Sunday, January 6, 2008

Vegas Update - MB and Jason

Tale of 2 decks, a hot one and a cold one. I got the cold one and MB, the hot one. Total loss for me over about 24 hours of live play in the 4 day trip was about $800, MB was definitely up.

Depends of course where you go and what kind of table you are at but in general I would characterize the play as very good during the day, particularly at the MGM where we played most. Lots of LAG players, a few TAG players, and during the day at most 1 donk per table. At night, this could change to 2 to 3 donks per table, but still beating the 10 percent standard rake and tipping the dealers made the tables unbeatable, in my opinion, during the day at $l/$2 NL Hold’m.

Some of the play at MGM was exceptional. Tag player bets out on top pair (a 10) top kicker, LAG player calls. Next card is a King. Check Check. Next card completes the spade draw for the flush and TAG player is visibly pissed and checks. LAG player moves in for about $120 into a $60 dollar pot. TAG player thinks for quite a while and makes the hero call. LAG player announces one pair, TAG player says which one. TAG player shows his hand and LAG player mucks.

Here are the hand highlights for myself and MB as well as a few other cool hands I saw.

First couple hours of play at the MGM and I pick up KK in late position. Raise to $12 and get a call from the button and small blind. Small blind is a very aggressive young Asian dude who I consider to be a reasonably good player. Flop is 10,J, Q with 2 clubs. I bet out $25, button calls and small blind check raises to about $80. I have about $120 left in my stack and move in, button calls, and small blind hems and haws and calls as well. Next 2 cards blank, and I rake the pot as Asian dude has KJ, and button has A,9 of clubs for the straight draw and nut flush draw. I then begin the next 15 hours of a slow and painful cold deck. During this period, I show down trip Jacks when my pocket Jacks trip up on the turn, losing to a queen high straight, a couple of 2 pairs, all losers, and the most painful, a monster losing to a bigger monster. I actually play 15 hours without ever getting a straight or a flush in NL Hold’m cash games, or ever being able to show down 2 pair or better to rake a pot.

Flops never seemed to cooperate. I pick up 99 on the button and decide to min raise the early position raiser from $10 to $18, trying to represent a higher pair. Everyone folds and flop is JJ,7. He bets out $20 and I raise to $50. He says something like what do you have Queens and then moves in for $22 more. I make the crying call and see that his pocket 10’s crush my pocket 99s. The very next hand a different early position raiser raises to $10 and I make it $30 to go with JJ. The blinds hem and haw and decide to fold what they later said were big Aces. The flop is Ace high, he checks and I move in for my last $60 dollars or so. He hems and haws and decides to fold face up his pocket 10’s. The blind, dying to know what I have throws me a buck to expose my hand and I show my JJ.

Day 2, decline continues and I continue to play on hoping for 1 positive thing to happen. Fortunately Martin gives me a great piece of advice, “end your session with 1 good decision since the cards are out of your control.” My new goal, one good decision. I pick up AJos in early position and make it $7 to go. About 5 callers. Flop is Ace, 3, x rainbow and I bet out $25. Next to act min raises to $50, the other 3 callers fold and I decide to fold as well with about $100 in my stack. Min raiser exposes A3 and I leave having made at least one good decision.

I make one final table in a 40 person tourney and bust out when I go all in as the micro stack with 99 and the big blind is forced to call me as I only have 1.25X the blind. He has Q,10 and catches. I finish as bubble boy.

Day 3 Marsh, myself, MB and Rosa go downtown, have a great dinner, watch the light show, and Marsh and I sit down to play at Binions. Marsh busts out and I am ready to go about 1 hour later. MB, Marsh and Rosa are all waiting for me and I decide to play one last hand and only if it is a premium hand. UTG, who just bought in for at least $300 (they have unlimited buyin at Binions), limps and I see KK again. I raise to $12, one other caller and UTG calls as well. Flop is King of spades, 6 of diamonds and 7 of diamonds. UTG bets into me for $20, I raise to $50, other caller folds and UTG says all in. I instacall with about $160 behind me, and show my cards for the cameras. He shows 66 for bottom set. Turn is a 6, river blanks and my Kings full lose to quads and I am felted for the first time during the trip in a cash game.

Dav 4 I try the Orleans for $4/8 Omaha 8. The crowd is myself and 8 locals all over the age of 60 who seem to play every day. About once an hour a new tourist comes through and busts out within an hour or 2. I play for 5 and a half hours, never bust out and lose about $80, probably close to the amount I gave to the rake, tipping the dealers and waitress drinks. I was the only tourist to survive this long with this group and was generally happy with this accomplishment.

Rest on day 4 at the MGM and head out to the Venetian for late night poker. I get seated at a passive multi donk table, my first one. Two great examples of donk behavior are new player comes in short stacked for $42 and goes all in. Blinds both call and the flop is Ace high, no betting, next 2 cards blank and dealer says show me a winner. Small blind shows Q,10 for queen high, big blind shows K,9 for King high and original all in bettor mucks. A few hands later, older guy who will later get the megadonk award says all in on a board of 6,7,9,10. Bigger donk calls and shows 10,3 os, the young hand for top pair 3 kicker. He saw the guys stack of about $60 and said why not but neglected to notice the $100 bill clearly displayed and in play. Bigger donk donks off $160. All in player shows trip sixes and is a target donk now with a big stack. Good aggressive player gets involved in a hand with this guy. Flop is K,Q, 10 with 2 clubs. Some action on the flop with a raise, pot is now about $100. Next card is a low club. Aggressive player bets $100 and megadonk looks at this cards and says do you have AK. He calls, Final cards is a club. Aggressive player goes all in for about $60 more and meagadonk calls. Aggressive player has Ace high flush with AJ, for the flopped straight. Megadonk reportedly had K3 os, with the 3 being a club at least according to the player next to him who glanced at his cards.

I finally show down Ace 4 in the blind for a winner on a limped pot with aggressive player betting the river on a busted straight draw. My streak of 16 hours of live play without being able to show down 2 pair or better for a winner has finally ended. I later show down two pair, queens and fours, when my pocket queens beat 9,6 on a board of 9,8,4. All of our money goes in on the flop, though he is short stacked and has about $40. The turn was a 6, the river is a four and I finally see a friendly river.

Master of the Multi Way All In Strikes Again

Similar situation at Mandalay Bay with all of us ready to go. Marsh and I are both done playing. Marsh is up a few hundred as he flopped quad 5’s and was paid off. Mandalay Bay also has a bonus if you show down quads and he picked up an additional $265. MB asks for one last hand as she has the button. 2 Limpers, she limps from the button, the blinds are mucked on bathroom brake and 3 people see the flop with $8 starting in the pot. MB flops perfect on the 9,10, Jack rainbow flop with KQ os. Check, check and she bets $5. Call, Call. The next card is the 8 of diamonds, putting 2 diamonds on the board. Stack sizes are original limper about $250, aggressive Russian guy about $500, and MB about $260. Original limper checks, aggressive Russian guy bets $20, MB raises to $50, and original limper and aggressive Russian guy both call. The final card is the ultimate scare card, the 9 of diamonds, pairing the board and putting the 8,9, and 10 of diamonds on the board. Original limper checks, aggressive Russian guy grabs a big stack of about $150 or so, MB looks distraught but announces all in anyways, original limper calls, as does aggressive Russian guy. Dealer says show me a winner. MB says to the Russian, “Do you have the flush?” as she realized on the river that this was the most likely possible sick suck out. He was playing LAG crazy enough to hang on to a hand like that. Having watched him blow through 3, $200 buy-ins earlier, it became apparent that he had lots to throw around. Players show. The original limper had Q,10 os for the straight to the queen, aggressive Russian guy had K,9 suited in spades for trip 9’s and MB rakes the pot of $779 with the straight to the King.

MB also made her first cash in a tourney with fourth place for $200. She was complimented by one nice gentleman who said she played the part of the big stack bully well.

Definitely a humbling experience for me in Vegas. I played about 10 hands of NL Hold’m on cake this morning and stacked someone with pocket aces when I flopped perfect with a Q,3,3 board with 2 hearts with my Ace, 3 suited in diamonds. Where were these flops in Vegas?


Sushi Cowboy said...

Just to clarify, I told Jason that his goal should not be to make a certain amount of money, his goal should be to make as many good decisions as possible (not just one).

Ryan said...

I agree that the rake and tipping become oppressive, but I agree with Marsh that 1/2 in Vegas is beatable. As the lowest-stakes option, it attracts a ton of loose/passive players.

But as Marsh says, loose-passive opponents mean that you actually have to get cards and have them hold up. When you do, you can win huge monsters (see: MB) that easily pay for two days of cold-deck torture.

If you never have that big win during a trip, or you get sucked out on a lot (that's a set-over-set you'll remember, eh?), it might feel unbeatable, but I'm sure if you played your A game at 1/2 in Vegas daily for a couple of months, you would be plenty up.

jtrey333 said...

The 1/2 in Vegas is very beatable. Both Marsh and I are proof of that. Almost 1 year ago to this day, I went with Martin on Martin-palooza 2007 and ended that week 9x the normal buy in ($200). And this was playing straight ABC poker - setting up a tight (but not ultra-tight) image, play only good hands (pocket pairs, AK-AJ), and target the weaker players. Bluff every once in a while at players who were bluffable and playing straight up at calling stations.

It takes a LOT of observation and concentration of what the table norms at any given table are, which raises work, which don't, and who the sharks and fish were.

For example, standard raises before the flop were anywhere from $7-$20. And sometimes, raises after the flop were more about the actual dollar amount and not the multiplier of the amount. For instance, if someone were to bet $30 after the flop, and you raised minimum, $30 more, that could convince a tourist fish that you had a strong hand, and they might fold. Some of the fish would fold to ANY raise, and therefore, you were only risking a min raise to take down a decent pot.

In any case, it definitely takes a change to your mentality and game to be successful at beating the 1/2 NL game in Vegas. I firmly believe that adaptation is the key, just like it is in most NL games!

Marshall said...

What Jeh said is all true. One key is that it hinges on getting decent cards, as the majority of bad players fall into the loose-passive category. They are almost all stations and will just call you down. The MGM was no different IMO, although I have seen better games than the ones we sat in there...

jason said...

Thanks for all your comments as I know I played some B quality poker, looking at too many flops so I could have a story to tell of actually hitting one.

I don't know if I am totally convinced yet that Vegas 1/2 is beatable, especially daytime play.

If you take all of the collective hours of the WNP crew, and go with the assumption that we are all A players, we have probably logged enough hours to be statistically significant.

Add up all of the hours, all of the players winnings and losings and I think we are at best break even. For each Jeh and Marsh story, (I know one of you had the nut full house vs. the second nut full house) and Marsh was lucky enough to flop quads at my table, there are stories like my set vs. quads and Martin's tale where everyone flopped perfect on him. I know Martin was playing good cards like KK and Ax suited, so good cards are not the total story here. Martin also had unfortunate things like flopping full houses only to be beat later by a bigger house. Then there are stories I have heard like Ryan's, where he always seemed to go in with the better hand and better odds but lost anyways (apology to Ryan if I got this wrong as I have heard these stories second hand).

Admittedly, there are players who truly suck in Vegas but where I was playing in the daytime, I was seeing no more than 1 donk per table.

Maybe the nightime games can be beaten where you have multidonks per table.

Don't get me wrong, Vegas can be a blast win or lose, but if your objective is to make money, cake is way easier. The rake is materially less and the play is way softer. No bluff callers with 10 high in Vegas at 1/2. No players in Omaha 8 limping in with hands like QQQ,7 (believe me I have seen it). No players calling you down on the river with A,4os and no clubs on a board of J,Q,K,A and 3 clubs when you are betting on each and every street.

Let's look at the result on Cake. Marsh and I are way up. Ryan is up over 3 buyins. Will and Austin are both up I believe. I think J Sola is up, even though he is not in the challenge. We have only one bust out, Royal who said he was clearly not playing his best.

I would go back to Vegas in a heartbeat, but I think if the WNP crowd were to honestly and objectively look at the results, the game is at best a break even against the rake. Vegas is great for the stories that come out (reading Marsh's blog took away most all of the pain of the losses) and one of the best places for action games.

Next trip is for entertainment sake, and if I make money all the better.

Marshall said...

Again Jason I have to disagree. This trip was by FAR the worst I have done in Vegas during my last 4 trips. I won 400 the first time, 900 the second, and 1200 last time at Jeh's bachelor party weekend.

Simply put, I crush the 1-2 tables when I am there.

There are horrific players abound in Las Vegas 1-2 games. They typically play loose-passive, and overvalue their hands by 10 fold on average. Making money in those games becomes an exercise in patience and showing down good hands. The play is terrible, and you are giving the players far too much credit.

Even with the crap run of cards I got, and even with my marginal play, I STILL ended up ahead on the weekend by 150.00 or so.

In short, the 1-2 games in Vegas are horribly full of donks, and are about as easy of a game as you will find anywhere for actual money.

You sir, are wrong.

jason said...

In this case, I hope you are right and I am wrong. I would love for a group of us to visit Vegas and collectively come back as winners.

I figured out that I must have played about 750 hands before I was able to show down 2 pair or better for a winner. That's 15 hours of play * 50 hands per hour. Try to have this bad a run on cake where you can keep track of your hands, it is almost impossible.

I did win at Mandalay Bay when you were at my table, then lost at Binions only when you left. Maybe all I needed was my good luck charm to be around :)

Marshall said...

Haha you could have just asked and I would have gladly hovered over you imparting my good luck on you!

2 comments bout your comment:
1. The fact that you had no decent hands was a direct contributor to you not winning. Against those loose passive stations, you simply need some big hands. Your job in the meantime is to not play marginal shit. Which we both did, to differing extents.

2. I highly doubt you were seeing 50 hands per hour. 30 is the accepted norm for brick and mortar casinos, and thats the upper end.

jason said...

Right again, 50 was a pure guess. 15 hours of play is pretty accurate though as I logged 11 hours at MGM alone.

In my 450 hands I did get a set once on the turn with Aces but no callers on a half size pot bet and I did have K-7 once in the blind on a board of KQ,7 where I had to put in a large check raise with about 5 callers of someone's small bet.

One consolation is after playing so much Omaha, trip Kings getting cracked is kind of a non event, just usually not cracked by quads.

I won't forget keeping the good luck charm nearby next time.

Ryan said...

The question is not "is .02/.04 Cake (or whatever) tougher than 1/2 in Vegas," the question is, is 1/2 in Vegas beatable? (That being said, I expect that 1/2 on Cake is much tougher than 1/2 in Vegas. I haven't played 1/2 on Cake, but I played 1/2 on UltimateBet and it was far, far tougher than Vegas 1/2.)

If you took a sample of me, Marsh, and Jeh--three people I know work hard to adjust to the table and take maximum advantage of the tendencies of other players at that level--I think the combined results against Vegas 1/2 would be well positive, even if you include my $850 disaster.

That was where I was against two blatant maniacs where seeing any river cost $100 minimum (usually just all of someone's stack), and I got very unlucky. That game was not at all representative of what to expect from a typical 1/2 table, though. I looked at that as a Drunk-Steve, positive-expectation gamble I was taking that I knew could be disastrous, not as me playing 1/2 poker.

Anyway, without my maniac session, looking simply at me playing typical 1/2 in Vegas, I am up about $650 in two trips (up $950 in my first, down $300 in the second), despite never feeling like I had a particularly good run of cards during either trip. Combine that with Jeh and Marshall's results, and I'm sure you will find that we are well positive.

Games get harder to beat the higher you go, so if 1/2 is not beatable, how are there professional cash-game players? Or, are you suggesting that the rake-to-pot-size ratio is so bad at 1/2 that it is not beatable, but that 3/5 or 5/10 are in fact more beatable because of the improved rake/pot ratio? Or are you suggesting that you have to be a professional-cash-game-level player to be able to beat Vegas cash games?

The rake/pot raito is definitely a bitch, agree 100% on that. When you start looking at how much they pull per hour relative to how much money is on the table, it’s pretty sick. But it’s simply not unbeatable.

I do wonder if 3/5 is a sweeter spot, where I'd be better off buying in for the minimum at 3/5 in Vegas instead of maximum at 1/2...

jason said...


I am suggesting that if you take a full sample of who I consider to be good players, Marsh, Jeh, Ryan, myself, Joe Sola, Martin, Royal (though I don't know if he has played Vegas) and even MB we are not collectively ahead. It is a bit unfair to just take yourself, Marsh, and Jeh. Ask Marsh and Jeh how many brutal bad beats they have had in Vegas and I bet they can't think of more than one apiece.

By brutal, I mean hands like these.

Trip 1

Playing 3/$6 limit the first time in Vegas I raise with pocket 8's. I am reraised and then capped. The flop is 8,3,3. I lead out I think, raise reraise and cap with a total of 3 players. The next card is a King, raise, reraise, one player finally bows out. The last card blanks, I bet, the guy raises me and looks at me like save your money son. I call and he has KK for the bigger full boat.

Trip 1 - Not really that brutal but brutal at the time as I was relatively new to the game

I was just getting into poker and I raised to $10 UTG with 77's. Jovial guy next to me says loose call, about 4 or 5 other callers, flop is 6,3,2 with 2 hearts. I bet $50, loose caller calls and everyone else folds. The next card is a 3 and I am saying, this did not help the flush, if he flopped the straight I am dead anyways. I move in. The jovial guy says unless you have pocket 6's you are dead and calls, flipping over 2,3 suited. Now I am used to these type of super loose calls but at the time the preflop call with 2,3 suited and 7 players yet to act really surprised me.

Trip 2

The trip Kings hand beaten by quads.

Don't think any of us have a big enough bankroll to effectively play $2/$5. The WNP crowd prides itself on getting in money good and I think it is easier with the $1/2 game if you get good cards.

As I have said before, I would love to be wrong on this one but if we take a large sample size of very good players, I don't think we are ahead at $1/$2. Beating the bigger games makes sense to me with the reduced rake, but one of us needs a big bankroll first.

Ryan said...

Re: 2/5 bankroll: the min buy at 2/5 is the same as the max buy at 1/2, so the bankroll requirements are the same. It simply requires further adjustment to play as an effective short stack instead of a full stack. A “poker pro” (in the sense that he derives most of his income from poker) in Vegas that is a relative of one of the guys on Jtrey’s bachelor party trip recommended this approach over the 1/2 tables, but I felt at the time that it would be too swingy for me (writes the guy who later went to battle against two maniacs with four buyins).

Re: who counts: If I’m using the experiences of myself and my friends to establish whether the A game of a good player can beat 1/2 in Vegas, I am going to pick my list carefully. I’m not going to lump in someone who openly admits he plays suboptimal poker hoping to flop a good story, or someone who thinks the best play with AA in the BB against three limpers is to minraise, or someone who considers QQ to be a set-mining hand. I’m going to pick players who I feel are truly bringing an A game: serious, measured, studied, disciplined, steam-free, and aggressive-but-adjustable. That makes my list of who to include much shorter than yours. I’d add Sola to my list, though, and I *believe* he’s down lifetime in Vegas; he has some of those beats you are looking for.

I mean, you are saying it’s not beatable because the rake is too extreme, right? I.e., you are suggesting that Brian Townsend couldn’t beat the 1/2 game in Vegas? That if Negreanu, Harman, Antonius, or Ivey decided to slum it for a month at 1/2, you’d bet against them coming out ahead? If you think those guys [i]can[/i] beat it, then you are really saying, “I don’t think [i]WNPers[/i] are good enough to beat the 1/2 game in Vegas,” to which I respond, “Speak for yourself, there, Mr. Flop-a-Story.”

Marshall said...

jase, you know I love you man, but your naiveness is astonishing at times. I have played 4 main times in vegas. 3 of which were almost exclusively poker. Do you honestly beleive that I have taken one or fewer sick beats in that time? I played around 10-12 hours a day during two of the trips. Now can you possibly imagine a stretch of hands that long, where I am playing solidly, against loose passive donk stations, in which I didn't take some pretty sick beats??

And your big bad beat example is from a lousy 3-6 table? What was that, a 50.00 pot? Gimme a break. Like I said before, I have won around 2400 in the 4 times I have gone there. I have never had to pay for my flight or hotel until this last one either.

The bottom line is that I can and do crush the 1-2 games down there. Just becasue you werent able to this time, that doesn't mean it can't be done.

If you would like to bet, I will bet up to $1,000 that Jeh, Ryan, and I would be ahead after a full weekend of poker in the 1-2 game of your choice in Vegas (including the MGM).

jason said...

Wow, the debate is on. I may consider the side bet. $1,000 is a bit steep but this is a bet I would hope to lose. I mean if you, Jeh and Ryan could beat some of the tables I was at I would be delighted.

Daytime poker at the MGM. I was at a table where I bumped from the cutoff to $30 from $10 and the 2 blinds who both had big stacks and I considered excellent players folded AK and AQ os. You guys may consider this a bad play but since I had just shown down pocket 9's in the prior hand with my last bump, it was a smart move by them to fold knowing that they were OOP and would have to flop an Ace King or Queen in order to call my likely C Bet with whatever pocket pair I had. I only had about $100 in my stack so I was unlikely to go anywhere. I had JJ on this hand.

Then we had the guy who thought long and hard about calling someones overshove when the 3rd spade hit with second pair top kicker. The someone bragged about his poker playing abilities how he typically played $2/$5 and was definitely capable of making a move like that. These were sophisticated plays with good reads by all parties.

I also saw a guy fold pocket 10's on a board of 10,J,Q as he bet out, smooth call by the button, 3 bet by small blind, call by him and then shove by button who had a couple hundred in chips. Not a bad play as button clearly had AK which he showed at showdown. Same guy folded
a 9 on a 99,kk board to me when I made a 2/3 size bet on the river and I did have a K as I had check raised the turn.

In order to beat Vegas, in my opinion, you need more than one donk per table. My tables had at most one donk in the daytime, multi donked at night.

MGM,daytime, at a table of all men with 20 and 30 somethings and you are on for the side bet. Please win the bet as I would love to be proven wrong.

Ryan, feel free to pick your threesome or foursome. I have no problem not being included as I have not yet proven myself in the Vegas crowd.

When do we go?

Marshall said...

Those are definitely some top notch lay downs and plays that you named. And they are very atypical of the play at the 1-2 level in Vegas.

I think that Jeh's point above was spot on when he pointed out that winning at those games is just as much about table evaluation as it is about how you play your cards. The players that made those plays would be the ones that I would avoid like the plague. I have no reason to get involved with those types, as there are plenty of fish to go around.

RE: the bet. We can make it for any amount you like, between 5.00 and 1000.00. I don't care about the amount, so choose something that makes you happy. You can pick any time of day (except early morning for sleep reasons), any casino, and you can even pick what table we sit at. Over the course of a long weekend, between the three of us, we would be ahead. And I am ready to put my money where my mouth is on it.

eeezzzzyyyy moneyyy. SHIP IT!

Sushi Cowboy said...

Geez, even *I* think the 1/2 tables are beatable and I've had more than my share of suckouts. If you were horrendously card dead then that alone would explain poor ROI.

If I didn't play in the PH tourneys I would have been ahead for the trip and if I had played at the tables more instead of the tourneys I think I would have been further ahead. When I go back down in March I am going to be playing more than I did this time around. I will be blogging as usual and adding more data points to the issue.

jtrey333 said...

Ok, I just read all the comments at once. And I have to bring back one (huge) point that I made in my comment: GO FISHING. There were definitely times in my 3 Vegas trips where it was all good players at my table. There were times where I only had one fish. I'll tell you one thing: I nitted up BIG time at these tables. Probably was slightly down to down at these tables.

But for me, these tables were NOT the norm. Usually, there were two or three fish at the table, and many of them weren't that obvious unless you paid really close attention to their actions in hands you aren't involved in. I picked up so much just by observing, listening, and talking.

I guarantee you I have made almost all of my Vegas money from Fish. And they were there in the daytime, there in the nightime in equal numbers. MGM, Venetian, Caesar's, all around. And I'll say this: if you find yourself at a table with only good players, you can always ask for a table move. Or just play tight (NIT tight) and get up sooner rather than later.

In short, I find that Vegas is all about picking your targets. I'm not interested in playing against guys that can make a laydown with AK preflop. I'm interested in playing guys who will raise A10, KJ, or overplay small-to-mid pocket pairs post flop (and that's another thing - post-flop play is just atrocious at 1-2 NL levels).

I think you can beat the game Jase, I really do. I just think that you were a bit card dead and maybe let a few fish go by unnoticed. Sometimes they're pretty well disguised and only play top cards and go ABC poker all the way to overvaluing. OH, and if someone says they regularly play 2/5, it basically means they've played it a few times and are trying to rep some street cred. I heard that line about a dozen times or so and I wasn't impressed with any of their games :P

Marshall said...

I usually play 2/5.

Sushi Cowboy said...

I *used* to play 2/5 but moved up to 10/20 because the play was so bad at 2/5 and I couldn't stand the d0nks there.

jtrey333 said...

... and now you're sitting at the 1/2 tables. Hmm. You know, I usually play at the 2/5 tables too.

jason said...

OK, Here is my challenge.

Pick any 3 players or more, Ryan, Marsh, and Jeh are probably statistically the best from past Vegas performance. Sit down at a table at the MGM or Venetian or any table that has a 10% rake but no stupid bad beats or best hand jackpots. Play for a statistically significant amount of hours for the 3 of you combined. 50 would be my suggestion. Tip the dealers from your stack with whatever amount would be normal and customary for you. Pay for all of your drink tips with a wad of $1 bills that you carry. Keep track of your play during daytime hours before the drunks come out say between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. 9 p.m. in Vegas is still really daytime. If you stack someone who ships preflop with the sola hand at 2 a.m this does not count.

To reduce variance, payouts will be something like: Up or down $0-$200 collectively equals a push. Up or down $200-$600 collectively, made money but not much I will pay out $50 per player, inverse if you lose. Up or down collectively over $600, you guys rule, I will pay out $100 each basically approximating the amount you each lost to the rake over the period.

Got to put my money where my mouth is. I just don't think our best players can beat the rake at Vegas daytime poker. Prove me wrong as I would be happy to pay.

Marshall said...

Everything seems fine upon initial view to me, except the daytime hours thing. Vegas is a city of the night. I have never been awake at 10am in Vegas that I am aware of.

I don't mind starting in the daytime/afternoon, but I would want to be able to play until I felt like stopping, even if that went later than 9:00. I would say the night time and day time play is relatively comparable, with more rich guys with money to lose in the day, and more tired/drunk people at night.

I would propose that we mix the two and have some day and some night play, as I really think it's irrelevant, but seems to matter to you.

jason said...

My point is that most all of the megadonk plays that I saw occured late at night. There was the idiot who paid you off when you had quad 5's with his top pair 8 kicker. The donk that paid off MB with his trip 9's. The donk that paid me off with 9,6 when I had QQ and the flop was 9 high and I shoved. The donk that came to my table late at night at the MGM and bluffed almost every river when I had top pair.

I found the MGM daytime play unbeatable, based on the table talk, the preflop raising to $15 or more basically negating my ability to be a better post flop player, and the quality of the reads by my opponents.

If you can beat the kinds of tables I was at with the rake, more power to you. I would then have to say "you rule."

Marshall said...

A couple of things here:
1. I know I rule

2. You played plenty at night, you should have crushed if the donks were so abundant and so horrible.

3. This isn't about beating the tables that you lost at. It's not about you, or if you won. Jeh, Ryan, and I have all won money at the 1-2 tables at all times of day and at many Casino's in Vegas. You are claiming that 1-2 is unbeatable in Vegas. You are patently wrong and I can show you this from my results over 4 trips. But if that isn't enough, I can show you by having Jeh, Ryan and I down there and showing you first hand.

3. Not only am I confident about your proposal, I would go as far as to say it would be easy.

jtrey333 said...

I would like all expenses paid for, with a $300 per diem for food and drink (but not to be used at the poker table). First Class roundtrip airfare, a suite at the Bellagio, and a masseuse on call. Once this is all confirmed, I'll confirm my participation. Any questions, you can call my agent, Marsh Dogg.

jason said...

OK guys, I have searched through our extensive blog and here are the results I have found of the WNP crowd playing in casinos with a 10 percent rake over the past 6 months or so.

Marsh - Vegas last weekend up $150.
Jason - Vegas last weekend down $800.
MB - Vegas last weekend up an unspecified amount
Joe Sola - Four Winds casino, down unspecified amount but I believe around $300
Jason - River Rock, up $550
MB - River Rock, down about $300.
Ryan - Tullalup, not posted but I believe down
Marsh - River Rock, down unspecified amount but I believe $300
Martin - Vegas, down almost 2 large
Jason - London, up about $20.00
MB - London, up about $300

So that means for myself, Joe Sola, Ryan, Martin and Marsh I believe we have a total of zero players who have beaten the 10 percent rake in casino land over the last 6 month period.

MB is the only exception to the rule who has Vegas winnings and River Rock losses that are roughly equal. Including London, where she made about $300 this summer, she is the only one that is ahead over the prior 6 month period that I can find.


Your comment on Brian Townsend. There is no friggin way he could beat at 10 percent rake at the tables he plays at (I know that you did not say this but I wanted to try to get some tilt factor going). He pays a rake equal to somewhere between .1 of 1 percent and .4 percent of 1 percent on the net. Granted the tables he plays at are way tougher than Vegas. When he plays heads up pot limit Omaha he typically gets his money in good but he is usually ahead something like 52% vs. 48%. He still has lots of losing sessions. But over time, he makes a very handsome living. If we could convince Brian to slum it for a while, I am not certain he could dominate the $1/$2 tables.

The challenge stands, I am still not a believer that Vegas $1/$2 can be beaten.

Ryan said...

1. Explicitly define "10% rake," please. You keep using that term, and I'm not 100% sure what you mean by it and I want to be clear.

2. Go to Townsend's site and post to the forums that you believe not even the top pros in the world can beat a standard 1/2 game. Please.

3. Explain how Ferguson managed to get to $10k from nothing online. How did he pass through the 1/2 games online while adhering to his rules, when the rake is the same and the game is actually much tougher than 1/2 live? How did he beat the rake at any level enough to clear $10k?

4. I'm up about $800 lifetime at raked 1/2 and 3/5 (Tulalip is mostly 3/5, I played 1/2 there once for about 45 minutes).

Marshall said...

Now you are just cherry picking.

Can we add on my Vegas sessions over the last year or two? Can we add on the other 3 times I went to RR casino and won money?

It is starting to seem like you don't believe that I did these things.. Ryan and Jeh were there for his bachelor party, they saw me play every day, and they saw the cash I made in my damn hand. The trip before that, in Vegas, Jeh CRUSHED the game for 1800 and I had an awesome weekend when I got there winning around 900.00, which he saw.

I just looked through my live play spreadsheet, and here are the additions plus from talking with Jeh:

Marsh - Vegas last weekend up $150.
Jason - Vegas last weekend down $800.
MB - Vegas last weekend up an unspecified amount
Joe Sola - Four Winds casino, down unspecified amount but I believe around $300
Jason - River Rock, up $550
Marsh - Vegas, up around 1200.00
MB - River Rock, down about $300.
Ryan - Tullalup, not posted but I believe down
Marsh - River Rock, down unspecified amount but I believe $300this is wrong, I was down 160.00
Martin - Vegas, down almost 2 large
Jeh - Vegas, up 1800.00
Marsh - Vegas, up 900.00
Jason - London, up about $20.00
MB - London, up about $300
Marsh - River Rock, up 244.00
Marsh - River Rock, down 170.00
Marsh - River Rock up 216.00
Jeh - Vegas, down around 250

mb said...

I definitely believe you, there is no point to making this up.

If all of these postings are accurate, the group is up about $1500 over 17 sessions. That's about $100 per session, not bad, kind of like free entertainment. We probably average about 20 hours per session, some were multi day some were just a few hours. So we can clear about $5 an hour as a group.

I still stand by my original premise. If you were at the type of tables I was at with the caliber of play I saw during the day at MGM, no one was going to be able to beat the 10 percent rake over time.

Venetian and Mandalay Bay at night were different, Maddie probably could have dominated. Seeing the 3 way all in with King High winning was a real treat. And the guy calling off his stack reportedly with K,3 os was another treat with a 3 high flush on the river.

As for Ferguson, he is playing 5% raked tables on Full Tilt. He also plays a ton of tournaments where the play can be even more atrocious. Ferguson also has a small advantage over us, he gets a ton of action as he plays under the Ferguson avatar. If you ever watch a pro play on line, you will be amazed at the amount of people that bluff at them. The pros know this and adjust their game accordingly.

I can't invite all of these players back from MGM so I can't exactly recreate the conditions. I can still stand by my original premise, daytime players with no more than 1 donk per table and a 10 percent rake is not a beatable scenario.

Ryan said...

First, what do you mean “10% rake?” They don’t take “10%” of a pot in a live game. Define exactly what the rake structure is that you claim is unbeatable. Exactly.

Now, note that you are swinging wildly between two extremes in your declarations:

“If you were at the type of tables I was at with the caliber of play I saw during the day at MGM…”
“The challenge stands, I am still not a believer that Vegas $1/$2 can be beaten.”

I mean, if all you are saying is, “Man, I ran into a tough, IMHO unbeatable table that day at MGM, and yet for some reason it didn’t occur to me to move tables or casinos” then that’s pretty boring and not worth going on about. If what you are saying is, “I do not believe that Vegas 1/2 can be beaten,” then you are just being hyperbolic, ornery, or stupid. (I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say it’s one of the first two.)

I mean, if it can’t be beaten, the only way anyone has ever turned pro is to stake themselves with enough money to start at the higher levels, right? Nobody has started at low stakes and worked their way up, because with an unbeatable rake, you would be doomed to flounder at 1/2 forever instead of moving up, right?

So say it, Jason. Say, “Nobody has ever become a professional player by working their way up from the bottom, because the bottom is actually unbeatable.”

Or say, “No, I just mean that one MGM session was pretty tough,” and I’ll yawn and be done with all this.

jason said...

Perhaps you can yawn and be done with this. If you get in a fishy game in Vegas at 1/2 you can definitely beat the rake. There are plenty of fishy games in Vegas.

The 10% rake is this. The house takes 10% of the pot in dollar increments up to $4. After the pot hits $40, the rake is free. There is the implied rake of tipping the dealer as well.

If we were to rake this way at WNP and play with the same group over time I believe all of us would lose. There are some players that are probably better than others but none of us are good enough to beat that kind of rake against players of our caliber.

The MGM daytime crowd, at a variety of different tables was unbeatable. Sure, you could get better cards than others and win pots, but there was just not enough stupid play to win over a long period of time with the 10 percent rake.

If they raked pots this way at High Stakes Poker with 10% rake up to 20X the blind, no one would play. They would all lose over time. There are just no players in that group that can consistently dominate to beat that kind of rake.

I guess the challenge will still stand with the caveat that Marsh put in, any casino, any time, and you can pick the table. If I could watch a table or tables and then put you guys into seats at that table, I still don't think you will come out ahead. I'm not sure why you would want to sign up for this, except for the challenge of beating a tough table. But if you want to, the challenge is still on.

The rake is just too tough at tables with 9 out of 10 players being good. If you think I am wrong, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I still stand by my original premise.

jtrey333 said...

I only have three things to reiterate:

1) I 1000% believe the 1/2 NL Vegas tables are beatable. I have found no difference in daytime vs. nighttime play. I found d0nks during the day, d0nks at night. I found some very-hard-to-beat tables during the day, and found the same at night. I fully admit these tables do exist, but of course they do. Just get away from these tables or enjoy their company (if so chosen).

2) The easiest way of beating the 1/2 NL Tables in Vegas is to beat up on the d0nks who overvalue their hands. If you don't find enough to suit you at your table, request a table move or switch to a different cardroom. YOU WILL FIND THEM, day OR night.

There is NO possible way that 80-90% of all the 1/2 NL seats in Vegas are occupied by extremely solid players in the daytime. NO way. And this is what you're essentially saying, that you will find 8 or so super solid players at any 1/2 NL Vegas table in the daytime.

3) RE: finding a table that fits the one that you experienced: This is the heart of the argument, and one that is just opinion at this point on all sides. You believe that most tables are like this during the day whereas everyone else believes that you ran into an uncommonly tough session. I don't know if there's anything to change anyone's mind about this.

Again, I have no interest in playing solid players in Vegas, and to do so would run counter to my entire point. The whole point of my comment is that the 1/2 NL Vegas tables are beatable by tearing up the d0nks, of which I, and everyone else commenting, have seen PLENTY of. I guess seeing is believing in this case though :P

jason said...

No interest in playing solid players? What if I throw in the first class airfare, the masseuse, and the Bellagio? :). Your comment is spot on Jeh, I did not find these donk filled tables except at the Venetian. Plus I hit harder vs. the villains on a grand total of about 4 flops, prior to my last night.

Why anyone would want to play against all solid players with a 10 percent rake is questionable, in the future I will just ask for a table change. Players like Negreneau and Townsend will play at the all solid player tables, but their rake is less than 1 percent.

Finally, after the 32nd comment, we are likely in agreement. I played at tables with solid players. If I wanted to try to make money in Vegas, I should have asked for a table change. 1/2 in Vegas is beatable, but not if you have a 1 donk per table rule.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Another thing to keep in mind is that even the pros have players at the table to "feed the game," guys like Jerry Buss or Dr. Nasseri who have more money than skill but want the honor of playing with the big boys. Without amateurs visting Bobby's Room the Big Game would dry up eventually.

Bob Loblaw said...

I finally have to chime in here. I read this post when it only had one comment, and then was commanded to read the whole thing last night during WNP. Sounds like most of the comments are over, but I want to make sure I get my name on here in case more is to come.

To add a couple things that don't amount to much of anything:

1) I've never had a winning session of 1/2 NL at a casino. I believe that includes only 2 of my 3 trips to Vegas (July '03 and June '05) and the brief stint at the Cherokee Casino in Oklahoma this past Thanksgiving. Overall I think I’ve probably lost only about $360 total at those sessions (and more at the limit tables), which doesn’t seem like a lot now but sure felt like a lot back then.

2) With that said, you would think my next statement would be to agree with Jason. But I don’t. I chalk my losses up to being a decent amateur at those tables and playing poor, nitty poker. I’m a better player now, and can’t fathom how I’d lose on my next trip to Vegas. Even the most recent trip to the Cherokee Casino -- I lost about $65, due to one bad play. I was down at least 3 times that amount at my lowest, and if I’d had the chance to stay even longer I’m confident I would have made it back to the black.

Either way, I’m hoping to go back to Vegas before May 20, for my second bachelor party, before I have to start putting another life before mine. Anybody else with me?

Sushi Cowboy said...

I will be down in LV facing the impossible task of trying to beat the 1/2 tables. Will be blogging as always for the entertainment of both loyal readers. Fly down first thing March 15th Saturday and flying back late on Wednesday night the 19th. Staying at the Planet "Chinese Poker Tournament Capitol of the World" Hollywood. Anyone is welcome to come down and hang out on that weekend. I'll be there for Ben's Golf/Poker extravaganza so I'll be hanging out with them part of the time but spending most of my time at the tables. Might catch a show too. Got reasonable rates.

Incidentally this is the week immediately preceding March Madness (selection Sunday is 20th) so if you want to get some money down on any teams just give me your money before I leave, let me know what team(s) you want, and I'll place your bets for you.

Ryan said...

A couple final points:

* Genuinely tough tables with oppressive rakes are not beatable. Vegas 1/2 is imminently beatable. Did we really need 35 posts to establish that?

* Your whole line of thought still feels ROTy, Jason. If you had a reasonable run of cards, didn’t get sucked out on, and had come out ahead this trip against the same players, I seriously doubt you would have posted, “I had a great trip and finished way up, but man, those tables are unbeatable in the long run, I just got lucky this time.”

* The rake is only 10% if the pot is $40 or below. If the standard pf raise was to $15, any flop action is going to take that well above $40, especially the big pots, which is what you should be aiming for in NL anyway.

* I realize that pros pay a negligible amount of rake given their stakes. They would still crush Vegas 1/2.

* You cited blinds folding AK and AQ to your pf raise with JJ as an example of what a tough table it is. That’s not “tough,” that’s “tight.” If you had raised with AJs and they folded AK and AQ face up, you would probably be talking about how overly-tight those guys were. They gave you a license to steal their blinds with that play, did you use it?

* I doubt I’ll be making it to Vegas any time soon, but I would love to go to a pre-fatherhood party for Royal (and what a great concept, it needs a good name like “bachelor” though). Keep me updated, and maybe I can swing the trip and we can get that bet on.

* It’s not “Hold’m” Jason, it’s “hold’em,” or, if you prefer, “hold ‘em.” Your punishment for stirring up needless controversy by flip-flopping between claiming “Vegas 1/2 is unbeatable” and “Tough tables with high rakes are unbeatable” is to write “I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em” 100 times. From now on, any time you post the phrase “hold’m” to this blog, you owe every WNP regular a stack.


I fold.

Will said...

I have absolutely nothing of substance to contribute to this thread but wanted to add a comment just to add to the thread bloat!

jason said...

Minor point Ryan, but the preflop raise was actually a reraise with JJ from the cutoff. Initial raiser raised to $10, I reraised to $30. The 2 guys in the blinds said to each other, what did that guy have last time he did that (the prior hand). One said pocket 99's and they both folded. My stack size was about $100 at the time so I was not going anywhere. That's smart, tough, and definitely not tight.

I'm all up for the bet with you and Marsh as Jeh seems to have bowed out.

The standard preflop raise is an interesting phenomenon. If you have a good calling hand and not a raising hand like pocket 66 through 99 or AQ suited, you typically have to put about 1/10 or your stack at risk to see the flop. If you miss and initial raiser C Bets, you are now stuck with the decision of do I bluff and risk a good portion of my stack or do I just fold. Just folding is fine, but after you miss on 5 flops, you have lost half your stack.

The best poker players excel at post flop play relative to the villains. With the preflop raising being as large as it is, this negates the advantage of post flop reading and being better than your competitors. The luck factor is unfortunately higher with less flops available relative to stack size.

I am so sensitive to rake as I was crushing the microstakes tables on full tilt but did not see much increase in my stack. Then I did the math and saw that they moved the rake from 5 percent to 10 percent for microstakes only. I have since moved to cake as you know and I am now a happy camper.

As for my punishment, I will start:

I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em
I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em
I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em
I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em
I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em
I can beat 1/2 Texas hold’em

Sorry I bored you with your multi yawn comments, most all of the rest of the players at least found the post interesting enough to respond to.

And by the way, with your permission, can I sit at your table when we have the bet on? I would not want you to miss out on the opportunity to take money from the fish min raising with pocket Aces.

Ryan said...

"Sorry I bored you with your multi yawn comments, most all of the rest of the players at least found the post interesting enough to respond to."


Um, I responded about fourteen times, here. Don't you get what I'm saying? It was interesting until the point was boiled down to "I ran into a tough 1/2 table." That's a yawn, where attacking/defending the claim that 1/2 in Vegas is unbeatable was not...


jason said...

Got it sir, I was tilting here at work and needed a forum to vent my frustration.

Folding now.

jtrey333 said...

I have certainly not bowed out! What gave you that idea? I'm 100% ALL IN on this challenge!

jason said...

Jason said,

"I guess the challenge will still stand with the caveat that Marsh put in, any casino, any time, and you can pick the table. If I could watch a table or tables and then put you guys into seats at that table, I still don't think you will come out ahead. I'm not sure why you would want to sign up for this, except for the challenge of beating a tough table. But if you want to, the challenge is still on."

Jeh trey said, "Again, I have no interest in playing solid players in Vegas, and to do so would run counter to my entire point."

So under these conditions, would Jeh Trey be in or out?

jtrey333 said...

I'm so confused.

Is the challenge now:

- Us picking the casino, any time, any table?

- Jason picking the casino, the time, the table?

When I read the sentence: "I guess the challenge will still stand with the caveat that Marsh put in, any casino, any time, and you can pick the table."

My understanding is that we get to play whenever, wherever we want, as long as it is a 1/2 NL Vegas game. Is this not the case? Am I alone in this confusion? Am I stuck in Jasonland?!?

jason said...


Sorry to keep you confused in Jasonland. Marsh made the comment, here it is:

RE: the bet. We can make it for any amount you like, between 5.00 and 1000.00. I don't care about the amount, so choose something that makes you happy. You can pick any time of day (except early morning for sleep reasons), any casino, and you can even pick what table we sit at. Over the course of a long weekend, between the three of us, we would be ahead. And I am ready to put my money where my mouth is on it.

eeezzzzyyyy moneyyy. SHIP IT!

This seems to indicate that I get to pick the table, and the casino.
No goofy drunks, no microstacks, and no obviously clueless donks, but if you find some, so be it. Likely daytime play with a bunch of 20 and 30 somethings. It won't be easy but I still stand by my proposal.

Sushi Cowboy said...

By the way, I looked over my poker log for the past year or so and I've determined that weeknight poker is unbeatable. With zero rake and no tips I am unable to come out ahead in the game against players like number crunching Ryan, aggressive Marsh, and luckbox Jeh and all the rest of you guys. The numbers don't lie folks, it's mathematically proven that it just isn't possible to beat our game. I don't care what anyone else's numbers say.

Ryan said...

I've barely skimmed the actual wager proposals in this thread. I figured if a synchronized trip to Vegas happens in the future, we would hammer out the details of any prop bets then.

It has to be simple and flexible, though; the idea of wandering around Vegas waiting for Jason to find a table he feels suitable (as if he's the poker-room manager and can seat us at will) sounds not fun, overengineered, and detrimental to the statistical relevance of the results by limiting play time.

I'm sure we'd all like to find a wager that is fair, fun, and interesting, and there are *plenty* of knobs to tweak and haggle over.

But let's worry about that 1) when we actually have plans to hit Vegas, and 2) in person.