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Super Bowl Weekend in Vegas; Please Send Money

by Mark Gregorich |  Published: Mar 22, 2005

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Super Bowl weekend is traditionally one of the high points of the poker year in Las Vegas. The casinos are jammed, and the atmosphere is festive. 2005 was certainly no exception, and given the current state of poker, seats at Bellagio were tough to come by if you didn't arrive early.

I wandered in at around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and sat down in a must-move $80-$160 hold'em game that was just starting. Within a few hours, the game had reached a certain level of craziness that is unattainable on a Tuesday afternoon. One player in particular was driving the action in the game. He was raising, reraising, and capping with any two cards, yet somehow his chip stack was steadily increasing in the process. Additionally, he was providing some entertainment for the table with his flamboyant antics every time he won a pot. I thought he would make a great character on the new Tilt series.

So, with the game in high gear and everyone (well, almost everyone) looking to gamble, we decided to kick the game up to $150-$300. Ordinarily, I am opposed to raising the limits in an existing game for one main reason: In my experience, when the stakes are raised, the play tightens up considerably. Players content to play their "C" or "D" games at one limit will now start focusing and playing their best, due to the increased stakes. The flip side of this is that other players may find themselves out of their comfort zone at a higher limit, and won't make the (correct) aggressive plays they were making in a smaller game. Overall, though, I think raising the limit tends to hurt the game more than it helps.

On this day, though, I was all for it. Mr. Tilt had plenty of money to gamble with, a fact he made frequent reference to, and I knew his play wasn't going to be affected by the limit. So, we'd kick the game up, he'd pay me off with bottom pair or king high, and I'd go home a nice winner, looking like a genius.

Well, obviously, things didn't work out quite like that or this wouldn't be much of a story. Mr. Tilt continued to pull hands out of virtually every orifice, and with each improbable winner he stood up and shouted, "Who's your daddy?" or something along that line. Even though he was torturing the game, everyone was having a good time. He was a nice enough guy, and even bought room service for the table. And although it stung a bit when you had to listen to "Who's your daddy?" at your expense while the rest of the players laughed, he did exchange high-fives with his opponents when they happened to beat him in a pot. It was a special game, proof of which came in the form of the jealous looks I was receiving from the players in the other $80-$160 game. Meanwhile, I found myself stuck about $7,500.

Eventually, he cashed out with close to two racks of black $100 chips. As the grim reality set in that we had to adjust to life after Mr. Tilt, I looked at my watch. I had been playing for about nine hours, and was starting to get tired. My experience has taught me that this was the time to leave. I don't really place limits on my wins, losses, or length of sessions, but the combination of such factors as being tired, stuck, and the game taking a major turn for worse meant that quitting was the right move. So, I decided to play around to my big blind and pack it in, even though I was a pretty big loser in the game.

As fate would have it, I finally caught a break in a pot. The very next hand, I picked up K-K in a fourway pot that I made $600 to go (hmm, maybe the game wasn't so bad), flopped a king, and turned quads. I was bet into on both the turn and river, and got paid off in two spots. This pot nearly got me even, and it provided a significant boost to my morale. I decided to play on, and ended up being a winner in the game when I quit a couple of hours later. This definitely was a poker game that I won't soon forget. spades