All during my October trip, I had been trying to get to Mandalay Bay. As I mentioned before, my buddy Abe has been singing its praises lately. And the last time I played there (see here), I did have a nice little run. But things kept happening preventing me from getting over there.
But finally, on my last full day in town, a Sunday, when October had actually turned into November, I arrived there late afternoon, in time to get a seat for the last football promo of the day, the Sunday night game. Their promo is nowhere good as MGM’s is. It’s just $100 paid to the high hand of each quarter. So at most, they are giving away $400. Some quarters they might not give away a prize, as the minimum hand to qualify is Jacks full. And as I learned, if you make a boat, in order to qualify you have to have a pocket pair in your hand. Huh? Why do they have that rule? If I have Ace-Jack and the board has two Jacks and an Ace on it, that’s not good enough? I understand needing a pocket pair for quads to qualify, but I don’t get the restriction on full houses. But dem’s the rules.
When I arrived, they only had two games going, both 1/2 NL. This surprised me because just about 10 minutes before, on my Bravo app, it showed four games going with 4 people on the waitlist. Place must have thinned out fast.
In the first half hour, I figured out why Abe liked the room so much.
Early on, I was dealt pocket Aces. I bet $9, had two callers. The flop was 9-9-2, I bet $20, no one called.
Very next hand, I had Ace-Queen. I raised to $8, had two callers. The flopped missed me, but no one called my $20 flop bet.
A few hands later, I had Queen-Jack of hearts, I raised to $8, had two callers (see a pattern here?). The flop was 10-9-4. The 10 and the 9 were both hearts, the 4 was black. I c-bet $20, one guy called. The turn was the 2 of hearts. Now here’s maybe where I should have gone promo chasing and I didn’t. With the open-ended straight flush draw, maybe I should have checked even though I already had the flush? In addition to the high hand of the quarter that a straight flush (if I had hit it) likely would have won, they have high hand bonuses there, so I would have won that too, if it hit. The amount of the bonus is progressive so I don’t know how much it would have paid.
But no, I went ahead and bet $50. He folded. Now I wonder what the point of betting there really was? If he had a set, he’s not likely folding to any bet I could reasonably made. Same thing if he has a naked Ace of hearts (or even, a naked King of hearts). Probably not folding two pair there. So with the third nut flush, maybe it would have been ok to promo-chase and try to hit the two outer to the straight flush. Thoughts?
Then I had pocket 9’s and raised to $8. Once again, two callers (no, it wasn’t always the same two). I rather liked the flop, which was 9-8-8. I checked and so did the other two. The turn was a 5, this time a guy led out for $20 and we both called. The river was another blank. Same guy bet $20 again. The other player folded. I made it $50. He called and mucked when he saw my boat. He said he had an 8.
I won a couple of more hands on the flop with c-bets. One time I had raised with Ace-Queen and missed, another time I’d raise with pocket 6’s and missed.
In about half an hour, I had very nearly doubled my $200 buy in. Then I reverted to form and went card dead. Meanwhile, one guy at the table caught not one but two straight flushes. The first one, he went runner-runner to get a 10-high straight flush, and that held to get the first quarter high hand bonus. Early in the third quarter, he turned a steel wheel (Ace thru 5 straight flush, for those of you aren’t poker players). Two straight flushes in an hour, both qualified for high hand bonuses? Now that’s running good. In the second quarter, the guy next to him won the high hand of the quarter by rivering quad Queens.
I’d gone a good hour plus with barely playing a hand. I was still up over $150 and I needed to have some dinner. The deli at the Mandalay Bay was overpriced and I didn’t have enough comps to pay for a sandwich. So I cashed out and headed over to MGM, where I could use my comps to get an overpriced sandwich.
Dinner accomplished, I got into a game at MGM. There were two interesting players at the table, both joining after I got there. One guy was, I assume, stoned. He was actually barely conscious, and he kept nodding off at the table. Young guy. He claimed that he hadn’t slept much and was just tired. He ordered Red Bull. They didn’t bring it fast enough. He took forever to act on all his hands because he was always starting to doze off. I began to wonder if he was actually capable of reading his cards properly or forming any kind of a coherent strategy. That said, I never actually caught him in any kind of error that would have indicated he was impaired.
The other player to mention was a woman I’ll call Maggie. The reason I’m calling her Maggie is that, when I left the game and asked her name, she told me it was “Maggie.” Yes, I’m using her real name (assuming she didn’t lie to me). She didn’t embarrass herself sufficiently to warrant protecting her identity.
Maggie came to the table from another game and had a lot of chips with her, and observing her play, I figured out how she got them. She’s a good player, plays a tight-aggressive style. I eventually found out that she’s from the L.A. area and plays at the Bike when she’s home. She plays the same 2/3 game there that I do, but we don’t play at the same times, that’s why I’d never seen her there.
After Maggie had been there awhile, my pal Jack came to the table to deal. We started chatting and he asked me what I had written about for Ante Up lately. Maggie asked Jack what I write about. He wouldn’t answer and deferred to me. I told her I do a monthly column for Ante Up.
She asked what the column is about. I told her I covered the Las Vegas poker scene. “So….do you do gossip?”
I laughed. “No no, I don’t do gossip….I have a blog for that.”
Like most people who hear I do a blog, she didn’t ask me about it. She just chuckled.
She did notice me writing down notes about hands. So one time she asked, “What are you writing? Notes for your column?”
“No…..not for my column.” I didn’t amplify.
Jack and I eventually started talking about a mutual friend of ours who has recently re-entered the dating scene. I confirmed what I think Jack already knew, which was that this woman was spending a lot of time on Tinder now.
And that led Jack to ask me, “So Rob, are you on Tinder?”
I just laughed and said no. But the question caught Maggie’s attention.
She asked Jack, “Did you just ask him if he was on Tinder?” She was clearly amused by Jack asking me that. Jack confirmed that he had. She laughed at the answer.
Maggie seemed like a fun woman so I decided to take fake umbrage at her reaction.
“Whoa,” I said. “Do you think that’s a funny question to ask me? What? Do you think I’m hopeless? Do you think that I couldn’t be on Tinder?”
At first she thought I might have actually been upset. “No, No…..I didn’t mean that.”
I said, “Are you dissing me?”
“No, no, I’m not dissing you.” Now, I’m pretty sure that Maggie knew I was just kidding. “It’s just that—for one guy to ask another guy if he’s on Tinder, it’s kind of weird. It’s like, he wants to go out with you.”
As for the poker, the semi-conscious guy raised to $12 and I called with Ace-Jack. It was heads-up. The flop was all spades, King-high. There was a 9 I think and a 6 or 7. He led out for $40, well more than the pot. Do you just call with the nuts there? I guess I should have. But I went ahead and bet, thinking this guy would call if he had anything at all. I mean, there’s no way he was going to fold Ace-King. I actually expected him, in his sleepy state, to just shove the rest of his chips (we had similar $200 stacks).
But he hesitated. “Oh, you got it? You got it already?” He was slurring his words. “Will you show if I fold?” I do so love that question, see here. I said nothing. Continuing to slur his words, he said, “It’s just common courtesy...an agreement among players.” Why should I help him play his hand? He gave up and eventually said, “Oh well…” and mucked.
As it happens, I did show my hand, but only because I needed to show my hand to get a ticket for the next cash drawing.
The other hand I’ll mention involved both this guy and Maggie. She raised to $12 and the guy made it $40. I looked down at pocket Queens. I had close to $300, the semi-conscious guy had about $150, but Maggie had me covered by quite a bit.
If it was just a bet from the guy, I would have three-bet. But not with Maggie being the first raiser. I think I would have just flatted even if the other guy had folded. So I just called.
Maggie thought about it for a bit and announced “all-in.”
The semi-conscious guy tanked forever. Of course, he was taking a long time to make $5 decisions, so you can only imagine how long this one took. But eventually he laid it down.
Having played with her a while, I really couldn’t imagine Maggie making that move with anything other than Aces or Kings. I thought Ace-King was extremely unlikely. It was painful to do it, but I folded.
As Maggie took in the pot, the guy said he folded Jacks. Maggie said she had two red Kings. I said, “So I guess my Queens were no good?” Of course, no one showed anything so this information might not be accurate (except for my Queens). But I’m pretty sure they were both telling the truth, especially Maggie. The stoned guy might have been hallucinating his pocket Jacks. Maybe he actually had Aces?
That led to a nice discussion of the hand and the play. Maggie looked directly at me and said, “I was sure you didn’t have Aces when you just called. I was sure you would have raised if you had Aces.” Well, she was right about that.
So I asked her, “If I had raised, would you have folded your Kings?”
“No….I’m not folding my Kings. But I would have called, not re-raised.”
Brent was the dealer and so he asked her, before I could, “What if he had shoved? Would you have folded then?”
She thought about it and then said she might have.
Then Brent added, “Or you might have called anyway. We’ve all done it. You say, ‘I know he’s got Aces….I call.’” Because it’s so hard to lay down those damn Kings.
I ended up winning over $100. Because I laid down those Queens to Maggie’s Kings.
When I left, I told Maggie how much I enjoyed playing with her. She said she would look for my Ante Up column. I hope I see her again—at the Bike, if not Vegas.