Wednesday, March 20, 2019 Pocket Kings?

This was a recent session in Ventura.  It was a new table and even before the game got going, there was this one guy, fairly young, who started to annoy the piss out me.  He was jabbering non-stop.  At first he was talking about wanting to have fun.  And also raise.  "I'm gonna raise."  This was before we'd even dealt for the button.  And he said he wanted a beer.  I think he might have already had a few already.  This was early on a Saturday afternoon by the way.  Then he said he'd buy anyone else at the table a beer if they wanted one. He repeated the offer several times before the waitress showed up.  Remember, in L.A., the alcohol is not free.  No one took him up on his offer.  When the waitress finally came by, I held off ordering my diet coke.  I didn't want the guy to either, 1) try to convince me to order a beer at his expense, or 2) try to pay for my diet coke (also not fee at this venue) and thus make me somehow obligated to him for anything.  He kept yapping away about wanting to have fun and wanting a beer and wanting to raise.  Sometimes he said he was gonna check-raise.  It didn't matter whether there were cards in front of anyone or not.  He just could not shut up.

Once the cards were in the air, he kept up the chatter and also played, predictably, like a total maniac.  Well, he never open shoved, but he raised more often or not, and usually a lot more than you typically see at this game at this venue.  When you finally saw his cards, you could see that he wasn't very particular about what hands he opened with.  The phrase "any two cards" came to mind.  I knew this was a ripe opportunity to make some money but the cards I was getting weren't cooperating.  And he gave no indication that any bet would get him to fold, so bluffing him was not really an option.

In fact, he soon developed a rather bizarre relationship with the only female player at the table, an older Asian woman.  I had played with her a number of times before.  The noisy kid was new to me.  A few times when she clearly had him beat and bet, he even said, "Well, I know you have me beat, but I'm just having fun and I like you, so I call."  He gave her a lot of money but at least once he hit like a two or four outer on the river to get some of his money back.

Then it got weirder.  He started saying things like, "I'm just here having fun.  It's not like we're gonna make out in the parking lot."  This was when he was betting or facing a bet from her.  Then he started saying, "Maybe we should make out in the parking lot.  You wanna meet in the parking lot and make out?"  At first she demurred,  saying she was married.  Then she pointed out that he was way too young for her.  Then she said he was younger than her son.

It seemed inappropriate, but she didn't seem at all bothered by his bullshit. Perhaps it was because he was dumping a lot of money to her. In fact, at one point, from across the table, he said to her, "Can't we at least hug?" and she reached out her arms as if to hug him (I guess you'd call it an "air hug" since they were separated by the length of the table).

The game was just crazy from the beginning because of the chatty maniac and everyone could see he was playing anything.  I recall one hand that will illustrate.  The lady made a reasonable raise, the maniac shoved for $79.  The guy next to him called for his last $77.  Another guy shoved as well, he had like $40-$50 left.  The lady, who had at least $300-$400 by now called. There was an Ace on the flop and then a King on the river, which made the lady very happy as she happened to have pocket Kings.  The $77 guy had Ace-10 and thus was screwed over the by the river card. But I don't think he puts $77 in the pot preflop against the average player.  Anyway, the short stack mucked without showing and the maniac showed Jack-10!

He actually confessed to inappropriate behavior. The first dealer was a middle-aged Asian woman.  After he won a nice size pot (probably one of the ones where he sucked out on the river), he said to her, "Do you wanna make out?  I mean, you're kind of cute."  Whoa.  That was out of line, especially the "kind of cute" part, no?  I mean that borders on the insulting, right?  Just kind of cute?  I think this was the dealer he admitted to being inappropriate with.  I'm not sure if he apologized to her per se or not, but at one point he did ask her if she wanted to call the floor on him.  She scoffed, "Why should I call the floor?"  Frankly, I think it would have perfectly within her right to call the floor given the comments he was making. Either she wasn't bothered by his patter or she was enjoying his fairly generous tips whenever he did manage to win a pot.

When she said she wouldn't call the floor, he said he would.  "I want to call the floor.  I want him to come over.  He's a friend of mine."  He did raise his voice a bit and say, "Floor, floor!" but no one heard and no one came over.  Or maybe they just ignored him cuz they knew his schtick.

I recognized this dealer from many sessions, but she was replaced by a new female dealer I don't think I'd ever seen before.  She was much younger, also Asian.  Now I have to be a bit careful here but….well, she was what you would likely call a "Plain Jane" type.  Plain Jane, Asian version.  I guess you might say "mousy."  This is not bad at all.  At least one of my pals has an absolute thing for mousy looking women. 

Well this chatty maniac must have an eye for Asian women, and maybe mousy is his thing, cuz he almost immediately started telling this young woman how beautiful she was.  I dunno if he was crazy, drunk, sincere or just perhaps being somewhat cruel, but he kept saying things like, "You're so beautiful.  You're just so beautiful."  Then he would add things like, "Why are you so beautiful?  Stop being so beautiful.  Why are you so beautiful?  You're killing me you're so beautiful."  It was kind of ridiculous, I mean even if this girl was a slam dunk winner for the Miss Universe contest it was way over the top.  She didn't say anything.  She didn't seem to react at all, but to me, she appeared quite uncomfortable with all the attention he was giving her.  I was thinking she must have been really embarrassed.  To the extent this woman doesn't think she is beautiful, I think she might have thought the guy was teasing her cruelly.  But you know, the guy could have been sincere for all I know.

And I started thinking this was getting out of hand.  I wanted to say something but I wasn't sure I should get involved. Should I go over to the floor and tell him?  It was tough. Especially since I suspected she was a new dealer.  The previous dealer had experience with rude players, this one maybe not.  And you hear all the time complaints from female players about guys treating them rudely (and in a lascivious way) at the poker table, and how that keeps women from playing live poker.  Shouldn't male players help police that?  But this was a bit different because it was a dealer, not another player.  I suppose this might have been the first male player who gave this woman such treatment, but sadly, it won't be the last.  I really was torn.

On the other hand, if the guy was being sincere—and/or especially if the woman actually thought he was being sincere—would my saying anything about it be the real insult to her, implying that I didn't think she was beautiful?

I suppose I took the coward's way out and didn't say anything.  And to be honest, I really didn't want the guy sent away from the table. I wanted to get some of the money he was spewing.  A bad reason to keep quiet though.  I dunno, I still wonder if I did the right thing but keeping my mouth shut.  Of course, no one else said anything either. 

Anyway, before the dealer finished her down, the guy busted for like the fourth or fifth time (one time he had gone to the ATM for more money) and finally left.  Boy did the game change.  Not only did it become a tableful of nits, but it became so, so quiet.  I think there was a half hour or more when no one said anything.  We were also shorthanded for awhile.  It really was a totally different game than the one that we started.

As for the poker, I only played one or two hands while the maniac was there, just card dead.  I did get pocket Aces.  The Asian woman opened to $5, I made it $17, the maniac called and the lady called.  The flop was Ace-Jack-6, rainbow. I checked but it checked around.  Maniac picked a fine time to reign in his game a little.  I led out for just $20 on a blank turn, but no call.  The lady showed pocket 10's and the maniac claimed he had a pocket pair also, but didn't show it.

Then I limped in with Ace-8 of spades.  I called a small raise and it was three-way.  The flop was Ace-Jack-x, one spade. The preflop raiser, who was new to the table and on my direct left, bet $15, the other guy called and I called.  The turn was the second spade.  This time the third player bet, but only $5.  I called and the preflop raiser made it $25.  The first guy folded and I called with top pair and the nut flush draw.  The river was a second Jack, no spade.  I checked, the other guy shoved, about $50. But I had less than $30 left.  I couldn't see folding based on the size of the pot.  I called and he showed King-Jack.  Damn.  I was ahead of him all the way until the river.  I was out of chips and bought in for another $100 (remember, that's the max).

I kept bleeding chips from the new stack and the maniac left. A guy raised to $10, the lady (still sitting behind $400+) called, so I thought it was worth a call from the button with 9-8 clubs.  The flop was King-9-x, two clubs.  The preflop raiser shoved his last $23.  The lady folded, so I called.  A red King on the turn but a club hit the river giving me the flush.  The other guy had pocket Queens.

Then I got my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  There was a $4 straddle and a whole bunch of players called the straddle.  I made it $24 and thought I'd likely just take it down there.  But two players called.  The flop was 6-5-3 rainbow.  It checked to me and I bet $40.  One player folded but the other guy called.  It turned out he had exactly $40 left.  Board bricked out and he mucked when I saw my Kings.  He said he had put too much money into the pot to fold his open-ender on the flop.  Open-ender?  So he called my $24 preflop bet with 8-7 (at best)?  Nice to know.

That got me a lot of chips, and I was now close to even for the day. 

Then I called a $4 raise with pocket 8's.  There were a few other callers. The flop was 8-7-2, rainbow. The guy on my right bet $4.  I decided to slow play it a bit and see how many others would call, or better yet, raise.  But  everyone else folded.  The turn was another 7 and this time the guy bet $8.  I made it $20 and he called immediately.  The turn was a King and he checked.  I bet $35 and he snap called.  I showed my boat and he flipped over one card, a 7.

So that was a good pot.  I didn't get anything else to play and I was able to leave with a $30 profit.  Considering I was down earlier I was pretty happy with that.  And I owed the turnaround to pocket Kings, of all things.  Go figure.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

They Paid the Bubble (Sort of)

Well, now that my 12-part car story from my December trip to Vegas has finally been completed, I can start filling you in on the rest of that trip.  Yes, I did other things than get my car fixed. And fixed. And fixed. 

Like this day, my first full day in Vegas, a Saturday.  I headed over to Aria to play in their $240 tournament (30-minute levels, 20K starting stack, and of course, the big blind ante). As this was a bit more than a week before Christmas, there wasn't a big crowd.  They ended up with 48 players.  They were paying 5, with $3,800 for first, $2,470 for second, down to $749 for fifth.  Notice that the min-cash was quite a bit more than double the buy-in, so I heartily approve. Total prize pool was $9,300.

The tournament starts a 11am, which is too early for me.  Fortunately I think the structure (and the starting stack) is good enough so I feel it's ok to register late so I can eat a decent lunch in my room first.  I got there a little before noon and they had three tables going, all full.  Eventually they got enough alternates so they could start a fourth table, which I was assigned to.  I started playing near the beginning of level 3.

I started level 4 (300/200/300) with $17,700.  In early position I limped with 8-7 of clubs and then called a raise to $800, we were heads up.  I flopped a gut shot to the straight flush, missing only the 9 of clubs.  It checked around.  The Queen of clubs on the turn gave me the flush. I bet $1,500 and he called.  The river was the 9 of hearts.  Now I had a straight and a flush, but not a straight flush.  I bet $2K and he tanked before finally calling, reluctantly.  He showed pocket 9's.  Bad river card for him. It was my first pot of the tourney.

Then came a big hand.  There was a raise to $800 and two callers.  I had Ace-King in late position and called, then two more players behind me called.  The flop was Ace-6-3, two diamonds and I had the Ace of diamonds.  Someone—not the preflop raiser—bet $1,500 I think (might have been more) and I call.  We were now heads up.  The turn was another 6 and he bet $2,500 and I called.  The river was another 3. This time he shoved.  It was around 11K and I had him covered but it would have totally crippled me to call and lose there.  I tanked.

What was I losing to?  I thought it through.  He didn't have pocket Ace's, he had just called a raise preflop, hadn't raised himself.  I thought a 6 or a 3 was unlikely.  The third diamond had never hit the board.  He mostly likely had an Ace with a smaller kicker than mine.  So I called.

My voice notes are a little unclear as to what happened next.  It sounds like I'm reporting that he said, "Good call" and just verbally said, "King-high."  But that wouldn't be right.  He was all-in and we both should have flipped over our hands as soon as I said "Call."  That might have happened, but I couldn't remember the next day.  Regardless, I took down a very nice pot, and had more than a double up.

This guy will be heard from again.  I saw him at one of the other tables not long after.  He obviously re-entered.

In the big blind with 5-3 of hearts, no one raised and the flop was Jack-4-2, rainbow.  Not sure how many players saw the flop.  It checked around.  The turn was a 7 and I called 1K, it was heads up.  The river was a 6 completing my straight.  I bet 2K and didn't get a call.

I didn't record a hand for all of level 5.  I started level 6 (600/300/600) with $33,400.  I opened with Ace-Jack, got two callers and took it down with a c-bet.

Remember that guy who doubled me up earlier?  As I said, he had re-entered and was playing at another table.  But by this hand, he was back at my table.  Honestly, I think he might have busted from the other table before he found his way back to this table, but I'm not sure.  I called $1,500 with King-Jack of  diamonds.  It was three-way, including this guy (I don't think he was the preflop raiser).  The flop was all blanks, but with one diamond. It checked around. There was a second diamond on the turn and I called 2K, it was still three-way.  A third diamond on the river gave me the second nuts and the guy who doubled me up earlier shoved over 10K.  The other guy folded and of course I called.  He had absolutely nothing, it was like 6-5 and I guess he missed his straight.  So that guy doubled me up again a second time with a bluff.  He was sort of my guardian angel.  Too bad late entry was almost over, I couldn't count on him doubling me up again.

Level 7 (800/400/800), $50,400. I called $2,300 with pocket Queens from one of the blinds.  There were a bunch of callers and thus I didn't want to make a huge three-bet.  I think five of us saw the flop.  And what a flop it was.  There were two Queens on it and I don't remember what the other card was.  The preflop raiser had just moved to our table and led out for $4,500. I just called.  On a blank turn, I checked and he only bet another $4,500.  I guess that's probably when I should have check-raised, but I didn't want him to fold so I just called.

I recall the river card was a King (there was no Ace out there).  I figured I had to try to get some chips from him and since he hadn't increased his bet on the turn, he might be all too willing to check behind if I checked.  Truth is, I'm not really sure how to play monsters, you get them so infrequently.  And I hated that I was first to act.  I opted for a bet, but I put out 12K.  For the size of the pot, that wasn't too large, but considering the last street the bet was $4,500 I guess it really was too much.  Perhaps I should have bet the same $4,500 he put out last time?  He had the 12K covered but not by that much.  Here's the thing…..he tanked for a long time.  Looking at the board, I couldn't figure out what he could have had.  There was neither a flush or a likely straight. Maybe he had a big pocket pair?  Perhaps Aces?  Not Kings.  If he had Kings, the river had given him a boat and he's not tanking, he's shoving.  Whatever, he finally folded, and I felt I'd blown an opportunity to get more chips.

I hadn't finished stacking my chips when the next hand was dealt, and it was (the dreaded) pocket Kings.  Someone had raised to $2,300 so I three-bet to 6K.  The raiser called and we were heads up.  The flop was 8-7-7, I bet $3,500 and took it down.

We were down to 19 players, the table broke and I moved.  Soon thereafter, we reached level 8 (1K/500/1K) and I had $68,700.  I only noted one hand from that level, it was a raise with Ace-Jack and it was heads up.  Ace flop so I bet and took it.

Level 9 (1,200/600/1,200) $65,500. And then we were down to 14 players and I was moved to balance.  I took down some limpers' money with a raise from the button with King-Queen suited.  And I three-bet from the small blind with Ace-King and took that down.

By level 10 (1,500/1,000/1,500) we were down to 12 players and I had $67,500.   I botched playing pocket Jacks.  From the small blind I just called 3K from a fairly tight player with a big stack. On a Queen high flop I called another 3K.  Then I folded to a big turn bet.

But we were down to 10 players, so I made the final table.

I opened to 4K with King-Queen and got a call.  The flop was King-high and I bet    6k and he called.  I bet 10K on a blank turn and took it.

I was just treading water.  Level 11 (2k/1k/2k) $64,500.  We were down to 9 players.  But I couldn't find a hand to play that whole level.

So we reached level 12 (3,000/1,500/3,000) but we were now down to 6 players, one from the money.  I had $37,500 was desperate.  And so began the inevitable discussion of whether or not to pay the bubble.  Since I was the short stack, that seemed like a good idea to me.  Now for the past level or two, the guy on my left, a really good, friendly guy, had been battling me for the short stack position.  And he was joking about how they should all just agree to give him the first place money.  This guy was actually a blackjack dealer at Wynn.  He was having a good time and we all were laughing at his boasts that he was gonna win even when he had the shortest stack.  But he managed to chip up enough to pass me while I was card dead at the end.

Anyway, more seriously he suggested paying the bubble.  Nobody objected, but they couldn't agree on how to do it or how much to pay.  It was generally agreed that everyone would just kick in some cash and give the cash to the bubble boy.  But how much?  The chip leader suggested $30 each.  Well the trouble with that is, that only comes to $180 and the buy-in was $240.  So it wasn't even break even.  Plus, since $30 of that $180 was the bubble's own money, it was really a $90 loss, not a $60 loss.  OK, the chip leader said he'd make it $40 but no more.  That would give the bubble $240, the buy-in….but it still wouldn't be all his money back.  Again, $40 of the $240 would be the bubble's own money so he'd still be losing $40 on the deal.  I tried to point that out, but didn't want to be too aggressive about it since by this point it was very likely I was arguing on my own behalf, I was the most likely to be the bubble. I was hoping we could make it $50 each, that way the bubble would get his money back and have 10 bucks left over for a slice a pizza or something.  But no, that was too much.

So we settled for $40 each.  So I was going to get paid something, but all I was assured of was a $40 loss at worst. 

Back to poker.  I got pocket 10's and shoved.  No one called.  I was kind of hoping to run into someone with Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  I wouldn't have minded a race right there. But I just got the blinds.

Then, UTG+1, I got Ace-King and of course I put it all in. This time I did get called—by a guy with pocket Queens.  The board was all low cards and after the turn I had a gut-shot to a wheel.  Instead a paint card came out.  It wasn't a King.  Nope, it was a Queen. And I was done.

They gave me the envelope with the cash in it.  So, $240, a net loss of $40.  I dunno, I just feel when you pay the bubble you should pay him enough so he hasn't actually lost any money.  But it was better than losing everything

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I'm Not a Bad Enough Player to Beat This Game

Car saga is finally over!  You mean I have to get back to talking about poker again?  Let's see if I can still do this.

This is a recent session out in Ventura.  Remember the game is 1/2 with a $50-$100 buy-in.  I always buy-in for the max of course. 

This game was an action table, a lot more so than the 1/2 usually is here.  And there were plenty of big stacks.  I saw a few of those big stacks get made, but a lot of them were there when I arrived.

I had dropped close to $60 without winning a pot.  I topped off my stack to get right back around $100.  I guess I had close to that when this hand happened.  I called $5 with pocket 5's.  As I've mentioned before, a raise to $4 or $5 is pretty common in this game.  Then a guy made it $15.  He was a fairly active player and rather aggro.  Then the guy who initially made it $5, an older gentleman with a big stack, made it $45. Well, of course I'm not gonna call off half my stack with just a lousy pair of fives preflop.  So I folded.  The guy who made it $15 called.

The flop was Jack-5-3.  Damn.  That sure was annoying.  I don't remember the exact action but they got it all-in on that flop.  The aggro had a stack similar to mine, maybe a little bigger, and the older guy had him easily covered.  The aggro flipped over his hand.  It was pocket Jacks. 

Suddenly I felt a whole better.  I had just dodged a bullet, right?  Set-over-set is pretty awful when you're on the wrong side of it, as I would have been.  I was silently thanking the guy who made it $45 for saving my stack.

But then the dealer put out the turn card.  It was the case 5.  I had basically thrown away quads.  I throw up in my mouth a little.  The river was meaningless and the older guy did show his hand, Ace-King suited.  He had a flush draw on the flop.  I don't recall if he hit his flush because he was drawing dead to a boat on the turn.  Of course, all I could think about was, he should have been drawing dead to my quad 5's.

Ugh.  That would have been the first time I'd made a hand too.  For a second I thought that we had missed out on the bad beat jackpot.  But no, I reminded myself that Jack's full losing to quad 5's wouldn't have qualified.  The minimum losing hand is Ace's full of Jacks.  So at least there was that.

My stack was dwindling and then I got pocket 3's. A new guy to the table made it $23.  He had less than $80 to start.  So it certainly was not worth calling.  Somebody else did.  Of course there was a 3 on the flop.  Jeez.  I don't remember the details but I would have won that pot and it would have been more nearly a triple up for me (based on the fact that it was all-in again and neither player could have beaten a set).

I actually managed to win a couple of hands, both when I had Ace-10 and a 10 hit the board.  So I built my stack up to over $120.

Then I got pocket 6's.  I was in middle position and no one had bet.  I knew if I just limped, it was possible nobody else would come in and we'd end up chopping the blinds.  Yeah, it's weird if you're used to Vegas rules, but if only one player has entered a pot, and it was only a limp, that player and the blinds can agree to chop and everyone takes their money back.  I guess that's because in this game, if it is just three-way to flop, and both blinds are in, the entire pot goes to rake and the jackpot drop.  So why bother?

Therefore, I made it $4.  Sometimes that actually gets you the blinds, but if someone calls at least they'll be a few bucks in the pot to play for. A player called.  Remember the guy with the set of Jacks before?  Well as I said, he was aggro and he had managed to piss away most of the chips he'd won.  This time, he raised to $49.  It was an odd bet to say the least.  He had a few more chips behind him, looked like $8 or $9.  A different older guy, who had been hit with the deck like you wouldn't believe, called the $49. He had tons of chips. It folded back to me.  Sure I remembered the pocket 5's that turned into quads and the pocket 3's that flopped a set.  But, there was just no way it made any sense at all to call a $49 bet with pocket 6's.  So I folded.

The caller hadn't realized that the first guy hadn't shoved.  But then he saw those 8 or 9 chips and said something, "Why did you leave those behind?"  And the dealer said, "That's to bluff with."  I thought that was really funny.  Although you could argue that the dealer shouldn't be making comments (suggestions?) like that.  I think because it was such a small amount, it was ok.

Do I have to tell you that there was a 6 on the flop?  The aggro put his remaining 8 or 9 chips in the pot and the other player called (the dealer actually almost jumped the gun on the turn card, because he just assumed the guy wasn't folding—no matter what he had—for such a relatively small bet).

Here's the really sick part.  The guy with the $49 bet turned over Queen-4!  The guy who called had Ace-rag.  I guess his excuse was that this might have been the first flop in 20-minutes that hadn't hit him.  His call was perhaps a heat-check.  And his Ace-high would have won except the first idiot caught a 4 on the river.

So in other words, that set I would have hit if I'd have kept my cards wouldn't even have been necessary!  An unimproved pair of 6's would have been good enough to take down that three-way pot.

Regardless, that was the third set of the session I had missed out on.  What a day.

But I I know I played those hands right, didn't I?  I recall when I first starting reading about no-limit poker, they used to say that for small pocket pairs, you needed to have the potential to win 10-12 times the size of the bet you were calling preflop for calling to be the correct move.  But more recently, I've seen the books saying that it should be closer to 20-25x the bet.  That's because, I think, that players have gotten better and they are much less likely to stack off with top pair than they were in the good old days.

Regardless, I didn't have the potential to win 10x what I would have called in any of those hands, let alone 20-25x.

Now I'm far from a great poker player, but I'm just not bad enough to have called those raises.  So you see, I would have had to have been a much worse player than I am to have made money on this particular day.

I ended up with a $30 loss for the day.  But it's hard not to think about all that money that I would have made if only I had been bad enough to make those horrible calls.