Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Death of RobVegasPoker?

Don’t panic (or, depending on your point of view, don’t celebrate).  The title of this post does not refer to my medical condition, or any bad news I received from the doctor.  In fact, I’m doing well and am seeing the cardiologist at the end of this week.  So we’ll see how that goes.  Right now I sort of feel like Groundhog Day is approaching for me.   I’m wondering if the doc will release me to resume normal activity, or if it’s gonna be six more weeks of winter.

No, I’m not referring to my own death, just the possible death of my name.  I mean, is it time to retire the name “RobVegasPoker”?  I may have to.  How does RobVenturaPoker sound? At least I’d still be RVP as a few people refer to me.  Or perhaps RobBikePoker?

And of course, I’d have to change the name of the blog from Rob’s Vegas & Poker Blog to Rob’s Ventura & Poker Blog.  Or Rob’s Bike & Poker Blog (that would be confusing, I’d start getting visitors looking for info on bicycles…or motor cycles).

But I wouldn’t be the first guy to rebrand his blog. My friend and fellow blogger Pete Peters just did it.  He is no longer “The Poker Barrister” and that is no longer the name of his blog.  Although, oddly enough, he is still a barrister.  I personally think he should give up that profession and find a more honest one…..like used car salesman, perhaps.  But that’s his business.

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, as you know, it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Vegas.  I was last there in early July.  I haven’t been back because of two surgeries (cataract and triple bypass).  When will I return?  Well, obviously that depends a great deal on what my cardiologist tells me in a few days.

And you would think that I must be going crazy right now.  That I must be chomping at the bit (whatever that means) to get to Vegas.

And I am. Except when I’m not.

It’s just that every time I find myself really looking forward to returning to Vegas, I find myself wondering why.

Sigh.

This is not new, really.  I expressed my displeasure about what’s become of Vegas already this year, most notable in the post that starts here.  But as I was starting to really anticipate my return to Vegas, our pals at Caesars Entertainment just last week announced that they were going to follow MGM’s lead and start charging for parking (that post I just linked to discusses MGM’s paid parking, and you can find even more about it here).

Well, it was really no surprise.  We all anticipated this when MGM broke the ice.  It was inevitable.  But it was in the back of my mind, almost forgotten until CET made the big announcement.  They will be charging for valet parking at all their Strip properties before the year is out and then start charging for self-parking sometime early in 2017.

Just days later, Wynn announced they would be charging for valet parking at both Wynn and Encore momentarily.  They say they have no plans to charge for self-parking, but I find that really hard to believe (to be fair, the poker room Twitter account for Wynn tweeted that self-parking would remain free—we’ll see). 

It is almost certain that it won’t be long before every property on the Strip that has a poker room will start charging for parking.  The local casinos probably won’t follow suit, at least for now.  South Point (which is so far south it isn’t really on “the Strip”) likely won’t.  Who knows about the Stratosphere?

But everywhere else—well you’re gonna pay. Sooner or later, you’re gonna pay.  (T.I. and Venetian will follow suit when either their garages fill up with other casino’s customers or they wonder why they are leaving all that money on the table).

Now recall I got bailed out by MGM because they made a special arrangement for poker players to count poker play towards their reward program.  If you have a player’s card and play enough to get upgraded to the second lowest level of their program, parking is free.  So MGM decided that if you played 75 hours of poker in a single MGM-owned poker room in a year, you would qualify for the upgrade that lets you park for free.  I qualified when the fee-parking started because of all my play at MGM the previous year. 

But now it’s been almost half a year before I’ve play there or any place in Vegas.  At some point, they are gonna figure out that I haven’t played enough to qualify for my gold card status, and I will have to pay to park at MGM, Aria, Monte Carlo, etc.  Maybe even by the next time I get there, if it isn’t soon.

Meanwhile, CET will do the same thing, give free parking if you get one level upgraded on your rewards card (CET calls that level Platinum).  At least CET combines slot/pit/poker player for this (MGM never did).  But that doesn’t help me much.  I don’t play slots or pit games.  I play poker.  Pretty much exclusively.  There’s no way I can play enough poker at CET rooms to upgrade my player’s card.  Especially if I keep playing at MGM rooms (in what would be most likely an unsuccessful attempt to keep my upgraded status there).

This is especially true since I’ve been missing in action from Vegas for the second half of 2016 due to the two surgeries.  But I probably couldn’t do it even if I visited as often this year as last year.  It’s hard to make two different casino chains happy with your play when you only play poker and don’t live in Vegas.  Pretty much impossible, I’d say.

So, depending on when I return to Vegas (assuming I do), it’s very possible I will have to pay around $10 every time I go to the Strip to play poker. 

For me, that is a big deal.  It’s like starting every session down ten bucks.  And if I want to go to another poker room after a session in one room, that could easily become $20 a day just to park.  Maybe more.

I know for some people who come to Vegas for 2-3-4 days at a time, it won’t be that big a deal.  But typically, I go for 10-14 days at a time.  We’re talking maybe $140-$200 per trip added on to the cost of a visit.  For nothing.  For absolutely nothing.

That’s on top of increasing room rates.  Even without the parking, it’s getting to the point where it is too expensive to visit Vegas as much as I’d like, or I used to.  I can’t reveal where I stay (or I’d have to kill you) but when I started staying there it was pretty cheap.  Now it seems every time I book a stay, the price has gone up a few bucks.  When you book for 10+ days that adds up fast.  And I actually get a discount for being a frequent stayer.

(Just to answer your anticipated questions:  I am not in a position to move to Vegas at this time due to personal reasons.  And I can’t afford to buy a place in Vegas and keep my L.A. home, I’m not that well off)

Plus everything costs a lot more in Vegas than it did just a few years ago.  Food used to be a bargain.  No more.  For example, my favorite junk meal (from Nathan’s at NYNY) just a few years cost less than $5.50.  Now it’s almost $10.  Exact same meal! They are even charging three bucks for pickles and onions (see here).  They only way I can make it work is because the place I stay has a kitchen and I have at least two meals a day that I prepare myself (last time, I even had all three meals in my room a bunch of times to save money).

Of course, I can use poker comps to get some “free food.”  But if you get it in a sit-down restaurant, you still gotta pay the tip out of pocket.  And guess what?  A lot of rooms have become less generous with their comps (Wynn and Venetian come to mind).  And did you know that all poker comps at MGM poker rooms now expire after a year?  And since the food is so expensive now, $1 in comps (even if you get to keep it) ain’t what it used to be.

You know, maybe if I concentrated all my play on one set of rooms, I could keep free parking for that chain.  But hard to see how I could do both big chains (let alone Wynn, Venetian, etc).  So what do I do then?  Avoid the other casinos altogether?  What if I just want to go to Caesars or Planet Hollywood to eat or meet someone?  I guess I could park at Mirage and walk to Caesars, Harrah’s, Flamingo.  But it’s likely I’d never set foot in Bally’s or PH again (well….if I didn’t hate Bellagio parking so much, I guess I could park there and walk to Bally’s).

I suppose I could ignore all of this except for one thing.  Last week, even before CET announced their parking plan, I was anticipating my next Vegas trip, starting to really look forward to it.  Hell, when you’re basically housebound for five weeks, you look forward to walking to pick up your mail.  And you know what?  As I started thinking about it, I became distressed to realize I was having a hard time thinking of even one poker room in Vegas I was really looking forward to playing in.  Honestly.  I was starting to wonder why I even wanted to go back there.

I probably should be careful here.  As the guy who works for PokerAtlas and Ante Up Magazine, my official position has to be that all Vegas poker rooms are great.  If asked which is the best, my answer is, “They’re all fantastic, but everyone has different tastes, you should try them all and figure out the ones you like the best.”

But the truth is, if I think of the Vegas poker rooms, I can find fault with pretty much everyone of them, and it’s much harder to list each room’s plusses.  Sorry.

I mean, my first thought was that I was looking forward to playing the Aria tournament again.  But as I’ve discussed, they changed the weekend versions to a time that is really inconvenient for me.  During the week when it is the “right” time,  I should be working.

Binion’s also changed their big Saturday tournament to a less convenient time.  Plus, they closed their main poker room and moved to the pit. And most of my favorite dealers have left for greener pastures.  I’m almost afraid to go back and see what’s left.

Most of the Strip rooms have freerolls.  I’ve discussed how I am trying to avoid rooms with freerolls.  I don’t play in the freerolls so that is just income redistribution, money taken out of my pocket and given to the local grinders.

But….let me defend freerolls for one moment.  Last time I griped about them I received a communication from one of my local buddies explaining how important those freerolls were to the grinders in making a living at poker.  So for locals, they are very important, and a good thing (especially for the locals who know how to excel in turbo tournaments).

And I can’t blame the rooms for offering them.  If it brings people in (and it does), they have to offer them.  Not a single room on the Strip could survive with just tourists.  They depend on locals to start games and keep them going and keep the room busy. So I certainly can’t criticize those rooms that offer them.

But the drain of money that I have no chance of winning back bothers me.  Maybe that’s a mental thing for me that I should just get past?

I also have to worry about other promos, the ones that might affect the game, or my game.  I did a post about how those MGM promos affected my game negatively (see here). Do I play too long to chase a promo?  Play hands I shouldn’t play to chase a promo?

As I will discuss in my next Ante Up column, the Venetian is about to become the next room to take a promo drop and offer promos. It starts day of Xmas.  They’ll have a bad beat jackpot and for January, high hand bonuses mostly being offered during weekdays when I am unlikely to play.  The Venetian has a $5 max rake, so it will now be $6 out of most pots.  So this definitely makes V less inviting to play cash.  I mean, the odds of hitting that BBJ are so remote.

Again, I will defend Venetian for trying this, their cash games have been suffering lately and it makes sense for them to try this to get more people in. 

That leaves four rooms left in Vegas without a promo drop: Aria, Bellagio, Wynn & Caesars.  In theory those should be my favorite rooms (for cash games anyway).  But….

The first three have 1/3 NL, not 1/2 NL.  When you go to Vegas for 10 days at a time, and have to manage your bankroll, it makes a big difference to walk into a room knowing if you have a bad run and lose 2 or 3 buy-ins, it’s a loss of $600-$900 vs $400-$600.  Oh and plus, Wynn, nice as it is, takes a $5-max rake.  And if you eventually throw a parking charge on top of that, it is definitely a factor.

So Caesars it is, right?  It’s 1/2 NL, there’s no promo drop and it’s $4 max rake.  Just one problem.  Virtually every time I’ve played in their new room, I’ve had to leave early because I was so damn cold.  I can almost count on having to walk to Mirage to continue my poker evening every time I play there.  If you’re sitting there shivering, not only is it unpleasant but you can’t play your best poker.  Oh, and the temperature is a problem no matter the time of year.  It was bad in the winter, and perhaps even worse in the summer.

Speaking of Mirage, that would be a viable option for me to play more often, except that is like the last room in Vegas to still have 10-handed no limit tables.  I hate that.  Whenever I think of playing at Mirage, that usually stops me (unless I’m coming from Caesars to warm up).

Everyone knows that for years my favorite room was MGM.  But lately, that has been less true.  One of the reasons it’s lost its appeal for me is that many of my dealer pals who worked there have moved on. I mentioned last time that Jack and Brent, who I always enjoyed bullshitting with (and were featured in many of my favorite blog posts) are no long there.  That’s just bad luck (for me, but good for them) and no fault of the room.

They kept trying different promos, some I really liked, some I didn’t.  I never cared for the “Invitational” because it was a freeroll, nuff said.  Some of the promos they tried recently were so confusing that I didn’t quite understand them.

But, I did receive some good news about MGM while I was working on the Ante Up column I just filed.  The new promo that starts Wednesday sounds really good to me.  It’s a pyramid of full houses (only consisting of Jacks, Queens and Kings full) that is progressive.  At first glance I really like it. We’ll see how it goes.

Also the promos that I didn’t understand are going away (or already went away).  They have a couple of other promos that are better. And I understand they are discontinuing the “Invitational", but they haven’t told me what is replacing it.  That sounds promising but I suppose it could just be replaced with another form of a freeroll.  We’ll have to see.

But if I continue to play MGM, it is important that I feel that their promos are achievable for me,  as they take $2 for the promo drop (plus the $4 rake).

And of course, the MGM is still, to the best of my knowledge, the best place to enjoy the last really great, free show in town (if you’re a heterosexual male), The Slut Parade.  At least it’s free for now….until I have to pay for parking to get to MGM.

At this point, I wonder if that’s really the only thing that I would really miss if I stopped going to Vegas?

You might be thinking, well, the locals poker rooms aren’t going to be charging for parking, why not play there?  It’s true, there are some nice locals rooms in Vegas.  But you know, I feel that if I’m going to play in a room full of locals, why go to Vegas?  I can play in locals rooms without travelling out of Southern California.

To sum it all up, a few things.  I need to get back to Vegas fast, if possible, so I can still enjoy free parking. I worry that I won’t be able to go before the free parking is over for me (both at MGM rooms and CET rooms).  So for now, I am incentivized to go, if I am physically able.

But soon….I will have to consider going to Vegas less often, if at all.  I can play poker at Ventura and the Bike….and other rooms in the vicinity.  I don’t have to pay for parking or a room.  It’s a lot cheaper.  The promos are just drops for a bad beat jackpot that I could conceivable hit.  True, hitting the BBJ is only slightly more likely than having the lady depicted below showing up to my door stark naked one evening, but still.  I can get cheap food at home or on the way.


Maybe I should just take a few days off every month, spend a few days driving out to one of the local rooms and getting my poker fix in that way?

How does RobVenturaPoker sound?

This is what Vegas is driving me to consider.  And it is a shame.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Verbal is Binding--Still

OK, this is a another repost of one of my favorite stories.  This was actually a very popular post, but it is over four years old, so hopefully even if you read it back then, you have forgotten enough of it to enjoy it again. I figure it is a solid poker post and besides, I don't have anything else for you at the moment.  Hope you enjoy it again.

In reviewing the post, I see that the two dealers I mentioned, Brent & Jack, have both moved on.  Brent now works at The Wynn, and Jack moved away from Vegas and is out of poker altogether.  Nick, the shift supervisor who made the ultimate decision in my favor, retired soon after this story took place.  

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One of the rules of the poker room is this:  “Verbal is binding.”  This means that if a person says “call” instead of putting out his chips in front of him, he is obligated to put his chips into the pot.  If he or she says “raise” he must raise the required amount, regardless of any action he takes with his chips (in a no limit game, without stating an amount, the person saying “raise” would have to put out the minimum required to raise).

But that’s not where it ends.  If a person has yet to act, and the person who will be acting next says something about calling or raising, that too is binding.  Even if he doesn’t realize it.
And that little rule created quite a ruckus at BSC last week.  And it was your humble correspondent who was up against the guy who didn’t know the rules—or at least, claimed not to know them.
I was sitting in seat 4 and had about $250 in front of me.  A brand new player took seat 5 immediately to my left and bought in for $100.  This was his very first hand.  He was coming in right behind the button. 
A bunch of limpers in the pot, the action went to me holding 6/7 suited, so I limped also.  Seat 5 raised to $10.  Two or three called in front of me, so I called as well.
The flop was 865, rainbow I believe.  It checked around to the new player, who had last action from here on.  He bet $30.  A guy in early position called as well.  I had him covered but he had close to $200 in front of him.  I felt with the pair and the open ender it was enough to call, so I did.
The turn card was a beautiful 9, given me the second nuts.  Only a 10-7 could beat me.  First guy checked, and I decided to check too.  If I bet there, it would scream “straight!” and I probably wouldn’t get a caller.  If I checked, I thought the new player might bet and then I could figure out what to do based on whether the other guy called and how much the bet was. 
But the guy disappointed me, tanking for a bit, saying, “Wow, you put a straight out there huh?”  After thinking about it some more, he finally said he was just gonna check.
Oh well, I knew that was the risk.  The river was a totally harmless deuce that didn’t change anything (and there was no flush possible).  First guy checks, and, I knew I had to bet to try to get any more value for my hand. 
I started counting out chips and was trying to figure out what bet would be called. Before I got very far in my thought process of what the right amount to bet would be, the new guy, seeing me reach for chips, said something like, “Oh if you’re betting, I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”
OK, if that’s the case, no more calculating on my part was necessary.  The third guy was a good player; I didn’t figure he’d call the two of us unless he had a 7, or worse for me, 10-7.  If this guy was gonna put his last $60 in the pot, I was satisfied with that.  So I said, “In that case, all-in.” 
The dealer was Brent.  Brent is not just a dealer pal of mine but the very dealer who gave me the great story about “protecting your hand” that resulted in my all time most popular post, located here.  Now, we were about to get yet another lesson in poker rules and etiquette courtesy of Brent.
Brent immediately took out the “all in” card and threw it in front of me, and took out the “call” card and threw it in front of seat 5.  Seat 5 said nothing. Brent posed stoically and the action turned to the third player.  But nothing happened for awhile and I looked at Brent and he was still frozen.  So, for a nano-second, forgetting about the third player, or perhaps thinking he must have folded as I assumed he would, I grabbed my cards and said, “Is that in then?”  I hadn’t come close to exposing my hand tho, when Brent stopped me and pointed to the third guy and said he still had to act.  I immediately slammed my cards face down, no one had seen them.  I had barely gotten them an inch off the table.
I then looked over to the third guy for a second, and he was still tanking.  I looked away.  During all this time, seat 5 said absolutely nothing, made no motion, was totally still.  He was definitely not acting like a guy who had a decision to make.  Finally the other guy says, “Well, I guess at least one of you has me beat,” and mucked.
Brent looks at both of us and says “lets see ‘em” or whatever.  I show my hand, he said, “straight,” and then, and only then, did seat 5 speak up. 
“Call? Who called?  I didn’t call.”  Brent told him he most certainly did call.  He told him that what he said before I bet was binding, verbal is binding, and that he said “I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”  That’s binding.
No, seat 5 said, he didn’t say that.  “I said, ‘I’d probably call.’  I said ‘probably’.  I didn’t say I’d call.”   Brent said he didn’t hear him say “probably.” Anybody hear him say “probably,” he asked the table?
No.  A few people shook their heads and said definitely that they didn’t hear him say “probably.”  I said what I knew to be true, that he never said probably.  The rest of the table said nothing, presumably not hearing what he said.
The guy insisted he didn’t call, so Brent held up the action and called the floor over.  We’ll call the floor person “Bill” and like most anyone who works floor this time of day at BSC (or evening, actually), he knows me by name (and has helped me a few times on comps issues, among other things).  He even knows my last name, which surprised me because I didn’t think he’d ever seen my players card.
Seat 5 started making his case and Bill silenced him.  He got the story from Brent first, who accurately re-enacted what happened.  He also pointed out that his comment affected my action, which was true—just not the way the guy had hoped for.  Brent said he was trying to get me not to bet.
Bill turned back to seat 5 and said that “verbal is binding” and that since he had made the call, he had to put all his chips into the pot, as I easily had him covered.  The guy continued to protest, and rather loudly.  He said, “Why would I call when there was a four-card straight on the board?”
I didn’t say anything, but of course, that four-card straight was on the board when he said he was gonna call whatever I put out.  He had noticed the straight on the turn; that’s why he didn’t bet.  But he still said he was gonna call me.
He continued to talk.  He said, “I’m a man of my word,” and thus was trying to act insulted that he was being questioned like this.  He insisted he said “probably.”  Then he went on to say that this was his first time in Vegas and he just came into BSC to see the show in the main showroom and was trying to have a little fun before the show started. 
Somewhere along the way, Bill took the same survey of the other players that Brent had and found no one who recalled saying “probably.”  When Bill once again asked him politely to put his chips into the pot, he again refused and asked to speak to someone else.
Bill said fine, he would call the Shift Supervisor over.  Which he did.  Of course, “Nick,” the Shift Supervisor, knows me too.  I should point out that during the entire discussion, Brent, Bill and Nick referred to me only as “seat 4” and never by name, even tho they all know it.  I assume this is standard operating procedure, and it is an excellent idea.  Since they were siding with me, it only would have made things worse if the guy knew that I was a regular in the room who everyone knew.  He might have felt that as a regular, they were giving me preferential treatment, although that wasn’t true.  They were calling this one by the book.
Pretty much the same thing happened, Nick asked the other players after hearing Brent’s version of the facts.  Then, after hearing seat 5 tell him he was a man of his word several more times, and how this was his first time in Vegas, and how he said “probably” and why would he call a four-card straight and he was just there to see the show…..Nick very, very politely and calmly told him that he had indeed called my bet and to please put his chips into the pot.
Now I must admit, at some point I seriously considered just saying, “It’s ok, let him keep his chips.”  I really did.  The guy was clearly upset and who knew what would happen if this situation was allowed to escalate.  And it was only $60, even if it was $60 that was rightly mine.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As Brent had pointed out, his words had indeed affected my action.  Plus, he had all kinds of time before seeing my hand to say something about not calling.  The “call” card was sitting in front of him for a couple of minutes. Then he saw Brent remind me that another player, the one following him, still had to act.  Why would we be waiting for him to act if seat 5 himself had not already acted?  Of course, even if he protested as soon as he saw the “call” card placed in front of him, there still would have been an issue as to whether or not he had called, but at least it would have been adjudicated before he saw my hand.
So I said nothing.  My only contribution to the discussion was my statement, several times, to several different people, that he didn’t say “probably”.  He said he would call whatever I bet.
The guy was very agitated and repeated all the things he had been saying several times.  Nick once again told him to put his chips (which he had been holding onto tightly since the ruckus began) into the pot.  He said he wouldn’t because he hadn’t called.  Then Nick said he would have to call security.
“Security?  You’re gonna call security?  Are you serious?” he said.  I envisioned this guy hurriedly getting up from his chair and bolting the room (and casino), chips in hand.  Meanwhile the rest of the players were getting impatient, some complaining that this was holding up the game. Finally, he took his chips and flung them towards Brent.  Most of them landed in the rack in front of him. I don’t think any of them hit Brent. Brent calmly and professionally took them all out of the rack and placed them into the pot, which he then pushed to me.  I tipped Brent $5 for his troubles (it was a nice pot, but it didn’t really justify that kind of a tip—I was tipping him for the aggravation and for taking my side—which of course, was the correct side).  I dunno if the guy saw the tip, as he immediately got up and stormed out of the room, presumably to see his show.  But in hindsight, I shouldn’t have given that big a tip in front of the guy.  I should have given him a normal tip and then given him the rest later in the evening, when the guy was long gone.  I suppose he might have thought there was some collusion going on when he saw that tip.  But in fact, nothing was said, or even noticed.
That was the end of Brent’s down, and he moved on.  The new dealer saw just the end of what happened and asked what all the fuss was about it.  We all filled him in, and of course he agreed that the guy had called my all in bet. It took about 20 minutes for anyone to talk about anything else.  One guy expressed concern the guy was gonna come back later and gun us all down!
In fact, that’s not the last I saw of the guy.  Hours later, I noticed him talking to Nick peacefully, away from all the tables.  I saw them talking calmly for about 20 minutes.  I had already had private conversations with Bill and Brent about the incident, both of whom thought the guy was just angle-shooting and was just trying to pull a fast one.  Bill saw me in the Mens Room and asked, “What were the chances that guy said ‘probably’?”  I told him that the guy definitely did not say “probably.”  Brent said that he said to the guy “that’s binding” when he heard his initial comment and threw the “call” card in front of him.  I didn’t remember that and I didn’t remember if Brent had told that to Bill or Nick.
So I asked Nick if that was the indeed the guy I thought it was and he confirmed it.  He had calmed down considerably, he said, but he still didn’t agree with the decision.  Further—and I have to admit, this bothers me a little—he didn’t think the guy was a sophisticated enough player to be trying to angle-shoot.  He actually thought the guy was totally ignorant that he had done anything wrong or that his comment was even intended to affect my action.  But Nick did thank me for my concern, and I thanked him for making the right decision.
I’m glad he calmed down, but I do feel a little badly if he really wasn’t trying to pull a fast one.  But still, he had more than enough time to correct things—or at least to attempt to—before he saw that he was beat.
Near the end of the night, Jack game to deal.  I asked him if he had heard all the commotion and he said he had, he was actually at the next table over at the time.  He didn’t realize, however, that I was the other player involved in the controversial pot.  Since he hadn’t heard the whole thing, I explained it fully to him.  By now, no one at my table was left over from the incident, so they all chimed in.  Jack said that the decision was an easy one, he makes that ruling every night.  He recalled one time it cost someone over $500.  He said the guy was angle-shooting even if he never heard that term.
And hat-tip to Jack, he reminded me that from the next table over, he heard the guy say, “I’m a man of my word” at least three times.  I had actually forgotten that by this point.  He even suggested I use that phrase as the title of this post (and give him a credit for the suggestion), but, while I liked that idea, I decided to go another way, to make sure that the real point of this post is reflected in the title.
Just another fun night of poker at the BSC.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"All You Need is a Casino on the First Floor"

Finally concluding my write up of my little open heart surgery adventure.  The previous chapter is here.

The first thing I had to do when I got settled into my new, private room was text my sister the new room number.  I didn’t want her to come to the old room, see my bed empty and assume I had been taken back to the O.R. (or worse, the morgue!).

I was only too happy to relate the story of why I got moved to my sister and brother-in-law.  Although still in plenty of discomfort, I was able to enjoy and even recall their visit.  At this point, there was really only one thing that was tying me down, as it were.  I had a bunch of monitors hooked up to me, but it was a battery operated pack so I didn’t have to be disengaged from it to get up.  The pack fit in the shirt pocket of my elegant hospital gown.

But there were still two tubes coming out of my chest for drainage.  They were draining into a fairly large rectangular, plastic box that had to be carried whenever I went anywhere, like the bathroom.  It was quite inconvenient.  Late on Monday, after my family left, a doctor came around to remove the tubes, but then double checked and noticed I was draining too much to do it yet—perhaps the next day.

This was a big deal because they said if at all possible, I’d be released from the hospital the day after those tubes came out.  I wanted the tubes out but frankly, I wasn’t all that thrilled with getting out of the hospital, I really didn’t think I was all that ready for that.  I was getting decent treatment in the hospital, and as I said, the food was good.  And now I had my own private room with my own private bathroom.  I could settle in for a few weeks as far as I was concerned.

But they wanted me out.  Well, when the tubes remained in on Monday, that meant the earliest I’d be released was Wednesday.  I still had to pass a few other tests first.

As promised, LM and Woody showed up to visit later in the day—after my family was gone.  I got to tell them the story of how I got my private room.  Honestly, telling that story (twice!) was the most fun I’d had in a week.

They didn’t stay too long which was fine.  By now they had me up and attempting to walk, which I was able to do with a walker.  It was tiring but I managed to handle it fine.

That night, I used my phone to post this really short update post (here).  I didn’t bother to have anyone set up my laptop because I knew I was not even close to being ready to use it.  The phone was enough.  I tapped out the quick update and then got very frustrated trying to add the pic.  For some reason, it is a lot different trying to add a graphic when using Blogger on the phone than on a regular computer (laptop or desktop). And though I thought I figured out how to do it, the damn picture just wouldn’t load.  I’m not sure if it is a limitation of the phone capabilities or maybe the wi-fi wasn’t good enough for that particular graphic or what.  I actually left the phone on all night hoping it would load but it just wouldn’t.

I finally tweeted out the pic explaining that it belonged on my current post.  Later, when I finally got back to using the laptop, I retroactively added the pic.

The next day I had a new male nurse who seemed all business—no sense of humor whatsoever. I decided to try to see if I could make him laugh.

It had been a while since anyone asked me questions like this, but this nurse decided to quiz me on where I was, why I was there, etc.  I guess he’s trying to make sure I had all my mental facilities.  He asked me my name, then asked, “Where are you?”  I gave him the name of the hospital.  He asked, “And why are you here?”

I said, “Because I had triple bypass surgery four days ago…..but you know, this really is a lovely resort that anyone would want to stay in anyway.”  That got a smile and a short laugh out of him.

So I added, “All you really need to do is add a casino on the first floor and you’d be all set.”

That got a good laugh out of him and he said, “Yeah….the trouble with that is that all the employees would lose all their money there.”  Hmm….I guess he knows his co-workers!

We were pals after that, which is good because he was actually my nurse the next day too.

When he was taking me for my walk, with my walker, I decided to test something.  So for just two seconds I took my hands off the handle of the walker and made sure he noticed.  I thought he would freak out, but instead he said, “Let’s put the walker away.  I’ll be you’re walker.”  So we did that and I was fine (if very slow).  We even took an extra lap around the hospital floor.

My family was visiting and in the room while I walked.  So I came back and announced, “Look ma, no hands!”  They were impressed. 

Someone came by and took out my chest tubes (I think this was probably before the walk I just described).  There was one more big hurdle to pass before they would “likely” release me the next day.  I needed a physical therapist to sign off on my mobility and my ability to climb stairs.  She came around and we walked to the physical therapy room (no walker for me).  They had a few stairs that I was able to climb up and down with no problem.  I was basically good to go.

All that remained the next day was for me to have my final blood work done and then one last chest X-ray approved.  Assuming that was ok, I’d be released the next day (Wednesday).  That was five days after they cut me open, which considering the seriousness of the surgery, is rather amazing.

That next morning was extremely hectic, I saw a bunch of nurses, doctors, hospital administrators.  My chest X-ray was good. Technically, when they release you from the hospital after his surgery, you don’t need assistance.  If I had no one to care for me, they would have still released me.

Fortunately, my sister agreed to take me in for at least a week to see how I progressed.  It meant relocating about 45 minutes from where I live but it was great that I didn’t have to completely care for myself those first few days.  So my sister and brother-in-law picked me up.  We went to my car first, and my brother-in-law drove that to my garage. I picked up a few essential things out of my house and then we drove to their place.  It was an incredibly exhausting day for me.  It was the first time I’d seen the outside world in a week.

It was a rather odd set up staying with my family.  My sister lives behind the house where her daughter and son-in-law (and their four young kids) live.  The only place for me to sleep was a guest room in my niece’s house.  But during the day I spent most of my time in my sister’s house.

There were two issues with this arrangement.  One, I had no TV of my own, which was inconvenient.  And two, everyone in both households was usually in bed, asleep, by 8:30PM!  For the longest time I have been used to going to bed around 12:30 – 1:00 AM.  I usually spend a good chunk of my evenings writing.

After a couple of nights, I figured out that I could watch the main TV in my niece’s house after everyone went to bed as long as I kept the sound low.  And I found something good to watch for at least a few of my nights there.  I recorded the WSOP November Nine coverage on their DVR and watched that when everyone was asleep.  It was great entertainment and kept me in touch with poker even while I couldn’t play.

Also great timing was the other World Series….the one played with balls and bats.  My brother-in-law is a huge baseball fan so we watched each game together and it was great fun.  Turned out to be an incredible series.  By the way, every Dodgers fan I know was rooting for the Cubs.  I really enjoyed it, it worked out perfectly that it was on during the early days of my recovery.  I haven’t paid as much attention to a World Series in years.


After a week, it was time for me to get back home.  I knew I’d sleep a lot better in my own bed.  And by then, I was more than capable of taking care of myself.  So, eight days after I was released from the hospital, my brother-in-law took me home.  I got my house set up for a recovering patient and immediately went on Amazon to order a few things I never needed before but now did.

And that’s about it.  Been home a few weeks now.  As I mentioned, I started working (for PokerAtlas) a few hours a day last week.  I will be writing a column for Ante-Up this week (I missed last month of course).  I’m getting less tired each day and walking a little more each day.  That’s the only exercise I can do.  Still can’t drive or lift anything over five pounds.  I see the doc early next month and we’ll see how it goes. 

Thanks for bearing with me during this period.  Now to figure out how to keep posting fresh content here until I can get back to the poker table.