August 2006
« Jul   Sep »



Caesars 7pm Tourney

I’d decided to go and scope out some of the tournaments at the center-strip casinos, particularly because I’d liked the sound of the Caesars tournaments but couldn’t find any information online any more. I know it definitely used to be out there somewhere, otherwise I wouldn’ t know that I wanted to play it.

I hate driving on the strip, and I’m sure there must be a quicker way to get to Caesars without having to face the crawling traffic and the lights on the Flamingo Road intersection that seem to be on a fifteen minute cycle, but I haven’t found it yet. Once you’re in the hotel complex though, it’s impressively well organised. I flew around the service road and dumped the car in the Colosseum valet instantly. Celine Dion is on holiday and Elton John isn’t back until October so I imagine it’s usually busier here.

We’ve seen both of these shows. Celine Dion features lots of people walking round the stage slowly during most songs, for which the art value is lost on us. Elton’s show on the other hand is so good we’ve seen it twice. His show features lots of enourmous phallic inflatables and a big pair of breasts. Much better.

I finally arrived about 20 minutes before the start of the 7pm tournament so I paid my $120 and got 1500 chips. There’s one $100 rebuy allowed which gets you 3000 more chips and as most of the players at my table took the rebuy before the first hand was dealt I thought it would be a good idea to do the same. Things started well with a very loose payoff when my AK hit a flop of K33 – it was hard to see anything beating me here, I didn’t believe his check raise and got them all in against 99.

I was up to about 9k at the first break and then 25k at the second break thanks mostly to hitting a big hand against a big bully and letting him hang himself, but until then I’d recognised the need to steal pots once the running ante kicked in, and I seemed to have enough respect to maintain a stack this way.

The Caesars card room is really nice. It’s deteched from the casino and pretty big, but was busy enough to somehow keep a casino vibe. It feels odd to say this, because I felt that playing at the Rio Conference Centre, which was much bigger and much busier, was a really sterile environment. Caesars, on the other hand, felt just as classy as I’d imagined. Despite being a new room, the dealers were all very experienced and kept the game moving quickly. Little touches, like coffee being served in a real mug, went a long way too.

The biggest problem is that finding somewhere to eat on a 20 minute break is impossible. I just wanted some kind of sandwich or burger – very easy at places like the Plaza or Stratosphere – but the best I could find that wasn’t a restaurant with some kind of celebrity chef was a can of Pringles and a Twix. I’d seriously consider a packed dinner next time …

So at the second break I have over twice the average stack, there’s still about 70 players remaining and 20 get paid. I certainly don’t have enough to sit tight to money, and besides the difference between 20th place ($395) and 1st (over $12,000) makes it worth playing. I decide that with the blinds beginning to get oppressive to many players that I’d be looking for opportunities to take 50/50 or better shots against short stacks and hope to get lucky when the downside of losing is not that severe, rather than sit tight and get crippled.

With the blinds at 400/800 with 100 ante, I’m on the big blind and the button raises all in for about 8000. I’m looking at A8 and decide this is probably a better than 50/50 shot. It will never be much better than that, but against a random blind stealing hand, I’m probably slightly ahead. In fact he has A9 and I don’t improve. I’m still in two minds about this call. On the one hand, it looks like a steal, I have a better than average hand and I have enough chips to push a probable edge. On the other hand, I’m never going to be way ahead here and the button was not so short stacked he had to push in this situation. I still haven’t decided if this was a good call and a situation that I usually play too tight when it’s important to keep winning chips, or that I’d decided to gamble too much.

But it did all go pear shaped after that. I lost half my remaining chips to a hand I dominated, found a couple of big aces but got called by the exact same hand both times, and finally lost when I had to push with A8 and the big blind woke up with AQ. I finished fifty-something out of just over two hundred.

The tournament is excellent for the first three hours, and then goes a little mental. Some of the players were talking about the structure as the first break approached and I didn’t believe them at first, but someone decided to rip out the 300/600 level and that makes quite a difference. Even if you are way ahead, there are enough players struggling at that level that this is still about the time that you’re going to have to enter some coinflip confrontations and ride a lucky streak in order to make the money.

They have the same structure in the afternoon for $80+$50 and a faster tournament at 11pm for $70. I think I’ll be back for one of those.