Friday, February 08, 2008

Insomnia Poker

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

It was the Chinese lunar New Year yesterday. Happy 4706. We're now in the Year of the Rat. I was born in 1972 during the Rat. They call that the Water Rat year. So, I wonder if that means this will be my special year? Last Chinese new year, my horoscope said that I would spend the majority of the year sick but it will also be my most prosperous year... ever. That ended up being spot on. This year's horoscope speaks of a lot of hard work, renewal, and change. It sounded like it was penned by Barack Obama's speech writer.

I've been in Las Vegas for almost two days. The first 8 hours were dedicated to business. Since then, I've been on a writer's retreat. I picked Las Vegas instead of a location in nature mainly because Las Vegas is a 24 hour city and it caters to insomniacs, like myself. Plus, you can get what you want to eat and at any time. My body is wired differently. Sometimes I want breakfast at night and sometimes I want lunch for breakfast and most of the time I want to eat dessert first. It's just how I am.

My internal clock is wired for 30 hour days. I can stay up for a 24 straight without any problems. I discover that I actually sleep better when I don't force myself to sleep and go to bedwhen I'm tired... instead of forced sleep when "I'm supposed to" crash. The hardest part about working for other people is having to make your body adjust to their schedule. The best part about being completely alone... is that I can allow my body to run it's natural course. The result has been two decent nights of sleep. I got eight hours in the last two days. That's better than average.

My Thursday was a weird one. I didn't actually wake up until late afternoon. I unplugged the clock in my hotel room. I turned my cellphone off. Unconnected for the vast majority of the time, for the first time, in a very long time.

I wrote for several hours at a furious pace. Before I knew it, I was at 3,200 words. I had breakfast (at a time normal folks call dinner, but since your first meal of the day is breakfast - breakfast it is...) and wrote another 2,000 words. My goal was to crank out a minimum of 5,000 words a day that I'm in Las Vegas. The rest of the time is devoted to research and gambling. I traveled super light. Aside from my laptop, I took one change of clothes and eight pairs of underwear for a week in Las Vegas. I knew that I'd be spending the majority of my time inside my room and only a couple of hours a day outside of it.

I haven't had a drop to drink since my arrival in Las Vegas. Not to worry, I didn't find Christ or anything like that. I just needed to slow down. All I did in Australia and New Zealand was drink. Balance is essentially in anything you do, especially liquor consumption. I have been wagering the majority of my sports bets at Excalibur's new sports book. They give out drink tickets but I haven't used them for booze yet.

Excalibur is part of the MGM-Mirage junta and I can use my player's card at the sports book. Comps are atrocious. $1 per $600 that I wager. I'd have to bet through $600,000 at the sports books just to get a dime back in comps.

The only game I bet on yesterday turned out well. I took UCLA -2 over Wazzu. It was close for the first 30 minutes of the game. The score never deviated for one or two buckets on either side. Then UCLA pulled away and was ahead by eight points for the remainder of the game.

For Friday, I have two small bets on the NBA. I'm going with San Antonio -7 against my hometown NY Knicks (who have dropped seven straight and 8 out of 9). I also like Boston -5 at Minnesota, even though the Celtics are KG-less (he's listed as questionable).

In my only college hoops game, I'm betting on the Ivy League. I got Yale -7 over Harvard. One's a 7-11 team and the other is a 6-14 team. Talk about ugly. The Yalies won four straight against Harvard, who are 1-7 in their last 8 road games. A friend of mine who went to Harvard and is a big hoops supporter told me that forward Pat Magnarelli (10 ppg, 6 rpg) is questionable for tonight's game with a knee injury.

I played 1-2 NL and 2-4 NL at the Mandalay Bay last night. They used to spread a soft 4-8 Limit with a half kill. Grubby and I loved that game when we used to live in Vegas. Mandalay Bay was the closest strip casino from our apartment in Henderson, so we gambled there a lot. Tourists have no idea how to play well in a limit game with a kill pot.

Anyway, I had a break even session at Mandalay. I lost $50 playing 1-2 NL and won $50 playing 2-4 NL. Norm MacDoanld (from SNL) walked into the room and sat down at a 2-4 Limit table. Limit? That was a shocker. I got on the list and by the time my name was called, he had already left.

At 1-2 NL, I had my Aces snapped off by K-Q. He flopped a king, turned trips, and rivered quads. I should have been able to get away from that hand. But when he bet small on the river, I knew that was a value bet... the perfect size because I ended up calling.

The only other hand of significance was A-K versus J-J. The flop was Q-Q-9. Player from early position bet out 1/2 the pot quickly. I didn't put him on a Queen and min-raised him. He called. The turn was a King. He checked. I bet about 3/4 of the pot. He tanked, then folded. I showed him the King. He told me (about an hour later) that he folded Jacks.

I went back to my room and wasn't ready for sleep. I walked over to the MGM poker room and played 2-5 NL. I acted invisible again and barely talked to anyone at my table. I didn't get any hands over the first hour. Then I got a flurry of baby pairs. I played them all and three-bet with them a couple of times in position. I flopped two sets. I won both on the turn for a small profit. I made a nice bluff with Qs-9s to win a decent sized pot, and I lost a big pot when I flopped a flush with 9c-8c and lost to a runner-runner boat. I ended up down $20 in three hours. Half of that was probably in tips to the waitress.

It's Friday night in Las Vegas, which means all the weekend warriors from all over America will be coming in town, looking to get fucked up, looking to get laid, or maybe get into a fight. I usually avoid the drunken masses on the Strip during the weekends.

I'll watch the NBA games from the sports book (somewhere) and spend rest of the time holed up in my room writing. And when insomnia strikes around 5am, I'll go out on the prowl, looking for a juicy game with a lot of drunk hipsters at the tail end of their Friday night session. That's something right out of Johnny Hughes playbook.

P.S. Congrats to my buddy Damo for making the final table at the WSOP Circuit event in San Diego. The Aussie is a NY Giants fan. He flew to Vegas to watch the Super Bowl. Not only did he get to watch his favorite team play, they ended up winning. Then he headed to San Diego and final tabled the Circuit event. Nice work, sir!

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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