Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where and When? The Tony Bigcharles Game

This post concerns the famous (and infamous) Tony BigcharlesI'm sure most of you follow his adventures to at least some degree.  If you have no interest in Tony, you can skip this post and come back in a couple of days.

So if you do follow Tony, you know he just now returned to Las Vegas.  He left Toledo (via Detroit) very suddenly, mysteriously leaving behind his clothes and luggage (and who knows how many pizza turners).

Whenever Tony relocates, it's fair to wonder how longer he'll remain in his new "home" this time, and where he'll go to next.  He never stays one place very long, as we all know.

So I started thinking someone should start a pool to bet on where Tony moves to after he inevitably tires of Vegas, and of course, how long will that be?  Sadly, I don't have the time or the desire to set up an actual pool for this, you know the kind where people bet actual real money on this and someone holds the money until Tony leaves town and we have a winner.

Besides, with two factors involved (where and when), it might be difficult to determine a winner.  What if one person nails the date but a different person gets the location and nobody gets both.  Who wins?

If someone wants to do this as a real pool, be my guest.  But for now, I just thought I'd throw this post up here and let people give their best guesses in my comments section below.  There's no cost to play--and also no prize for the winner(s).  

So just post your best guess as to when Tony will leave Vegas.  And also where he will go when he does.  Actually that could be tricky.  Sometimes Tony makes very short stops on his way to his next "permanent" location.  If I'm not mistaken, last time (before this) he returned to Vegas, he couldn't catch a flight at the right time (or right price) to Vegas so he flew to Phoenix, spent a day or two there, and took a bus into Vegas.  So I'd say he has to stay at least a week at his new location for it to count.  I think that's fair,no?

Again, this is just for bragging rights, no prize, but feel free to guess away.  Does Tony leave Vegas next month, or March (give a specific date, person closest wins) or even later?  Is his next home Reno?  Los Angeles?  Louisiana?  Toledo?  Louisiana?  Some part of Florida?  Give it your best shot.

Note:  If you are wondering about this picture below and what it has to do with the subject of the post, I will remind you that it is well known that Tony hates girl-on-girl action.  So it seems appropriate, doesn't it?  I mean, I could have just posted a pic of TBC himself, but I'm sure everyone (but Tony) will agree this is better.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Andrew Neeme/Brad Owen Meet Up Game

In my most recent Ante Up column (here) I talked about how the new Westgate poker room is working with Vegas Vloggers (i.e., video bloggers) to promote games.  Well, as it turned out, vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen (both mentioned in my column) were hosting one of their Meet Up Games (see their Facebook page here) on the first Wednesday I was in town, the Wednesday before Christmas.  Once again, Westgate was the host.  But unlike their usual meet-up games, this one was going to be 2/3 NL instead of 2/5 NL.  That made it very appealing to me.  I really couldn't pass this up.

I arrived a bit late and all the tables were filled.  They had five tables of 2/3 ready to roll before they even started.  They could have easily had a sixth table going, but there was an issue with the sixth table.  There was some kind of lighting fixture hanging over it and apparently security insisted they not use that table until the fixture could be removed.  I assume it was interfering with the cameras.

So I had to wait. Fortunately, I had called in to get on the list, and I was near the top.  As they started getting cards in the air, I was walking around the room and looking for familiar faces, I assumed I'd see more than a few people I knew. But no, I recognized only one, aside from Andrew and Brad, who I had never met before but of course recognized them from their vlogs.  The familiar face was my friend Donna, who I've been running into in poker rooms for at least five years.  It was Donna who gave me the title of the blog post here and she's been written about in several posts over the years. I said hello, and I also saw her warmly greet Andrew; obviously they were pals. 

Well, I didn't have to wait long to be called.  And wouldn't you know it, the available seat was the one immediately to Donna's right.  I took my seat, said hello again and got settled in.

Almost immediately the fellow on my right said to me, "Are you Robvegaspoker?" (except he used my real last name).  I was taken aback, looked him over, said yes, and he replied, "You blogged about me."  I really didn't recognize him, but I played a wild hunch.  "Would you be Austin Bluffs by any chance?"  He laughed and said he was.

Who is Austin Bluffs?  Well, if read this recent repost (here) you know and you also know why I thought to repost that story.  Or part of the reason.  The reason I thought of Austin that night was because of something that happened on the day before I drove to Vegas, while I was packing.  Aria was doing a live Periscope.  I was watching it.  I actually made a comment to them while they were live (I think it was about their innovative Big Blind Ante).  And for a second I saw someone else who was watching say something like, "Robvegaspoker?  You blogged about me."  I didn't have time to react and it really wasn't of interest to the guys doing the Periscope or the rest of the audience so I didn't respond.  But I took notice of it and remembered to research it later that night, after I was done packing. I did see the comment long enough to see the name "Austin Bluffs."

When I researched it, I found my old post and remembered the story.  I considered it worthy of a repost whenever I needed a post and didn't have time to finish a new one.  So, when this seemingly total stranger said I blogged about him, he was the first person that came to mind and I was right.  But there's no way I ever would have recognized him from that one night of poker we played....he didn't really become noteworthy to me until several months later, when I got his tweet.

So this was one of two incredible coincidences.  First of all, running into Austin twice within a week's time—once online, then once in person— after having no contact at all with him for over four years.  And like me, Austin doesn't live in Vegas.  He was just visiting, heard about the meet-up, and showed up.  And because my face is plastered all over the internet, he recognized me.

The second coincidence is that my seat at the game was immediately on his left.  Furthermore, as I said, Donna was immediately on my left.  So I was sitting between the only two people in the room that I know, just totally by the luck of the draw!  I mean, is it a small world, or what?  (Despite that, I wouldn't want to paint it). 

Donna heard this and said, "You blogged about me, too."  I acknowledged that I had.  Actually, I've mentioned her several times.  I mention again how much I liked her "duck and a schmuck" name for the King-deuce hand.

So I got to spend the evening catching up with Donna, and also chatted quite a bit with Austin.

There were two "crazy" additions to the normal game of hold'em for this game.  One was "bomb pots."  Every time a new dealer pushed in, everyone at the table would put up $5 for the first hand.  That was part of the pot and there was no preflop betting.  Everyone saw the flop.  So the pot started at $45 (if the table was full) then the betting on the flop, turn and river was the same as always.  So you didn't really want to get pocket Aces when it was a bomb pot cuz you couldn't bet anyone out of the pot preflop, and you'd be facing 8 other hands that all would see the flop.  This was actually kind of fun as a change of pace.  I wouldn't want to do bomb pots more often than once every half hour and I wouldn't want to play in a game that had them regularly.  But it was a nice change of pace.

The other thing was "The Button Game."  Whoever had the button had to put $5 on the button—literally on the button.  When the button passed, the next person on the button put another $5 on it.  That money, however much it grew to, could only be won by the player on the button if that player won that pot.  Then it would start all over at $5.  I think during the time I was there, the largest amount I saw the button prize grow to was $50.

Apparently each table was making up their own rules regarding these side bets.  So someone suggested that we do $10 bomb pots, which I think we did once.  Someone at the table suggested $25 or $50 bomb pots.  That was getting a bit ridiculous.  We went back to $5 bomb pots.

They even let us make up our own rules about straddling.  The Westgate doesn't normally allow the button straddle (yay!) but for this game, if no one objected, they allowed it (I didn't want to be the spoilsport, so I didn't object).  But it was up to us to decide if they did it the "right" way (first action is UTG) or the "wrong" way (first action is the small blind).  They decided on the wrong way.  Since the people who wanted to button straddle were far enough away from me so that it would affect me when I was the blinds, I didn't offer my opinion that the way they were doing it was wrong.

The problem with the game for me was that I was extremely card dead.  Totally, horrifically, card-dead.  It was appalling.  I think I won only one pot all night.  It was with Aces.  I opened to $12 and had three callers.  The flop was King-Queen-x rainbow and I bet $25 and got one call.  The turn was a 10 and we both checked.  The river was deuce and my $35 bet went uncalled.

That was it.  I didn't lose any big pots—I just didn't get enough good cards to put much money into any pots. It was awful.  So of course I didn't win any bomb pots or any button bounties. 

Those side bets were fun, but they did contribute to my losing my money faster than I otherwise might have. I had to call it a night.  A losing night.

Although Andrew and Brad were switching tables periodically, neither of them made it over to our table.  So before I left, I made it a point to go over and introduce myself to them, and to thank them for hosting the game.  I have to say, they are both super-nice guys.  They thanked me for doing some retweeting of their tweets about the game.  I told them that I mentioned their games at the Westgate in a soon-to-be published Ante Up column.

After taking off, I realized they would both be perfect subjects for Ante Up profiles.  So a few days later I contacted them and they both graciously agreed.  You should be seeing their profiles in Ante Up (and here) in the coming months.

It was a fun night, but man, I wish I could have seen better cards.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to Lose $80 Without Really Trying

This is from a session I had in the early part of my Vegas trip last month. It took place at Planet Hollywood.  We were starting a new table and while the dealer was selling chips, I was looking at my phone and a guy came over to me and said, "Are you checking PokerAtlas?"  I looked up and he sort of looked vaguely familiar.  Then he gave me his name and mentioned where I knew him from.  It turned out he had been my contact (for PokerAtlas) for a now defunct poker room, and before that, I knew him as a dealer in another room where he had dealt to me a lot.  He had left the poker room before it closed down and I hadn't heard from him since.  We caught up and it seems he moved to another state, still works in a casino.  He ended up joining our game—he took seat 9, and I was in seat 1.  This is likely the only time I'll ever talk about him so let's make it simple and refer to him as "M."

This table was not filled with the usual aggros and maniacs you often see at PH.  In fact, the closest thing to an aggro was M.  But he wasn't really aggro by PH standards. However, I definitely took note of the first time he three-bet.  He three-bet the original raiser, the original raiser called and it was heads up to the flop (I was not involved).  On a rather routine flop, M made a c-bet and the other guy folded.  But M flipped over his cards.  Pretty sure this was the first and only time all evening he showed his hand when he didn't have to.  What did he show?  Deuce-four of diamonds.  And of course, he had caught nothing on the flop.

I wanted to say, "Hey, do you know that's the Grump?" but I didn't.  I said nothing.  My assumption at the time was that he just wanted to advertise that he was three-betting light so that he could get paid off on his value bets down the road.  Did I say "three-betting light"?  Of course we all know that deuce-four is the most powerful hand in poker, but could I expect M to know that?  Most people don't.  But afterwards, I wondered if he showed his deuce-four for my benefit.  Was it possible that M knew all about the deuce-four from my blog and wanted to show off for me?  Sure, it was possible.  I'm often surprised to find that many of the people I am in contact with professionally know about and read my blog (my PokerAtlas name, which is also "robvegaspoker", is on my auto-signature of all my business emails).  Just because he never mentioned it doesn't mean he's never seen my blog.

Furthermore, I realized that at the room where I first encountered M, one of his colleagues had a very popular poker blog himself (now-defunct) which had made multiple references to Poker Grump.  So it was very possible he was familiar with the legend that is deuce-four.

Anyway, I opened to $8 with Ace-Queen and had four callers.  The flop was Queen-Queen-5.  I bet $20 and M was the only caller.  The turn was a 10 and this time M donked out $30.  Hmm....I didn't know what to make of that so I just called.  The river was a Jack and he donked out $35.  Again, I just called.  He had King-Queen and I took the pot.

The very next hand I opened to $8 with King-Jack of clubs.  A guy raised it to $20 and it folded back to me.  I called and we were heads up.  The flop was King-high and had a single club on it.  I called $15.  He checked the turn, which was a Jack.  I bet $20 and he called.  The river was a blank, he checked.  I bet $35 and he folded two Queens face up.

Since those hands happened back-to-back I hadn't stacked up my chips up properly for the second hand.  I just had two really high stacks of chips.  It was later (after I had made notes and perhaps played a few other hands) that I finally got to stack my chips correctly (I thought) into stacks of 20. 

M opened to $6 on the button and I called from the small blind with Queen-Jack of hearts, it was heads up.  The flop was 9-8-x, two diamonds.  We both checked.  The turn was a 10, giving me the straight.  I bet $10 and he called.  The river was the King of diamonds, a card I didn't want to see inasmuch as it completed the flush.  After I checked, he bet $20 and I played it safe by just calling.  He had Ace-Jack (not diamonds) and I took the pot.

With pocket Queens in the big blind, I made it $16 after a bunch of limpers.  It was four-way.  The flop came King-10-x, two hearts.  My Queens were both black.  I checked but no one bet.  The turn was the five of clubs, this time I bet $25 and didn't get a call.  I was surprised no one had a King.

Now I had only been playing for two hours, but I had worked all day and from the moment I'd started playing I realized I was really tired.  I had been having trouble concentrating on the game.  I looked down at my chips, which by now I had sorted properly.  There were four full stacks, plus five additional redbirds on top of the four stacks.  I also had a bunch of dollar chips.  I thought a $230 or so profit—a double-up and then some— for the session sounded pretty good. 

So I grabbed a rack and started putting my chips into it.  When I put the first $100 stack in, I got a huge shock—it didn't fill up the slot.  It was way short.  So were the other three stacks.  When I filled up the slots, it turned out I had totally miscounted my stacks and that each one was only $80, not $100.  Four stacks that were each short $20—or at least twenty bucks shorter than I had thought.  So without losing a hand, I had somehow managed to "lose" $80!  Damn.

I briefly considered sticking around since I no longer had the double up I had been counting on!  How could I have made such a mistake?  One thing is for sure, if I was playing online, at a site such as 888poker, that could never have happened, the computer would have accurately reported my stack.

With less than the double up I thought I had, I briefly considered unracking my chips and playing a little longer.  But then I recalled how tired I was.  I decided a $155 profit for two hours play was good enough.  The "double-up" was only an arbitrary marker anyway, right?  I was so tired I figured I had an excellent chance of losing my profit by continuing. In fact, I guess I can blame my tiredness on the counting error, so that was more proof that it was time to call it a night.

I cashed out $355 and felt like I lost $80 on the last hand, even though I didn't play it—and I didn't lose that $80 to anyone!