Saturday, September 20, 2014

Three Years of Blogging

I'm posting this on the third anniversary of this blog's debut.  Three years ago today I went live with two posts, followed by two posts the next day.  I've decided to mark the occasion with a repost of one of my earliest entries. 

The post below is actually the third one that I published.  I'm not reposting the very first post because, for some reason, it was a review of an experience I had staying at the Excalibur.  It was already a year after I had stayed there that it finally saw the light of day, and now, an additional three years later, I don't suppose it has much relevance to what the Excalibur is like today. 

My second post was my very first published report of a genuine hooker encounter (see here), but I'm not reposting that because a lot of you have probably read it.  As a hooker post, it got a lot of page views long after I published it, as I started telling other hooker stories and readers looked back for my older ones. So no point in reposting it.

The story below, however, has not gotten a lot of page views so it's likely most of you have never read it.  Recall that when I started the blog, I was almost exclusively a a 2/4 limit player, and this story below, which took place some time before I even started the blog, is about a game of 2/4 limit.  The other reason for reposting it on this day is that it is very representative of the kind of poker posts I thought I would be doing when I started the blog--fun hands, not much strategy or analysis.  I think it's fairly different from the kind of posts I do these days when I write mostly about poker.  See if you agree.  

Another difference was, back in the day, I didn't add any graphics to my posts.  I wasn't even aware of how easy it was to do that.  So my original post didn't have any pics.  To demonstrate yet another way my blog has changed over the years, I'm going to put in a totally gratuitous, random picture of a really hot woman at the end of this post, just to add some graphics.  The picture has nothing to do with the subject matter herein. But if you think I shouldn't include this particular photo with this post, you're crazier than the guy you're about to read about.  

I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.  The original post was entitled:


Some time back I was playing in a 2/4 game at the BSC.   I wasn't doing well, so when I dropped down to having less than $50 in chips (from a $100 buy in) I bought in for another forty bucks.  This is what I've always done because I've always felt it was crazy to be short stacked in a limit game (no-limit is an entirely different matter).  I've seen countless times players having to go all-in with really good hands because they didn't have enough chips to start the hand.  It's actually worked to my benefit several times--not having to call a raise that a player with a better hand than mine couldn't make because they ran out of chips.  So in five years of playing, I've never been forced to go all-in in a limit game.  I've never really come close....until this story.

A rather annoying, obnoxious player had recently joined the table, sitting directly to my left (I was sitting in the 7 seat).  He was a buddy of the talkative nice guy in seat 3 or 4.  The guy next to me will henceforth be known as "Annoying Guy" or AG for short.  He was annoying for several reasons.

First, he was extremely loud, talking to his buddy across the table in a loud, deep voice.  He was basically shouting in my ear.  The other thing was his sense of humor.  He came to the table with chips, all of which were red (ie, five dollar chips).  Not what you want to see at a 2/4 game where dollar chips rule the day.  And whenever he raised at first, which was quite frequently, he said "all-in."  This wasn't funny the first five times he said it and got totally annoying after that.  Especially since he shouted "all-in" into my ear every time he said it.  Also he tried to raise more than he could and didn't seem to grasp why he wasn't allowed to do so.  I assume he got the red chips from a no limit game he had been playing.  I couldn't be sure if he was just clueless or obnoxious or very possibly both.

He raised a lot when he first got to the table, especially pre-flop.  He didn't stick around to the river often, so I couldn't see what he was raising with but it happened enough to convince me he wasn't raising with much.  I hate players like that.  It's one thing to be an aggressive player who raises with a good starting hand, but it's quite another to raise almost every time because you'd rather be playing higher stakes or NL or you think you can intimidate the other players.

It happened that while in early position, I looked down at pocket 7's.  I called, expecting to have to call AG's raise.  I'll two bet any pocket pair at the average, loose, low limit game, which this was.  To my surprise, AG didn't raise, one of the first times since he sat down that he hadn't raised pre-flop.  The flop was 8-7-4, rainbow, giving me a set but making me wary of a straight. I was first to bet the flop, no one raised, only two called, including AG.

The turn was the case 7.  Lucky me.  I didn't pay much attention to the fact that there was now a second spade on the board.  At this point, I wanted to slow play hoping someone else would bet and I could call hoping someone would hit a straight or even less likely flush.  But no one bet.

The Ace of Hearts fell on the river....I would have preferred the Ace of Spades hoping someone hit a backdoor flush, but no such luck.  I was pretty sure no one had flopped a straight, it would have been an awful play to slow play a flopped straight.

I bet out, disappointed.  Since no one had bet the turn, I was sure neither of my opponents would call and I would take down a pretty small pot, especially disappointing with such a monster hand.  To my absolute astonishment, AG raised!  I couldn't believe my good fortune. The third player folded immediately. Back to me, I of course re-raised.  I was certain AG would now fold, having failed at his pathetic attempt at a bluff.  If I was lucky, he would call and give me an extra four bucks.

But again he raised me, with stunning alacrity.  At BSC, unlike the locals casinos, limit games allow four raises (five bets).  Without hesitation, I put out eight more bucks and said, "I'll cap it."

The dealer, an older guy who is a part-timer, said, "No, there's no cap when it's heads up." While I was wrapping my brain around this bit of good news, AG put in eight more bucks and said "raise."  Be still my heart!  I was too excited at the thought of a very small pot turning into a very big one to really analyze this at the time.  I knew the rule about their being unlimited raises when there are only two players, but I'd seen it actually come into play less than half a dozen times in all the times I've played limit poker.  And it never came into play when I was involved personally.

So I didn't spend a lot of time thinking that the dealer might have made an error, because my understanding was that the "no cap" rule only comes into play when the betting round starts with two players.  And unless my excitement at the thought of beating this jerk really, really badly had messed with memory, this betting round had started with three players, though third player didn't put any money into the pot on this round.

Instead, my mind went to the obvious...have I missed something?  Is there any possible way this jerk could beat my quads?  Before calling his raise, I paused.  I double checked the board. No other pair on the board, so he couldn't have better quads.  A straight flush?  I checked three times and there were not three cards on the board of any one suit.  Sure there was straight out there, but that's not a problem for my quads.

Convinced I was unbeatable, I raised.  He raised again.  The speed with which both of us raised caused the dealer to tell us to stop.  He counted out AG's remaining chips (he had less than I did, thanks to my rebuy) and told me how many I'd need to match them.  He then said, "I assume that's what you both want to do?"  We both said yes, in my case, I could barely contain my enthusiasm.  He had put about $65 into the pot just on the river and I matched it.  That's some action for a guy like me used to playing 2/4 Limit!  I would have been at least twenty bucks short if I hadn't done the rebuy.

What the heck did this guy have?  I couldn't see him flopping a straight and slowplaying it.  But the other possibility....that the river Ace gave him Ace's Full didn't seem likely either.  If he was dealt Ace's, I couldn't imagine him not raising preflop.  Anyway, the dealer asked us both to show our hands.

AG proudly, yes proudly, said "Two pair!"  The river Ace gave him Aces up, with the 7's on the board (he was playing Ace-6, he flopped a gutshot).  That's it. That's all he had.  He went all in with two pair, when one of the pair was on the board.  I didn't even need pocket seven's to beat him.  One 7 in my hand would have been enough.

I swear as I was about to turn my cards up, the rest of the players at the table, in unison, seemed to say aloud, "Four sevens!"  Yeah, everyone at the table knew what I had, except AG. You see, they had all been playing with me for quite awhile and knew what a tight player I was. None of them could imagine me putting all that money into the pot unless I had the absolute nuts.  (Hmmm....I probably need to work on my table image, wouldn't you say?)

AG seemed genuinely surprised, amazingly so.  He got up, said something to his buddy about meeting up with him and said to me, "Enjoy my money!"

Everyone at the table was congratulating me, not only for winning a nice big pot with a nice monster hand but also for busting AG out and getting him to leave....I wasn't the only one this guy was annoying.  They commented on the fact that I had paused at one point to make sure I had the nuts, and complimented me for the way I played the hand (but really, it was all AG's stupidity).

In hindsight, I think that AG didn't like me and was hoping to give me a beating (pokerwise).  He let that emotion rule his actions and he clearly wasn't thinking straight to think his two pair could hold up. Why didn't he like me?  Well, I never complained verbally about his obnoxiousness, but I'll bet my body language was indicating my annoyance, especially when he kept shouting in my ear.  Just speculation, though.

As I told that story the rest of my visit, one thing became clear to me.  The dealer made not one but two mistakes on my hand.  For some reason, at BSC and at most poker rooms in Vegas, when it is heads up, they don't let you go all in (in a limit game).  They insist you get there one bet and raise at a time.  We should have just kept raising each other until he ran out of chips. But that's just a cosmetic error, it had no effect on the result.

His earlier mistake did.  I asked my dealer pals and they confirmed that the rule was that "no cap when heads up" only took effect if the betting round starts heads up.  In telling the story, I indicated that I thought therefore that the dealer might have made a very nice mistake in my favor.  They say it happens, the dealer forgets that there were other players in the round at the start of it, and if no one points it out to them, so be it.   I'm sure that's what happened here. The guy gave me $65 on the river when by rights, he should have only been able to have given me twenty bucks.

Do I feel guilty about getting extra money from the guy due to a dealer's screw up?  I might if the guy wasn't an obnoxious jerk.  As it is, I've lost zero sleep over this.  Hey, the guy could have stopped raising me anytime.  In fact, he never should have raised me in the first place.  Yes, you clown, I did enjoy your money!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mixing it Up at The Bike

This past weekend I went back to the Bike (in grandiose Bell Gardens, CA) and I had sort of a new game plan.  I was “inspired,” if you will, by poker whiz Ed Miller.  I’m on his mailing list and he sent everyone on that list a free video, “How to beat any 2/5 game.”  I downloaded the video and found it interesting.

I wondered how well I could use the concepts Miller was teaching and change and improve my game.  Of course, I don’t play 2/5.  Not sure how well it would adapt for 1/2 but…. I thought intuitively that the 2/3 game I play at the Bike probably plays similarly to a 2/5 game in Vegas.

Most of the things are stuff I should already be doing, but let’s just say, I have become too complacent in my game.  So this was a good reminder, if nothing else. 

I decided it was worth risking a buy-in or two to see if I could execute the strategy and see some results.

Miller supposedly described the way he plays 2/5.  I suspect, good as he is, this might not be the whole story.  One thing though is….Miller never limps.  He doesn’t open-limp, he doesn’t limp in behind limpers.  If he enters a pot preflop, it’s with a raise—unless he’s calling a raise. He also gave a list of suggested starting hands for the 2/5 game.  The biggest principle in this video is that players play too many hands, play too much junk, and as such, you can win pots when they miss, betting the turn and/or the river, even when you miss too. As I describe some hands, perhaps I will be better able to give you a better idea of what he’s saying.

As usual, I bought in for the max, $300.  Early on I had pocket 10’s in late position.  It was raised to $12 by the player in front of me.  Miller doesn’t recommend three-betting with anything but AA & KK (and any suited Ace for balance), at least in early position.  Note, his video was aimed at early position play, which he was defining as any position before the cut-off seat—since I was in the cut-off he might have recommended a three-bet there).  I called, as did two others.

The flop was Queen high, not much for me.  Preflop raiser bet $15, and everyone called (note, the strategy is heavily slanted toward never folding on the flop).  A blank on the turn, and the preflop raiser checked, and here’s where I should have bet.  I didn’t because there were four of us, and most of Miller’s discussion was about heads up play.  I meekly checked, and we all checked it down on the river.  I was actually thinking my 10’s were good and I was right, the only pair was the preflop raiser’s pocket 9’s. Decent pot, though no thanks to great play on my part.

Won another nice pot just based on stack sizes.  No one raised when I was the big blind with Ace-8 off. The flop was 8-high and I bet $10.  A short stack shoved and another short stack shoved behind him.  The first guy had around $45 and the next guy had $50. With no further action possible, it seemed like a pretty easy call for me.  The board blanked out, the first guy had 8/7 (not suited) and the other guy had a gut-shot that he missed.  Nice pot for a measly pair of 8’s.

Then in the small blind I had Ace-9 of clubs.  An aggro lady in middle position raised to $15 after a limper or two.  This lady was from Syria.  She was sitting next to a man from Israel.  I’m happy to report they got along well.  See, poker can bring peace to the Middle East.  Anyway, this lady had, on my very first hand, won a pot against me (when I was the big blind) when she didn’t raise with pocket Queens preflop.  But ever since then, she had raised preflop a lot, called almost every raise preflop, and limped in with every other hand.  Hardly ever folded.  I dunno why she didn’t raise with those Queens but she obviously wasn’t raising with only so-called premium hands. 

It folded to me.  I called.  All suited Aces are on Miller’s list of hands he plays preflop, even if it’s raised (but not if it’s three-bet to you).  This being the Bike, I expected the limpers and/or the big blind to join us but no, they all folded. It was heads up.  The flop hit me like a ton of bricks: 10-7-3, all clubs.  Always nice to flop the nuts.  I was sure she would bet so I checked.  She put out $50, more than the pot.  Hmm….

I wasn’t sure whether to call or check-raise.  I decided to go for the check-raise.  I put out $100, a min-raise.  She called quickly.

The turn card was another club, a low one, and I figured I wouldn’t get any more money.  I put out another $100 anyway.  She was extremely unhappy, but she called.  The river was the Queen of spades.  No board pair.  I still had the nuts.  With the size of the pot, the only bet I could make was a shove (it was $140 or so).  She had me covered—she had over $500 when I got to the table—but she just threw her cards face up in total disgust.  She had flopped a set of 7’s.  “I needed the board to pair.”  She sure did. Then she did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.  She reached in the muck and tried to find my cards (which I hadn’t shown). Of course, that’s totally against the rules. She turned over the Ace of clubs and another card that wasn’t mine, and a red 6 or something. “Ace-6 you had, you called me with Ace-6?”

She was honestly so upset at this point that I didn’t want to set her off any more, I didn’t think it was worth it.  If this had been a Vegas poker room, I would have complained to the dealer, and perhaps the floor, that she had illegally tried to look at my cards.  The dealer should have said something, but didn’t.  However, this being the Bike, I wasn’t even sure I would win the argument.  And in the moment, I considered the possibility that if I said anything at all about her post-hand actions, she might just pull a gun out of her purse and shoot me.

Ordinarily I would have said nothing, or the classic, “I forget.”  But the way she was looking at me, I decided to just tell her the truth—especially since she had seen the Ace of clubs (which was obviously my card, but the other one didn’t have to be).  “I had the nuts.”

“On the turn you had the nuts, not on the flop.”

I could tell she wasn’t going to believe the truth, so I told her the truth.  “I had the nuts on the flop.”

She started muttering about how I had cost her $250 (actually, it was only $215).  Then she said something interesting to the guy next to her.  “I should have bet more.”

The guy said, “He had clubs, you’re never betting him off that hand.”

“No, I should have raised more preflop, so he doesn’t call with Ace-rag.”

Oh wow, perfect timing.  You see, I had just told the story here, about the MGM regular who commented on my preflop bet-sizing.  That led to a comment from our friend Poker Grump, who left a link to an old post of his about preflop bet-sizing and the whole notion of, “How Much Do I Have to Raise” to get someone to fold garbage preflop.  The part in quotes is the title of his post, and you can (and should) find it here.  Obviously this lady hadn’t read his post!  As Grump says, that’s the wrong question to ask.

But I had read the post, and in it Grump also explained his own method for pre-flop bet-sizing.  I actually came up with a calculation myself for this 2/3 game myself based on the formula he wrote about for the 1/2 game he normally played.  I did use it, but not often, because any time I had a playable hand, it was almost always raised in front of me.

Some time later, I took out my notebook and made some notes about the hand.  The Israeli next to the Syrian woman asked me what I was writing.  Usually I say, “it’s my grocery list.”  This time I said, “I’m writing a novel.”  The Syrian lady, with steam still coming out of her ears, said, “No he’s not….he’s writing about what he had, who bet what….”  The guy was reacting to me, not her.  “Have you been published yet?”  I laughed.  The woman convinced him I was taking notes on the hand, and guy dropped it.  I wasn’t really lying….aren’t some of my posts almost novel-length?

No...I said I was writing a NOVEL, not a NAVEL!
I raised to $11 with Ace-10 of hearts, and this old guy who hadn’t played very many hands suddenly made it $40 behind me. Ordinarily this would be an easy fold for me, but perhaps misunderstanding Miller’s system, I called.  The flop missed me, I checked and he shoved his last $98.  So the idea of getting to bet the turn went out the window.  I also should have known that this guy is most likely only three-betting with Aces, Kings and maybe Ace-King.

I raised to $10 under-the-gun with 10-9 clubs and had two callers.  The flop was Jack-10-x, and no one called my $15 bet.  I wouldn’t have raised with that hand under-the-gun with watching that video (late position yes, not UTG).

Perhaps my favorite hand of the day, though not the most profitable, was when I raised to $12 with Jack-9 of diamonds (per Miller).  It was three-bet to $30 by a young Asian man who wasn’t your typical “Crazian.”  I mean, he had played a fair amount of hands. but not that aggressively.  I was sure tempted to fold, especially since I didn’t have position, but I had Ed Miller in my ear telling me to call, so I did.  It was heads up.

The flop was Ace-high, the other two cards low, not a diamond to be found.  I checked and was shocked when my opponent checked behind me.  So I knew I was going to bet the turn, no matter what it was.  Perhaps I’d be betting into his flopped set of Aces that he was slow playing?

As it happened, the turn was a Jack, giving me second pair.  I bet $50 but I swear I would have bet the same without a pair.  My opponent thought long and hard before saying, “Caught your Ace huh?  Ace-King?” and then folded his pocket Queens face up.

Holy shit.  At the risk of stereotyping, because of his ethnicity—and also because this was the Bike—it just totally amazed me that he would lay down his Queens there, and put me on an Ace. The lack of a c-bet—even with the Ace on the flop—was surprising as well.  So that was a nice win for me.

With pocket 5’s I called a raise to $12.  Heads up, the flop was King-4-2.  Called a $15 c-bet.  A three on the turn gave me a straight draw.  First to act, I checked, and he checked behind.  So I bet a blank river, $20.  He called and showed Ace-10.  Yes, he called me down with Ace-high, thinking I was bluffing. I sorta was….bluffing with the best hand.  My tendency would be to just check it down and win a showdown, but my bet got me an extra twenty bucks.

Then in the small blind I had Ace-King off.  The button raised to $12 and I called, as did two others.  The flop was Ace-high, two hearts, including the Ace.  My King was black.  I checked and called the preflop raiser’s $25 bet.  It was now heads-up.  My opponent had built up a small stack into a large one, had me covered, and had been bullying the table for the past hour.  I think between that and the fact that this was late in my session, when I was ready to call it a day, I lost my fortitude. The turn was a second spade, and I checked. That was very weak, a bad play on my part. He checked behind me. When a third heart hit the river, I checked again.  That would have been a perfect spot to bet, to represent the flush.  But again, I wimped out.  And then, he shoved!  About $500, a lot more than I had.  Wow.  I really did consider risking everything there, because I was fairly sure a shove into a pot that size is a bluff.  But…, I wasn’t ready to risk my entire stack on a single street of a single hand with just TPTK.  He might have caught two pair with the river card.  He might have had the flush.  I should have made a reasonable bet myself…and then have been willing to fold if he shoved over me.  But I just let it go.

I knew then it was time to quit, but during my last orbit I caught a pair of 9’s and raised to $14.  Only got one caller.  The flop was Jack-high and I took it down with a $20-flop bet.

Now, because I was calling a fair amount of preflop raises, and calling more flops with not much, I lost most of those chips I won on the big hands I described.  It was also hard to make that big turn (or river) bet Miller talks about, because so often there were multi-way pots, and he seems to be mostly talking about heads-up hands.  But overall, I wasn’t displeased with a small ($25) profit.  I was actually pretty card dead—the biggest pocket pair I had was the 10’s. I had 9’s, 5’s and 3’s (twice). I had Ace-King two or three times tops.  And I almost never limped into a pot.  I think the only time I limped (other than from the small blind) was with the pocket 3’s twice.  So I violated Miller’s “rules” those two times.  But you know what?  He doesn’t even play pocket pairs below 6’s.  So I violated the rules two ways!  But I didn’t think it was happened enough for anyone to be able to figure out what I was doing. 

I want to watch that video a few more times (and also finishing reading Miller’s new book, which goes over some of the same themes) and keep working on my game

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

There’s Quite a Variety of 7 p.m. Vegas Tournaments

My latest Ante Up column is online and can be found here.

Should be in a poker room near you.  I saw lots of copies at The Bike this past weekend.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bizarre Final Hand at Canada Cup

The final hand at this year’s PokerStars Canada Cup was a wild one indeed.  And not just because it started with the big stack at the table getting the dreaded pocket Kings.

The final table had been going on for nine hours, and then….well, watch it for yourself.

After watching it once or twice, I felt the last two players were both making huge errors.  But, after a few more viewings I realized something that changed my mind just a little bit.

Robert Notkin, the chip leader, just limped in with those Kings.  A very odd, very risky move.  I mean, when you’re down to four players in a tournament, aren’t you just dying to get a big pocket pair and raise with it?  If he was the short stack, I could see taking a chance and limping with them, thinking you might not get a call if you raise.  That’s still risky and I’d probably only do that with Aces—again, if I was the short stack and desperate.

But Notkin limped.  Justin Miller, next to act with a very short stack, shoved with King-Queen off.  Very logical play.  With that hand, he might have easily done that even if Notkin had raised, because he was so short.

So then it’s on Vincent Jacques with Ace-10 off and a fair amount of chips. He knows Miller could be shoving very light, and Notkin’s limp totally disguised his hand. He might have a low-to-medium pocket pair, or maybe just some random paint cards.  Jacques shove feels ok to me because of Notkin’s limp.  If Notkin had raised, and Miller had still shoved, then I would say it’s an easy fold for Jacques.

Ryan Rivers, with the third shortest stack and in the big blind, should have an easy fold with his pocket 8’s. Unless all of his opponents have the same hand—say Ace-King—he has to be very lucky to have the best hand on the river. Why not fold and hope that two of his opponents bust out on the hand?  Even though that would leave him incredibly short stacked, he’d move up to 2nd place money.  Although I have to admit, with his stack, about 1/5’s of Jacques’, it does make it tempting.

Of course Notkin called and he can’t believe his good fortune (though he must have at least considered the possibility that one of his opponents had Aces).  It made for an incredibly exciting, dramatic finish.  Anybody recall any other tournament ending with three players busting on the final hand? 

What do you think?  Is my analysis flawed?

One thing’s for sure, it taught me how to play pocket Kings.  From now on, I limp with them.  That’s what made the hand play out that way.  The limp with pocket Kings.

This post is sponsored by Spreaditfast.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poker With The Real Alysia Chang & The Imaginary TBC

Before I get started, I must first apologize to my fellow bloggers ~Coach and Pete P. Peters. No, I’m not apologizing for featuring them so prominently in this post—although perhaps I should.  But by all rights they should have their names featured in the title of this post. This is, after all, a night of Blogger’s Poker.  But honestly, this night at the MGM was dominated by two other people—Alysia Chang and Tony Bigcharles. Alysia was actually there, playing poker with us.  Tony was not there at all, except that his presence was felt every bit as much as if he was.  He was there in our imaginations—and our conversations.  Thus in the title I refer to him as the “imaginary TBC” even though he does exist—just like Alysia Chang.

You’ve probably already read PPP’s account of this night (here), and Coach’s account (here).  That’s the nice thing about bloggers getting together for a poker game.  Our readers get multiple versions of the same stories.  It’s the blogsosphere’s version of Rashomon.

There was actually a mini-version of Blogger’s Poker a couple of nights earlier when I played with PPP. I’ll get around to talking about that night one of these days. Coach was unable to join us then due to an illness.  He had had barely recovered enough to join us on this night.

I had been promising to treat both of them to dinner at MGM’s sports bar, Tap.  This pub opened right next to the poker room at the beginning of the year. I have enough poker comps stored up to cover pretty much anything on the menu. Note: both Coach and PPP used essentially the same joke in their posts…that I would be a millionaire if you counted my poker comps.  Unfortunately, they’re only good at restaurants inside the MGM, so my real net worth is a buck-ninety.

Just the three of us all eating, bullshitting, and playing poker would have been a great evening, but as we assembled, things started getting more interesting. Or weird. Or both.

First, PPP heard from the mysterious Alysia Chang.  It seems that, for some time now, a person using the name “Alysia Chang” had been commenting on Tony’s blog. This person had been, on occasion, critical of some of Tony’s posts, and of his poker play, and of his life decisions.  If you’ve read Tony’s blog, you know that what I just said applies to about 98.5% of the comments he gets. But Tony assumed that he had already met every single female poker player who read his blog, so he suspected something was amiss.  Perhaps Alysia wasn’t a Miss.  Or a Ms. Or a Mrs.  Perhaps Alysia was a Mister?  Or perhaps she didn’t even exist at all, perhaps Alysia Chang was one of Tony’s old nemeses—somebody he banned from his blog—using a phony name to get his/her comments on the blog.  Actually, I’m speculating to some degree.  I don’t read all the comments on his blog that carefully, they’re too repetitive. 

I just knew that there “Alysia Chang” had been commenting, and that Tony was questioning both her existence and her gender.

To the best of my knowledge, Alysia hadn’t commented on any other blogs, though I could have easily missed it.  She certainly hadn’t commented on my blog, I knew that for sure.

And then, after PPP did a post from about his first day in Vegas, Alysia showed up in the comments section, telling PPP that she was thinking of playing in the Aria 1PM tournament that afternoon and asking where he was playing.  But Pete didn’t respond, at least publically.

Then suddenly, the day we were all going to eat at Tap and play some poker at the MGM, Pete heard from her (him?) again.  Alysia left a comment on Pete’s blog that said, “Hey, I'm going over to Hakkasan for dinner tonight. I'm thinking around 7 or so.”  Note: Yes, Hakkasan is the nightclub that has created The Slut Parade.  But it also houses a restaurant that is open 7 nights a week.

Well, that was interesting.  The implication was pretty clear.  She was inviting Pete to join her (or am I wrong?). I texted Pete and asked if he was planning to abandon us and rendezvous with Alysia.  He assured me he was not.  However, he did want to let her know that the three of us would all be playing poker at the MGM later, since she was going to be in the vicinity (if you don’t know how close the MGM poker room is to Hakkasan, you haven’t been reading my blog for the past year).  Unfortunately, for some reason his expensive iPhone wouldn’t let him post comments on his own blog (what’s with that, Mr. Cook?).  So he asked me if I could post a comment/reply to Alysia and let her know that we’d be playing poker just a few yards from where she was dining.  We actually had no other way to contact her, so that’s what I did.

She commented back for us to let her know our table and seat numbers and she would try to stop by and say hi.

Hmmm….it was obvious she was quite interested in meeting PPP, a lot more interested in meeting him than TBC.  It was almost as if she was a PPP-stalker.  If she was, she was the first of two PPP-stalkers he ran into this trip—at least that I’m aware of. We’ll get to #2 when I post about the TBC Invitational. Come to think of it, it would be fair to refer to Tony as a PPP-stalker himself, so maybe it’s three.

When we all got together, I asked Pete if there was some connection that he had made with Alysia that I didn’t know of.  He assured me that there was not.  He was as surprised as anyone. Hmm….

So there we were in Tap, enjoying our meal, and speculating on Ms. Chang. What would she be like?  Would she even show?  Would some guy come up to us and ask if we were friends of Tony?

When we weren’t speculating about Alysia, we were talking about sports betting, with a particular eye to the college football season, which was actually just getting under way the very next day.  Coach and PPP were comparing notes. We were also discussing the NFL, as Pete had to get his futures bets in so he could pick up bundles of cash when next he returned to Vegas.

And that would have been pretty much all we talked about until the mysterious Mr. Bigcharles made his presence felt in a very big way.  Now, from his blog, we all knew that Tony was up in Reno, doing very well, having worked his “roll” up to $10K, having found the games there to be very soft.  He was doing so well that he had rented an apartment for the month, even purchased a microwave and an A/C unit for it.  What could go wrong?

Sunday, my celphone signaled me that I had been tweeted at.  I looked at it and saw one of the most bizarre tweets I’d ever received.  It was from Tony and it said, “get ppp to call vince, hes picking me up airport 910pm, dont tell ppp, but get him to call. Ive got $9800.”

This was strange on so many levels.  I should make it clear, this was not a private message, it was a public tweet that anyone could read.  So mentioning the $9.800 was kind of odd for someone is as concerned about getting robbed as Tony is.  Also, he was telling me publically not to tell Pete something. Of course, he did know that PPP is not on Twitter (an oversight he needs to correct, btw). 

Then there was the demand that I get Pete to call Vince (Tony’s friend that he often stays with when in Vegas).  Now, in Pete’s own blog post about this night, he talks about having been getting messages from Tony to call Vince and how he responded (or didn’t) to that.  You can read that for yourself. But if Pete wasn’t doing Tony’s bidding on his own, how the hell was I supposed to get him to do it?  Do I have some sort of magical powers over Pete Peters?  I think not. 

Of course, I did the only logical thing….I read Tony’s tweet to Pete.  In full, including the part I wasn’t supposed to tell him. I guess I’m a bad person.  But honestly, the way it was written, it wasn’t clear which part I wasn’t to tell Pete.  Was it that Vince was picking him up at the airport at 9:10?  Or was it the fact that he had $9,800?  Maybe he didn’t trust Pete not to rob him.  Or maybe he owed Pete some big bucks and didn’t want him to know he was in a position to pay him off.  Or….maybe he wanted Vince to have the fun of telling Pete that Tony was coming into town himself.  Yeah, that was probably it. I guess I spoiled the big surprise. Sorry.

We all began speculating on what this could mean.  But one thing it didn’t do was encourage Pete to call Vince, who had never met or had any contact with before. None of us could figure out why Tony was coming to Vegas because he was doing so well in Reno, as I noted a few paragraphs ago. But then, Tony has always done things his own way, for his own reasons.

So I suggested we play an elaborate joke.  I proposed we all head over to the airport, take the next plane to Reno, and then contact Tony and say, “Hey we came up to Reno to see you, where are you playing?” But we weren’t foolish enough spend that much money on a gag.  Since I couldn’t ignore Tony’s tweet, I did the next best thing and sent him back this tweet: “Can't reach him. I think he's on a flight to Reno now to see a client.”  Tony didn’t respond, at least via tweet.

But he was tweeting/bragging that his roll was now so large he could easily afford to pay $8 to get wifi on his brief flight from Reno to Vegas. He could now spend money with impunity. That gave him the ability to see all the comments on Pete’s blog about the three of us bloggers playing at MGM that evening, and of course he saw the comments from Alysia Chang—who he didn’t believe existed—and how she might be joining us.

And thus Tony left this comment on Pete’s blog:  “vince will look for u at the mgm after he picks me up at the airport, im currently on the plane.”

Well of course we had to digest this.  What exactly did this mean?  For the uninitiated, Tony is not allowed to play at the MGM.  So he couldn’t join us there.  Was Vince going to play with us while Tony waited in his car in the parking lot?  This is why Tony flew down from Reno?

Or perhaps Vince was going to try to entice to all join the two of them in his car and we’d play some poker right there in the parking garage?  That sounded like fun. 

So as we finished dinner (and thanks to PPP for picking up the tip, which the comps don’t cover), we now had two mysterious people to anticipate showing up and possibly joining us.  Alysia Chang, who Tony didn’t think existed, and Tony’s pal Vince, who Tony presumably did believe existed, but who none of us ever met.

This had all the makings of a magical night. All we could do was wait to see if Alysia and/or Vince showed up.  Or if somehow, Tony would sneak through the security at MGM and add another blogger to our table.

When I picked up my comp to pay for dinner I had them put the three of us all on the list for the 1/2 game.  Of course, because of my stature, they put us right to the top.  No, that’s not true, they gave us the same treatment as everyone else. As luck would have it, Pete and I were sent to the same table in short order.  They wanted Coach to go to another table, but he didn’t like where he’d be sitting there so he just waited until a spot opened up at our game.  And so the spot immediately to my right opened and Coach took it.  Pete was one player away from Coach in seat 3.

I will say this for Coach’s play.  He plays tight.  As he pointed out in his version of this night, he makes me look like a maniac.  I doubt if he played more than three hands the entire nite.  Seriously, I’ve sat next to players who were away from the table who played more hands.  He must play AA, KK, and maybe, maybe, if he’s feeling crazy at the moment, AK.  I’m pretty sure he throws away QQ and JJ instantly. After a couple of hours, I would have fainted if I ever saw him raise.

In order to keep tabs on everyone who might make an appearance, I had to keep checking my phone…Twitter, Pete’s blog, Tony’s blog.  As soon as we were at a table, I posted our table number and seat numbers on Pete’s blog so that Alysia, if she existed, could find us.  We kept waiting for someone to show up, not knowing what he and/or she might look like, And then, finally, it happened.

An Asian woman, short in stature, came over to our table and immediately approached Pete.
And she said to him, “Are there any Inner Circle members here?"  And I guess Pete asked if she was Alysia Chang (I was really too far away to hear) and she said she was.  By good fortune, a seat had just opened at our table, there was no list, and she went up front to see if she could join us.  And so she did, taking seat 1, with only an aggro maniac sitting between her and Pete.  Coach and I introduced ourselves to her, of course.           

One thing I will say about Ms. Chang—she was never a loss for words. And she was really funny. She was more than willing to rehash every debate she’d ever had with Tony, and asked us questions about him.  And of course, we had to bring her up-to-date on his curious whereabouts this evening.  For awhile we were expecting Vince, and possibly Tony, to join us.  I kept checking my phone. I found that Tony had done a blog post from the plane and read it for clues about what he was up to—either on this night, or in the future.  That post included this classic line about a girl he ran into at in a Reno casino who was “offended i wanted her to be a hooker if she wanted $100.”  I cracked up and had to share it with the group.

And so Alysia replied, “I’m too old to be a hooker.”

As Alysia was talking about her battles with Tony, she kept expressing her amazement that he didn’t believe she was a woman.  So at one point, a guy at our table—not part of our little group, a total stranger—said, “I’d be more than happy to prove that you’re a woman.”  She didn’t take him up on his offer.

Then I read the startling news….neither Tony nor Vince would be joining us this night.  He posted a comment on his own blog that said, “i hate to say it, but vince and i went to the poker palace since he wanted to play BJ there, and i lost $215. not the best way to start off.”
I was afraid that this might make poor Pete suicidal, knowing that someone (Vince) would rather go to the Poker Palace than meet him.  But somehow, he survived.

Alysia also survived the disappointing news that she would not be meeting Tony (or Vince) this night.  She suggested we all go to a Strip Club.  She offered to buy Coach, Pete and I lap dances. Was she serious? Who can say?  But here I was, once again running into a woman who apparently likes going to Strip Clubs (see here).  I guess I should get used to it.

Being a TBC blog reader, Alysia knew how much Tony likes mashed potatoes.  She said that in his honor, we should all go somewhere and have some mashed potatoes. She knew just the place—the steakhouse at Treasures Strip Club! How did Alysia know that Treasures has a steakhouse? I can only guess. She whipped out her phone and was disappointed to learn it was too late to make it to the steakhouse—they close at 10PM.  Of course, we could still make it to Strip Club at Treasures, that was still open. But we never did. (Nor did any of us have mashed potatoes.) It actually seemed that of the four of us, Alysia was the most interested in the Strip Club.

There wasn’t much serious poker going on from my standpoint, I was having too good a time laughing and joking.  I wish I had audio recorded the session—if I had, this post would be at least 10 times as long, and funnier than hell. Alysia was a riot. But I do want to discuss two hands from the night, the first one happened soon after Alysia joined our table, and I had no read on her whatsoever.  But then, I still don’t.

In late position, after a few limpers, I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings.  I raised to $14 and had two callers, one of whom was Alysia. The flop was 10-high, two clubs (I didn’t have the King of clubs).  I bet $40 and Alysia snap-called, the other player folded. The turn card was the Ace of clubs, the worst card I could possible see.  This time Alysia led out for $45.  What to do, what to do?

Against a player I knew next to nothing about, what should I have done?  She could easily have an Ace, not to mention clubs.  It seemed like there were too many cards that beat me there, and besides, it was my cursed hand.  I folded, and she didn’t show her hand.  If she had a flush, she could have/should have shown it to get a drawing ticket.  But she hadn’t been there long and it was possible she didn’t know about the drawings.  In fact, we explained it to her later when she had a qualifying hand and was handed a drawing ticket. So, I wondered the rest of the night if I had made a good fold. I never asked her, but I got my answer the next day when she commented on Pete’s post.  She said it was a total bluff!  Really?  Did she mean that or is just messing with me for the next time?  Good question.

I got down to $79 and decided not to add on.  I was having too much fun laughing and joking to be paying proper attention to the poker. so I thought I would try to minimize my risk. I was dealt pocket Aces in early position.  First in, I raised to $8. Remember Jan from my last post (here)?  Well, she and her husband were both at this table. I’m going to call her husband Dean. He called my raise. Dean plays a different style than his wife, more aggressive, raises more, trickier. I also know he’s an excellent tournament player and likes to play some of the bigger tournaments during the summer.  Two players behind him called as well.

The flop was Jack-4-2. I bet $20 and only Dean called. The turn was a 5, giving me a gut-shot in addition to my overpair. I shoved the rest of my chips ($51).  Dean took a long time. That was good.  I figured if he didn’t snap-call, I was ahead. Dean’s played enough against me to have a pretty good feel for what I could be shoving with there, so I expected him to fold.  After tanking, he finally called. The river was a King or a Queen, I showed my Aces and Dean was surprised.

“Wow, that’s a gorgeous hand.  That’s a really good hand.  You fooled me with your small preflop raise.”  He just mucked but said he had a “pretty good Jack.”  Then he said, “Well played.”  I didn’t really play it any differently than I normally play Aces, but I didn’t tell him that. I’d glad I fooled him.  It’s not easy getting money from Dean.

That got me close to my buy-in.  I hung around for awhile cuz we were having so much fun, but as I had to work the next day, I had to be the first one to leave. I ended up down $20 or so for the night and I certainly got more than $20 entertainment value.

I missed the great bag lady picture that is on Pete’s blog and explained on both Coach’s and Pete’s blog. I do recall that Alysia said she had a bag with her for a photo for Tony, tho!  Yes, that’s why she had it.

And now that I know that Alysia bluffed me off my dreaded hand (assuming she’s telling the truth), a rematch down the road is desired—and inevitable, I’m sure.

(Edited to add:  Poker Grump has left an interesting comment pertaining to my Aces hand, below.  He links to an excellent post of his from years ago about preflop bet-sizing.  Unfortunately, there's no line break in his comment and it may be difficult to use the link in some browsers, so you can click here to get to it.  And that post links to a Mike Caro which no longer exists at the location in the post, but I believe I found it here, also worth checking out.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why the TDA Should Adopt My New Rule Proposal

This is the second and final part of the post from last time (here) regarding my experience with the MGM Invitational.  You should read the previous part to have a clue about what I’m going to be talking about.

Going into this tournament, I fully expected to recognize at least 2/3’s of the players in it, if not more.  I mean, they’d all be MGM regs, right?  How could I not know them?  But to my surprise, there were probably 10 people—or less—that I totally a recognized and a few more that kinda/sorta looked familiar. 

One of the regs I recognized was a lady I’m going to call “Jan.”  Jan and her husband are a, um, middle-aged couple who have homes in Vegas and also somewhere in the Midwest.  They are in Vegas often enough so that I almost always see them every visit. Whenever they’re in Vegas, they apparently spend all of the evenings in the MGM poker room. They really, really like poker. When I arrived, they were both playing in a cash game at that ungodly hour, waiting for the freeroll to start.

Jan is not a particularly aggressive player, a calling station perhaps, and somewhat of a luckbox. You know those promos I’m always talking about—the cash drawing tickets?  If she’s in the room, I can pretty much be certain she will be called for at least one of them.  I think it on my last night in town her ticket was pulled twice in a row.

Another reg was DDB, the boyfriend of the Didi (see here). He came to the table as an alternate, not long before registration closed.  Didi and her big ones were nowhere to be seen, btw.  However, as soon as he took his seat, the dealer asked him, “Are you still seeing your crazy girlfriend?” and he said that indeed he was. One of his first hands, he three-bet/shoved his pocket Queens into someone’s pocket Kings. The first four cards were all meaningless and he stood up to leave, as he had the shorter stack. Of course, the river card was a Queen and he had a double up.

I wanted to be aggressive.  I had heard that most freerolls are chopped at some point, but I didn’t expect to happen right at the point where we all cashed. I figured a min-cash ($75) was almost not worth showing up for, I wanted a big stack to get as close to that $2K first place prize as possible.  But if we got down to a few players and were able to negotiate a chop, that was fine with me too.  Since it was a freeroll I was fine with getting it all in when I thought I had an edge and taking my chances. I rarely limped in.  I called some raises, but mostly when I entered a pot preflop, it was with a raise.

As it was, I was ready to take chances to build my stack.  Unfortunately, to some degree the other players and of course the cards have to cooperate somewhat.  And mostly, they didn’t.

The very first hand (starting blinds 25/50), I called a raise to $225 with pocket 3’s and missed.  Same level, I called a raise to $125 with Ace-Queen. I called his c-bet of $150 on the flop thinking he might have missed.  There was no more betting.  I thought Ace-high might have been good, but he showed Ace-3 and the three gave him bottom pair on the flop. 

In early position, I raised to $125 with 8-7 spades, two callers.  Flop was 9-7-x, two clubs, I bet $200, one caller.  Eight on the turn gave me two pair. I bet $500, no call.  My first pot.

I called a raise with pocket deuces and even called a c-bet on the flop, but when he kept betting I had to let it go.

Second level (50/100), I started with $4,400 in chips.  I called a raise to $300 with King-Queen of clubs.  Three of us saw a King-high flop and the raiser checked.  I bet $600 and no one called. The next hand I raised to $250 with Ace-9 of clubs, no one called.  I raised to $250 with Ace-Queen off, no call.  I raised with Ace-7 off, no call. 

Back to my starting stack of $5K at level 3 (100/200), the last level before antes.   I raised to $525 with pocket 8’s, no call. Later, same level, first in. I raised to $525 with with Jack-3 offsuit (what, that’s not a raising hand?).  But someone behind me shoved and I had to fold.

I had around $4K at the start of level 4.  With the blinds 25/200/400 that’s pretty close to be desperate (and it was only 36 minutes into the tournament!). A guy in front of me, similar stack to mine, raised to $1K and I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings. In this situation, I was quite happy to see them.  I shoved and my opponent snap-called.  He flipped over pocket 9’s.  He didn’t suck out on me and I had a much-needed double-up (I ended up having $300 more than he did so he was gone). 

First in, I raised with pocket deuces (monster hand) and no one called.  That took me to level 5 (50/300/600) with $9,200 in chips.  I raised first in with Ace-10 diamonds, no call.  Last hand of that level, I raised to $2,000 with Ace-7 off on the button (first in).  But the big blind shoved for only $1,375 more, so I had to call.  He had Ace-Queen. I didn’t get lucky.

After the break, we were at 100/400/800.  I stopped making note of chip counts or raise sizes because from here on out, I was pretty much always in shove or fold mode.  This next key hand came when we were very close to the bubble, I think it was right before OTD erroneously announced we were down to 32 players (paying 30).  So first in, I risked my $75 payout by shoving with pocket 5’s.  I was called by two players, one a short stack with Ace-Queen, and one a bigger stack with King-Queen.  The only face card on the board at the end of the hand was a Jack and I had gotten almost a triple up. 

But even with that, the blinds were increasing so rapidly that it didn’t really take me out of shove or fold mode. Seriously. Then there was the confusion about the bubble that I described in the last post.  At that point, when we thought we were down to 30, but were really down to 31, this old guy at my table said that the OTD was going to come around and ask us if we all wanted to chop.  “Thirty-ways?” I asked  Yes he said that’s what’s happened before. “If we chop now, we all get $333.  Not bad.”  Even with the hand I had just won, I was still short stacked and didn’t have a lot of confidence that, in this crap-shoot, I’d be able to get past the $75 payout level.  Over $300 sounded pretty good to me.

What I found odd was the guy was saying that they would ask us if we wanted to chop without any of the players bringing it up.  Really?  I don’t think the house is supposed to do that.  I’ve never seen it.  Of course, this was a freeroll, so maybe it’s possible.  Certainly the house had an interest in closing down the tournament as soon as possible.

But OTD did no such thing.  Of course, she was so busy with the confusion I previously described; she couldn’t have even if she wanted to.  Then, once we were actually down to 30, players who busted out—and it seemed to happen every other minute—had to be taken to the table where the shift supervisor was paying them.  She still had her hands full. 

But as she wandered close to me, I decided to ask her.  “Is there going to be a proposal to chop?  This gentleman here says you would suggest it automatically.”  Well, she said that wasn’t the case, as I suspected, a player had to propose it.  But someone overheard my question and shouted, “Shall we do a chop?” and suddenly there was a proposal on the table.

So she stopped the clock and told all the players that a proposal for a 30-way (or maybe 29, 28 by now) chop had been made.  Now, I’ve never seen this before, but they didn’t go around the tables and ask if each player was ok with the chop.  No, they did it by secret ballot.  The dealers at each of the three tables gave everyone a red card and a black card (didn’t matter the rank). We were all going to turn either a black card or a red card. A black card meant we approved the chop, and a red card meant no chop.  If they got even one red card, we’d play on.  But before we even had a chance to turn in our cards at our table, someone from another table had already either turned in a red card or had just verbally stated that he wasn’t going to chop.

We played on.  Now, at this point, the old guy who said they usually chop at 30 had totally changed his tuned and said, “Well, they do a chop when they get to 20 or so.”  Huh?  Make up your mind, sir.

I wasn’t sure whether to believe this joker or not, but I felt I was now incentivized to try and hold on a little longer.  If that was true, chopping at 20 might get me a considerable bit more money.  And if I could hang on past the first five to bust, I’d go up to the next level, $100.  And by this time, a few had already busted and had gotten the $75 min-cash.

So between that and the fact that I didn’t get any playable cards, I just didn’t play any hands for awhile.  This time, if I had gotten Jack-3 (and honestly, I don’t think I got a hand that good), I would have mucked, not raised or shoved with it.

And then…..I looked down at Ace-King of diamonds and of course I shoved (I had around $3K but I don’t recall the blind levels, but it was a very short stack).  The big blind, who had the biggest stack at the table, called and flipped over 9-5 of diamonds (obviously my shove wasn’t much more than the big blind).  He missed and I doubled up.

This gave me enough to survive until they broke our table.  Now down to 20, I would take home at least $150.  And as I moved to my new table, I asked if that chop had been vetoed for all time or if it was possible that it could be considered again.  OTD said that she was pretty sure that at least one person had no interest in any kind of chop, so I didn’t pursue it.

The new table was 9-handed to start and then a player busted.  So they moved a player from the other table, which had been 10-handed.  It was Jan.  Now, at my previous table, Jan was there and had a hand which demonstrated her luckbox abilities.  She shoved with pocket 10’s and had two callers.  One had pocket 9’s and the other had Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  She had the shortest stack so would have busted (this was just before the bubble).  An Ace hit the flop so she was on life-support.  Of course, a 10 hit the turn and she tripled up.

I was down to less than $4K in chips and I think the big blind was $2K.  So I was short. The last time I had been the blinds, I had had two incredibly bad hands and it had been shoved in front of me.  I could have called I suppose, but I knew I had enough chips to survive one more orbit and honestly, players were busting so fast I felt if I could survive that one orbit I might at least make it up a bit higher on the pay scale to $200—I just needed two or three more players at the most to bust first. Or, even better, maybe I’d get a hand to play.

Now there I was, two away from the big blind.  I knew that this time, I was all-in on the big blind no matter how bad the hand was.  I had gotten nothing to play and now I looked down at King-Queen of spaces. Under-the-gun folded.  Pretty easy decision to shove, so I did.  It folded to Jan, now sitting on a (relatively) big stack.  And she called (she may have shoved, I’m not sure, but no one behind her called so it didn’t matter).

As soon as I saw it was Jan calling, I knew this was going to be my last hand. I knew I couldn’t beat her.  I even said aloud, “Oh, I’m dead.”  Someone asked me why.  “Because it’s her.  I can’t beat her.”  I didn’t explain why.

She flipped over pocket Jacks, so I had two overcards.  That was as good as I could have hope for.

I liked the flop.  No spades but Q-10-8 put me ahead.  The turn was another Queen.  Jan acted resigned to losing the hand.  The amount of chips she was going to lose was actually fairly insignificant considering her stack, although obviously it doesn’t take long for a big stack to become short with this structure.

And then, right before the dealer put the river card out, the player next to me, seeing Jan acting resigned to losing the pot said, “Nine.” He was calling for a card, the 9.  Of course, a 9 would give her the straight.  A Jack would give her a boat.  Any other card in the deck and I’ve got my double up.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it in a tournament situation.  I’m sure you all have.  Someone not in the hand suddenly opens his (it’s always a guy) big fat mouth and calls for a card that will be a suckout for the player that’s behind.  And then that card magically appears.  You’ve all seen it, right?

And that’s exactly what happened this time.  This putz next to me said “Nine!” right before the dealer turned over the river card and there it is….a friggin’ 9 on the river, giving Jan the straight.  My trip Queens were worthless. 

I just wanted to strangle the guy next to me.  Honest, I did. Logically, I know there is no way anything he said could have changed that card, could have made the dealer put the 9 out there.  It was going to be a 9.  It was always going to be a 9.  It was a certainty as soon as the dealer had cut the deck that the river card was going to be a 9.  I know that.

But still, in that moment, as I saw the 9 on the board and the dealer pushing Jan the pot, I knew, deep down, that this loudmouth had caused the 9 to be dealt on the river by calling for it before the dealer put it on the river.

And yes, I was genuinely pissed.  Not so much at the cards.  And certainly not at Jan.  She had played her hand correctly. She was gracious in victory.  No, she didn’t say “I’m sorry,” which she certainly wouldn’t have meant.  But she shrugged in a sympathetic manner. I said “nice hand,” and honest, I didn’t mean it like “f-you,” which is what it usually means.

At least to Jan.  But to the guy next to me, who called for the 9, I definitely meant f-you.  I meant it a very big way.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense, but somehow, I wouldn’t have been as mad if he had said “9” and a Jack had come.  Or he had said “Jack” instead and that “9” had come.  No, it was because it was the exact card that he was calling for—that was what really pissed me off. He called for a card and there it was.

I went over to get my money and honestly, I had never been so pissed in my life being given $150.  Never.  I was really, really mad. 

I’m not sure why it bothered me so much.  I think it may have been partially due to lack of sleep.  Remember, I was functioning on less than four hours.

There was just something about it.  I wanted to scream at the guy, “Why don’t you shut the f up, you asshole?  You’re not in the hand, mind your own damn business.”  Sure, he wants players to bust out so he climbs higher on the payout scale, I get that.  But can’t he keep his big mouth shut when he’s not in the damn hand and just let the hand play out?  Note: If it had been Jan calling for a 9 and getting it, I wouldn’t have been upset at all.  I have no problem with a player calling for a card they need to win a pot.  Of course, that almost never works.

But no, Jan was politely watching the hand play out, saying nothing, ready to watch me double up, and loud-mouth next to me has to call for one of the two cards that can beat me, and then, that very card hits and beats me.


It was as I was taking my chips to the cashier’s window that I formulated my new proposed TDA rule.  I was originally going to tweet it out, but it’s too long for a tweet.  So I added it to the beginning of the post I was about upload on the blog (here).  It was sort of a non-sequitor, but I had to get it off my chest.  If you don’t want to click that link, I’ll reprint my proposed rule for you:

A player not in the hand may not verbally predict, request, or suggest a card to come when there is an all-in situation.  A player involved who needs a card can of course request a card, that's fine. But a player not in the hand needs to mind his/her own f-ing business and keep his or her big freaking mouth shut or face severe penalities.

If the card the non-participating player suggests hits, the player who uttered that card should be assessed the following penalty:

He/She is immediately eliminated from the tournament, and all his or her chips shall be turned over to the player who just got sucked out on, which only happened because this asshole uttered the deadly card that hit.

In addition, he/she should be banned from all poker rooms on Earth on the spot.  Further, if he/she has a hot wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other, the person on the receiving of the suckout may have his/her way with him/her after the tournament, or if not the preferred gender, may offer him/her for sale to the highest bidder.

I assure you, when I first came up with it, the punishment was a lot more severe.  And bloody.

(Note: the picture below helps illustrate the wisdom of my suggestion.  Suppose this is a picture of the loudmouth’s girlfriend. If my proposed TDA rule had been in effect, I would not only have gotten his chips, but I would have had a playdate with the woman below.  See how great this rule is?)

Anyway, I took my chips over to the cashier window, where Angela, one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in a poker room, was working.  Angela has known me since I started playing at MGM (and was first mentioned in the post here).  As I put my chips down, without giving her any context, I started babbling on, “Why did that guy call for a 9 when I was all in against Jan and ahead?  Why did he have to open his big fat mouth and call for the card that could beat me?  He wasn’t even in the damn hand.  You know it was only because he called for a 9 that it came.  If he hadn’t said anything, the river card would have been a King and given me a full house.  You know it.  You just know it.”

Now, I’m guessing that Angela has heard something like that before.  Multiple times.  But she never heard me say anything like that. Nothing even close.  And I’m sure I surprised her.  She just laughed and showed sympathy.  “You’re right, that was it.”  “Of course I am,” I replied.

I took my money and headed to my car.  I guess I should be lucky Angela knows me, or she might have called for someone to take me to the nearest looney bin.  But then, she’s used to being around poker players, so maybe not. 

I was cursing and muttering to myself all the way back to my room.  It was the worst $150 I’d ever won in my life.

And btw, I later learned that when they got down to 7, they did indeed chop (I think it was a chip chop, not sure), so the holdout finally relented (or maybe busted).

And that was my first (and last?) experience with the MGM Invitational.  Now, I’m going to go email the TDA and formally suggest my new rule.  Do I have your support?