Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The River of Dreams

This post needs to put in context. It was Memorial Day, which meant it took place in the middle of The Vegas Trip From Hell.  And I had spent the entire day dealing with internet connectivity problems that had plagued me from the moment I’d hit town.  I ended up wasting all of the day neither working nor playing poker but moving…across the hall, in an attempt to solve the problem (it didn’t).

The next day I had to be at the Rio at Noon to play in my first ever (and likely last ever) WSOP bracelet event, a nightmare you can find here.

Since I had a big day tomorrow, I knew I wanted to make it an early night.  In fact, if I had had a normal day, I might not have played in the evening.  But the day was so frustrating that I knew I had to get out of the room I’d just moved into and play at least a little poker or I would have gone completely insane. 

In May, the drawings for the cash giveaways were at 2,6, & 10, so I figured I would play until 10 PM and then pretty much call it a night.  Just a few hours in the poker room to get my mind off the horrors I was having trying to get on the internet.

When I got to the poker room, they were just starting a new table which I joined.  There was a player I recognized who plays the starring role in this drama.  Let’s identify him as DDB since I’ve never given him a name before.  Why DDB?  Well, he happens to be the boyfriend of the girl I call “Didi”—she of the 36DD purple bra fame (see here).  He was a regular in the room long before she was.  Unlike Didi, he is a solid player.  And it was a few days earlier that Didi had explained to me that every time she now comes back to town to visit him, she wears him out (see here).  And I don’t think it’s from building shelves (unless that’s what the kids are calling it these days).

Once the game started however, I could tell my mind wasn’t really into the poker.  I had to force myself to concentrate with marginal success.

Early on I had pocket Aces and Ace-King.  I raised with both and took both hands down with flop bets that weren’t called.

Then I had pocket 10’s in the small blind.  It had limped around, and I just completed the blind.  The flop was low, my 10’s were an overpair so I bet around $8 (I think six of us saw the flop).  Two players called.  The turn was an Ace, and I checked.  The player behind me, a woman, bet out $20 and the other player called but I folded.  The river was a blank and she bet out again, not sure how much, and the other guy called.  She turned over pocket Aces for a set.

Huh?  She hadn’t raised preflop with them.  Now this was hardly the kind of table where you could count on someone raising so you could go for the limp/re-raise.  I don’t think that was her plan.  I think she was just a total nit.  I’m kind of surprised she bet on the turn with the set.

Anyway, the very next hand, I had pocket 4’s on the button. Every single player before me limped in.  If I had been concentrating better, I would have realized that this would have been the perfect time to raise with my pocket 4”s and tried to steal all the limpers’ money.  Fortunately, as it turned out, I didn’t think of that.

Neither of the blinds raised and all nine of us saw the flop.  Hence, it was what’s known as a “family pot.”  Does anyone know how that expression came to be?

The flop was good news/bad news.  The good news was that it was Queen-8-4.  The bad news was that it was all spades.  Someone bet $5 and two others (including DDB) called.  What to do, what to do?

Do you just call and hope to get to a showdown cheap with your set that could already be behind a flopped flush?  Or do you bet big, not only to get some value for your set but to charge anyone who has a single spade too much to go for the draw?

I decided to raise. And raise big.  Someone please tell me the right amount to bet because I know I was way off.  I made it $75.  Why so much? I wanted to give bad odds to someone who had a single spade. I had had about $185 when the hand started.

The first two guys in for five bucks folded pronto but DDB took a moment or two and then announced he was all-in.  He had me covered. Back to me.  I had already seen DDB make an unsuccessful bluff a little earlier.  I didn’t put him on a naked bluff, but to me, that move smacked of someone with a single spade, likely the Ace of spades—a semi-bluff.  I didn’t put him on a set because he would have raised with either pocket Queens or pocket 8’s.  I didn’t think he had the flush either, because if he had the nut flush he likely only would have called and if he a weak flush he would have raised the $5 before it got to me.  That was my reasoning, at least.

I thought for a bit.  This is the time you can consider folding a set, right?  When the board is all one suit.  But no, I didn’t fold.  I called.  Having put nearly half my stack in already, I was basically committed to putting the rest in when I made that big raise.

DDB asked me if I had a flush.  I said no and he said, “I’m not folding a flush.”  Really?  He did have a flush?  Damn.  But neither of us showed.

The turn was some meaningless red card.  The river was not so meaningless.  It was another Queen, giving me a boat.  DDB showed 9-2 of spades.  He had indeed flopped the flush.

Suddenly, I had $400 in front of me, a really nice double up.  “Nice river,” I said to the dealer as I gave her a generous tip. Was it really “the river of dreams”?  Well, I suppose there’ve been hands where the river card made me more money, for sure.  But it sure looked sexy at the moment.  

And speaking of sexy, yeah, I know that Christie Brinkley hasn’t been married to Billy Joel for a long time, but she used to be.  And I’d rather see her in a bikini than her ex in one.  But for those of you who think I’m short changing Billy, I’m embedding the video of his classic, “The River of Dreams” at the bottom of this post.  I understand it’s my fellow blogger Pete Peters favorite song.  Or something like that. :)

I have to say, DDB is a good player but I don’t like his play there.  With a weak flush (and honestly, why was he even limping with 9-2?), doesn’t he have to raise the $5?  OK, say he was worried about someone already having a bigger flush?  In that case, with a weak flush like that, shouldn’t he be able to get away from it when I make my overbet?  He’s only in for $7.  True he has a flush, but with a tight player like me having made a big overbet—he had to know he could be drawing dead.

Well, the question he asked the dealer may explain it.  He asked if he wasn’t entitled to a drawing ticket.  Actually, she had forgotten to give either one of us drawing tickets.  I got one for my boat, and he got one for his flush.

Now, here’s how those ticket works. You don’t have to have to have the winning hand to get one, but your hand must be live at showdown to get it.  Which meant that if he had folded to my $75 bet, he wouldn’t have gotten a ticket.  If it had gone to the river, he would have to call a river bet in order to get the ticket.  You can’t get one if you fold to a bet.

So that may have been why he did what he did and why he said, “I’m not folding a flush.”  He wanted a ticket.  This was the end of the month, and I believe they still had a number of big cash prizes left ($2,500, $3,000, something like that). I think the percentages were actually pretty good for scoring more than the minimal $100 prize.  So maybe that’s why he never considered folding his mediocre flush.

That might also explain why he limped in with 9-2.  Because it was sooooted and he was going for the flush to get a ticket.

In that case, he got a ticket to the drawing that cost him nearly $200.  And by the way, neither one of us won the drawing that night.

Later I hit another set, this time with pocket 6’s.  It was a limped pot and I raised someone else’s bet on the flop.  No one called.

Then came the hand that proved why I shouldn’t have been playing this night. My $200 profit had been cut down to around $155. It was near drawing time, and nothing had happened to convince me that I should stay much past it.  I still wanted to make it an early night because of the WSOP event the next day.  I guess I had already mentally checked out and was playing the last few hands before the drawing was going to be held (I just had the one ticket).

As such, I was thinking I really wanted to leave the game up over $100; it would be a real positive for me going into the tournament the next afternoon.  Especially since my mind was not really into it and, let’s face it, I had gotten real lucky on that double up.

So I found myself with pocket Queens in early position.  I raised to $10.  Honestly, I really did consider limping there, if not folding.  But no, I made the obligatory raise.

Three people called the ten bucks.  The flop was Jack-high, rainbow. I put out $30.  The first guy folded, but the last guys—the blinds—both called after checking the flop.  Grrrr.

The turn was a second club but otherwise innocuous.  When they checked—I checked behind them. Sigh.  Yeah, I just felt like I didn’t want to risk a lot more money on just an overpair. I figured I would have had to have bet $100 there and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  If I wasn’t about to leave, if I wasn’t thinking about the tournament the next day, I would have bet.  As I said, my mind wasn’t in the right place to keep playing, so I went into super-nit mode.

The river was a third club, if that mattered.  I also noticed there was a ugly looking straight possible, though unlikely.  This time the first guy led out for $75.  The next guy folded and I tanked. 

Instead of doing the math, instead of using everything I’ve learned since I first started playing NL, I went back to the first thing I learned when I started playing NL…..don’t lose too much on just a top pair or overpair hand.  And I was thinking how much it would mess with me mentally to leave up just a few bucks after a quick session where I was once up two bills. 

So, as embarrassed as I am to admit it (and the whole way I played this hand, honestly), I folded.  I would have felt ok if the guy who took it flipped over two clubs for a back door flush (he would have showed to get a drawing ticket.)  But no, he didn’t do that.  He didn’t show, but he whispered to the fellow next to him (the other guy who was in the hand until the river),  “He made a mistake, he didn’t bet the turn.  I had Ace-King.” Of course I had the misfortune of overhearing that.  So yeah, I should have bet the turn or called him on the river.  I think that made me feel worse than if I had lost my stack with the damn Queens.

A few minutes later, they had the drawing and didn’t call my name. I got the hell out of there before I could do any more damage to my psyche or my wallet.

It was an early night, but not early enough.  So I tried real hard to focus on the sweet river against Didi’s boyfriend, and not on the wussy way I played those dreaded pocket Queens.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If You Came to Play Poker, Why Won't You Play Poker?

Crazy idea: If you go to a poker room to play poker, EFFING PLAY POKER. Don't spend 2/3's of your time away from the table, ruining the game.

The above was a tweet I sent out after finishing up my latest session at the Bike.

Now, a few months ago I did a post called Things That Piss Me Off, a rant about, well, things that piss me off. Most of them weren’t poker related.  But I should have included the one referenced in my recent tweet.  So here it is now.

Ever since I started playing poker in poker rooms, one thing I always hated was playing short-handed.  Now, recall that for years when I played live poker, I was a limit player, usually 2/4.  And low limit hold’ em is terrible when short-handed.  The pots are small enough when the table is full.  When it’s short, you can find yourself going hand after hand where the blinds are chopped and no hand is actually played.  Or no raise is call and someone takes just the blinds.  Or a couple limp in and if you hit the flop, you win an $8 pot. 

And….the blinds come around faster than if the table is full, so you put your blinds in faster and have less of a chance of getting them back, because when you win a pot, it’s so small.

The Bike (and Commerce, I believe) have nothing but 9-handed tables for their cash games.  I remember going to the Bike to play 2/4 and being upset that it was only 9-handed to begin with, before all the players started wandering off (more on that come).

As far as I’m concerned, limit Hold’em game (at least low limit, like 2/4, 3/6, 4/8) should be played  10-handed.  And pretty much every Vegas poker room I’m familiar with has 10-handed limit games exclusively. 

When I switched to No Limit, I started encountering 9-handed tables as the standard.  In fact, a little bit before I made the switch myself, good old BSC changed their NL tables from 10-handed to 9-handed.

I didn’t mind playing NL 9-handed.  I soon got used to having more room at the table.  And because the pots are bigger, you can make up for the slightly accelerated blinds when you win a pot.

The problem with 9-handed in NL, however, is that it makes it that much easier for the table to get really short-handed—either a few players are away from the table at the same time, or enough people get up and leave that the table breaks. Or at least, you want it to.

As long as players remain in their seats, playing poker, everything is fine.  A bathroom break, or even a cigarette break, shouldn’t take too long.  If I can help it, I try not to leave the table to use the facilities if anyone else is away.  Sometimes, of course, I have to break that rule, but I try.

Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed is that players tend to spend a lot more time away from the poker table in locals joints than Strip poker rooms.  When I played 2/4, I played in a number of locals rooms, and would often get frustrated when players would get up and disappear for a long time.

Sometimes they’d go to eat, taking advantage of way too liberal policies that allow players to be away from the table for a long time (45 minutes to 75 minutes, depending on the room).  But I eventually figured out that some of these players were going into the casino to play slots, or perhaps table games, while their chips were at the poker table, preventing a new player from taking their place and filling up the game.

Very rude, very inconsiderate.  Play the slots on your own time!  If you’re gonna be more than a few minutes, if you’re planning to park your ass in front of a slot machine for 30 minutes or longer, cash out of the game, let someone who actually wants to play poker take your seat.  Please don’t punish the rest of us.  You can tell them to put your name at the bottom of the waitlist for the same game, as a “call in.”  When you’re ready to play again, you’ll likely be the first person called to a game when there’s a seat open.  It’s the civil, proper, and courteous thing to do.

But time after time I saw people disappearing from the 2/4 game for nearly an hour at the locals rooms I frequented.  I saw some of this at the Strip poker rooms too, but it wasn’t nearly as excessive.  Most of the players who left for more than a bathroom break went to eat.  And the number of wanderers was never anywhere close to what it was at the locals joints.

But the Bike was always worse than any locals place in Vegas.  Those 2/4 limit games I played in the early days, it was rare when more than 7 players would get dealt in for any particular hand.  One of the many reasons I didn’t really like playing there.

And it hasn’t changed much since I started playing bigger games at the Bike, specifically the 2/3 NL game.  Players just disappear for 10, 20, 30 minutes at a time routinely.  And one thing I know they’re not doing when they’re away is playing slot machines.  The Bike doesn’t have any slots.  Are they playing table games?  Perhaps, but I doubt they all are.  I doubt most are.  I don’t get it.

I know some players don’t mind—or even like—playing a NL game short-handed. Not me.  I guess to some degree I haven’t learned to exploit the opportunities afforded by the short-handed game.  I still am thinking that the damn blinds are just coming around too fast.  And if you raise, there’s a greater chance no one will call your raise because less players are dealt in, meaning all you get is the blinds.  And since the way they work the rake at the Bike (see here), you don’t even get all the blind money (If there’s no calls and no limpers, you get $4, not $5).  Pretty hard to make it pay off.

Anyway, this most recent visit, that took place a week after the post I just linked to took place, was one of the most frustrating for this very reason.  For the first three hours of my session, the table was never technically short-handed. Whenever a player left, there was always someone immediately called to replace them. 

Despite that, I’d estimate that fewer the 10% of the hands during this three-hour period were actually dealt 9-handed.  The rest were eight or less.  That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much.

There was always one, or two, or three players wandering around, not at the table when the cards were dealt. 

It amazes me because, if you’re not playing cards, there isn’t a whole lot to do at the Bike, unlike in a Vegas casino.  I mean, there’s no Slut Parade to check out. There’s a couple of bars, but no music and no hot, hip crowd to enjoy it with.  No one is going up to their room for anything—the hotel hasn’t been built yet.  Are they taking 30-minute cigarette breaks?  Well, the way some of them smell when they get back, maybe.

Another thing they’re not doing when they are away from the table is eating.  Oh, there is a deli at the Bike where you can go eat, but no one playing 2/3  is going to the deli to eat. You see, if you are playing the 2/3 game (and higher), they will bring you all the food you want, right to the table, for free.  Yes, free.   And it’s good food too.

Actually, food is part of the problem sometimes, because some players will stop playing and sit out multiple orbits while they’re eating.  So that’s one reason 9 hands aren’t dealt out all the time.  You can be sure that pretty much anyone who plays this game, if they are there more than a couple hours, gets some free food.  I know I do. You’ve got do something to make up for the $7 rake.

But you can play and eat, and most people do.  Actually, I’ve learned that when a player starts eating, you can kind of use it as a “tell.”  Most players, especially it seems the more aggro ones, tend to slow down when they’re eating.  That guy who plays every hand and raises most of the time is suddenly mucking hand after hand.  So I know that if he’s still eating and he makes a raise instead of folding, he actually has a big hand instead of the usual garbage he’s raising with.  That’s definitely not the time I’ll three-bet him with pocket deuces.

There were at least four or five guys at the table who problematic while I was there, very likely all of them played less than 50% hands dealt while I was there.  Two guys in particular were really pissing me off.

The guy next to me ordered food.  As soon as he ordered, he passed on his big blind and sat out—before the food had arrived.  It took at least three orbits before it was delivered and he didn’t play a hand, he just sat there waiting for his lunch.  When it finally came, he of course kept sitting out while he ate. 

And then, and then…..he did the most incredibly rude thing.  When he finished his lunch, he didn’t play another hand.  He picked up his chips and left.  There was a list.  He held that seat while not playing for nearly an hour.  We played short-handed that entire time while he waited for his food and ate it and never rejoined the game.

I should point out that, while you have to be playing in a game to get the free food, once they bring it to you, there’s nothing to prevent you from getting up, sliding the tray away over to an empty table or an empty space on the floor and enjoying your meal away from any poker.  People do that all the time.  People were doing it right there while he was eating and taking up a seat. 

I couldn’t believe it.  It was an old guy, and I really had to control myself form saying something nasty to him.  I muttered “Thanks for taking up the seat for so long, jerk,” totally under my breath.

This other guy was in the seat one away from me and then moved over to take the seat next to me when the inconsiderate old guy left.  He would play one or two orbits, disappear for about five or six orbits, and then return, wait for the big blind, play another one or two orbits and repeat.  He did this the entire time I was there. I doubt ever played three full orbits in a row.  He did have some food at one point and of course sat out for that.  But otherwise, he just disappeared for 20-30 minutes at a time.  His wife was there (not playing poker), maybe they went to play table games, I don’t know.  It was quite annoying.  If he was the only player doing it, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but as I said, others were disappearing for long stretches too.

Then at one point, when the big blind came around to him, he just waived it off.  He just sat there for two or three orbits, not playing, not eating, not doing anything. Just sat there taking up space while we played on.  WTF? I don’t think I’d ever seen this before.  It wasn’t like he was away and missed his blind and was waiting for it to come back around.  No, he had played the hand under-the-gun and just passed on playing the big blind, and sat there watching the game for several orbits before coming on the big blind a few orbits later. 

So it was doubly annoying when this guy won a big pot. He limped in early position.  The small blind, an aggro with a big stack ($900 or so) raised to something like $26 (there had been a bunch of limpers, of which I was not one).  The big blind, who had about $500, called.  The guy I’m bitching about raised to $125.  Ah, the good ol’ limp/re-raise!  It folded back to the small blind who snap-called.  The big blind took a long time but finally called. 

The flop was Jack-high, two of a suit I believe.  The guy I’m bitching about put the rest of his chips in after the other two checked.  It was about $150 more, if memory serves. The small blind called and the big blind folded.  At showdown the small blind showed Queen-Jack offsuit.  The limp/re-raiser showed pocket Aces to claim the pot.

The raise from the small blind was ok, trying to steal all the limps.  He had often put in big raises from the button or the blinds in limped pots.  No doubt the guy I’m bitching about knew that and that’s he planned on the limp/re-raise. In fact, the small blind commented about the guy limping first and that he was clearly on to his M.O.  But what the hell was he doing calling $125 with Queen-Jack? The limp/re-raiser hadn’t played a lot of hands in a row, but by this time he’d played enough of the course of three hours for the small blind to have realized he was playing fairly tight.

The big blind said he had Ace-2 suited and was priced in to call preflop. 

Yikes.  Why the hell couldn’t I get any money out of these guys?

Kimberly Lansing demonstrates what you're supposed to do in a poker room
I did win a little bit.  I played my pocket Jacks heads up against a guy who flopped an open-ender. I had meant to bet $18 preflop, but accidentally grabbed an extra chip and had made it $23. He shoved short ($49) in response to my $30 c-bet on a 10-high flop.  I called of course, and he missed.

I raised with King-Queen off in early position and only had one caller.  I c-bet on a totally whiffed flop and the guy very reluctantly folded Ace-King face up  Then he asked if his hand was good.  I softly said “no.”  What I didn’t add was, “because you folded it, dummy.”

In the cut-off I raised to $10 with 9-7 of clubs.  I got three callers.  The flop was Q-Q-7.  It checked to me and I put out a $25 c-bet with my bottom pair (I guess technically, it was also middle pair).  No one called.

I even won with the dreaded pocket Kings. Raised to $15 and only had one caller.  Ten-high flop, two clubs.  My Kings were all red.  I bet $20 and he folded.

I called a raise to $6 with Ace-9 of spades, flopped the draw, called a small flop bet and hit the flush on the turn.  My bet was not called.

And so I left with a free meal and a few more bucks in my pocket than when I arrived.  And very frustrated at the players purposely missing so many hands.  I don’t get why people go to a place like the Bike to play poker only to….not play poker.

I do know they need to tighten up the rules being away from the table for extended periods.  I just don’t know how they should do it. Any suggestions?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blood Aces: A Book Review

Could there be a better book for me to review than the new biography of Benny Binion?

The title of this blog is “Rob’s Vegas & Poker Blog,” because I love Vegas, I love poker and have stories to tell about both.

Benny Binion was not only one of the most colorful characters in the storied history of Las Vegas, but he actually helped make Vegas what it was and what is, perhaps as much as any one person.  He may not have created what we think of as Vegas, but he had a pretty big hand in its creation.

And then there’s poker.  Chris Moneymaker wouldn’t have been able to have had the influence he had if it wasn’t for Benny Binion getting the idea to host a big poker tournament in Vegas.  It wasn’t much at the beginning, but you know what?  Someone’s gonna win $10,000,000 for playing in that little tournament in a few months.

One other thing.  Pretty much every weekend I’m in Vegas, I head down to a casino named “Binion’s” and play some poker.  Of course, no one from the Binion family is associated with that casino any more, but it does still have that famous (and infamous) name.

So he helped invent Vegas, and he more-or-less invented poker in Vegas.  The only way this book could be more up my alley would be if it was called “Blood Kings” instead of “Blood Aces.” 

But Blood Aces it is and it is a terrific book.  It reads like a novel—a crime novel—and it is hard to put down. 

When I started reading it, I planned to kind of skim over the early part of it, the part that takes place in Texas, before Binion moved to Vegas.  But I couldn’t do that.  The stories of Binion in Texas are all too good, too interesting, too amazing to rush through.  Besides, this is where Binion learned his, um, “trade.”  He took all the lessons he learned in Texas and used them to help make Vegas Vegas, and help make Binion a very rich man.

In fact, Binion was well on his way to making Dallas, TX what we would come to think of as Vegas before the government finally, after years and years of trying (but not that hard) chased him out of town.

In his early years, the uneducated Binion learned how to be a gangster.  Whereas some gangsters are more into drugs, bootlegging, prostitution and other sins, Binion’s specialty was gambling.  In Dallas, he catered to both the very rich and the people who were wagering their paychecks.  And next week’s paychecks.

Binion comes across like a character in a movie more than a real life person.  However, the book is so detailed and so well researched (and resourced), you believe every word.

He was one of those guys who, if he liked and you didn’t get in his way, he was the nicest, sweetest, most generous man you’d ever met.

But if you crossed him, if you pissed him off, if you tried to prevent him from doing what he wanted to do, you were dead to him.

And to everyone else, for that matter.

Yes indeed, Binion killed, or had killed, quite a few people.  The ones he didn’t kill, he scared into leaving town or leaving him alone.  Politicians and cops were bought off.  This was in Dallas and Nevada.

Many of the names of the Nevada politicians mentioned in the book, who did favors for Binion (and vice-versa) sound familiar to me, as someone who’s been going to Vegas for many, many years.  He had arrangements with Mayors, Governors, Senators, etc.  Harry Reid, current Senate Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate, is mentioned doing “favors” for Binion.  No doubt Binion contributed generously to Reid’s congressional campaigns back in the day.  But hey, I’m sure Reid would have gone to bat for Binion anyway, right?

All of this is fascinating stuff.  The characters Binion encounters in the book (and sometimes, you know, killed) are colorful themselves.  There’s a rival of Binion’s nicknamed “the Cat” because of the many times he survived attempts on his life at the hand of Binion.  He had 12 lives, not 9 like a cat though.  The 13th attempt on his life proved to be very unlucky for him, however.

Somehow, Binion managed to maneuver his way out of jail for most of his career.  He did finally get time for tax evasion at one point.  But they couldn’t touch him for murder or any of the other more violent things he did

There’s a good amount of discussion of poker and the role Binion played in the WSOP of course, although, it being me, I would have liked more.  Swanson has a lot of great material from Doyle Brunson who he must have interviewed at length.  He could probably couldn’t’ talk to many of the other old time poker players (particularly the ones who have died).  Of course, Doyle is a pretty colorful character himself.

Swanson has produced a fascinating, well-written book on the history of Vegas, featuring gangsters, poker, corrupt politicians, and paid-for cops.  I would have to say it’s a must-read for anyone who likes my blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"50% Off on a Lapdance—But You Only Get One Leg"

Sometimes, giving a person a taste of their own medicine can be delicious.  This is true of poker and of life (is there a difference?).  It’s not necessarily a revenge thing, perhaps just an amusing bit of irony one enjoys.

This goes back to last month when I was playing with Faith.  Faith is BSC degen regular, and a good friend of Ginger, the dealer who I’ve mentioned many, many times before.  She probably merits her own label.  I mentioned her a couple of times before giving her very own blog name, in the post here.

Faith is chatty, giddy, and loud, especially if Ginger is playing with her.  She acts drunk, but she doesn’t consume alcohol, as far as I can tell.  But she has this one really, really, really annoying habit.

She catches cards like nobody’s business.  Seriously, she is the Queen of the suckouts.  She makes very loose, very dubious calls and then some way, somehow, always seems to get there. 

Not only that, but ever since they started doing promotions, who do you think wins them all?  Ok, not all of them, but way, way, way more than her share of them.  If she’s in the room (and when she is in the room, you can hear her from any seat in the house), and her name isn’t called for a drawing, I’m shocked.  Everyone is.  But usually, we’re not shocked.

An absolute luckbox.

Honestly though, I can’t recall her sucking out on me much, surprisingly so.  But whenever I’m at the same table as her, I will invariably, time and time again, find myself shaking my head as I see her turn her hand over on the river and reveal some incredible garbage hand she played, where she only had a tiny piece of the flop but stayed in and called bets anyway, and then, miraculously, hit just the card she needed to take down the pot from someone who actually played well.  In fact, I wrote a blog post entitled “Bad Player Wins” which was inspired by her play, and you can find that here.

So I have no beef with Faith, but sometimes it can just drive you crazy to see her get lucky so many times and take down pots she has no business being in.  Of course, she’ll call with almost anything, preflop and post flop, so you can’t really out play her—you just have to find a way to out luck her.  It’s nearly impossible, most nights.
Early in the session, before Faith joined the table, I took a hit when my set of 4’s was taken down by a rivered straight.  That cost me about $65.

There was a funny moment when Ginger was dealing.  They had just announced the start of a 2/5 game and someone walking by asked Ginger where that game was.  She pointed to the table behind her where only the dealer was sitting; no players had shown up yet.  “Over there, where the empty dealer is.”  Then she corrected herself, “I mean, the empty table, not dealer.”

I totally cracked up, because I saw the dealer and calling this particular fellow the “empty dealer” was just perfect.  But no, I won’t give my BSC friends who read my blog any clue at all as to who it was.  Sorry.

I had Ace-5 of diamonds in the big blind.  Someone raised to $12 and when three others called, I figured I could call too.  The flop was 10-9-8, all diamonds.  I bet $20.  I guess I was semi-slow playing it. Only one caller, and it was not the preflop raiser.  I bet $35 when the board paired on the turn, and again he called.  The board double paired on the river and I checked, thinking the nut flush wasn’t looking so good any more.  But the guy checked behind me and showed pocket Queens!  My flush was indeed good despite two pair on the board.  Note that this guy merely called the initial $12 raise.  If he had three-bet the flop, I never would have been in the hand.  Of course, you could certainly argue that I shouldn’t have been in it for $12, either.

A few orbits later, I had Ace-5 in the big blind again, this time in spades.  A late position player made it $6, I called, as did Faith and one other.  The flop was Q-4-2, one spade.  Faith led out with a $10 bet and it folded to me.  Easy fold, right?

Nah, for only ten bucks, with a gut-shot, a back door flush draw, and an overcard, I figured I would call. The turn was the 2 of spades.  I checked and Faith bet $15, and with both the straight draw and the flush draw now, I called.  The river was the King of spades, giving me the nut flush.  Knowing that Faith could have a boat, I checked and she bet out $35.  I called and she showed Queen-something.  Awesome.  I had sucked out on the Queen of suckouts!  How sweet!

I showed my flush and Faith was aghast.  “You kept calling me.  How could you keep calling me?  You had nothing.”  Now you might think she was just spitting back the same lines she’d heard spoken to her a zillion times, but I honestly don’t think so. I truly believe she failed to see the irony of her comments.

I failed to point out that irony to her.  No point.  I just said, “Well, I did have a gut shot on the flop.”  She’s called bigger bets with less. She probably had within the past five minutes. I took it as some kind of cosmic justice for all the bad beats she’s inflicted on players with her own loose calls.

Speaking of suckouts, I had pocket 6’s in the big blind and called a raise to $12.  I called and it was heads up as all the limpers folded.  The flop was 9-7-6, two hearts.  I bet $30, about the size of the pot.  He made it $60, which left him $40 behind.  I raised to put him all in, and he called.

He showed the dreaded pocket Kings, and I showed my set of 6’s.  No King showed up. Just runner runner hearts.  Did I mention that one of his Kings was the heart?  Yeah, that hurt.

Now, there was a Norwegian fellow sitting between Faith and me.  And after being unusually quiet for a long time, Faith start acting more like her usual self, and then started getting really chatty with the Norwegian fellow. The Norwegian was a kind of an aggro and I think he’d lost some pots to Faith, on suckouts no doubt.  And as I’ve seen her do before when she’s in a good mood she started talking about strip clubs and going to one.

I’ve heard her kiddingly offer to take guys to strip clubs and buy them lap dances.  This time, she did something a little different.

She told the Norwegian, “You know, my second job is as a stripper.  My stage name is Stephanie.  When they call Stephanie on stage…that’s me.”

She told him she was soon to start her shift at the Sapphire Club and that she was gonna take him there.  “I’ll give you a 50% discount on a lap dance…..but you’ll only get one leg.”  A bit later she said, “$40 for a lap dance.”

The Norwegian laughed, but I don’t think he thought it was as funny as I did.  I should point out that Faith is married and presumably happily so, and in fact, her husband plays poker there too, but not as much as Faith does (because that would be impossible). I’ve played with him too, and he is not the luckbox she is.  Anyway, Faith is, of course, is mostly definitely not an exotic dancer.

Anyway, all this was going on as the drawing was being held.  I had a few tickets so I had to stay active in the game in case I was called (I wasn’t).  Thus I had to post my big blind even though I was going to be finished as soon as I either was or wasn’t called for the drawing.

I had King-2 of diamonds.  No raise, a few of us saw the flop, including the Norwegian.  I flopped the draw and called $10 from the Norwegian.  Hit the flush on the turn and bet $30, and he called.  I checked the river, which had paired the board, and he bet $50.  I called.  Obviously I was a bit concerned about the nut flush or a boat.  He had the flush too, but it was Queen high and I took the pot.

The dealer gave me a ticket for the flush, but since the next drawing was going to be at 4AM, I politely declined.  The dealer asked the Norwegian if he wanted a ticket.  At first he hesitated, not sure he’d be around at 4AM either. So I said, “Yeah, he’s headed to the strip club now.”

That got a laugh, and then he decided to go ahead and take the ticket.  So I said, “Yeah, he’s got plenty of  time to hit the strip club and be back here by 4AM.”

And with that, I called it a night.  You only get to suckout on the Queen of suckouts once per session, if you’re lucky.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Like everyone else, I was stunned to hear of the suicide of Robin Williams.

I don't have brilliant thoughts or great insights to add to what you'll be reading and hearing in the coming days.

But I'm old enough to have remembered Mork & Mindy when it first debuted and first exhibited his insane gift for making us laugh.

It's a terrible loss to all of us, and of course, and unbearably so for his friends and loved ones.

Forgive me, but I couldn't help think of Didi, the crazy female poker player who said I looked like him--an observation no one else had ever made.  I wonder if she will still call me "Patch Adams" next time she sees me.  Of course it was on my mind because I had just linked to the blog post where I used "Patch Adams" in the title, as part of the Robvegaspoker quiz.

One of my favorite Robin Williams movies is one almost forgotten, that got a pretty bad reception when it opened, as I recall.  It is a very odd film, not for everyone, but I enjoyed it.  It's The World According to Garp,  It was based on a hugely popular best-seller of the time.

If you've never seen it, you might want to give it a try sometime.  Here's a clip:

We Have a Winner to the Robvegaspoker Quiz

We have a winner!  (See previous post, here)

I didn’t expect anyone to come up with all 10 correct answers so fast.  I expected people would submit a few answers and hope for the best.  But soon after the post, Nick, aka Cokeboy99, who himself starred in this post here, nailed it completely and earned the prize.

Condolences to arniejokin who came in second…..there’s no prize for the silver, sorry.  His answers came in after Nick’s, but he did get 9 out of 10 correct.  Check answer #6.

Thanks for playing and congrats to Nick.  Nick is the King of pocket Cowboys and he won himself a book about that notorious  cowboy, Benny Binion.

I’m gonna have a review of the book, which I’m almost finished with, soon.

Here’s the questions and the answers, with links to the appropriate posts

1. Name the outrageous Asian girl who was a star of my early blog posts and became my good friend and who falsely accused me of being “obsessed with bosoms.”
Answer: Prudence

2. Name the BSC regular who has “Yellow Fever.”
Answer: Abe

3. Name the dealer at BSC most likely to crack my dreaded pocket Kings.
Answer: Mike

4. Name the BSC dealer I once drove to Red Rock, featured in more posts as a player than as a dealer.
Answer: Ginger

5. Name the player who told everyone her bra size and pulled down her shirt to expose her purple bra.
Answer: Didi

6, Name the BSC dealer who didn’t see I had a straight and almost gave the pot to the wrong player instead of me.
Answer: Jack

7. Name the dealer who told everyone at the table I blogged about her, called me a “gentlemen” and announced that her “rack is perfect.”
Answer: Denise(see also here.)

8. Name the BSC dealer who “never pushes me a pot.”
Answer: Michelle

9. Name the player who intentionally annoyed the other players to put them on tilt, and explained that she was in “relapse” and had played blackjack all day.  At another session, she announced she was leaving the table to perform a sex act on another player at the table.
Answer: Natalee(see also here.)

10. Name the BSC 2/4 regular who worked as fully nude male stripper.
Answer: Freddy