Wednesday, August 03, 2005

BARGE begins

I had a sense of déjà vu as I stepped off the plane yesterday. Hadn’t I just been here? In fact, it had only been 17 days since I left. A Vegas Virgin sat to my right on the flight and I explained to her all the ins and outs of the city. I’m a regular know-it-all now when it comes to useful and useless Vegas information.

I checked into the Plaza at about 5:30 p.m., impressed with the size of the room. It’s much more spacious than my quarters at the Four Queens and is only costing me $25 a night through BARGE. I walked down to the poker room to look for BARGE goers, meeting Jim Anderson, aka thejim2020, one of my heads-up league participants. I tried to enter the pot limit Omaha tournament late, since I had nothing else to do on my first night back in town, but was told they had exactly 50 players and weren’t accepting any more.

I spotted Andy Bloch in the room so I walked over and congratulated him on his win in this very building. He took first in the $10,000 main event of the Ultimate Poker Challenge a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t recall how much he got paid. I believe the always good natured Andy quipped that he won his buy ins back on all of the World Series of Poker tournaments he entered and did not cash in.

With nothing better to do, I rushed over to Binion’s to play the 8 p.m. NLHE tournament. The antique had returned to its usual empty state, with three games running and about 50 players in the tournament, quite a contrast to the traffic that plied through the casino during the last day of the WSOP.

Like when I won the thing last month, I hung around and caught enough hands to make the final table, but there was no happy ending this time. I was severely short stacked when we made the final and only the top seven got paid. One guy tried to do a save for the eighth through tenth finishers, but one greedy asshole wouldn’t have it. One hundred bucks isn’t going to affect my life, but it isn’t going to affect his either. So of course, I went out ninth.

I walked back over to the Plaza to see what was going on. A fellow named Dave McVay walked up to me and said hello.

“This your first BARGE?” he asked with genuine excitement to welcome me to the club.

He told me upon my inquisition that this was his ninth, confirming his old hat status I had presumed when he walked up. I asked Dave which big shots were around. He said Greg Raymer was there (I had spotted him earlier, as well), as was Lee Jones and Barry Tannenbaum, who writes for Card Player. Chris Ferguson usually comes, but is not on the guess list, Dave informed me with regret.

I saw Raymer and Jones shooting craps so I walked over and joined in.

“Greg is teaching me how to play the dark side,” Jones told me and some other RGPers gathered around.

The two were betting the Don’t Pass line – against the dice, in other words – much to my dismay since I was betting with the dice and losing.

They left and I lost a C note, but then I walked over and played some blackjack and won it back. I headed up at 2 a.m. for some shuteye.

Today, I’m playing in the BARGE blackjack tournament and video poker tournament. Mostly, it’s just for fun since I’m not very experienced at either, in a tournament format at least. Andy told me Tom Sims was probably coming for the VP so hopefully I can buy him a lunch I owe him.

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