Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Suite Life at the Aria

OK, before your regularly scheduled blog post begins, I just want to mention that the good folks over at have just published a list of their favorite poker blogs, and guess which blog was listed first?  Yes, Rob's Vegas & Poker Blog, the very blog you're reading right now, made the list.  Really appreciate that, guys!  Thanks for the nice shout out.  You can see the full list right here.  And now back to the blog post, already in progress...

Now this one takes place the night after the story I told in my previous post (here) occurred, It’s actually important that you keep that in mind.  The other thing you should know is that I already did a post from this session a couple of months back.  This was the session from the Aria that involved the bad floor ruling, preventing the guy on my right from check-raising (see here).

What I didn’t mention at the time was that the guy on my right—the guy who was not allowed to check-raise—looked awfully familiar when I sat down.  The more I sat next to him, the more I started thinking that I had played with him before, even recently.

But while I was still trying to figure it out, I had pocket 5’s and limped in.  Four of us saw a flop of 7-5-4, two diamonds.  I bet $10 and only the familiar looking guy on my right called.  I bet $20 on a blank turn and he called.  I bet $30 on a blank river and he folded, muttering something about a missed straight flush draw.

A bit later I had Ace-10 of clubs and the familiar looking guy raised to $15 (remember, the game at the Aria is 1/3, not 1/2).  I called as did one other.  The flop was King-high, one club, and not much else for me.  But when familiar looking guy bet out $22, I decided to call.  That’s an Ed Miller play.  We were heads up.  The turn was a Queen, non-club, giving me a gutshot.  We both checked.  When the river was a blank, he checked again.  OK, I thought, my Ace-high might not be so good, so let’s try to steal this sucker.  So I bet $40.  He tanked for a long time.  I’m guessing he had a pocket pair, 10’s or less.  He finally folded and I had indeed stolen the pot. 

Meanwhile, it was driving me crazy how familiar this guy looked.  Wait a minute, wait a minute….was this the guy from the night before at the MGM?  The guy who had felted me when he boated up on the turn after we both flopped trips (and I had the better kicker)?  No, no, it couldn’t be.  He would have said something.  Unless he had the same bad memory as I did.

But then he made a comment to the dealer that he was waiting for his player’s card.  He explained that he had given someone his driver’s license when he sat down in order to get a player’s card and he had not gotten one yet.  Then he mentioned that they had returned his license and promised the card was on its way.  The floor was called and he said that what the player said was virtually impossible.  There was no way they would return the license without bringing him a player’s card.  If he has his license, he must have the card.

He insisted that was not the case, and took out his wallet.  After confirming that he had his license, he said, “The only player’s card I have is this one here, that I got at the MGM last night.”  It was the familiar MGM “M Life” card that’s good at all MGM Resort properties (MGM, Aria, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, etc).  The floor person explained that that was the right card for the Aria too.  Not sure if he got a second card or what, but at least that issue was straightened out.

But when the guy said he had playing at the MGM the night before, I knew this had to be the guy who was on my left all last night—the guy who felted me with his turned boat.  You know, the guy I named “Zelig.” 

So I said to him, “Excuse me, but were we playing together last night at MGM?”  “Oh yeah, that was me.”  “I thought it might be you, but wasn’t sure until you told the guy you were there last night.”  “Oh yeah, I recognized you right away.”

Well that’s weird.  If he recognized me right away, why didn’t he say hi? This guy was obviously from out-of-town, and usually, visitors are pretty friendly at the poker table. 

But I didn’t ask him that.  Maybe he was a little uncomfortable because he had won such a big pot off of me—and because of the way he had won it.

Anyway, we rehashed that hand—and he gave me the typical poker player’s insincere apology—and then I expressed sympathy for that huge $900 pot he lost.  He again reiterated, as he had the night before, “I’m never folding there.”  Is that poker player speak for, “I screwed up, but I’m not going to admit it”?

Now it’s not that unusual for me to run into folks I’ve played with at more than one room in Vegas.  But less so with a tourist.  And back-to-back nights in two different rooms?  And sitting next to him both nights?  That would be like flopping trips and losing to a three-outer twice within a few orbits.  Oh wait.

As it turns out, my session was cut short because my friends LM and Woody had arrived in town earlier that day and were staying at the Aria.  They came by to say hello and we decided to sit and talk somewhere.  So I cashed out a whole $10 ahead. 

We decided to that the best place for us to chat was in their room, which they were raving about.  I’d never seen a hotel room at the Aria and until they had checked in earlier that day, neither had they.

LM & Woody like to go mid-week and can usually get pretty good deals at places like the Venetian and Bellagio. But if those places are too expensive, they’re fine staying at The Orleans too.

For this trip, they got a great offer from the Aria and they asked me what I thought about the Aria.  Not only had they never stayed there, they’d never set foot inside the Aria.  I told them I’d never been inside the rooms but based on what the casino looks like, and the clientele they’re obviously going for (and the price of the food), I was sure that it would be really nice—at least comparable to Bellagio and Venetian.

They were a little hesitant, but I convinced them that it would meet their needs.  After making the reservation, they got an offer to upgrade to a corner suite for just a few bucks more, and they did the upgrade.

They were sold on the place the minute they saw their room, and when I saw it, I could see why.  Wow.  I mean, just wow.  Now I had once been in a room at the Venetian that was reserved for their whales (I was visiting a whale, not staying there myself).  It was really nice but it looked like a room at Circus Circus compared to this room at the Aria.

Seriously….wow  First off, the Aria is really, really big.  I had no idea just how big it was until we walked from the elevator to their corner suite.  I think it took us almost as long as it does to drive to L.A. from Vegas.  I know that when I left the room to head back to the elevator, I wanted to call a cab rather than do that walk.

The suite was freaking gorgeous.  It was huge and both exterior walls were replaced with floor to ceiling windows offering a panoramic view of Vegas.  You could see the Strip and the Rio from their room. Pretty much all of Vegas, really. Stunning view.

There was a living room and a huge bedroom.  And two bathrooms.  At least one of them had a hot tub and at least one of them had a bidet.  I believe they both had heated toilet seats.  OK, that’s not a big deal in June but it might be nice in December.  There was a huge walk-in shower.  The drapers were electriconically-controlled.  TV’s everywhere, including the bathroom. You could control the A/C, the drapes and the lights from the TV. There was a refrigerator with an ice-maker. Robes and slippers were provided.  And yes, they had turn down service with chocolates.  All the furnishings were top-notch.  It was definitely the most incredible hotel room I’ve ever been in.  I said to my friends, “Why would you ever want to leave this place?”  They agreed.  If not for the fact that they had to return home for their dogs, I think they’d still be there.

The only issue was the A/C. It wasn’t working quite well enough, and they complained a few times. Well I guess one of the A/C units wasn’t up to snuff, there were a total of three units in the room.  The A/C was improved, but it never was totally satisfactory. As a result, they got a huge discount off the bill, which made the room cost an incredible deal.

I didn’t think to take any pictures of their room or of their view.  Wish I had.  So instead, here’s some Aria waitresses.  They’re pretty impressive too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Flopping Trips Can Be Bad For Your Bankroll


This was a session where virtually the same thing happened to me twice in a very short period of time.  It wasn’t a good thing.  I mean, it wasn’t like flopping quads, which you’d love to happen repeatedly in a session.

It wasn’t like having Charlotte McKinney (pictured below) come up to me and tell me that she absolutely loves my blog, and she has her heart set on thanking me for all the entertainment I’ve provided her by catering to my every fantasy for the night.  Hell, I’d settle for that happening to me even once.  Damn right.

No, this is something that’s happened to all poker players and it’s not good.  Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?  After about 90 minutes of an up and down session—nothing especially noteworthy—I found myself looking at King-8 of hearts in the small blind.  I had a few bucks over my $200 buy-in at this point.  I completed and four of us saw a flop of 8-8-6, rainbow, one heart.  I led out for $6, the guy to my left called, the table’s designated aggro made it $21, the last guy folded.  I called and then the guy on my left surprised me by raising to $70.

We need to give this guy a name since this won’t be the last we hear from him.  Let’s call him Zelig.  Zelig had not especially impressed me with his play to this point, but he had been running good and had a much bigger stack than I had.  The guy who raised to $21 took a long time to fold, but he did.  I decided to just call.  I figured Zelig was going to do the betting for me.

The turn card was a Queen and I checked.  Zelig shoved and I snap-called. I certainly felt I was willing to get my stack in when I called the $70.  He flipped over Queen-8.  Ouch.  The river blanked and I had to re-buy another $200.

Not all that long later, maybe two orbits, I was in the big blind with King-9 offsuit.  No one raised.  Four of us saw a flop of 9-9-3.  I bet $5 and someone made it $15.  I just called.  I suppose one of the lessons I should have learned from the earlier hand was to play my trips more aggressively.  But I was shell-shocked from it and just called.  We both checked a Queen turn.  I checked a 10 on the river and he bet $40.  I called and he showed me 10-9 for a rivered boat.

So twice I had had trips, had the best hand, and lost to a boat, once on the turn, once on the river.  At least this one didn’t cost me my entire stack.  Zelig, who was not in the hand, noticed the similarity to the hand where he had stacked me and kindly pointed it out to me, as if I needed the reminder.

Those were the only two hands from this session involving me worth mentioning.  They kind of obliterated everything else.

But there was an interesting hand involving Zelig that was quite noteworthy.

This took place after he had felted me and had a nice big stack of chips.  Probably over $600.  And I don’t remember all the details, I wasn’t really paying attention until the turn.  I’m pretty sure I was tapping one of the hands I was involved in into my phone, so I was late to the party.

The board by the turn was Queen-Jack-9-9.  The paint cards were both diamonds and the 9 on the turn was also a diamond.  So there was potential for all kinds of big hands, including a straight flush.  There was money in the pot—it had been raised pre by someone other than Zelig and there were four players alive.  There was a smaller bet on the turn and then a player went all in for $100, and all three players called.  The river was a fourth diamond.  Zelig led out for $200 (he still had plenty of chips behind him). I don’t believe he had led out on any other street until then.  The next guy was already all in, and then the next guy—the preflop raiser, I’m pretty sure, put all of his chips—it was about $220.  The last guy had a bigger stack than that, similar to Zelig’s.  But after tanking a bit, he folded saying, “I hate to fold this but there’s no way I’m good here.”  Of course Zelig threw in another $20 bucks to call what was now about a $900 pot.

Zelig flipped over Ace-Queen offsuit, but the Ace was a diamond for the nut flush.  The other guy showed pocket Queens for a boat.  The other big stack said he had the King of diamonds but knew his flush couldn’t be good there.  The short stack who shoved the turn had flopped a straight.

Zelig explained his logic to the guy who was stacking chips that once belonged to Zelig (and had once belonged to me, for that matter).  “I couldn’t put you on Queens cuz I had a Queen.  I thought you had pocket Kings.”

Um, really?  How about Jacks?  Couldn’t the guy have had pocket Jacks?  I was pissed that I hadn’t followed the action from the beginning.  My gut told me that Zelig played it poorly but I wasn’t sure.  Was there any point in him leading out on the turn?  I guess considering the size of the pot, the guy with the Queens would have likely shoved anyway, and Zelig, with his logic, would have called.  But maybe The Queens guy doesn’t bet it all.  I know the pot was like $500 so how could he bet less?  But from the way the guy took his time shoving in the face of Zelig’s $200 bet, I think he was worried about either a straight flush or quad 9’s.  My gut told me that he wouldn’t have shoved if he didn’t have to.  The other logic he might have used there is that he couldn’t get a call with a shove, so maybe bet less and get calls from both the other players with chips.

And then there is the question of Zelig should have called if he had checked instead of bet.  I know it’s pretty hard to fold the nut flush, but with all those high cards out there and the paired board, it’s kind of likely that someone has a boat at least. Plus there were two other players in the hand with chips, plus the short stack.  Against three other players, on that board, and can he really believe his hand is good?

But Zelig said, “I’m never folding there.”  Not sure I agree with that.  Hmm.

Anyway, I never got anything the rest of the night to attempt to make a comeback with.  It was a lost night where my trips twice lost to three-outers.  Again, it happens to all of us, but twice in just a few orbits? 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"So You Got Me On The Turn, You Sneaky Boy?"

Losing a poker hand is not fun, but sometimes you can feel like you lost even when you win.  You know what I mean—when you have the best hand and you can’t get your opponent to call and give you more money.  You were entitled to that money, right?  I talked about one such hand recently (see here) when Victor didn’t call my river shove when I only had quad Queens.  In that case, I probably blew it by not shoving the turn with a set.  This session started with another such hand.

When I got to the table, I recognized one of the players as one of the brand new dealers I’d seen at MGM when I first got to town almost a month earlier.  I’d seen her in the room a few times and she’d dealt to me maybe twice, no more than that. I’d never seen her play before. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to call her Ellen.

It was just my second or third hand since taking me seat, and I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings.  After a limper or two, Ellen raised to $5 and I made it $20.  Ellen was the only caller.  The flop was Ace-high, rainbow, and she checked.  I bet $30 and she called.  Obviously I was concerned she had an Ace and I wasn’t sure what to do on the turn, but the decision was made easier for me when the King of diamonds landed.  That put a second diamond on the board.  She checked again and I bet $40.  Ellen went into the tank for a good long while, then finally called.

The river was a third diamond but otherwise looked harmless.  She checked and I meant to bet $60 but somehow only put out $55.  I really wasn’t too concerned about her hitting a back door flush.  She went into the tank even longer this time.  But finally, she folded.  Hmm….Considering the size of the pot, I was surprised.  If she had a missed draw she would have folded instantly, so what did she have?  Well, she asked me what I had and I just smiled.  She started teasing me about what I had, what she had, trying to get me to tell her.  At this point, we were sitting a few seats away from each other and there was no way I was going to say anything that anyone else could overhear.  I said to her, “I’ll tell you when you get up to deal.”

She moved next to me and kept bugging me about it.  Obviously she made a pretty tough laydown to be so obsessed.  At one point she asked, “Did you have pocket 9’s?”  There was no 9 on the board, so she obviously could beat pocket 9’s.  Then another time, she asked, “Do you ever bluff?”  I chuckled and said, “Yeah, of course I bluff.”

She finally gave up, and then, about an hour or so later, she picked up so she could get ready to start her shift.  But I was in the middle of a hand when she got up, and I didn’t get a chance to tell her what I had.  Why did I want to tell her?  Well, I dunno, I usually do in a hand like that when one of us leaves, especially if it’s someone I know. I figure Ellen and I are possibly about to embark on a long relationship—strictly over poker, you understand—and why not become pals?  Besides, I was very curious about what she had herself. 

I’ll jump ahead another hour or so to when I was done for the night.  I cashed out and tracked her down.  She was dealing and when she was waiting for someone to act, I whispered to her, “I had pocket Kings in that hand.”  She spent a couple of seconds recalling the hand and then the light bulb went off over her head.  “Oh….so you got me on the turn, you sneaky boy?”  I laughed and asked what she had.  “Ace-Queen.”  She had to get back to the game and I took off, still obsessing a bit over the last hand of the night (which I’m about to get to) so I didn’t think too much of it.

But by the next day, I was thinking about it a lot.  She had Ace-Queen?  Top pair, really good kicker?  Seriously?  How does she lay that down, I wondered.  I mean, it’s not like I bet a ton of money.  For the size of the pot it was certainly worth a call. For the rest of the day, all I could think of was, “How does she lay that down?”  I knew I was gonna bitch about it to her next time I saw her.  Unfortunately, she has a sporadic schedule and I didn’t see her again until pretty close to my last night in town.  But I did find her and tell her that I was mad at her.  “Huh?”  I reminded of the hand from over a week before and then asked, “How do you fold top pair there?  It wasn’t even that big a bet.  It was a third-pot bet.”  She had moved on and didn’t recall it very well, so she just shrugged and said, “I just thought I wasn’t good there.”  Hmmph.  To this day, I wonder how she laid that down.

Anyway, after that hand, I won a few small pots but as soon as a new dealer pushed in, I went incredibly card dead.  In fact, about an hour later, Ellen said to me, “I don’t have a chance to win my money back because you never play a hand.”

Well, I played a few and despite my inactivity, I managed to drip, drip, drip down to almost break even.  And since I had gone so long without any getting anything worth really playing, I decided to end the boredom of fold, fold, fold and leave.  Even though it was fairly early, I was ready to call it a night.  I wasn’t protecting my $10-$15 remaining profit; I was just fed up with the cards I was getting.  Not my night, not since the very first dealer I had.

So down to my last orbit, and then finally down to the last hand I intended to play.  I was under-the-gun and not prepared to post one more blind.  And then I looked down at King-Queen of diamonds.  It was literally the first playable hand I’d seen in an over an hour.  I raised to $8 and four players called.  The flop was Ace-7-4, two diamonds, including the Ace.  So I had the draw to the nut flush. I made a c-bet of $25. The guy to my immediate left, with a shorter stack than mine, called.  And then the lady at the table made it $75.

This lady had gotten my attention when she sat down.  She was most likely Hawaiian, and she was skimpily dressed.  She had real really short-shorts and a crop top.  She wasn’t showing any cleavage, but the top barely came down below her boobies.  The result was a large area of bare midriff exposed.  And I must say, she had an incredibly flat stomach.  So it wasn’t exactly at unpleasant sight.  Let’s call her “Bare-midriff girl” or BMG for short. Her play had been a little erratic.  A few times it seemed like she was on the aggro side, but other times she seemed almost nitty.  It was hard to read her.

But since I had the draw to the absolute nuts, I wasn’t reluctant to call.  Now, it did cross my mind to come over the top (she had me covered by a fair amount), but I don’t usually raise with just a draw and the last time I tried that (see here) it didn’t work out so well.  So I just called.

The guy on my left shoved--but only for $67. Obviously it made no sense for him to call and leave $17 behind.  And then, as soon as he shoved, BMG announced, “all-in.”  Really?

Well, of course, she couldn’t raise.  Her bet had only been raised $17 on top of her $50 raise, so his raise didn’t re-open the betting. But I sure took note of the speed with which she announced her intention.  I recognize that her actions could possibly be something she intentionally did to throw me off and that she knew she couldn’t raise.  But I was pretty sure that she genuinely wanted to raise there.  So she called the $17, and of course I did as well.

But I had to think that she was going to shove on the turn, unless she really didn’t like the next card.  I spent a nano-second wondering if I should bet if I caught my flush—a third diamond might have been the one card that would have prevented her from voluntarily going all in there.

But the card was black and another 4, pairing the board.  Not at all what I wanted to see.  I checked and she wasted no time announcing her all in.  Ugh.  I thought long and hard, and then longer and harder.  As I said, she had me covered.  I counted my own chips.  It was around $135 left.  The math didn’t really work, even if my hand was still alive.  I couldn’t put her on just a pair there, not with her aggressive action on the flop.  I figured she likely had two pair or a set on the flop.  Which meant that she might have had a full house on the turn and I was drawing dead. 

It didn’t make sense to do anything but fold, so I did.  And then I watched the dealer put another diamond on the river. However, it was the 4 of diamonds.  Yikes.  There were three diamonds and three 4’s on the board.  I knew of course there was no way the flush I would have caught could be good.  The short stack flipped over 10-9 of diamonds.  BMG flipped over Ace-5!  Seriously?  Wow, not only had she wanted to shove the flop with just top pair, but she had no kicker to boot.  I totally misread her strength there (or lack thereof).   Of course, with the trips on the board, she did indeed have a boat to take down the pot.  I guess I would have been pretty unhappy if the river had been any other diamond, since my hand was very much alive when I folded.  But again, I wasn’t getting the right price to call.

BMG was quite giddy at the turn of events as she scooped in the nice pot.  She kind of did a bit of dance, and it was one of the few times I can remember not enjoying seeing a hot girl wearing very little clothing dance.  I believe I revealed what I folded (since I was leaving anyway) and she said, “I wish you had called—I wanted you to call.”  You know, if I had, and instead of the 4, the 2 of diamonds hit, I don’t think she’d have felt that way.

I did wonder though what would have happened if I had shoved over her re-raise on the flop.  Would she have called?  I should have asked her, not that I would be able to trust her answer.  Based on how aggressive she had played it until then, I can’t assume she would have folded for $134 more. 

That hand gave me no reason to change my mind about calling it a night.  I cashed out with a small loss.  See?  Even when I win with pocket Kings, I lose.