Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene--May 2017 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.  The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room soon.


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PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The Goliath series May 25-July 13, and is offering $7.5M-plus in guarantees. The series starts with the Ultimate Goliath Stack, a $600, five-day tournament that has a $250K guarantee. The Goliath Milly has a $1M guarantee for the same buy-in.The first of its four starting flights is June 4.
Many of the weekend days feature the $50K in a Day tournament, offering a $50K guarantee for a one-day, $250 buy-in. There are also a number of $20K in a Day $200 events with a $20K guarantee.
July 2 is the start of a $250 Low Roller.It has five starting flights and a $250K guarantee. A two-day PLO High Roller starts July 6 and has a $5K buy-in.
The main event has five starting flights starting June 27.The buy-in is $2K and the guarantee is $2M. The Grand Finale has a $1,650 buy-in and a $1M guarantee.The first of its three starting flights is July 9.
There are also numerous Omaha, HORSE, Triple Draw and Dealer’s Choice events throughout the series.
The main event of the Goliath Warm-Up series ended in a three-way chop in April. Tuan Mai, Daniel Engels and Sinisa Zimek took home $84K each. The $1,650 buy-in event had 340-plus entrants and a $530K prize pool.
GOLDEN NUGGET:  The Grand Poker Series runs May 30-July 3.It features a few multi-flight events with affordable buy-ins and big guarantees. The first one starts June 2 and has six starting flights over two days. The $150 buy-in has a $100K guarantee. The identical tournament runs again June 23.A $200 buy-in version begins June 8. It has nine starting flights over three days and has a $200K guarantee.
Most days start at 11 a.m. with a non-hold’em event, most with a $250 buy-in. Those usually are followed at 1 p.m. by a $150 tournament with a $20K guarantee.
Oklahoma Johnny Hale hosts Seniors Week starting June 15 with the $360 Seniors Championship. See the ad on Page 21 of our May issue for details.
A $250 tournament runs June 17. The $1K High Roller is June 18. The Super Seniors (for those 60-plus) is $250 and runs June 19. The $250 Seniors Choice event runs June 20.
A $570 PLO Championship is June 21 and a $570 mixed PLO/8-Omaha/8-Big O tourney is June 27.
The $570 main event has three starting flights beginning June 29 and has a $500K guarantee. The series has $1.4M-plus in guarantees.
ARIA: The Aria Poker Classic is June 2-July 9.The highlight is the WPT500.That event has nine starting flights, beginning June 26.The first seven starting flights have 30- and 40-minute levels.
The final two starting flights are July 3 and are turbos with 20-minute levels.Players can enter multiple flights and take their best stack forward to Day 2.The buy-in is $565 and the guarantee is $1M.
The Classic also offers a two-day, $1K event June 23.There are two $465 senior events (June 15 and June 19). There are PLO events on June 8 and June 12. HORSE runs June 6. PLO/8 is June 22 and a Triple Draw Mix, featuring deuce-to-seven, ace-to-five and badugi, runs July 5. Omaha/8 is June 25.All of these events have $465 buy-ins.
Most days offer a $400 tournament and most evenings run a $240 tournament.
WYNN:  The Wynn Summer Classic will be June 2-July 16.The series starts with a $400 Survivor event June 2. The top 14.5 percent of the field will get $5K and the guarantee is $50K.On June 7, a $400 PLO event will have a $50K guarantee. A $600 seniors event with a $100K guarantee runs June 12.
The first multi-starting flight event begins June 14 with a $1,100 tournament.It has four starting flights and a $1M guarantee.A $600 tourney with two starting flights is June 27 and has a $250K guarantee.
Two-day $1,100 tournaments run June 24, July 13 and July 16 with $200K guarantees.
The rest of the schedule is filled with one- or two-day hold’em events with $400 or $550 buy-ins and guarantees of $50K and $100K, respectively.
The $1,600 championship, which has a $1M guarantee, has three starting flights July 4-6.
Wynn is offering $4M-plus in guarantees for the series.
BINION’S: This year, the summer series is called Binion’s Dog Days of Summer Poker Jam. For those of you who prefer disciplines other than NLHE, this is the series for you.
HORSE is featured June 5 and July 1.Omaha/8 is June 6. On June 8, it’s PLO/8.June 9 will be a stud event.An Omaha/8-stud/8 event runs June 10. Razz will be June 13, followed by stud/8 on June 14. Two PLO events are June 17 and June 30. Triple Stud runs June 24. All of these events have $365 buy-ins and $20K guarantees. There’s also a $475 razz event June 23 and a $475 Omaha/8 tourney July 3.Both of these have $30K guarantees.
A $585 PLO Championship with a $50K guarantee has two starting flights June 15. The $585 HORSE Championship has a $50K guarantee and the first of its two starting flights begins June 20.
There’s still plenty of NLHE, too.Most are $365 with a $20K guarantee, with a few $475 buy-ins with a $30K guarantee mixed in.
The series offers three WSOP main-event qualifiers. These run June 19, June 28 and July 4. The buy-in is $365 and one $10K main event seat is guaranteed in each.
The NLHE Championship has three starting flights beginning June 25.It has a $850 buy-in and offers a $200K guarantee.
SOUTH POINT HOTEL AND CASINO: The poker room’s $175K hold’em freeroll is June 12-14 at 6 p.m. with the finals running on June 17 at 10 a.m.
Players can qualify with 100 hours of live play by May 31. All qualifiers receive $100 and 10K in chips for the freeroll. First place pays $35K, second place is $15K and third is $10K.
The tournament is limited to 20 qualifiers each night.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Freeze Out

This should be the last post about my December trip to Vegas.  So it's a good thing I arrived in Vegas on Friday to celebrate my birthday (which was yesterday).  I need more stories about Vegas and poker, seeing as how this is Rob's Vegas & Poker Blog.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some posts for you while I'm still here.

The temperature during that December trip was uncomfortably cold.  I don’t mean the outside temperature, although it was certainly a helluva lot colder than someone like me, who has spent most of his life in balmy Los Angeles, likes it.  I’m referring to the temperature in most of the casinos and poker rooms I visited.

Since this is 2017, you would think science would have invented something that keeps the temperature inside structures at a reasonably comfortable level.  But apparently modern heating & air conditioning systems haven’t progressed to that level quite yet.

This story took place on my very last full day in Vegas, so it was already the New Year.  I had spent a few hours during the day at the Aria not cashing in their tournament.  You can read about that here.  What I didn’t mention in that post is that after an hour or so, the temperature in the poker room over there was quite uncomfortable for anyone who wasn’t a polar bear. 

After I left Aria, I headed over to my usual room to play my final cash session of the trip.  And froze.  The first table I was at was in the back of the room, not far from the utility door I’ve mentioned before, which gets constantly opened and lets the cold outside air in.  Actually though, on this night, I’m not sure that cold air from outside was any colder than the air blasting through the casino’s A/C ducts.  I was actually too cold to concentrate on the poker.

But the game was short-handed and I knew I wouldn’t be able to table-change to try to find a warmer spot, at least for awhile.  The issue resolved itself when the table got so short-handed it actually broke.  I was allowed to take any empty seat in the room and found one at the table farthest away from the draft.  Usually that table is fine, but not on this night.  I think perhaps because the room (and the casino) was not particularly busy, it was cold everywhere.  But at least this location was an improvement from my first table.  I was only moderately uncomfortable instead of freezing my ass off.

I was ridiculously card dead.  It was very frustrating because I was really hoping to finish the trip with a bang.  Instead, I just kept folding hand-after-hand. I was actually up for awhile taking a small pot or two, but had dropped down to about a $50 loss when this table thinned out as well.  Between open seats and a walker we were playing 4 or 5 handed, and finally someone called the floor over and requested that we break the game and fill up open seats at other tables if possible. 

Well, it was indeed possible as there were three tables with two open seats each and it turned out that only two of us left wanted to keep playing.  I was one and the other one was Boris.

Boris was a Russian fellow who denied being Russian.  I mean, he had a Russian accent but when I asked him if he was Russian he said no. He insisted he was from New Jersey.  Poker players tend to lie and I knew he was lying.  OK, if he wasn’t from Russia, he was certainly from that part of the world.  Let’s put it this way, he sounded a lot more like Putin than he did Tony Soprano.  Note:  I was actually going to call him “Putin” but I remembered I already called another player Putin in a post from about three years ago.  Can’t repeat myself.  So I’m calling him Boris after Boris Badenov.  Perhaps Boris wasn’t from Russia after all and was too embarrassed to admit he was really from Pottsylvania.


Anyway, Boris was a strapping lad—tall, blond, and dare I say, rugged.  I only point that out because even in short sleeves, he didn’t act in any way like the cold was bothering him.  In fact, like Putin, he looked like the kind of guy who would be happy to go around shirtless in any kind of weather.  On the other hand, I had totally dressed for the cold weather.  I had a long undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt and of course my ski jacket.  And I was still cold.

Now the floor person who broke the game was new to me.  I may have seen him once or twice this trip but I don’t think I’d seen him before that.  In other words, he didn’t know me like most of the floor people over there do. Not that that likely would have changed anything. 

He pointed out the three tables that had opened seats.  One was actually farther away from the cold part of the room and the other two were right smack in the middle of freezing zone.  He didn’t tell us which to go to so I immediately went over to the one that was farthest from the problem area.  I didn’t notice but Boris apparently headed there too. 

So I took one of the two open seats and started to settle in, only to see the floor man come over and tell Boris and me that one of us would have to go to other side of the room because he couldn’t fill up this table while other tables each had more than one open seat.  “One of you is going to have to go to one of the other tables.”

There was no way I was going to go the side of the room where I knew it was freezing cold.  Not a chance.  So I said, “I’m not going to one of those other tables.  I was there earlier and it was freezing over there.”  He turned to Boris and asked if would go to other side of the room, or if he wanted to draw for it.  “Let’s draw for it,” Boris said, rather gleefully.

Yeesh.  So I said, “Well, if I lose, I’m not playing over there, I’ll just leave.”  The floorman asked Boris again if he wanted to draw for it, or if he would just go over there.  “We’re in a casino, let’s gamble.”  Now, I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but I don’t think Boris had objection to playing at one of the other tables on the other side.  He never went over there to check them out.  He didn’t seem cold—and unless he was paying attention to what I said, he didn’t even have any reason to know that it was colder on the other side of the room.  But he was Russian and he liked to gamble.

I was pissed but well, I had a 50-50 chance of winning the draw.  So the floorman spread a deck out on a nearby empty table and we drew cards.  Boris took a card first.  It was a 6.  But wouldn’t you know, my card was a 4.  I wasn’t surprised.  I told you I was card dead all night.  All I needed was a measly 7 and I couldn’t find one.

Boris started celebrating.  Seriously, he was acting like he just won the Main Event.  I’m not kidding.  He was jumping up and down and cheering and saying, “Look at that, I drew a crummy 6 and I still won!”

I said, “Well, I’m done then, I’m not going over there.”  And I started to gather my things.  The floorman didn’t believe me.  “There’s two tables over there, you can go to either one.”  I said no, it was too cold to play over there and I was done.  And so I took my chips and cashed out. I definitely left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I know the floorman was just following procedure, which I’m pretty sure is the same at every room. But honestly, isn’t there a better way?  I had been playing longer than Boris. Maybe that should have entitled me to have first choice of tables?  They could easily confirm that I was playing in the room before Boris by checking their Bravo system.  Maybe that would be fairer?

I mean, suppose Boris had just gotten to the table, had played only one or two hands when the game broke?  Would it still be ok to decide by draw instead of putting Boris in the back of the line?  Maybe the rooms should consider giving preference to the person who’s been in the room longer?

But it was Boris that really pissed me off.  I believe he had no reason at all not to want to play at the other table.  He just wanted to gamble.  Thrilling, a bet over who gets a seat on one side of the room.

If he didn’t have any preference and he knew I did, couldn’t he have been a sport and just let me have the seat?  Is that too much to ask?  I kind of think he was being a dick.

So that was it, I took off.  I would have played another hour, but instead, I called it an early night.

I’ll never know what happened, but is it wrong for me to hope that Boris lost half-a-dozen buy-ins at that table?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Didn't Raise With the Nuts

This was one of my last sessions in Vegas.  In fact, it was so late in my December trip it actually took place in January.

I was off to a rough start, and was already down about $75 when I got Ace-King of hearts in the big blind.  I called a raise to $10 and it was 4-ways.  As I’ve pointed out before, I rarely three-bet Ace-King in cash games and am very unlikely to do it out of position.  I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, it probably isn’t, but just pointing that out.  The flop was nice: Ace-King-6, two diamonds.  I checked, expecting the preflop raiser to bet, but he checked also.  However the next guy bet $25 and the last guy folded.  I decided to just call, thinking that a check-raise there might scare him off and perhaps just letting him bet would be the best way to get all the money in.

The preflop raiser folded and the turn was a blank.  It appeared the guy was ready to bet again, so I checked. He did indeed bet—$60.  I shoved for $88, he of course called.  We didn’t show.  The river was another 6, which I didn’t like.  However, when I showed my top two, he just mucked.

I limped in with Ace-4 of spades.  Four of us saw a flop that had a 4 on it (low card) and one spade. There was no betting.  The turn was a second spade and I called $8.  There were three of us left.  I caught the flush on the river.  The same guy led out $13.  Next guy folded.  I made it $30.  The guy who bet the $13 said, “Well, it’s my last hand….”  To me, that’s what someone who is about to raise would say.  I was kind of hoping for a crazy shove there, seeing as how I had the stone cold nuts.  But all he did was call.  And he mucked when saw my hand.  Good to his word, he left the game.



I limped in with Ace-2 of spades and it was three to see the flop which had two spades.  Someone bet $10, there was a call and I called.  The turn was a blank and same guy bet $10 again, and again we both called.  The river was a spade, again giving me the nuts.  The same guy bet $10.  This time the next guy made it $65.  It was a weird bet because the guy had only a few chips left behind.  It looked like it was only some blue chips ($1 chips) and less than ten of them.  Why wouldn’t he have shoved instead?  Strange.  The guy who kept betting $10 had plenty of chips.  I decided not to re-raise, even though I had the nuts.  Of course the guy would have called with his last few chips (unless he was making a crazy bluff), but I didn’t want his last ten bucks, I was $55 from the first guy.  Or perhaps more if he would re-raise.

So I made the tactical decision to just call and see if the first guy would cooperate.  Unfortunately, he folded.  Oh well, it was worth taking a shot, risking $10 (really less) for a chance at $55 more.  The guy who bet the $65 showed something like 6-5 for a pair of 5’s with no kicker.  Really?  Why aren’t there more players like these in my games?

Those were the three most interesting hands in a plus $100 session.