Chips (and tales) from around the world: Part 2

As I said in my blog post yesterday, collecting things from different parts of the world is fun. They act like markers in your memory and I've found that a lot of events and emotions come back to you when you just take a single poker chip from your collection in your hand. My first article was about the casinos I'd visited, but this time I'm also looking at some of the home games I've played in (well, the PCA is like a home away from home).

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The home game set

This belongs to the first poker set I had, ordered from a no-name website, so the chips were not branded. We still run all our home games with this set.

Actually, it's a lot of fun playing home games with friends who have no connection to professional poker whatsoever. Blinds are equal to $0.03/$0.06. I can't make myself play with VPIP less than 85% so it often turns out it's me who's the most delicious fish served on the table.

It's always thrilling for me to see my wife playing as well. It's an awesome workout for my mind - trying to get in her head and perceive the logic behind her actions. For example, she raises 20bb into 2 limpers, everyone folds and she shows AA. Or she calls bets on the flop and turn and asks for advice on the river. I peek at her cards to see queen-high with no draws. Of course, she made the biggest profit in our last game!

One story related to home games happened at my bachelor party. Among other activities, I decided to host a poker tournament with the main prize being a private dance from certain invited guests. Any legit tournament director would go nuts seeing the way this tournament was handled - there were 16 participants playing on ONE table. Blinds were increasing every 10 minutes until 4 players left - after that blinds started to increase every hand! Of course I took it down!

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An Aria $1 chip

Back to Vegas! Aria was our stopover hotel between moving out of our rental house in Vegas and the flight back to NYC. As you may already know, Vegas hotels are ridiculously cheap compared to other places. So I booked this fancy two-story room with panoramic views and it had this 'smart home' system installed - that was the first time I got a chance to use one. Everything could be remotely controlled - curtains opening/closing, lights on/off, audio, TV. Internet, bills, room service, etc - fantastic! When checking out, we had a hard time convincing them that we didn't use the mini-bar. The smartass fridge had a controlling system that considered an item bought if it was taken out for more than 10 seconds!

This same hotel had a swimming pool that looked more like a puddle with water barely reaching your chest - yet it had 3 lifeguards looking for some lives to save!


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Pieces of eight: a $1 Treasure Island chip

I decided to walk around during the day to take some Vegas pictures, which was the worst time to do it because of the heat! So I hopped in Treasure Island and played Blackjack for the first time in my life. Not knowing the rules, I started grabbing the cards the dealer gave me. She had to explain the rules of conduct and the gestures I should use. Didn't really feel the vibe of this game, don't think I'm going to try it again.

TI is also where we visited the Fashion Show Mall. We got a bit enraged while trying to buy a set of contact lenses for Tonya. She had run out of hers, but she couldn't buy a new set since she had to undergo a $100 doctor examination first!

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A $5 relic 'discovered' at the PCA

Atlantis, the home of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), is like a small copy of Vegas. It has all the infrastructure available that you could possible need, I didn't even think of leaving the property. There's lots of restaurants and cafes, gyms, tennis and basketball courts, playground, swimming pool (one has dolphins!) and, of course, a waterpark and casino. It was during that trip when I fell in love with steaks - so expensive but soooo tasty!

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I'd buy that for a dollar

It was at the PCA where I realized it's an advantage to exchange buy-in shares with your friends for side events, otherwise you're facing the problem of playing too loose because the amount of the buy-in is not that significant for you. If you do sell or exchange shares, it gives you extra responsibility and desire for a good result which helps you avoid obviously idiotic moves. I didn't have this problem at the WSOP because I sold shares in all the tournaments, but here I decided to play the 1k side event and not sell a single cent. After bluff-catching 3 streets with K-high only to see I was doing it against quads, I got the sneaking suspicion that I didn't have the proper mindset for the day and had forgot the main principle of playing poker - to be patient.

I only profited in one tournament, and I was the bubble-boy in that event! The profit came from the fact it was the 'NLHE 6max turbo bounty' (these four words make my favourite game to play). I had collected 4 heads worth 1k each (with buy-in being 2k incl. rake), but busted out with AQ versus TT for an average stack.

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Full Tilt into the action

I got this from one of my friends, "Mongoose_rus", when along with our friend "eleph" we were playing some Chinese before flying to the Bahamas.

The thing about Chinese: every reg thinks it's a game of skill when he's winning and a game for luckboxes when he's losing. But it works really well when you need to make the time go superfast, on a flight or just hanging out with friends.

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Mikhail 'innerpsy' Shalamov is a member of Team pokerStars Online.