Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Dreaded Post

Saturday I was back in Ventura playing some 1/2 ($100 max buy-in).  It only took me three hands to say hello to my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings in the big blind.  After a few limpers, a guy made it $10.  I added $30 to my big blind. A short stack who had initially limped shoved for his last $8.  Everyone else folded.  He showed Ace-2 of spades.  Of course there were two spades on the flop.  But the third spade didn't come.  Neither did an Ace and my Kings actually held.

With King-Queen off in early position I made it $6 and had one caller.  On a flop of 9-9-4 I made a c-bet and took it.

I called $6 on the button with Ace-7 off and it was four-ways.  The board totally missed me but no one bet.  A 7 hit the turn and it checked to me.  I bet $6 and didn't get a call.

In the big blind I had 8-7 of hearts and no one raised; there were a bunch of limpers.  The flop was Ace-8-7.  I bet $6.  Another guy made it $15.  Now, on the previous hand, this guy, who was fairly new to the table and I think was waiting for a bigger game, had shoved a pretty good amount on the flop with just  a gut shot.  Of course he hit his straight on the turn and won the pot.  But shoving with a gut shot (in response to a bet) made an impression on me.  So I made it $40.  I only had $10 behind.  He tanked and shoved and of course I called.  The last two cards were bricks and when I showed my two pair he just mucked his cards.

I raised to $8 with Ace-Jack off and it was three-ways.  The flop was low, I made a $15 c-bet, and a lady shoved.  Easy fold.  The other player folded too.  She kindly showed us pocket Jacks.  Well, good thing a Jack didn't hit the flop!  But it was interesting she didn't three-bet with the Jacks.  Earlier I had noticed she three-bet with pocket 10's.

I had pocket Queens and there were many limpers. I made it $12.  Only one call.  The flop was low and the other guy donked out $20.  I made it $50 which looked like about what he had left.  It turned out to be a few bucks more than he had.  He called and showed pocket Jacks.  The ladies held.

Now, there was this kid at the table who wasn't really familiar with the game.  And I do mean "kid"—he really looked like he was barely old enough to be in the casino.  I'm sure he was carded.  He didn't really seem to grasp all the rules of the game.  One of the first questions he asked the dealer was, "What's the most I can bet?"  When it was explained that it was between $2 and as much as he had in front of him, he said, "Oh, I'm used to it being a fixed amount and then you can double it."  He was told that he was talking about limit poker and this was no-limit. 

Of course the newbie had some serious beginner's luck and soon had more than doubled up his original $100 buy-in.  And he was making some odd plays.  He three-bet a surprising amount of the time, and one time I noticed he had three-bet with Queen-7 off.

Anyway, on this particular hand he was under-the-gun plus one and made it $4.  However, I realized that he hadn't actually meant to raise there.  He had seen a couple of bets close together and thought he was calling a $4 straddle.  There was a call to his bet and I found myself looking down at pocket Kings again.

I made it $16.  It folded to a "mature" woman who was probably the tightest player at the table.  She shoved—but she only had $27.  It folded back to me and of course I snapped. But she flipped over pocket Queens and once again my Kings held.

Sometime later, the kid disappeared from the table for awhile and when he came back, we noticed that two racks of his chips were gone.  The dealer asked what happened to his chips (he still had about $30-$40 left).  He said he cashed them in.  Of course, the dealer told him he couldn't do that, he had to keep that money at the table as long as he was still playing.  So he thought for a while and took the rest of his chips to the cage and cashed those in too.

Winning twice in a session with pocket Kings—unimproved Kings at that—was a nice day for me.  I booked a small win and headed home. 

How does the pic below tie into the post?  Well, Ventura is right on the Pacific Ocean.  And this is an example of the type of native creatures you might find on the beach.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Can You Change Tables With a Short Stack?

On this evening, I learned about a rule that is apparently pretty common in poker rooms that I didn't know.  Pretty surprising that I've played live poker all this time and wasn't aware of it.

The venue was Caesars Palace and it took me about two hands to figure out that I was in for a rough night.  There were three or four maniacs at the table.  The opening raises were like $20, $25 or more and someone raised almost every hand.  There was a lot of three-betting and those bets were big too—when they weren't shoves.

I probably should have table changed right away.  You see, I was in the midst of a bad run and my bankroll wasn't exactly flush (partly because I couldn't make a flush).  So I walked into the room with only two $200 buy-ins on me.  That was all I had to play with this night.  I refuse to pay the ATM fees at the casino ATMs. 

So when I realized it was going to cost me a lot more than usual to see any flop, I should have gotten up right away.  I don't mind a game like this when I'm rolled for it—in fact, I like them, you can win a lot of money at them—but when I'm not prepared to dig into my wallet more than once, I know I might not last long enough to end up on the right side of variance.

But I thought I would stay for awhile and see how it went.  Obviously I was hoping for a big hand. The problem was I was definitely not card dead.  I kept getting medium and low pocket pairs and had to either fold them preflop or pay more than I should have to set-mine.  And of course I never caught a set.  I also had a few hands with Broadway cards that I whiffed with.  I was seeing huge turn and river bets—usually all-ins—and people showing up with all kinds of cards. And for the record, I never saw a hand where my medium or low pocket pair would have been the best hand on the river if I had  decided to roll the dice with it even knowing these guys were raising with crap.

In less than 45 minutes, without putting any money in on the flop or beyond, I was down to $84.  That was when I finally decided I wasn't prepared to invest a second buy-in at this game and got up to ask for a table change.  By the time I made it over to the new table, I was down to $65. 

I hadn't already added on because I had been thinking of changing tables and just starting fresh.  And so my original plan was, when I got to the new table, I'd add-on then.  But as I was making my way over there, I decided to hold off adding on immediately. I figured I'd play an orbit or two and see if I liked this table better.  Maybe there was something in the air at Caesars this night and every game was as nuts as my first table had been?  I didn't see the harm in waiting.

I had played one or two hands at the new table when one of the players finally noticed my stack and said, "It's a $100 minimum isn't it?"  The dealer looked at my stack of $65.  I of course said, "I came from another table."  I mean, I had originally bought in for $200, twice the minimum. 

The dealer asked if I came from a broken game.  I said no, it was just a table change.  So the dealer said if you change tables you have to start with at least the minimum buy-in.

Well, that didn't seem right to me, I'd never heard that before.  But then, I doubt I've ever asked for a table change when I was that short stacked before.  Still, I think if that's the rule, they should tell you up front.  Suppose I didn't have enough money on me to get back to $100?  I'd already moved and in this case played a couple of hands (that last part was on the dealer for not noticing my short stack).  So in that case, would I have table-changed myself out of the room?  It seems to me anyone asking to move in that situation should be advised of the rule and then given the option of staying at the original table if he wanted to keep playing the short stack.

But I didn't say anything.  I was originally planning to add-on anyway. It wasn't a big deal, it was just new to me.  I added-on right away and we went on with life.  But I was curious if that rule was unique to Caesars or more universal.  So I tweeted out the question, asking dealers, floor people and poker room managers if a player had to have at least the table minimum to get a table change.

Initially, everyone said absolutely yes.  I was impressed that quite a few poker room managers, in addition to my dealer pals, responded.  However, a few dealers eventually came back and said at their room, the answer was no.  If I was moving to a table of the same limits, it was considered all one game and I didn't have to bring my stack up to the minimum.

So obviously it is a house rule that varies from room-to-room.  Hopefully I won't have that situation again (it took me years and years to encounter it) but if I do, I'll be sure to ask before accepting the table change.

The new table was not full of crazies.  It was much quieter.  Meanwhile, not long after I gotten to the new table, I noticed that all the craziest players at my old table had taken off.  Perhaps I should have waited them out?

At the new table, there was a discussion of those infernal $2 chips that they are still using over there.  One player made the point that the reason they use them is to reduce the frequency of the fills. But then I noticed something interesting.  There were no green chips in the dealer's rack.  And by green chips I mean real green chips—the $25 chips, not the light green $2 chips. At MGM and most other rooms they keep green chips in the racks to sell to players when they rebuy if the run out of red.  Venetian and Wynn even use some black $100 chips.  But no $25 chips at Caesars.  If they got rid of the damn $2 chips and instead kept a bunch of $25 chips in the racks, it would reduce the number of fills without having to use those damn $2 chips.

Anyway, I got a few hands to play at the new table and was able to win a few of them.  Nothing very big though.  I raised preflop with pocket Aces and pocket Queens and didn't get a call.  Why couldn't I have gotten those pocket pairs at the first table when I could have possibly won huge pots with them?

I won a small pot raising with King-Jack of diamonds and flopping a Jack. An Ace on the turn and a third club on the river kept me from betting past the flop but the Jack was good.  I also won a pot raising with pocket 4's and c-betting on the flop when I didn't catch my set.

I managed to win most of the money back that I'd lost at the wild table, and I considered that a win.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"I'm a Damn Handsome Man"

This post will cover two sessions from my last trip, both of which took place on the same Saturday.

I started off late afternoon at the Venetian, where I knew from Twitter that I would find my pal Chris, aka Stump.  I was able to get into the table he was playing immediately, sitting on his immediate left. 

The game was pretty dull. There really weren't any poker hands worth reporting. Oh, I did manage to win a pot with the dreaded pocket Kings.  In fact, I even flopped a set with them.  I had raised to $10 pre and only had a single caller.  I flopped the set with two clubs on the board, I c-bet $15 and didn't get a call.  With any other set, I'd be disappointed with that result.  But with Kings, I was relieved.

We had one amusing dealer.  When he pushed in, he said hello to all the players and with great enthusiasm said, "How's everybody doing today?"  There wasn't much of a response so he said, in kind of a deflated tone, "Oh I see everyone's fine.  Me too, thanks."  Well that guilted a few of us to start answering as to how we were, but he was having none of it.  "No, no.  Too late. Too late."

Chris had been distracted by the waitress who had just brought his drink. He heard the dealer complaining so he said to him, "Sorry, I was paying attention to the most attractive person at the table."   The dealer said, "Well you're right.  She was the most attractive person at the table. And that's saying a lot.  Because I am a damn handsome man."

We all had a good laugh at that.

Then he noticed one of the players at the table was named "Avery."  He saw that his last initial was not "G", which he thought was too bad.  He said to the guy, "It's a shame you're name's not Avery Goodman....because then it would be, 'a very good man'."  Chris said, "Yeah, like 'Saul Goodman—'s all good, man." (that only makes sense if you watch "Better Call Saul")

Somehow that got the guy on a riff where he was conceiving of a crime novel right there at the table. He was imagining a plot where there are two twin brothers, who are really bad guys but they never get caught because no one knows they're really twins and they always have alibi.

Bookmark this post and come back in a couple of years and see if that's the plot of a New York Times thriller.

After a couple of hours, the game got even duller and I wasn't getting any cards so I said good-bye to Chris and headed to MGM for dinner and more poker. 

My very first hand at MGM, I looked down at pocket Queens.  A guy had raised to $12 and another guy called.  First hand at the table, not knowing any of the players, I just called.  It ended up being four-ways to the flop.  The flop was Jack-high, two diamonds.  The preflop raiser checked, but the next guy bet $20.  I called and we were heads up.  The turn was a King and he bet $35 and I called.  There was a third diamond on the river and this time he checked.  I checked behind.  He showed pocket 10's.  It was a nice pot.

Sometime later, I was in the small blind with Ace-5 off and I completed.  Six of us saw a flop of Ace-9-6. I checked and called a $10 bet and it was now 4-way.  A 4 hit the turn and I checked.  Same guy bet $15 and I called and we were heads up.  River was a deuce. I checked/called another $15 and he showed only Ace-3.  My 5 played, just barely. 

Much later, I had pocket Jacks.  There were a number of limpers and so I made it $14.  Three players called.  The flop was Jack-high, which was nice, but there were two diamonds.  I bet $40.  Only one player called.  The turn was a brick and I put out $100 which looked like about what he had left.  It turned out he was a few bucks short of that but he called.  The King of hearts hit the river which obviously didn't help him because he didn't show when he saw my set and just left the game.

I didn't get another hand to play for the next couple of orbits.  I noticed I was getting real tired and it was getting a bit late anyway, so I racked up and cashed out up $305 for the session.  It certainly wasn't an awesome result but it was the best I'd done in awhile so I even took a pic of my stack and tweeted it out with the caption: "Not my best chip porn but I'll take it."

And indeed I did. 

Below is better "chip porn."