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Harrah’s Joliet Cash Game Reputation on the Rise

Harrah’s Joliet could not have timed the spring 2011 opening of their World Series of Poker room any better. The Department of Justice had just shut down online poker in the US and players, like me, were left scrambling to find a place to play. For a few weeks I bounced around between The Horseshoe, Majestic Star, and Hollywood Joliet, while waiting for Harrah’s grand opening. When it did finally open its doors I was there and have been a regular ever since.

I live much closer to Joliet than Hammond, so convenience was the biggest draw to Harrah’s. Once I started playing I found many more reasons to continue. Due to its smaller size (8 tables) it is very easy for the players to get to know the staff, and vice versa. From the poker room manager, Doug Walters, down to the dealers, the number one priority has been to cater to the regular player’s needs and requests. From lowering the initial rake, to starting a weekly poker league, adding more chips to the starting stack of the tournaments, instituting tier credits for poker players (17 per hour), and most recently adding additional cash games, Harrah’s has been taking the advice of the players and changing the room accordingly since they opened their doors.

For the first few months as the room was still in its infancy, the standard games were 1-3 NL Holdem, and a nightly 3-5 NL Holdem. The 1-3 is their most popular game and most days have 2 to 3 tables running. The games play nine handed with a $100 minimum and a $300 maximum buy-in. The rake on this game is 10% with a $6 cap on a full table. If you are an early bird they reduce that rake to a $4 cap from 9am-12pm.

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Massey: 2011 - The Year of My Life

Aaron MasseyThis is Aaron @nevermissmassey Massey's last blog post of 2011.  Thank you, Aaron, for sharing your journey with us this year.  - editor

Wow…. What a wild ride that was.  

I’m sitting here, looking back on the last 12 months and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve come a long way.  This time last year I spent every single day sitting in my apartment, at my desk, with my computer and my 2 monitors, playing 10 tables at once for 12 hours a day.  I would wake up around noon and go to the gym, get home at 2:30pm, order food for the entire day, and play online until like 3am.  I was working my ass off when online was around and was 100% dedicated to learning, winning and working as hard as possible.  I watched players who I knew were better than me and it motivated me to catch up to them.  It was during this period that I took my game to the next level.  I played so many hands and discussed poker relentlessly.  I also had the privilege of having an unbelievable mentor.  

During the period where I played online every day, I was able to watch, play and discuss poker with Kevin “Bel0wab0ve” Saul for hundreds of hours.  He is among the greatest online poker players of all time and he took me under his wing.  I have always been a live player, I’ve been playing in casinos since I was 19.  I would drive to Indiana twice a day with Ralph’s ID to go play.  However, it was the online fundamentals that brought my game to where it is today.  To be honest, I wish I had started playing online 5 years ago.  If I had, who knows where I would be right now.  

Anyways, something pretty crazy happened… Online poker in the US got all screwed up.  And guess what?  It was time to play live again. This ended up being great for me because it forced everyone to have to play me in my arena, where I thrive.   Live poker is what I was meant to do; I honestly know and believe that it is my calling in life.  It’s kind of exhausting to explain but if you know me or have seen me play, then you know what I mean.

With live poker comes a lot of travel, and I have been to quite a few places this year.  It started with Tunica, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  I took a train cross country with my close friends to Vegas for the World Series.  We stopped at a few places along the way including the Grand Canyon. We hiked all the way to the bottom of the Canyon, slept there overnight, and climbed out.  When we got to Vegas we stayed at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street in old Vegas for a week.  Then I moved over and stayed at the Gold Coast, next to the Rio where the World Series is held.  I lived there for over 6 weeks.  During that summer a lot of crazy shit happened and I had a lot of experiences.  I took part in some of the best partying I’ve ever been around in my life.  Cabanas, clubs, bottles and bullshit...  All of it.  I never really spent money at any of them either. 

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East Coast Swing and a Break

Aaron MasseyI'm laying on my couch after a long weekend, and this place is a mess. Ralph is passed out on the other side of the couch with his mouth open and his right hand down his pants (standard). I swear he plays with it in his sleep. The last 3 days/nights have been a blur. Everyone came home for Thanksgiving and all my friends were able to reunite this weekend. In typical fashion, and without divulging too much, it was a shit show. When u put all of us animals together, AND we all haven’t seen each other in a long time, it makes for some laughable nights and some big boy stories. Anyways, it was short lived. I was in Atlantic City for a few weeks and am now heading back to AC tomorrow for more poker tournaments. My last trip there was a good one.

I had taken a full 2 weeks off from poker when I rolled into AC on Nov. 8th. I was fresh and was ready to play. The 1st event was a $450 reentry tourney where u can rebuy as many times as u want during the earlier stages if you bust out. This makes for a huge prizepool bc many players are in for more than 1 buyin. There were around 1000 players in this tourney and I was making a deep run. At one point during this tournament I pulled off the most ridiculous bluff for most of my chips, with 4 of my friends standing behind me AND having seen my cards. Throughout the hand I was telling my opponent that I was bluffing him, that I was only playing this hand bc my friends were watching, and that I am going to try and impress them by bluffing him in this hand. I was also acting a fool, use every false tell I had in my arsenal to throw this guy off and make him fold. Long story very short, I get this guy to fold the 2nd nuts FACE UP while saying, if your acting like you are bluffing that much u must have it, you’ve got to have it… here I fold, throwing away a King High Club Flush. My friends erupt and beg me to show….. so I turn over something like 35 offsuit, stare at this man who just made the worse fold ever, and laugh at him in the most annoying way ever… yep yep yep yep yep yep! He turns bright red and looks like his head was going to explode. I mean, how does this guy not call me… ME. I never have it. Idiot. Oh well, I end up cashing the tourney and getting something like 55th place for roughly 3x my buyin.{jcomments on}

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Massey's Back

Aaron MasseyAaaaaand Im back.  This is my first blog since leaving Las Vegas and World Series of Poker back in July.  During the summer I shared my Vegas experience with you and was very pleased to hear that people actually enjoyed reading about it.  When I left I figured I'd stop blogging cuz nobody wants to really hear about my everyday life in Chicago.  I mean, that would bore the reader and I could have ended up possibly losing the following that I had built up back in summer.  I promised that I would blog from time to time as I travel and play but Ive been slackin hard.  I haven’t been blogging for a number of reasons, 1) Im lazy 2) I never bring my laptop with me anywhere and I have been traveling a lot 3) Lazy as hell 4) My computer is a piece of shit from 2007 5) Im the slowest typer, it takes me 2 hrs to write 1 page… u get it.  Anyways, a lot happened between now and then.

I got home from Vegas in mid July.  Fresh off my first WSOP final table I felt great, coming home with my head held high.  Over the next 3 weeks I played cash games and went out a lot.  I won 6 out of 7 sessions for around $7000 over this span.  The next move was Lawrenceburg, IN and the Indiana State Poker Championships.

I took a greyhound down there and got picked up by my friend Kurt.  We were staying  at his brother’s house near Cincinnati so I didn’t have to spend loot on hotel.  The first tournament was a big one.  There were almost 1700 entrants into Event #1 and I won the tournament.  My first ever 1st place and it felt so great.  It was especially sweet considering I took the worst beat of my life 1 month earlier when I got knocked out in 8th place at the WSOP, ending my shot at half a million dollars.  The tourney ended after 3am on day 2.  It was 6am after taking the picture, getting paid out and filling out all the forms and stuff.  They comped me a room for the night so that  it would be convenient for me to play the tournament the following day at noon.  I didn’t sleep while in the room.  After deep tournament runs like that it is hard to turn your mind off.  You have been making so many difficult and complex decisions that your brain is in constant evaluation of every important hand.  In addition I was getting a lot of texts and tweets that morning so I didn’t sleep at all.  I played the tourney at noon.   At 2am we were down to around 50 players and done for the day.  I beasted thru the day on no sleep.  The next we resume and I end up getting 5thplace.  The next 2 tourneys I played I cashed in getting 21st and 14th.  I busted the main event and it was time to get out of there.  I cashed in 4 straight and won the big one.  Basically I made Lawrenceburg my… well u know.

Final Table

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