Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Million Thanks!

If you look over to the right side of the page, you will see my last post, I've now passed 1,000,000 page views since I started this blog in September, 2011.   That's one million, folks.  I'm not sure what I expected when I started doing this, but I'm sure it wasn't that.

I joked on Twitter yesterday that to celebrate, I would take every single post I've done until now, combine them into one combined post, and publish that to celebrate.  Yeah, I'm not sure there's a server in the world that could handle that.

Instead, I'm going to put a sample of some of the pics I've included in posts over the years.  So yes, these are all basically "reprints"--except I'm going to throw in a new one or two.

You see I'm still too busy to actually write a post for you, so hopefully this will do for the time being.

I want to thank each and everyone one of my loyal (and even my not-so-loyal) readers for coming here regularly to see what silliness I'm talking about it.  Obviously I couldn't have reached this milestone without you.

I'm gonna keep trying to knock out blog posts for you as long as I can.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anna & The (Dreaded Pocket) Kings

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately.  It's been some time since I've given you a "real" blog post, I know.  Last time it was just a reprint of my latest Ante Up column, and the one before that was a totally off-topic rant about the NBA playoffs.  But you know, I've been in Vegas for well over a week now, and I've been busy, busy, busy.  The good news is that there's plenty to write about, the bad news is that if I take the time to write up the stories, I can’t get more stories to write about.

So let's see how fast I can knock out this story about a fun time at the MGM poker room Saturday night.

I was assigned to a table right along the rail leading out into the casino. I already mentioned it was a Saturday night so you know why that was a pretty good table to be assigned (in case you don't, well the club is open Saturday night, got it?).  It took me all of half a nano-second to notice that there was a very attractive young woman sitting at seat 5 of this table, directly across from the dealer. In addition to a pretty face, it was clear, even while she was sitting in her chair with a table in front of her, that she had a very nice figure, to say the least.

I like having women at the poker table with me, and that has nothing to do with how they play.  I make no great assumptions about female poker players. I know there's a stereotype that they play less aggressively than the typical male poker player, and while that might be somewhat true, I've seen enough exceptions so that I know I can't rely on that.  I like them because female poker players tend to look better, and smell better, than their male counterparts.  Also, female poker players are a great source of "woman saids," and I'm always looking for those, as you all well know.

Originally I was stuck in seat 3, which was bad for a couple of reasons.  I don't see well from there; it's hard for me to see the action on the other side of the table.  The other problem was it was very close to one of the chairs on the table behind me, meaning staying there meant getting bumped into every few minutes, something that annoys the hell out of me.  So as I soon as I noticed the seat next to the young lady, seat 6, was available, I moved there.

But not long after that, I noticed seat 9 was available.  Seat 9 is directly next to the dealer.  It also has the best view of the folks walking through the casino on the way to the club.  So of course you understand why this would be my preferred seat. I grabbed that seat as soon as I could.  When I got up to leave, the woman in seat 5 said to me, "What's wrong, do I smell bad?" I laughed and assured her that was not the case.  Another player wanted to know why I kept moving seats.  I said, "I just want to keep moving so I can play the blinds more often."  He laughed and said, "OK, whatever works for you."

I never really got anywhere with the poker.  But the dynamics at the table were interesting.  The fellow in seat 3 started peppering the woman in seat 5 with questions.  It was clear that the woman had pricked his interest.  Thus I soon learned the lady's name was Anna and she was from Brooklyn, NY. I also learned her age, but as a gentleman, I won’t reveal that. Yes, Anna is her real name, and it will soon be obvious why I am not giving her a blog pseudonym.  I commented that she didn't sound like she was from Brooklyn, no hint of a New York or Brooklyn accent.  She just shrugged.  She then said she now lives in New Jersey, which she prefers to Brooklyn because it isn't so crowded…and it was pretty, there are flowers and trees there.  It was there that I no doubt impressed her with my vast knowledge of the states by saying, "Yes, it's the 'garden state.'"

The guy in seat 3, who was hitting on Anna, said he would never, ever live in New York.  He said he was from Los Angeles, and Anna returned fire by saying she couldn't see herself ever living in L.A.  I didn't take offense at this, nor did I admit to being an Angelino myself.  I felt that seat 3 was being so annoying to her that he deserved this comment whether it was true or not.  He was not representing L.A. well. Then he claimed that he now lived in Tennessee, which is probably an embarrassment to the Volunteer State.

From seat 3's third degree, we learned that Anna is a dog lover (she did indeed show us a pic of her dog) and that her passion was poker.  This surprised me a bit.  I hadn’t been there long, but since I had been there, except when she was responding to questions from seat 3, she seemed a lot more interested in whatever she was reading/watching/listening to on her cell phone than the poker and had not played very many hands at all.  My assumption was she was just a recreational player, not even a very frequent one, just killing time playing 1/2 while waiting to do something more interesting. I had noticed what appeared to be a Twitter screen on her phone in the brief time I was sitting next to her. 

Seat 3 wanted to know what her passion was after poker, and she said handball.  I have to admit, I never heard that one before.

At one point Anna asked how long she could be away from the table.  Told it was an hour, she nodded and said, "Oh, are you gonna take an hour break?  We'd miss you."  She said she wouldn't take a long break, but…..

Although she was talking a lot more with seat 3, I don't recall her ever asking him what his name was.  She did, however, ask me my name, which was nice.

The other big discussion was on politics.  I will leave that entire discussion out of this post because, as you know, I don't like to discuss politics on the blog.  But it appeared there was a lot of agreement between seat 3 and Anna on the world situation.  Fortunately, no one spoke up to disagree with their world view, which was a relief to me, because that could have gotten unpleasant.  But at one point seat 3 said, "I bet we've offended a few people at this table.  Sorry."

Anna handled this character's inquisition with charm and class.  She was, in fact a pleasure to play with the whole evening.  

Seat 3 won a big pot, to add to his big stack, and then racked up and left.  The conversation quieted down after that.  The guy who replaced him looked familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place him.  To me, he looked like an English or Economics professor, don't know why.  But I knew I'd seen him before, I just assumed that I'd seem in a poker room or two around town.  He didn’t say much, at least that I could hear, since we were on opposite sides of the table.  The previous guy in seat 3 could be heard from a few tables over, I'm sure. 

Two guys took seats 7 and 8 next to me, who were together, either friends or brothers.  They looked kind of similar, both had shaved heads, so maybe brothers.  The guy on my immediate right obviously fancied himself a great poker player and was somewhat coaching the other guy, telling him all the time why he did something, and how great a play it was. "Did you see that?  That was expert play there."  I heard him say that a number of times.

I also heard them whispering a bit about "the girl"—I assumed they meant Anna, but couldn't really make anything out more than that.

I'll only mention a couple of poker hands before getting to the payoff for this post.  I called a $7 raise from the big blind with Ace-8 off, and three of us saw the flop, including the "expert" to my right who was the small blind.  The flop came Ace-8-x.  The expert checked, and I checked, expecting the preflop raiser to c-bet so I could check-raise him.  Indeed, he bet $7.  To my surprise, the small blind made it $15.  WTF?  Now I didn't know what to do, had he flopped a set?  I was caught off guard so I just called, as did the preflop raiser.  The turn was an innocuous looking 9, and to my surprise, the small blind checked again, as did I.  Preflop raiser bet $25, and the small blind….folded.  Huh?  Totally lost and confused, I just called.  I checked a blank river and called another $25.  When the guy turned over Ace-9, I was livid.  What the hell was the guy doing check-raising the flop and then folding on a nothing looking turn?  I  felt he ruined the hand for me.  I would have checked-raised a lot more than $15.  But after I had a chance to calm down, I realized the preflop raiser probably was not going to fold top pair on the flop no matter what, so it wasn't as bad as I thought.  And then Mr. Expert said to me, "I screwed that up.  I had pocket Jacks and was trying to get all his chips.  I should have just raised preflop."  Yeah, that would have saved me some money.  Thanks, guy.

I raised to $10 with Jack-10 of hearts, and two players called, including Anna.  The flop came Queen-10-x, two spades.  I bet $15 and Anna shoved.  I said, "Really Anna?"  It was around $70, but she had played so few hands that I assumed she had a monster.  I folded.  After she took in the pot, she said, "I had a pair and a flush draw."  Hmm….

The last hand of the night I noted was when I had the dreaded pocket Kings.  Four people had limped in so I made it $16.  No one called, and a few people questioned why I raised so big.  Apparently they hadn't noticed that there were so many limpers.

Anyway, Anna finally took a long, long break.  She was gone well over a half an hour.  I heard the two guys on my right mentioning "the girl" and her being away so long, and wondering if/when she would return.  And then finally, the guy on my right nudged me and showed me a picture on his cell phone.  "This is the girl in seat 5."

This is the picture he showed me.

Man, oh man, I saw a strong resemblance, but I had no idea.  He told me who she was. "She was on Survivor.  She's a professional poker player, and a professional handball player."  I saw her name, Anna Khait.  I immediately started Googling her.  Since I'd seen her on Twitter I quickly found her Twitter account, read up on her and sure enough everything checked out.  There were other pics that looked exactly like the Anna in seat 5.  She was indeed a pro (or semi-pro) poker player based now in Jersey.  Funny, when she had mentioned living in NJ I commented that she could play on there and she acknowledged that she did. I almost asked her handle then and if I had, maybe I would have found out who she was then.

Sorry I didn’t recognize her.  But I confess, I've never watched one second of Survivor.  And I just don't follow professional poker much.  It's not my beat, I don't cover the professional game for Ante Up, I follow the scene for the recreational players. Often when people mention a name of a pro I should know, I just nod and try to remember the name so I can look them up later.

Anyway, the guy said he had indeed recognized her (I think it was from poker, not Survivor) and he didn't want to "out" her.  But he was obviously bursting with his secret and finally he shared it with the rest of the table while she was gone.  I have no idea if anyone else knew who she was before that.  But I honestly don't think she was trying to keep her identity a secret, for what it's worth.

When she finally returned from her dinner, no one said anything about it.  It was like our little secret.  But I knew what to do.  I figured I would tell her privately that I finally knew who she was.  I'd used Twitter to do this with other people before...tweeted to someone, "I'm the guy in seat 4!"  So I sent her a tweet that said, "don't feel obligated to say anything, but I'm the 'Rob' in seat 9. Nice to meet you!"  She had her phone down for awhile but when she looked at it finally, she looked up at me and gave a nice little smile.  Then she tweeted back, "you're so sweet. Fun playing with u."

When I realized she was a pro, I was really surprised she was playing so tight.  I would have expected a pro playing 1/2 to be playing a much more LAG style.  I guess she was card dead, or maybe that's the way she plays, or perhaps she was working on certain aspects of her game  Or maybe I don’t know what I'm talking about.  There's always that possibility.

I finally gave up the game and said goodbye to the lovely Anna Khait.  She was  total delight the entire night.

And here's a picture of her I found that looks a little more like she looked when I met her Saturday night.

There's a punch line to this story.  The next day I got a private tweet from "KKing David Bass" asking me if I had been playing with Anna at MGM too.  This was in response to a tweet I sent out the next day saying how much fun I had playing with her.  He said he had been in seat 3 at her table.  All I could remember about seat three by then was the Tennessee guy who had been quizzing Anna.  So I looked up to see if he had a Twitter pic.  Holy cow!  It was the guy who I felt had looked like a professor, who I thought looked familiar.  I was right.  Only I had recognized David from his Twitter pic, which I had see many times before, since we follow each other (and read each other's blogs).  You should check out his blog here.  What a nice coincidence.  But David, since you put the title "KKing" in front of your name, and use two "K's" to indicate pocket Kings, I would suggest you change your name from "David" to "Dreaded."  Just sayin'.

Finally, a note about this post's title. I'm sure you've noticed I sometimes use take-offs on books, movies and TV shows for titles, sometimes copying them outright.  I thought I'd do something with "Anna" and recalled that the novel that the Broadway musical and movie "The King and I" came from was called (or so I thought) "Anna and the King."  Wow, that's perfect, what with my thing with pocket Kings and then KKing David working his way into the story.  The trouble is, I checked, and the actual title of the novel is "Anna and the King of Siam," and I can't figure a way to work "Siam" into the title.  So I guess it's more of a miss, but I still like the title.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vegas Poker Scene - July Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.  The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room now.

But wait!  Before we get to that, the new issue also features I profile I submitted of my pal Kristi Smith, better known to you as Alaskagal.  Let's get to that first, and then the column, ok?


Meet Kristi Smith

Kristi Smith has been in poker as a dealer, dual-rate and supervisor in Las Vegas since 2008.
How did you get into poker? I got into poker in 2005. I was living in Alaska and the winters are long and boring. My ex-husband came home from work and said we would be going to play a Texas Hold’em tournament at a co-worker’s house. We went and played and I ended up getting second and I loved the game. I immediately began playing the free poker offered around town as there are no casinos in Alaska. I learned to deal from a group that runs charity tournaments. I would deal those whenever they came up. In 2008, I moved to Las Vegas. I got my first poker-dealing job from Jake Revelle at Imperial Palace. I worked there for a couple of years then moved to Mirage in 2010. Now I’m a dual-rate. Most days I deal and some days I work as a floor supervisor.
Why play at Mirage? Mirage has well-rounded promotions and it rewards MLife members with $2 an hour in food comps. In addition to $1-$2 and $2-$5 NLHE, Mirage has the most consistent $3-$6 limit game on the strip. Mirage offers four tournaments daily and will create a personalized tournament for your group for special events, such as a bachelor or birthday party.
What do you do when you’re not dealing poker? I’m usually playing poker. I enjoy playing $1-$2 NLHE and daily tournaments. I also love to sing karaoke and simply enjoy all that Las Vegas has to offer.

 And now the regular column:  
The MGM Grand hosts the fifth annual Celebrity Poker Tournament with actor-comedian Brad Garrett.The tournament benefits the Maximum Hope Foundation, a non-profit that provides urgent financial assistance to families with a critically ill child.
The organization was founded nearly 16 years ago by Garrett and makes rent payments, covers utility bills, offers gift cards for groceries or gas or assists with other urgent financial needs for those families with a child battling a life-limiting illness.
This year, the tournament will be during the World Series of Poker, just a week or so before the main event, at noon on July 2. The buy-in is $250 with $200 add-ons.The grand prize is $10K, which is conveniently the price of a WSOP main-event seat.Brunch is being donated by Wolfgang Puck.
POST WSOP: One of the many appealing things about poker in Las Vegas is the tournament action is great all year around.Of course, nothing compares to WSOP-time with all the great series around town, but when all those series wrap up, there are still plenty of tournaments.
The biggest buy-in events are not available, but there are a plenty of low-to-moderately priced tournaments all over town.
• The Venetian has two tournaments daily, at noon and 7 p.m., offering guarantees. All regular tournaments have 30-minute levels. The biggest buy-in is the $300 Saturday afternoon bounty tournament that offers a $12K guarantee.Players start with 12K chips and players get a $100 bounty for each player knocked out.
Fridays and Sundays at noon the tournament is a $200 bounty tournament with $50 bounties and a $9K guarantee.Again, players start with a 12K stack.
The rest of the week, the noon tournament is $150, no bounties, same starting stack and the $9K guarantee.
Rebuy tournaments are Wednesday and Friday evenings.Wednesday, the buy-in is $125 for a 10K stack and players can take advantage of unlimited rebuys for the first four levels.The rebuys are $100 for another 10K stack and players can rebuy whenever their stack is at or below 10K.The Friday offering is $200 for a 12K stack.Here, it’s a single $200 rebuy for another 12K whenever the stack is at 12K or less through the first four levels.
Monday and Sunday evenings offer a $125 buy-in with a 10K starting stack and a $4,500 guarantee.The rest of the evenings feature bounty events.
Tuesday and Saturday have $50 bounties for the $200 buy-ins, 12K starting stack.Thursday night is $125, $25 bounties and a $7K guarantee.
• The Wynn, with its new 8,600-square-feet 28-table poker room that opened in late May, offers a $25K guarantee Saturdays at noon, the biggest guarantee for a regular tournament in town. The buy-in is $225 for 10K chips.There are unlimited $200 rebuys for 10K chips any time a player’s stack is at or below 5K through the first four levels. There’s also an optional 5K add-on for $100.The levels last 40 minutes.
Fridays and Sundays are $200 events with $10K guarantees, 30-minute levels and a 10K starting stack.The rest of the week the offering is a $140 buy-in, 10K chips and 30-minute levels.
On the first Wednesday of the month, the regular tournament is replaced by a $300 senior event that features a $12,500 guarantee.The starting stack is 12,500 and there’s an optional $100 add-on for 5K chips at the end of the registration period, the fourth level. The levels are 30 minutes.
Thursdays at 5 p.m. is a $120 PLO tournament.Players start with 10K chips and have unlimited $100 rebuys available through the first four levels for 10K chips. There’s also a $50 add-on for 5K chips.
• The Aria runs two popular tournaments a day.Weeknights at 7 and Sunday through Thursday at 1 p.m. the $125 tournaments offer 30-minute levels and a 10K stack.Fridays and Saturdays, the daytime tournament starts at 11 a.m. and is $240 for a 20K stack.It’s worth noting the $240 tournament has proved to be popular since being introduced at the beginning of the year. It’s possible the room will decide to offer it on additional days in the near future.
• The Orleans is just a couple of miles off the Strip and is popular with locals and tourists.It offers a nice variety of tournaments twice a day at noon and 7 p.m.
The centerpiece is the Friday night $125 tournament, still the most popular regular event in town.It routinely draws 200-plus players, who start with 12,500 chips and play 30-minute levels.
The Orleans is a great spot for those who like disciplines other than hold’em.A $100 HORSE tournament runs Saturday nights offering a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. Tuesday nights feature $100 PLO, also a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. Thursday nights, it’s $75 Omaha/8 with the same starting stack and level times.
The $75 Omaha/8 tournament also runs in the afternoon on Mondays and Saturdays. Wednesday afternoons is an O/8-stud/8 tournament for $75. On Monday evenings and Friday afternoons, a $100 Super Stack Turbo tournament starts players with a 20K stack and 15-minute levels.
The schedule is filled out with $100 and $75 NLHE tournaments.
• The downtown rooms offer low buy-in tournaments during the week, while taking turns offering bigger events on the weekend.Golden Nugget has a $125 tournament Sundays at 11 a.m. with a $5K guarantee.The levels are 20 minutes and players start with 15K chips.
Binion’s Saturday deepstack at 1 p.m. has a $10K guarantee and starts players with 20K chips. Levels are 30 minutes.
As you can see, there are always great mid-priced tournament options in Vegas.
SOUTH POINT: The poker room is hosting a $10K Player Appreciation tournament Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. The top 40 hour-earners from July 1-31 qualify. First place pays $4K, second pays $3K, third is $2K and fourth is $1K. Every qualifier gets $50. See the ad on Page 9 in our July issue for more details.
CLOSURE: The Eastside Cannery, a small locals casino, closed its four-table poker room in April.