Friday, February 14, 2020

It Was Only Three Bucks

How much responsibility does a poker player have to maintain the integrity of the game?

I mean, if you are playing in a brick and mortar room, there's a dealer, and a floor person, and a shift manager to make sure the game is handled properly.  But what if you see a dealer make an error, or think you do, and it doesn't involve you? Should you say something?  Should you get involved?  Or should you mind your own business?  If the dealer goofs and costs one of the players money, isn't up to to that player to speak up for himself?  But anyone can make a mistake, and maybe the player who was "cheated": made the same mistake in his mind that the dealer did.  Or is a newbie?  Shouldn't we protect newbies so they keep coming back and playing?

I've seen some discussion quite recently about this very subject.  And I've heard varying opinions.  Where do you stand?

The simplest example would be the dealer pushing the pot to the wrong player.  The dealer misreads the hand.  And sometimes, even though the player who really won the pot thinks he really won the pot, he might be too embarrassed to speak up.  This would be especially likely if he was a new player.

Of course, if you are just observing, you might be afraid to speak up because it would be embarrassing if you were wrong and the dealer was right.

Well, I'm pretty sure I saw the dealer make an error at my most recent visit to Ventura.  And I didn't say anything.  You'll see why.

Here's the situation.  It was either the flop or the turn.  Player A made a bet, and Player B announced all-in.  It was quite an increase over the original bet, which was less than $50.  Player B had at least $400-$450.  Player A had two stacks of what looked like $100 each and three $1 chips.  This was after he made the initial bet.  I'm not sure if the street started two-handed but by the time it got back to Player A, it was definitely heads up.

Player A thought a bit  and then finally said, "call."  He pushed out in front of him the two stack of yellow chips he had (in the L.A. rooms, the $5 chips are yellow and the $1 chips are blue).  He did not push out the three blue chips he had, but of course, his verbal call and the pushing of any chips out in front of him clearly meant he was calling.  It was obvious that Player B had him well-covered.

Player B won. The dealer did not count any chips, as it was obvious that Player B had a lot more than Player A.  The dealer took the two stacks of yellow chips and pushed them to Player B.

And that was it.  He didn't grab the three blue chips that Player A had left over, or ask him to put them out for him to push to Player B.  He totally ignored them..  Player A rebought, but he kept ahold of those three $1 chips.

I knew this wasn't right.  He was covered, and the only way to continue in this hand was to put all his chips in play.  Including those three blue chips which he (apparently) forgot to push out.  The dealer should have caught it and insisted he pay the winner his last three bucks.

The only possible exception I've seen is in Vegas (never L.A.), where sometimes a player puts a dollar chip on the rail if he orders a drink.  That signifies he is holding back a buck to tip the waitress when he gets his drink. On very rare occasions, I've seen a player either call or move all-in and pick up a single chip from his stack and tell the dealer and his opponent that he was holding out that chip for the waitress.  He is kind of asking permission to do that and I've never seen anyone object.

But this wasn't the case here.  Player  A had not ordered a drink.  He didn't have those chips on the rail.  They were part of his stack—the part he didn't push out with his big stacks of yellows.

I couldn't think of any way this wasn't a mistake and that Player B wasn't getting short-changed $3.  But after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to keep quiet.  For one thing, by this time I knew Player B was an experienced player.  He surely knew that he was entitled to the three bucks.  It was on him to speak up, and if he didn't want to—or didn't notice—it was on him.  I suppose it was possible he did notice and didn't want to look cheap or even like he was rubbing it in by insisting on getting the guy's last three dollars.  But that's the rules, right?  He's entitled to those three dollars.  He surely would have had to pay the guy that extra three bucks if he had lost the hand.

The other reason I didn't speak up was….well, it was only three bucks.  Right is right and all, but to get involved in a hand I wasn't a part of for a lousy three dollar mistake—well, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

What do you think?  Should I have said something?

As to the game, there was one memorable hand that made it a nice session.  I had won a couple of really small pots from the blinds, then opened to $15 with pocket Jacks and didn't get a call.

Finally, down to about to about $245 or so (from my $300 buy-in), I looked down at pocket Aces.  I opened to $15.  It folded around to a guy who made it $35.  Everyone else folded and I thought for a bit before making it $90.  This guy had me covered but not by much.  He didn't waste much time before announcing "all-in."  To say I snap-called would be an understatement.  I don't think he'd finished saying the "n" when I said "Call!"  After the hand, the guy on my right commented on how fast I called.  "You called so fast…."  I said, "Well, there was no one else in the hand, there was no point in Hollywooding."  And of course by that time he knew I had Aces. Why draw it out?  Still, he seemed either surprised or impressed by how fast I called.

Obviously the other player wasn't pleased by my insta-call.  He said, "You have Aces?" as he turned over—you guessed it—two Kings.  Ah, the dreaded hand.   But would it be dreaded for him or me?  It had been awhile since I'd been involved in the classic Aces vs. Kings match-up.  It's always memorable, no matter what the result.

The flop had a lot of paint, but it was Queen-Jack-3, rainbow.  But the turn card really was interesting—and by interesting I mean scary as hell—a 10.  So he had an open-ender.  Six outs.  But only six.  Because if he caught his set on the river, I would have Broadway.  OTOH, if I caught my set on the river, he'd have the straight to crush my set of Aces.  So neither one of us wanted to catch our set.

The turn was another 3, totally harmless.  And I had my double up.  Suddenly there was nearly $500 in front of me.

I bled some chips for awhile and finally cashed out with a $160 profit.  Those cooler hands are nice when you are the cooler and not the coolee. 

OK, so what does the pic above have to do with this post?  Well both of us had really big pairs, so.....

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Vegas Poker Scene -- February 2020

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  My column can be found on the Ante Up website here.  Remember I only write the Vegas portion of the page.  The magazine is available now in your local poker room.

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =

Valentyn Shabelnyk of the Ukraine won $136K for capturing the $3,500 main event of December’s Deep Stack Extravaganza at Venetian Las Vegas. Steve Sung from Southern California pocketed $85K as runner-up and George Wolff of Oregon grabbed $60K for third. The event drew 160 players and had a $504K prize pool.  
The next DSE is under way and runs through March 1. A $600 Monster Stack with two starting flights begins Feb. 7 and has a $150K guarantee. Players start with 35K chips and play 40-minute levels. 
The $400 Ultimate Stack has a $100K guarantee and begins Feb. 10 with two Day 1 flights. The starting stack is 40K and the levels are 30 minutes for the first 20 levels and then increase to 40 minutes.
An $800 Monster Stack with a $250K guarantee has three starting flights beginning Feb. 14. It has a 35K stack and 40-minute levels. 
A $400 Monster Stack, which has a $100K guarantee, has the first of its two starting flights Feb. 22. The stack is 30K and the levels are 40 minutes. 
A one-day $400 pot-limit Omaha event is Feb. 23 and has a $10K guarantee. For those of you who prefer freezeouts, one-day $300 Monster Stack events with no re-entry run Feb. 9 and March 1. These have $20K guarantees.
The main event starts Feb. 18. It offers a $1,600 buy-in, three starting flights and a $1M guarantee. Players start with 30K chips and play 60-minute levels. 
There are plenty of $200, $300 and $340 events throughout the series. The guarantees for the series exceed $3.3M.
The regular schedule at the Venetian has been revised. There are tournaments daily at 12:10 and six days a week at 6:10. Monday-Thursday afternoons, a $150 NLHE tournament has an $8K guarantee. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. Friday is a $200 Super Stack with a $20K guarantee.  Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. There are two $100 add-ons available. The first is available after the fourth level and is for 12K chips. The second is after the eighth level and is for 25K chips.  That’s when registration ends. This tournament is so popular, there’s no evening event.
A $340 Double Stack runs Saturday afternoon as players start with 24K chips and play 40-minute levels.  The guarantee is $25K. The Sunday tournament is a $250 Super Stack with a $15K guarantee. Players start with 20K and play 30-minute levels. 
Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings host a $125 Monster Stack with a $4K guarantee that offers 20-minute levels and a 20K starting stack. Monday offers a $125 bounty with a $4K guarantee, 15K stacks, 20-minute levels and $25 bounties. This same tournament runs Thursday but with a $6K guarantee. Tuesday has a $200 bounty event with 12K stacks, 30-minute levels and $50 bounties. 
HARRAH’S: Mexico’s Anthony Spinella won the WSOPC main event in December, taking home $192K. Nipun Java of Los Angeles received $119K for second and Canada’s Jimmy Lee earned $87K for third.  The $1,700 event had 665 entrants, creating a $1M prize pool, easily surpassing the $500K guarantee.
RIO: The WSOPC runs Feb. 14-25 with 14 ring events, including a $400 combination NLHE-PLO that starts Feb. 18 and plays over two days. The next day, a $600 two-day HORSE event begins. There is a one-day $250 seniors event Feb. 17. A $400 Monster Stack with two starting flights begins Feb. 21.
The $1,700 main event has two starting flights beginning Feb. 22 and a $1M guarantee. A $2,200 High Roller closes out the action Feb. 24.
WYNN: Michael Rocco of Southern California won the $5,300 championship at the Winter Classic in December, taking home $540K. Michael Dyer from Las Vegas earned $353K for second and England’s Ben Farrell claimed $240K for third. The event drew 557 players, resulting in a $2.7M prize pool, smashing the $1.5M guarantee.
BELLAGIO: Alex Foxen of New York took down the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December. He received $1.694M for the win and, as a result, finished first in the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race for the second time in a row. Ireland’s Toby Joyce scored $1.12M for second and Seth Davies out of Oregon claimed $827K for third. The $10,400 event drew a record 1,035 players and had a $10M prize pool.
SAM’S TOWN: The room offers a $50 PLO tournament Wednesday nights at 7. Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels. There is an optional $10 add-on for 5K chips available any time during the first six levels. The tournament features a $1K guarantee.
SAHARA LAS VEGAS: The poker room opens Jan. 29.  
GREEN VALLEY RANCH: Through the end of March, the room is offering the GVR High Hands promo on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 
Between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m., the highest hand of the period (two or three hours) receives $200, $250 or $300 depending on the period it hits. 
If a period does not have a qualified winner, that amount rolls over into the next day the promo runs. The minimum qualifying hand is queens full.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Remembering the Good Ol' Days (Part 2)


Note:  Be sure to read part 1 of this post first, below or see here, before reading this.  This post picks up right where part 1 ended.

After a couple of dealers, my buddy Jack came to deal.  While he was standing by the current dealer, waiting to replace him, I whispered to him that he was in for a wild ride.  I’m sure he’d heard Natalee from wherever he was dealing before.  He asked, “a new blog post?”  I said “Absolutely.”  Later, after a few minutes, and in response to one of her strange or outrageous comments, he turned to me and said, “How do you always happen to be at tables like this?”
I had no explanation, I just giggled, glad that this happened to be the case so often.
Then there was the guy in seat 9.  He was an older gentleman, a regular, and from my brief experience with him in the past, usually a nice guy.  I couldn’t hear anything he was saying to her, but she accused him of saying he wanted to break her finger, and he didn’t dispute that.  She stacked him a couple of times, and he was mostly silent, or quiet enough that I couldn’t hear him with the dealer sitting between us.  After what was I believe the second time she stacked him, he angrily got some more money out of his pocket and threw it down on the table for another rebuy. 
And then almost immediately got into yet another hand with Natalee.  While this hand was in progress, the Shift Manager returned to see what was going on. And also, I think, to address Natalee’s concern about getting another beer, which she hadn’t gotten yet.  I later learned that the waitress herself had kept her cut off.  Natalee began complaining to the Shift Manager about the horrible treatment she was receiving from the other players, and truth be told, I couldn’t disagree with her.  The hand kind of stalled for awhile, with a flop of (I think) K-9-5.  Seat 9 bet the flop, and, while thinking about to what to do (as if there was any doubt), Natalee spoke to the boss.
“They’re mean to me.  There being mean to me.  Aren’t they being mean to me?”  She was asking Jack to confirm that.  He agreed.  “They are being mean to her.”
Then she gave examples, and pointing around the table, she said, “He called me stupid, he called me a bitch, he said he was going to break my finger.  Of course, they’re not going to do anything to me.  They’re all on tilt.”  It wasn’t the first time she said her opponents were on tilt, which was definitely the most accurate statement she made while at the table.  A couple of times as she was hearing comments and stacking their (former) chips, she would say, “It’s called ‘tilt’.  Get over it.”
The Shift Manager warned everyone to watch their language, that any abuse given to Natalee would not be tolerated, that sort of thing.  Wyoming said he called her “biatch”, not “bitch” but the boss said, it was close enough.  Truth is, he did say “bitch” more often than “biatch.” 
He stayed to watch this hand play out.  After careful thought (!), Natalee said, “Well, I have a piece of that, so I’m gonna raise.”  Seat 9 said, “Well, you know what I’m gonna do,” and then announced “all in.” Natalee replied, “I’ve got middle pair.  I know I’m behind but I’m gonna hit it.  It’s gonna be runner runner and I’m going to take it.  Besides, I like sixty-nine.”

With that she called, and Seat 9 said, “and I’m going home.”  She showed her cards, indeed it was 9-6, she had middle pair, as she said.  And just as sure as I’m sitting here, the last two cards were a 7 and an 8 and she made her straight.  I’m sure two pair would have worked too.  Seat 9 had a pair of Kings, got up and stormed off.
By this time, she had huge stacks of chips in front of her, at least $1500 worth of red chips (from the $100 buy in) and my pal Susan came over to offer to color up her chips, which Natalee thought was a good idea.  Earlier, Susan had come over to me and asked what was going on at the table, as everyone in the room could hear at least part of the insanity.  I just had time to say she was really crazy, and she was really lucky, and she was putting most of the table on tilt.
And then finally, your humble blogger got into a hand with the crazy woman.  I was on the button when I woke up with two Aces.  I have to be honest, I almost was unhappy to see them.  I knew the way Natalee was running, the odds of her drawing to beat my rockets were excellent, if not guaranteed.  For a nano-second, the thought of mucking crossed my mind.
Not really.  After all, it wasn’t the dreaded pocket kings! The truth is, outside of the blinds, I don’t think I’d really played a hand yet.  Maybe I limped in a couple of times with medium pocket pairs.  I was down to about $150 (from $200) without really having played yet.  I had been waiting for a premium hand to play, and this was the very first one I’d gotten at the table, and of course, it was the most premium hand you could get.  I was going to play it strong and hope for the best (odd thing to say with the best starting hand in Hold’em, but that’s a reflection of the run that Natalee was on). (I should repeat here what I said in part 1, I was really completely card dead, and hadn’t gotten any hands I would have played under more normal circumstances)
I was kind of hoping this would be one of the few hands Natalee would muck preflop,   I would be happy to play those Aces against anyone else at the table.  But sure enough, Natalee led out with a raise to $15.  It folded to me.  Since I’m sure no one could remember me playing a hand, everyone must have been surprised as I counted out chips and made it $45.  Actually, more accurately, I’m sure no one could even remember me being at the table, they were all so focused on Natalee.
It folded back to Natalee who commented about having a good hand, what was she gonna do?  And she called.  The flop came 10-high and she checked.  I shrugged, announced “all in” and waited for her inevitable suck out.
She actually took some time before she called.  I really think, crazy as she seemed, she probably noticed that of all the guys at the table she had stacked and put on tilt and sucked out on, I was none of them.  I’m pretty sure she was coherent enough to realize that I hadn’t been much of a participant in the poker up until then and that I probably really did have a hand.
But call she did, and why not?  The way she was running, as long as she wasn’t drawing dead, with two more cards to come, the odds were actually in favor!  Well, not really.  I immediately showed my Aces, and she flipped over Ace-King.
Two things there.  One, that was probably the best starting hand she raised with all night, by far, except for the Aces she had when she stacked Wyoming with KK.  So, when she raised there, she actually had a hand.
Second, except for the fact that she was the world’s biggest luckbox, it was a terrible call on her part.  I’ve seen other people make that same call with AK and I never, ever get it.  Not in a cash game.  In a tournament, sometimes it makes sense to call in that situation.  But in a cash game, where the flop misses you and you can walk away losing only $45, why would you call?
But again, even though she probably knew I had her beat, why not call with the way the deck was hitting her?  Truth be told, when I saw her hand, I was debating in my mind whether she was going to beat me with runner runner Kings or runner runner Queen-Jack for the straight.
But no, this time she didn’t hit her hand.  Maybe it was good karma from me because I was one of the few guys at the table who wasn’t nasty to her.  Whatever, my Aces held and I had a nice double up, now over $100 up for the session.  After basically playing one hand of poker in 90 minutes.
I think while I was still stacking my chips, Natalee lost another hand, and might have now been down to only about $1200 plus in front of her.  Sensing her incredible run was over, and no doubt being unhappy over some of the hostility she had been receiving almost from the minute she had sat down at the table, she did what she had been threatening to do for some time.  She took off.  Susan helped carry her chips (now, mostly green, $25 chips) and she took off.  I couldn’t help notice that she did give Susan a couple handfuls of $1 chips as a tip, both for helping her stack up and color up, and for helping carry her chips.
Despite the fact that several of the players there truly despised Natalee with every fiber of her being, those same guys were all sad to see go.  Not sad, mad.  They didn’t want her to take all that cash they’d given her and give it away to the casino at the blackjack table.  Well, to some degree, they had only themselves to blame.  If they had been nice to her, she might have been willing to stay after her luck changed and given them a fair shot to get some of their chips back.  But by being so nasty to her, they just encouraged her to take off once she sensed that she was going to hit runner runner straight every time she needed to.
In fact, while dealing, Jack had been whispering to me how stupid it was for the guys to be so nasty to her.  She’s the kind of player you want at that table, once her luck runs out, as it inevitably must.  I suppose she might have left anyway, but who knows?  I guess the guys were so tilted by her, they couldn’t help themselves.  Or they were complete idiots. 
But that isn’t the end of the story.  A few minutes later, after she had exited the poker room, the waitress who was serving our table came over to me.  All the regular waitresses at BSC during swing shift know me and my order, of course.  But other than saying hi or confirming that I want another drink, they don’t really speak to me much.  Of course, the waitress knew me as a most regular regular in the room, so she wanted to discuss Natalee with me.
She got besides me and crouched so she could speak with me quietly.  “What the hell was with that woman?”  I just shrugged and said she was crazy.  She asked if I’d ever seen her before and I assured her I had not (I’m pretty sure I’d remember!).  She told me that she had been cut off, which I knew, but then she explained that it wasn’t just the Shift Manager who had cut off.  The waitress had actually gone to her own supervisor (in beverage service, or whatever they call it) to complain about her!  I didn’t know that.
But then the waitress told me that she looked familiar to her, and either she had served her before or she just looked just like some other crazy woman she’d served.  They she asked me if I thought she was really drunk or if it was just an act.  Hmm…..I have no idea if the waitress knows anything about poker, although she has been serving in that poker room for as long as I can remember.  She wondered if the woman was acting like that to drive the other players nuts and thus this was actually a strategy, an act if you will, and not some drunken sideshow.  I had to consider the possibility.
Then Susan walked by and I called her over to ask if Natalee had really gone or if she had just moved to a less hostile table.  No, she was really gone.  She said, loud enough for all the players around me, including Dirk, to hear, “She was really scared.  She was really scared .  She was scared of the guys here.”  I was surprised but Susan insisted she was frightened.  The other guys weren’t really believing her. 
Later, Susan pulled me aside privately and said she was just saying that to see how seat 4 (Dirk) would react to it.  Apparently she wasn’t really scared.  And Natalee had also given the Shift Manager a big tip too, which surprised me since she seemed pissed at him for cutting her off and also for perhaps not “defending” her strongly enough from the tilting guys at the table.
A few hours later, despite Natalee’s exit, Dirk was still on tilt.  He kept getting sucked out on time and again.  Wyoming was doing his best Natalee impression in terms of calling with weak hands and hitting what he needed on the turn or the river, or both.  He was visually angry and started swearing so much that the dealer called the floor over to warn him about using the “f-bomb.”  He eventually busted out of his last buy in and at least initially, refused to say goodbye or shake the hand of Wyoming, who he had initially been pals with (they had a mutual dislike of Natalee to share).  But he did eventually do a fist pump with Wyoming before leaving in a huff.
But before that, we heard the dulcet tones of Natalee speaking to us from afar.  Yes, just outside the poker room, puffing on a cigarette, was dear, sweet, Natalee.  “Hi guys, I’m back,” she shouted over to our table.  By now, only Dirk, Wyoming and I remained from the gang that played with her.  “I lost all your money at the blackjack table.”  Nice twisting of the knife there!  But at least I could say that she hadn’t lost any of my money at blackjack!
To my astonishment, I saw Dirk get up and go over to talk to her.  They seemed to be chatting amicably, and when he returned, he wouldn’t tell us what they discussed.  Perhaps he was enough of gentleman to apologize to her?
Natalee disappeared, and I was getting ready to leave, still having my $100 profit or thereabouts.  It had been up and down for me since she left, and since I was able to start actually playing poker again.  The original dealer we had when Natalee joined us returned to deal.  He asked me if things were a bit different at the table now, and I said they sure were.  Then he told me she was playing again, and pointed out a table as far from ours as physically possible, where I could see Jack was dealing.   I said I was surprised I couldn’t hear her!
A few minutes later, I got up to get a rack for my chips, and at the front, the same Shift Manager was there and saw me.  Natalee’s new table was the closest one to the front.  The Shift Manager made some comment about what a wild ride we’d had earlier, and asked me what I thought of the woman.  I started to shake my head and was about to say something about her being crazy when I heard her pipe up from the table she was at.
“I can hear you!  I heard that.  I’m wearing these earbuds so I can hear you.”  Actually, I’m not sure what she said she was wearing that enabled her to hear us.  Amplifiers?  I dunno.  But as she was saying this, she got up and came over to talk to us.
“I can hear you guys,” she repeated when she was standing right next to me.  The Shift Manager told her he hadn’t said anything negative (though both of us were about to).  “I put all those guys on tilt, didn’t I?”  I told her she indeed had.  She started to go back to her seat and as she turned away from me, she said, “I’m a Jewish woman.  I know how to annoy people.”
I had no possible response to that. I just shook my head.  But it did make me once again consider the possibility that everything she had done was an intentional act to put people on tilt, and if it was, it had worked brilliantly.  I peaked over and noticed she had at least $500 in red chips in front of her, and I would be shocked if she had bought in for anything other than $100 again.
By the time I’d gotten my chips racked and was walking to the cashier, Jack had moved to another table, and I whispered to him to make sure he emailed me with any good stories he could report about his latest down with Natalee.  He nodded.
I was stopped by one more person before I got to the cashier.  A female floor person came by and started telling me about the crazy woman!  I don’t think I’d seen her back there when Natalee was at my table, but of course she knows me as a regular.  “That woman’s crazy.  Did you hear what she just said?”
I told her I had not.  “She said, ‘Is this a gang-bang or a ménage-a-trois?’”  I laughed and she immediately was called over to do something for one of the players, so I never got a chance to ask her exactly what the context of that comment was, if she even knew.  The funny thing is, I’ve had hours and hours of contact with this lady floor person, and she’d dealt me thousands of hands of poker before she became full time floor, and I had never, ever heard a provocative or risqué comment from her.  So I found that especially amusing.
Jack dealt to me the next night and his first words to me were, “How’s the blog post coming?”  I said I had barely started on it.  He did have one more item of note.  After I left, and after a shift changed brought a new Shift Manager, this one female, the same waitress who had talked to me about Natalee was still insisting she wouldn’t serve Natalee a beer.  So Natalee had gotten on the phone and called her Casino Host.  And sometime soon thereafter, the Casino Host came over and had a talk with the new Shift Manager.  The result of that conversation was that the female Shift Manager personally delivered Natalee a beer a few minutes later.
I was only left to wonder how many guys Natalee put on tilt at that table.