Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Quiet Day in Ventura

Had another session at Player’s Casino in Ventura on Saturday.

It was a rather calm, quiet session, nothing very dramatic.  I was again quite card dead.  I dunno, it seems I’m running above average in card-deadness lately.  Maybe I should start counting how many hands I fold preflop vs hands I play.  Based on the percentages of hands I should be playing based on Ed Miller’s starting hands, it just seems like I’m playing way fewer hands than I should be.  One thing I don’t want to do is starting playing junky hands just to get in on the action.

This was a new table that just opened as I arrived.  No familiar faces this time, though some of the players obviously knew the dealers and the other players somewhat.  I guess their customer base is pretty large.  The table was pretty stable….I played nearly four hours and most of the players did not change during that time.  One exception was when a guy left for a bigger game and was replaced by the player who have dubbed “Director” (see here).  And again, he did not say hi to me (still holding that grudge).  However, there was a guy who I have played with a few times who walked by our table at one point and he did nod hello to me, so there’s that.

As I said, it was a rather tame game, no maniacs present.  It was almost bordering on the “too tight” side, but maybe not quite.  I did consider asking for a table change, but decided against it.  After the run I had in Vegas, I was more interested in a more “normal” game where I could hopefully hone my game at lower risk than a game with high variance.  My goal for these sessions is to improve and get my confidence back, more than it is to make a huge score.  Not that I wouldn’t like to win some money in the process, you understand.

Early on I won my first hand in embarrassing fashion.  I was the small blind with King-9 of diamonds.  I completed for a buck and four of us saw the flop.  It was Jack-10-9, two clubs, no diamonds.  I called $25 on the flop with the bottom pair and the gut-shot. It was heads-up. (Edited to add, this is incorrect, see my response below to Lightning's comment for the correction)  There was no betting the turn or the river, which were both low cards that didn’t help me. Now, I had assumed that a pair of 9’s was no good, and the whole time I was hoping to catch a Queen for a straight.  So when the board was complete, I total forgot about my pair of 9’s and said, “I have King-high,” and showed my cards.  The dealer just repeated what I said, “King-high.”  But before the other guy had flipped his hand, I realized that I had the pair and said, “Oh wait, I have a pair of 9’s.”  The other guy had turned up his hand by now and it was Queen-9.  I won the pot and we were both glad that the other one of us didn’t catch his second pair. 

With a straddle to $6, I had Ace-Queen off and made it $15.  I actually think that’s too little to raise there, but no one called.  Tell me, does it make sense to straddle and then fold for an additional $9?  I mean, I don’t believe it ever makes sense to straddle under-the-gun, but if you’re gonna do it, shouldn’t you be calling a $9 raise with almost anything?

A bit later I got Ace-Queen again and raised to $15. Director and one other player called.  The flop was 10-8-2.  I put out my $25 c-bet and Director checked-raised to $85.  The next player took a long time, but she called.  So I folded.  It turned out that Director had called my raise from the big blind with 10-8.  Hmm….I have to lower my estimation of his game.  The lady just had a 10 (I think it was King-10 off, so not a good play either—she had limped/called my raise).

Very next hand I had Ace-King offsuit and opened to $12.  Four of us saw a flop of Jack-9-6, rainbow.  I didn’t see the point of c-betting a four way pot, so I checked and folded to a bet.

With 9-8 of hearts, I raised to $12 and had two callers.  The flop was 7-6-4, two hearts (the 4 was one of the hearts, I didn’t have an open-ended straight flush draw).  I c-bet $20 and didn’t get a call.  That was one time I bet with nothing that I wouldn’t have minded getting some action as there were so many cards that could have helped me.

I took down another small pot with a raise to $12 with King-Jack of spades.  The flop was Jack-9-6, and a $20 flop bet took it down.

I raised to $15 with Ace-Queen offsuit and had four callers.  The flop was 9-6-2, rainbow.  I’m never c-betting there, not five-handed.  And so I almost checked (I was third to act, I believe).  But then I started thinking about how dry the board was, and that it just might have missed everyone.  And it was a $75 pot pre.  So I thought, why not try for it, and put out $40.  Two people thought about calling, but didn’t.  The others folded instantly.  To show you how this session was, that was my biggest pot of the day.  Also the move I made that I’m most proud of.

I called $15 with pocket 6’s.  The flop came Jack-9-6, two spades.  The preflop raiser checked, so I bet $20.  No call.

I limped in with Ace-8 of diamonds, it was 5-way.  The flop came 9-6-5, rainbow, no diamonds.  No one bet.  A 7 on the turn filled in the gutshot.  I bet $10 and had one caller.  The river paired the 6.  I checked and the other guy bet $25.  I called and he just insta-mucked. 

And that was it.  I took off with a mighty $10 profit.

But again, I was card dead.  Biggest pocket pair was 10's, followed by 7's and 3's.  And the 6's I got a set with.  That was it for pocket pairs in four hours.  I actually discussed every time I had Ace-King or Ace-Queen, and never got Ace-Jack.  The only other suited connectors I got was something like 4-3 once.

It wasn’t exciting session but it was fun, and while I was still not as aggressive as I need to be, I felt a lot better about my play these past two weeks.  And I have much better attitude about poker than when I departed Vegas. I’m enjoying playing poker again. Onward and upward.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Promo, Two Hookers, No Johns

This is the one night in Vegas last month where the promo paid off for me (guess I should have given you a spoiler alert, huh?), but I basically have a crazy reg and the upstanding young ladies that make up The Slut Parade to thank for it.  Oh, and there are even hookers to talk about.

Now I did a big post about promos here, but the promo I was mainly chasing this night was the NFL promo.  It was a Sunday night, so they were giving away cash each time a team scored.  I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be playing after the football game was over.  I was in the midst of that much-discussed bad run I was having.  Plus I intended to get up early the next morning to play at one of the Venetian Deepstack events.  I dunno if that tournament will ever make it into a blog post or not, but the fact that I haven’t mentioned it here before should give you a pretty good idea of how I did. 

Not only was I planning on making it an early night, but I got a late start too. I missed the beginning of the game because I was in my room slaving away, trying to get a blog post written and posted.  The sacrifices I make for you guys.

By the time I got in a game, I’d already missed the first score of the NFL game.  Also, my pal Don, most recently mentioned here, I believe, was already there.  I ended up at a different table. I asked for a table change but it the football game was nearly over by the time I was able to move over.

Before that, at the first table I was sent to, I got stuck sitting next to Norman Chad.  No, it wasn’t really him.  I just called him that because as I got there, he was busy analyzing a hand that had recently happened with the reg on his right.  And boy was he analyzing.  And analyzing it.  He could not shut up about all the things that were going through his mind through every street, what he had, what he assumed the reg had. Boy was it annoying.  This hand occurred before I got to the table, and it didn’t sound like it was that big a pot, but man was this guy obsessing over it.  And by the way, the reg was not even responding at all, preferring not to give away any information.

It was distracting.  He kept talking about the board cards from that hand, and I kept thinking he was inappropriately talking about the hand we were playing.  I sure didn’t want this guy in my ear all night if he was going to spend 20 minutes talking about every hand he was in like that.  Plus, he was coughing pretty regularly.  I took the first opportunity to change seats and get as far away from him as possible as soon as I could.

I left that seat even after I actually one a pot with the dreaded hand.  It was the third hand I was dealt, and Norman was still talking my ear off (he wasn’t actually talking to me, but he might as well have been).  I raised to $8 with the two cowboys and had three callers.  The flop was an innocuous 8-8-6 and no one called my $25 c-bet.  Hey, for me, with Kings, that was an epic result.

I texted Don that I was considering staying at that table for awhile because it must be a good one for me if I won with Kings.

Our table was frequently short-handed by a person or two, making it impossible for me to move.  I think it was late in the 4th quarter when I finally heard my name called for the table change.  By this time, my $200 starting stack was down to $186.

When I got to Don’s table, I saw that my buddy Mike was dealing. Of course, I felt obligated to insult him, because that’s what friends are for.  As I went to take my seat, I said, “Damn, they didn’t tell me this dealer would be here.  Maybe I should go back?”  Then Don said, “Well, he’s already won with Kings tonight, so it’s your turn to crack ‘em.”  Mike, of course, is the dealer who has been known, in the past, to deal me Kings an inordinate amount of the time.  I had no idea if Don knew that Mike was the dealer famous for cracking my Kings, or if this was just an incredibly fortunate coincidence.  And you know what? I forgot to ask him later.

I was still unracking my chips when Mike dealt my first hand at this new table.  It wasn’t Kings.  It was, in fact, the only hand better.  Welcome to the table, Rob, here are your pocket Aces.  Before it got to me, someone had made it $12 and another guy had called.  I made it $50 and the original raiser called, the other guy folded.  The guy who folded had a bigger stack than mine, but the guy who raised and then called only had about $30 or so more behind. It didn’t really make sense for him to just call, he should have put all his chips in.  But that didn’t have any bearing on the hand.

The flop was Queen-Queen-Jack, not exactly a great flop for me.  But there weren’t enough chips behind to worry about.  When he checked, I bet enough to get him all in, and he called.  The board bricked out and he had King-10 offsuit.   Interesting that he called my three-bet.  He’d never seen me before, but do I look like the kind of guy who would three-bet with a hand that didn’t crush King-10?  Well, maybe Gabe Kaplan would.  Or Costanza.

I had taken seat 9 (the games are 9-handed) and suddenly the guy in seat 1 started pissing and moaning.  He wasn’t in the hand but it turned out that he had been in seat 9 all evening and had moved over to seat 1 right as I was taking seat 9.  This was the first hand he’d been dealt at his new seat.  If he had not changed seats, those Aces would have been his.  Timing is everything, right?  Frankly, since seats 1 and 9 are on either side of the dealer, I don’t get why you would change from one seat to the other, but his odd decision worked out very nicely for me. 

Now is a good time to talk about the other promo, the cash-drawing.  When I got to the room (about two hours before the 8PM drawing) I learned that there was still one $1K envelope left—it was the one that had 5 $200 winners.  I was hoping that it would be drawn for the 8PM drawing so that I would not be so tempted to hang around until midnite trying to cash in.  With only two $100 prizes at stake, I could convince myself it wasn’t worth hanging around just for the drawing.  But no, at 8PM they only gave away $200 total and I wasn’t one of the winners, mainly because I didn’t have a ticket in the drum. The $1K was still in play.  My inclination was not to hang around for it though, because I wanted to make it an early night. 

My immediate plan, after the 8PM drawing, was to wait for the end of the football game and then grab some dinner, which I desperately needed. 

In the meantime, while the game went on, my buddy Jack came to deal.  It was about 8:15—a long way from the next drawing—when he dealt me Ace-6 of clubs in the big blind.  Four of us saw a flop.  It had two clubs and two 7’s on it.  No one bet it.  The turn was a blank and no one bet it.  The river was a club.  The pot was only $8, which meant if no one called whatever bet I made, I wouldn’t get a drawing ticket (has to be $10 in the pot).  In that situation, what you’re “supposed:” to do is bet $2, because almost for sure someone will call a $2 bet.  But since I wasn’t really playing for the ticket (or at least I thought I wasn’t), I bet $5. It folded to a rather quirky reg, the last person with a chance to call.  He did so.  So I showed my hand and since the pot was now $18, I not only won it but Jack gave me a drawing ticket.  The reg didn’t show his hand, but it turned out to be a great call for me.

I joked to Jack about keeping me there until midnite, but man, I really, really didn’t want to be there that late.  I almost gave him back the ticket without filling it out.  I really almost did that.  But then, before I could do that, I suddenly found myself on auto-pilot, filling the damn thing out.  In my mind though, I was thinking….the odds of my getting picked are really, really small anyway, the most that ticket could be worth was $200….so I certainly will not go out of my way to stay long enough to be around for the drawing.  I really felt at the moment that there was almost no chance I’d be playing at midnite to have a chance at winning the drawing.

The game ended, I told Don I was running off to a late dinner.  He had eaten before the game.  I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do after dinner.  I cashed out of the game thinking I wouldn’t be back, but if I was, it wasn’t really busy enough for me to worry about getting a seat again, and this table wasn’t great anyway.

A few minutes after getting my comp and then getting a sandwich at the deli, I heard from Don.  It seems the table had actually broken, and he saw too many regs at the table they were sending him to, so he cashed out as well.  He asked if I would like some company while I finished eating.  Next you know, it was a couple of hours later, the two of us sat there at the deli discussing poker and life for all that time.  It was around 11PM and it was at the point where I was either calling it a night or I wasn’t really calling it an early evening.  So I headed to the parking structure and Don headed out as well, also deciding he was done playing poker for the evening.

On my way to the parking garage, I couldn’t help being reminded that it was a Sunday night and the club was open.  Yes, there were plenty of elegant ladies in somewhat proactive dress to remind me. Because I had completely forgotten that fact.  Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So I was walking rather slowly to better enjoy the view.

Near the exit, I stopped to see a few large crowds of young girls eager to hear the exciting sounds of the nightclub.  Or something.  Then, another woman, who didn’t have music on her mind, got my attention. She was a rather tall black woman who was just standing there, trying to get the attention of any male passersby.  I believe the term for this type of woman is “hooker.”  She had on a tan dress that was neither short nor low cut.  But it was super, super tight, which revealed the most noticeable feature of her figure.  She had enormous tits.  Pretty sure even a leg man, or an ass man, or a foot fetishist would have noticed that.

I really didn’t want to get hassled by her, so I avoided her and I’m pretty sure she never saw me.  I did notice that she had a very small purse, however. 

By coincidence, the next day I heard from Don, and around the same time I noticed this young lady, he too encountered a working girl.  He had gone over to the Bellagio to check out the conservatory.  And there, he told me, “As I was walking away from near one of the tables, I was approached by a working girl, who told me ‘don't run away baby’ as I was walking in a different direction. That's as much of her spiel as I heard, saying ‘no thanks.’”

This was odd for him. He said, “Even though I live in Las Vegas, I almost never get propositioned by "working girls." I guess I look like too much of a bum to afford their services.”

I told him I’m sure it’s more that he looks like too much of a stud to ever have to pay for it.

I asked for a better description of the young lady he encountered, specifically in regards to the size of her….purse.  Because that’s a debate I’ve had (mostly with myself) here on the blog.  Do hookers prefer really small purses or really large ones (average size purses seem to be the rarest).  He didn’t notice the purse, but gave this description:   “All I noticed was that she was to be polite ‘heavy-set’ and was wearing stupidly high heels. She was wearing a rather low cut purple dress -- so low, I actually thought she was a club goer until the approach.”

By the way, Don credited this unusual—for him—encounter with a hooker for changing his own luck with promos.  The next night he played again at MGM, had a ticket for the midnight drawing, and was the first name called, awarding him, in that case, $400.  It was his first time ever hitting one of the MGM promos. It was also the only ticket that he had in the drum. And he wondered if somehow, the unusual-for-him approach by the hooker had somehow changed his luck with promos.  Because, well, we were promo whoring, right?  So if you promo whoring and you run into an actual whore, maybe that helps with the promo, right?

Since I’m talking about the world’s oldest profession, I might as well include here the one “conversation” I had with hooker.  This happened a few nights later. As I was about to get n the escalator at NYNY to get to the garage there, a woman said to me, “Hi.” Pause.  “What’s up?” Pause.  “Come here.” She was sitting at a slot and I didn’t get a good look her at all, I was deep in thought about another lousy poker session. I totally ignored her.

Anyway, I was about to head to my car when I suddenly remembered I had not parked in the MGM parking garage, I had actually parked across the street at NYNY.  So I turned around and headed back to the other end of the casino, which took me right past the poker room.  Since the walk was again slowed down by these wonderful “distractions,” it took me awhile to get there and by the time I was near the poker room, it was now 11:35PM or so and thus it was definitely not going to be an early night. 

But the poker room was really quiet.  I could see that there weren’t a lot of games going and that there were seats open.  Damn.  I did have the one ticket.  If I got into a game and was thus eligible for the drawing, I might very well have a much better chance than normal of hitting it, as I could imagine there were not only fewer tickets than normal but it was also likely that a lot of the tickets in there would belong to people who had left and they’d have to keep picket tickets until they found people still there.

What the hell, twenty-minutes wasn’t going to kill me. I had actually booked my first win of the trip when I cashed out earlier to get dinner…..a bit less than $100.  But since it had been nearly three hours since I cashed out, I didn’t have to buy in for what I cashed out with (see here).  In fact, I decided to just buy in for the $100 minimum instead of my normal $200.  I figured I wasn’t really going to play poker.  I was filling a seat to be eligible for the promo.  It wasn’t that I was that concerned with keeping my meager profits from the “real” session, it was more that, well, it usually takes me at least an orbit or two for me to learn the players and the table before I play my normal game anyway, and so I’m usually even five times the nit I am normally for that period.  I figured I’d likely be keeping that pattern, so unless I saw a golden opportunity, I’d just be a folding machine.

In fact, I kind of laughed to myself, as I took a seat at a table where I recognized nobody, that I’d only play Aces, Kings or Ace-King suited (and even that last hand was iffy).  So of course, after folding my first hands of total garbage, the third hand I got was pocket Queens.

Oh well, I managed to ignore my pledge to fold anything less than Kings.  And no, I didn’t just limp.  I raised to $8, had two callers.  The flop was 8-8-7.  I bet $20 and took it down.

I managed to lose that small profit over the next 15 minutes, calling a few raises with low pocket pairs or suited connecters.  Nothing else interesting came my way.  I was back to about $100 when they announced they were indeed giving away $1K, five $200 winners.

They started the drawing, and after three names were drawn (one of which was for someone not present), I heard my name.  Sweet. I don’t know what was better—the $200 I had just won, or the fact that everyone would have rubbed it in my face the next night if I hadn’t been there to claim the prize.  As soon as they brought me my money, I left, my poker for this twenty-minute session was exactly dead even, with a nice $200 bonus.

So when I cashed out, my buddy Stan was there to convert my chips to currency.  I told him that I had come thisclose to missing the drawing. And I added, “And you would have given me such shit the next day if I hadn’t come back.”  He agreed that’s exactly what he and all my buddies would have done.

And you know, this incident, including the comment there, might have contributed to my stupid play regarding the promos the rest of the trip.  So maybe like often happens in poker, I learned the wrong lesson.

But at the time, that $200 sure felt good in my wallet

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shouldn't The Dealer Know the Rules Better than I Do?

This was from a session last month in Vegas, the one “notable” hand in another one of my bad sessions from that trip.

Same old same old as far as the poker went, at least in regards to result.  But I caught a dealer error that I want to talk about.  By correcting the dealer, I may have cost myself a few bucks, but I figured that out only in hindsight.

I had only been at the table for a few hands, so I still had my original $200 stack.  Now, I don’t want to publically embarrass the dealer or identify the dealer in anyway.  So even tho this dealer has a “blog name,” I’m not going to reveal it.  All I will say is that this dealer has been working full time in my favorite room since I started playing there, and has dealt me a shitload of cards over the years.  So the dealer should know all the house rules, right?  And know them better than I do, right?

In early position I had Ace-King offsuit.  The guy in front of me raised to $7 and I called.  As I’ve mentioned a bunch of times, I rarely three-bet with A-K and since I had just sat down and didn’t recognize anyone (except the dealer), I wasn’t about to change things up there.

One other player called and we saw a flop of Ace-9-7, two hearts.  My King was a heart and the Ace on the board was a heart, so I had the back-door nut flush draw in addition to top pair, top kicker.  The preflop raiser bet $20 and we both called.

The turn was an 8, and it wasn’t a heart.  The preflop raiser put out $50.

Well, I thought about folding.  No chance for the flush, how much do I want to invest on a TPTK hand, with a possible flush coming and perhaps already a made straight?  And I didn’t know anything about the other players in the hand. But I talked myself into calling.  This was probably just one of the many very bad decisions I made this trip.  My thought at the time was, “It’s just too weak to fold there.”  But I think I confused “weak” with “sensible.”

Anyway, the last guy puts all his chips out—a total of $81. Uh oh.

The preflop raiser announces raise and I know there’s no way he can raise.  His bet wasn’t raised by a full bet.  All he can do is call.

The dealer didn’t say anything and the player hadn’t committed to a specific raise amount yet, he was counting his chips.

I wasted no time in telling the dealer, “He can’t raise there….it’s not a full bet.”

At first the dealer agreed.  “He’s right, the bet wasn’t enough……”

But while the player was questioning it, the dealer was thinking and then came up with a “correction.” 

“He can raise, the bet was $50, the raise was $31, that’s more than half, so he can raise.”  So the dealer not only didn’t get the rule right, but is bad at math, at least initially.

This topic has been covered a few times here, most notably in the post here.  The dealer was using the rule from limit poker for this no-limit game.  The dealer totally confused the two.

What was odd was that although I used to play limit there all the time when I was starting out in poker, I know for a fact that they hadn’t spread a limit hold’em game there in at least a year, and probably longer.  So how the dealer could still be thinking of the limit game rules is beyond me.

Of course, in that discussion of the rules of limit vs. no-limit, it was pointed out that there may be some poker rooms that use the limit game interpretation for no-limit.  But I was 99.999% certain that wasn’t the case for this room.

I explained to the dealer why that ruling was incorrect, and that it is different for no-limit.  I should have asked the dealer when the last time they had a limit game there where it could have come up, but I didn’t.

The dealer, at that point, did not argue with me, to the dealer’s credit. “Wait, wait….now I’m confused…..I’ll get the floor.”  The dealer saw the shift manager in the vicinity and called him over.  The dealer accurately reported the situation and the shift boss gave the exact same ruling that I had said.  The first player could only call the raise.  I was still shocked that a veteran dealer could make such a mistake, but then, we’re all human, right?

When the shift manager left, I started wondering if I hadn’t just been arguing against self-interest.  Had I let the player raise, I surely would have found a fold. Any raise would have have pretty much been for all my remaining chips and at that point, it would have been pretty obvious I was beat.

It still was….but for the size of the pot, and with my call closing the action, I didn’t see how it made any sense to fold for $31.  So I did indeed call.

The river was another 7, and to my surprise, the preflop raiser, who wanted to raise on the turn, announced “check.”  I was only too happy to check behind.  The all-in guy showed Ace-7 for a boat.  The first guy didn’t really show his hand but I managed to catch a quick glance at it and he had Jack-10 for the straight. 

As I said, my session didn’t get any better and I left down some money and wondering why I paid $31 to prove I knew the rules better than a long-time dealer.

Well now, this is a pretty short post by my standards, so I better put some filler in here.  Just the other day, I was shocked to find out that a lot of people enjoy looking at pictures of large-breasted women.  So I’ll fill this out with a few pics of same.  Enjoy.