys off to In-N-Out, huh? I think they should pay me a commission considering all the business I've sent there way! I guess if you eat healthy the rest of the time when you're not in Vegas, it's ok. But then, I'm not a Doctor.

      @FM-thanks to you also for your readership and your contributions to this story. Interesting about getting busted by the cops! Did you get a ticket or just a warning?

  3. Haha, FM. I had almost forgotten about the state trooper that time. After digging up some photos on my phone I remember I took a picture in the side mirror:

    State Trooper in the rear mirror

    He scared the crap out of us. First thing he said when we rolled down the window was: "You got to come to the court house with me". After playing the stupid tourist card and apologise to him, he let us go. Phew.

    1. Wow, great that you got a pic of the guy. And happy to hear that you beat the rap!

  4. Thats a interesting story.It seems that,You are a man of good luck...Great explanation buddy.

    1. @Poker Lion. Yes, on this trip we where on the right side of the flips. Not so much in Part II though. More pain and the dreaded pocket kings there!