Sunday, September 09, 2007

"But they don't have anything smaller."

Those were his exact words.

The guy was talking to his buddies by the rail in the Bellagio poker room. They were all in town from Chicago and looking to play some no limit poker. One of the friends wanted a second opinion so he asked the poker room manager where he could find a smaller game.

The manager told him "Go across the street. Caesars has 1/2."

You know. That slum we call the Caesars Palace poker room. And so rather than exit the Bellagio these guys decided to sit down at my 2/5 table.

At other casinos like MGM, Palms and Caesars, 2/5 no limit is usually the biggest game. When you sit down to play at these tables it's most likely that you are facing the best players in the room. But with 2/5 being the Bellagio's smallest no limit game, the worst players in the room often sit there. And they just get eaten alive.

The Bellagio poker room kind of reminds me of living in New York City. That no nonsense attitude. The "If I can make it there I'll make it anywhere" mentality.

What are the top 7 reasons that the Bellagio poker room reminds me of NYC?

1- None of the suits working the room have any problem at all with ignoring you. I hesitate to even call these guys poker room managers. They're more like Maitre de's.

2- Everything is so expensive that even rich people feel poor.

3- There is a feeling of history.

This might seem silly to say about a casino that opened in 1998 but when you spend years reading about the Bellagio, it can have that Madison Square Garden mystique. This is the room where Doyle plays. Just like MSG is the court that Willis Reed limped onto.

When I go to the Wynn I appreciate the beauty but it feels more like the Staples Center. There's not too much history. Just some good looking people and alot of really nice sky boxes.

4- Much like New York City, if you look around the Bellagio you're going to see famous faces you recognize. And much like New York City, no one bothers them.

5- The Bellagio's North Entrance. Every Brooklyn driver knows how to get to the bridges using side streets if there is traffic on the BQE. Every Manhattan driver knows how to approach the tunnels without using the major cross streets. Similarly, the Bellagio has a valet on the North side that avoids my ever having to drive on the Strip. This entrance is also close to the poker room. Using this entrance will add years to my life.


How wonderful is this? In my first "Vegas fact" I reported that in Vegas cash games you don't have to show your cards when you go all in.

This is not true at the Bellagio. And I love it!

Showing cards means I gain a ton of information on my opponents. And of course it helps prevent collusion.

My comparison to NYC here is that New York's "no nonsense, no BS, you can't park that car here attitude" often feels like having to show your cards. You can't hide them. People will call you out on it.

7- If I can make it there I'll make it anywhere.

Don't underestimate this one. I was intimidated to play at the Bellagio. I'd heard stories from people that swayed me to go play elsewhere. But now I want to be a part of it. I've spent the past 8 months at other casinos. Getting my game ready. Transitioning from internet to live play. Adjusting from tournament to cash play.

Sitting at the Bellagio on Saturday night the thought occurred to me that here I was playing in one of the most famous poker rooms in the world.

If I can win money in this room, I can win money anywhere.

Poker is becoming more and more like driving a car or riding a bike. At first when attempting these activities you think about a million little things. And then you wake up one day and suddenly there is no more thinking.

Just doing.

It used to be that I'd get excited when I spotted a tell.

Now I just react.

I played 3 big pots Saturday night. All 3 times I held a huge edge when all the money went in.

And all 3 times my edge held up.

Then I went home and turned back on my water.

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