Friday, March 30, 2012

Not as Exciting as I'd Like.....

Well, as I noted in my last post here, I won a free entry to the $350 All Vegas Poker Tour 3 Day No Limit tournament, an inagural event.

I was very excited to win and I hoped to have a very exciting follow up post about a huge win for me, but alas, it was not to be.

I played 4 hours, made it to early in Level 7.  But I was unbelievably card dead the whole time.  A few attempts to make a move worked, most didn't.  With a little more than 10x blinds and ante's, in the small blind so I was already invested in the hand, I found pocket 4's.  A guy with a few more chips than me made a small raise, I hadn't seen a better hand than 4's in over 90 minutes, so I shoved.  The other guy had two 7's, nothing hit, and I was done.

But I had a lot of fun and I'm sure glad I got a free chance to make a nice score.  There were only around 46 runners for day one, and I lasted until about 27.  One thing I have to say....I was worried that players in an event that cost $350 to enter would be way out of my league, but I sure didn't feel that way.  I didn't see anyone at any table I was at who I felt had me totally outclassed as a poker player.  I was just card dead. I know I didn't play great, and I know I was not aggressive enough in the face of a series of bad starting hands, but I didn't see anyone else playing brilliant poker either.  I certainly feel if I had gotten an average range of decent hands, I could still be playing.  Oh well.

Perhaps equally disappointing, there weren't even any unusual or outrageous memorable hands to blog about.

It was great to meet Jon & Lizzy from AVP and thanks again for the prize; I only wish I could have taken better advantage of the freeroll.  


I won an entry in the very first All Vegas Poker Tour event.

It's a $350 entry tournament, so it's quite a step up for me, but the good news, it's a freeroll for me. So I may as well shove with 7-2 off on the first hand and take a shot.

I will try to tweet updates but I do find that to be distracting for me when I'm in a tournament. Day one is Friday, 3/30/12, starting at Noon, Pacific Time.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fastest Bustout Out of a Tournament Ever--and It's Not Really A Bad Thing

"Progress" can be evaluated in many ways.  In poker, you could just look at won/lost results and make some judgement about progress, but that wouldn't be the whole story. For all the skill in poker, and it is considerable, there's also luck attached as well.  After all, the best starting hand in poker is Ace/Ace, but by the end of the hand it doesn't always win.  Similarly, what is considered the worst hand in poker, 7-2, can be a winner when, say for example, the flop comes 7-2-7.

So poker players try to evaluate the best play for a particular situation as either "+EV" or "-EV".The EV stands for "expected value."  To oversimplify it, if the move you make (raising, calling, folding, etc) is the "correct" move, it has a +EV, meaning that in the long run, if you made that exact same play in the exact same situation every time it came up, you would come out ahead.  Your expected value has increased, even if turns out the move didn't work because the cards didn't cooperate that particular time. Conversely, the move has a minus EV if, in the long run, you would lose money making that move, even if you got lucky that particular time.

Which means that to be a succesful poker player, you have to be prepared to risk a lot of your chips, even everyone that's in front of you at the moment, to make the right play, and while, more often than not it will work out, that particular time, you could lose.  Maybe even a lot.

One of the reasons it took so long for me to move over to No Limit poker from Low Limit poker was I wasn't ready to risk "a lot" of money for to make the right move, even if I was 100% sure it was the right move, when the gods of fortune could deal me a severe beat at that particular moment.  And if you are not prepared to risk a good amount of money (for however you yourself define "a good amount of money") to make the right move, you have no chance whatsever of being succesful at this crazy game.

Which brings us to yesterday at the Aria 1PM tournament.  Buy-in $125, 30 min levels, 10K in starting chips.  Third or fouth hand of the tournament, blinds are still $25-$50.  UTG I get pocket 9's.  Since I'm still getting comfy in my seat, have no idea about any of the other players and how they play, and I've got (hopefully) a full day of poker ahead of me, I just limp in to see what happens.

Guy on the cut-off seat raises to $200 after one other caller.  BB calls, other limper calls.  Flop was J-9-3, but two spades.  Yahtzee!  OK, I think about leading out, but then I figure that PF raiser is almost sure to bet if it's checked to him, and then I can unleash my check-raise.  I know I can't slow play it because of the flush draw but I really figured a bet was coming.

I was right, PF raiser bets $500.  BB folds.  I count out $1800 and raise.  Other guy folds.  PF raiser thinks for a few seconds and then.....



All in on the third hand of the tournament?  With what?  OK, he could have raised with pocket Jacks and have me crushed.  But you can't put a guy on only one hand there, and of course, I had no read on this guy.  He could have A/J, an overpair, or he could even be making a stonecold bluff thinking there's no way I call him with my entire starting stack this early in the tournament.

Of course, I knew that even if I had him crushed, which is what I assumed, I could still lose pending the last two cards to come.  And there goes my $125 in less than 10 minutes.

I will be totally honest with my readers.  A month ago, I don't even think much about it.  A month ago, I fold like a cheap suit, still have over 9k in chips and go on with my life and the rest of the tournament.

So this is where "progress" comes in.  I'm ready now to do the right thing, even if it may cost me my stack.  The right move here is to call, and I do.  So here I am--me, the very timid, former 2/4 player, risking his entire stack less than 10 minutes into a $125 tournament.  Progress.  I guess I'm ready to try become a better poker player.  Whether I succeed or not is another subject, but I'm ready to try.

Guy flips over pocket Ace's.  I will let my readers review and comment on whether they like his move or not.  If you want to try to tell me that move made sense from his standpoint--shoving all in with an overpair at this particular point of the tournament--be my guest.

But for a moment, I liked it a lot...until the turn produced a friggin' Ace!  Reduced to one out, the river was not the 9 I needed but a Jack, giving us both boats.  But he had the bigger boat.  I hope it gets eaten by sharks in the next Jaws remake.

He had lost a couple of chips in the hand before, so I was left with $225 in chips, which I shoved next hand with A/J and lost.

Oh, yeah, so the guy has the temerity say to me, when the Ace hit, and I groan, "Hey, you hit your two-outer, then I hit mine. So?"

Sir, I hit my set on the flop, you hit yours on the turn. That's a little different, isn't it, asshole?

Here's another thing I wouldn't have done last month.  Since it was that early in the tournament, I took advantage of my ability to re-enter one time and did so.  I've never re-entered a tournament after busting out before, and this is the highest price tournament I play.  Now I'm not saying that move had a +EV, it didn't, but it does show how I'm thinking about poker a little differently than I did even 6 weeks ago.

I wish I could tell you I went on to win the tournament--or at least cash--but I cannot.  I did have a long run, perhaps I'll describe it more fully when I have time.  But I busted out 17th, they only paid 9, and I spent the last hour totally card dead until I had no choice but to shove in early position with K-10.  A guy with a weak Ace called, nothing hit the board.

One more thing though.  At the first break, I just had to tell Veronica about how I busted out.  While she agreed that it was an "insta-call" for me to call his shove on the flop, she did give me some very thoughtful insight on the hand prior to the shove.  She said I should have raised pre-flop (which I knew, but I just wanted to get a little more comfortable with knowing the players before raising early with such a "weak/good" hand) and then thrown the 9's away if the PF raiser 3 bet me.  She also told me I shouldn't have risked the check-raise, and believe me, if you've read my previous post below, you know I'm aware of that.  Just felt pretty sure I would get a chance to check-raise.  At least I was right about that.

Who is this "Veronica" I mentioned in the above paragraph?  You don't recall my mentioning a lady with this name before?  You are right, this is the first I've talked about her.  You will have to be patient, my friends.  My next post will be all about this intriguing woman.  Stay tuned.  ((Edited to add....OK, it wasn't my next post, it took longer than I thought.  But the story of Veronica is now posted and can be found here.))

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Lose With a Set of Aces

My first thought was to name this post, “I am the worst poker player ever,” because that’s what I feel like right now.  But it’s arguably possible that my incredible stupidity may have actually saved me some money.  I don’t know.  I’ll let you decide.

I know I’ve picked up some new readers thanks to Poker Grump’s linking to my post about the importance of protecting your hand.  His post is here and my post about this topic should be directly below this one, or you can find it here. Thanks, Mr. Grump, for the link.  That said, after you read how I butchered this hand today, you may never read my blog again, and may be tempted to remove your link.
So, for those new readers who may not be aware, I have played almost exclusively low limit (2/4, 3/6, 4/8) Hold ‘Em until very recently.  Now I am trying to learn how to play no limit, with mixed results (stories about this all over this blog).  But I swear I know better than to play a hand like I did just now.  Honest.
Playing 1/2 No Limit, I bought in for $200 and was down to about $130.  I was totally card dead, except for one oddity.  I kept getting pocket Aces.  Aside from them, I had pretty much nothing.  And the Aces never paid off.  I saw a flop with them only once.  Raised twice, once no call, once folded on my continuation bet.  I 3-bet them once, the lady who raised asked me, when she folded to my re-raise (pre-flop), “How big was your pocket pair, mine was under 10”.
So my image was rather tight, to say the least.  At one point I was able to loosen up and I did raise pre-flop with J8 offsuit and won on a continuation bet.  But opportunities to do that again disappeared when a guy started making big pre-flop raises every hand….just before he took off, as it turned out.  This hand happened a few minutes after he left, and featured the guy who took his place.
For the fourth time in less than 90 minutes, I looked down at AA, this time in early position.  I raised to $12, a reasonable raise for the table.  A brand new player on the button called.  He had only played a few hands prior and couldn’t have known about my tight image, keep that in mind.  He seemed to know the dealers so he may have been a regular in this room.  Big Blind also called.  He was a pretty bad player from my observation, had called down with very weak holdings, and I wasn’t at all worried about him.
Flop is A-10-3, two diamonds.  Yes, the diamonds should have set off alarm bells for me.  So should the A-10 for the straight draw.  But dammit, I hadn’t won much with my Aces three times before, and now I not only saw a flop with them but hit my top set, I was gonna win some money here, come hell or high water.
BB checked, I checked and button bet $5.  Yeah, a whole $5.  Into a pot of over $30. That was a very strange bet, which the BB called and it gave me a chance to make up for my error of checking.  I could spring a nice check-raise here and take down the pot before a diamond or another straight card hit.  Did I do that?  No.  Why?  Because I’m an idiot, that would be my guess.
I just called.  When a Jack hit on the turn, I got scared.  Scared enough to make a big bet?  No.  I was still greedy and stupid.  I figured this was my chance for the check-raise, so I checked after BB also had checked.  But the button fooled me by checking too!  Boy did I feel stupid.
I didn’t feel any smarter when the river was a Queen.  Neither the Jack nor the Queen was a diamond, but anyone holding a King had Broadway (Ace-high straight).  People don’t like keeping Kings in Hold ‘Em do they?  No, not at all.
If you think I can’t get any stupider, wait.  BB now leads out with a $20 bet.  For no logical reason that I can think of now—or then, either, for that matter—I call!  Button counts out a lot of chips and puts in $80.  That is more than BB has so BB calls all-in.  Now, I wasn’t quite stupid enough to call that bet, not with two people betting and only one of them needing a King to beat my set, so finally, finally, I folded without losing any more.
BB had King-rag (not diamonds) and played it really stupid but was rewarded with half the pot.  Button showed not one King but two!  Wow.  I was so mad at myself I knew I would never recover fast enough mentally to have a chance of doing well at this table.  I got up and left before I could do any more damage to my psyche or my bankroll.
I was beating myself all kinds of ways as I walked around and cashed out.  But then I started thinking more and more about the guy on the button, the new player.  Very interesting, I thought, that he didn’t 3 bet me with his pocket Kings, wasn’t it?  Most players would.  And I repeat, he had only seen me 3 or 4 hands at most, and didn’t know me from Adam until 10 minutes ago, so he couldn’t know I was a really tight player (he also didn’t see me raise pre-flop with J8 off, but then nobody did, since I didn’t have to show).  So I found that interesting.
Made me wonder how he would have reacted if I bet out on the flop as I should have.  Would he have called with his cowboys?  With an Ace on the board.  With me having raised in early position pre-flop?  I’ll never know, but I think he might have.  He might have put me on a lower pocket pair (or just high cards) and thought I was just making a continuation bet.  I have no evaluation of his play but his call pre-flop with those Kings smells of a trap, and he might have been willing to call a flop bet, even with the Ace on there.  So I am trying to comfort myself—just a little—with the thought that I might have lost more money if I played it smarter.
Even if that’s true—and it probably isn’t—believe me, I know, I know, I know I played it or horrifically, and will really try to learn from it.  So I’m not taking any lessons from this except a lesson in what not to do.
Anybody think he would have called a pot-sized bet on the flop?  Anybody?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Protect Your Hand

In poker, “protecting your hand” can mean making sure that no one else sees your hole cards when you look at them, or it can mean putting something on your hole cards when they are on the felt to make sure they aren’t accidentally mucked.  This post concerns the second meaning.
This story goes back to my 2/4 limit days.  A couple of young guys came to the game, they were friends, and they sat in seats 1 & 2.  Seat 1 is immediately to the left of the dealer.  These guys were obviously not newbies at poker, and they seemed to know a few of the people who worked at BSC.  Turns out they worked at BSC, but not in the poker room, I think perhaps in one of the bars or restaurants.  So it was kind of surprising that I didn’t recognize them.
Seat 1 never bothered to “protect his hand."  He’d just lay his cards down in front of him and did not put a chip or some trinket or some good luck charm on top of them.  This meant they were vulnerable to being accidentally picked up by the dealer, thinking he had folded.  Also, if another player folds his cards, and slides them towards the dealer, if they touch a player’s unprotected cards, technically, that automatically mucks the unprotected hand.  That’s the technical rule but if at all possible the dealer will catch it in time, or they will just barely touch and the dealer will save the hand.  But if you don’t have something on top of your cards, there are no guarantees that you hand won’t get forfeited if some other discards hit them.
The first dealer gently suggested to Seat 1 that he should put a chip on top of his cards, but the punk kid just grunted and ignored him.  The dealer didn’t pursue it, he had done his job by warning the player.  The next dealer was Jim, then fairly new to BSC.  Jim is a grandfather and has no doubt seen it all.  Almost immediately, he suggested to Seat 1 that he should protect his hand with a chip.  Seat 1 grunted and ignored him.
Jim didn’t let it go.  He mentioned it again a few hands later.  I’m betting he’s seen guys lose their hands in this situation and didn’t want that to happen to this kid.  But the kid would have none of it, and took an attitude.  He said something like, “What is it with you dealers?  My cards are fine, nothing’s going to happen to them.  I refuse to put a chip on them.  So there.”
Jim just shrugged his shoulders and said something like, “That’s your choice sir, I’m only trying to protect you.”  I don’t know if the kid told Jim to mind his own business, but if he didn’t say it with his mouth, he said it with his expression.
I kind of felt badly for Jim, who seemed like a nice guy (and since this happened, I’ve confirmed that) who was only doing his job and also helping the guy in the process.  I wanted to comment but didn’t feel that I should go out of my way to get into it with this jerk.  Luckily, about 2/3’s of the way into Jim’s down, Seat 1 and Seat 2 got bored and decided to look for greener pastures, and left the table and the room.  I know that Jim worked extra hard to make sure that nobody’s folded cards from that side of the table slid into the jerk’s unprotected hand.
I was sitting in Seat 5, directly across from Seat 1. When they were safely out of the hearing range, I said to Jim, “You know, I came thisclose to, one time, just flinging my cards directly at that jerk’s hand so they’d hit his cards and kill his hand.”
As I said, Jim was new and didn’t know me like most of the dealers there did, but with that one sentence, I made a friend.  He gave me a fist pump and said thanks for backing him up.  He said he would have really enjoyed that if I had done that—on the inside, not on the outside.  Then he just shook his head and said, “I don’t understand people like that.  What I was telling him was for his benefit.”  I agreed, and then I remembered a story that Brent had told me a trip or two before this one, so I asked Jim if he had heard it and he had not, so I told him about it.
Brent was dealing at a No Limit game, I think it was a 2/5 game, and some guy was being kind of a jerk. He enjoyed calling, and sometimes raising, blind, without looking at his hand. And of course, he was somehow being rewarded with it, making some incredibly lucky draws.  All the other players were really pissed at this guy.  He was sitting in the middle of the table nowhere near the dealer.  And one time, with a big stack of chips in front of him (I’m gonna say at least $300-$400), he declared all-in, preflop, without looking at his cards.  He didn’t touch his cards to look at them, and he didn’t bother to put a chip on top of them since he was in the middle where they were unlikely to be touched by another hand or taken by the dealer assuming that he had folded.  Especially since he’d bet “all in.”
A player from the corner folded, and “accidentally” aimed very badly with his mucked cards, and instead of heading toward the dealer, they landed right on top of the preflop raiser’s cards, which he hadn’t looked at yet!  Since they were unprotected and now mixed in the folded cards from the player on the corner, Brent had no choice but to pick up his cards and declare his hand dead. But the bet was still there and part of the pot.  I don’t remember if someone had already called his shove or someone did subsequently to claim an easy big pot (assuming he had the idiot covered), but the guy’s entire stack was part of a pot that he couldn’t possibly win.
Now of course the guy didn’t take this lying down.  Before almost any of this happened, the floor was called and in fact, the Shift Manager weighed in.  He asked the guy who shoved what his hand was, and of course, he couldn’t say because he hadn’t looked.  So he asked the other player what he folded and he just shrugged.  He “couldn’t remember.” Thus there was no way to determine which two of the four cards belonged to the guy who raised.  He screamed and ranted and raved, but his money was gone and when he put up enough of a ruckus, security was called and he was escorted out of the casino.
Although he never admitted it, there was no doubt in Brent’s mind (or in the mind of anyone else who witnessed this) that it was no accident that this player’s mucked cards ended up in mixed up with the raiser’s cards. 
Of course Jim loved that story, as any dealer would.
The moral of the story is, protect your hand at all times…especially if you’re stupid enough to raise all-in without looking at your cards first.

For a sequel to this story and one that personally involved me, check this post right here.  And for the tournament version of this same theme, see here.


I'm proud to report that two excellent poker blogs, Poker Grump and CrAAKKer, have picked up the batton and referenced the above post, and I thank them for it.  CrAAKKer actually posted a counterpoint argument to my entry, so you just definitely check it out if have not already done so!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Show One, Show All

(Reader warning for sensitive people:  Part of this post involves a man discussing, and then displaying, his wife's breasts at the poker table.)

(Reader warning for insensitive people:  You have to read through to the end of the post and past some poker stuff to get to that part.)

Before I start, I need to explain to those readers who aren’t poker players the rule, “Show One, Show All.”  At showdown, if a player shows his hand and the other player (or players) still in the hand see that they are beat, they do not have to show their cards, choosing instead to just muck their cards. They can show their cards if they want, and sometimes a player showing a hand he thinks is a losing one can be surprised and discover the pot is actually pushed to him, having misread either his hand or his opponent’s.  But he can certainly muck his cards if he wants.  The reason for not showing your cards is simple; if you have lost the hand, showing what you had gives free information to the other players as to how you played that hand and will give them insight into how you play in general.
Sometimes a player will fold his cards but feel compelled to show the person sitting next to him what hand he is folding, either because he’s making such a tough lay down he simple has to show somebody or he is friendly with that person sitting next to him.  This is where the “Show one, show all” rule comes into play.  A player is not supposed to show his dead hand to selective people at the table.  He is offering valuable information, and it is unfair that only one or two people get that information.  It’s a mild form of collusion.  So if/when that happens, someone else at the table who didn’t see the hand (and usually, it’s me), will tell the dealer, “Show one, show all” and if at all possible, the dealer will take the cards the player just mucked and flip them over so that all the players at the table see what was folded, and everyone gets the same information.
OK, so if you play poker for several hours, you will usually hear a player call out “Show one, show all” several times, especially if I’m at that table.  Just keep that phrase in the back of your mind for later.
Anyway, this particular story dates back almost a year, back to the days I was strictly a limit player, playing in a 2/4 game at the BSC.  I’d been there for awhile when two middle aged guys who were friends took the two seats immediately to my left.  They were really chatty, and obviously they had come to town have a good time first, drink a lot second, and play some poker third.  Within a few minutes I learned that they were from back East, they were old college buddies, and once a year they did a guys’ trip to Vegas together, leaving their wives back home.
I first described these guys in this post here  as BSC regulars.  They knew a lot of the dealers, or at least remembered a lot of them, and were particularly interested in having Ginger deal to them, remembering her as a particularly attractive woman.  Ginger was dealing that night but she never made it to our table.  They mentioned her name a few times before they got too drunk to care.
Early on they started giving every player at the table their own nicknames based either on their appearance or how they played.  One guy was “Raisy Daisy” because he raised pre-flop so much. Another guy looked like some character from Spongebob Squarepants and named him that (don’t ask me what it was, you won’t find anyone who knows less about Spongebob Squarepants than yours truly).  Some guys had names because they looked like people they knew.
Did I have a nickname, I hear you asking?  Of course. They called me “Phil” because of the strong physical resemblance I have to famous professional poker player Phil Ivey.

Heh heh.  The truth is, I don’t look anything like Phil Ivey, and they didn’t call me Phil.  But I have been told, at least a dozen times in a poker room (and once or twice elsewhere), that I do have a strong physical resemblance to someone who is a fairly well known poker personality, someone who appears on televised poker, who is also famous (or was) in a different, non-poker related field.  No, it isn’t Jennifer Tilly, though she fits that description.  Believe me, I don’t look anything like Jennifer Tilly.  If I did, I’d never leave the house.
But in keeping with my desire for secrecy, I won’t say who this poker personality is that I supposedly resemble, to help keep my identity a bit more secure.  But tell you what, when you folks meet me in Vegas, as most of you probably eventually will, if you guess who it is I’m told I look like, I’ll tell you if you’re right and who it is if you’re wrong.  No prizes will be offered for getting this “right.”
So for now, we’ll say they called me “Phil.”  I didn’t mind, these were good-natured, here to have fun guys.  But soon I did ask him if they had their own nicknames we should use at the table.  They said it was up to others at the table to nickname them, so I thought for a bit and tried to come up with appropriate and silly names for these clowns.  Finally I came up with “Heckle and Jeckle” and told them of my decision.  They laughed and were fine with it.  Heckle was on my immediate left, and Jeckle was on his left.
For whatever reason, I had a very good night at poker while these guys were laughing, drinking and losing chips.  They weren’t bad players at all, pretty reasonable for the 2/4 game, but it wasn’t their night.
One time I had J/10 and the board was 9-8-7-6-5.  Jeckle had pocket Jacks and had to call my river bet because If I didn’t have a 10 we’d chop it. But I actually had a seven card straight and took the pot. He was not amused.
Then in the big blind I had 10-7 diamonds, no one raised.  Flopped a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw.  The turn gave me a straight.  The river gave me a flush.  I actually didn’t want the flush, figured my 10 high flush might not hold up but I thought my straight would be good.  But it turns out that Heckle had the exact same 10-7 I had, but his was unsuited!  If I hadn’t made my flush, we would have chopped the pot, but the flush gave me the whole pot, and it was a big pot for a 2/4 game!  The dealer said he’d never seen anything quite like it.
I was quite amused but Heckle was extremely pissed. He bitched and moaned about that for quite some time. Of course, what I didn’t point out, because I’m no table bully or asshole (see Gary’s blog post here and my comment on it below), that the guy had only himself to blame.  What the hell was he doing calling pre-flop with 10-7 unsoooooted?  Under the gun, yet?  I was the big blind, that’s the only reason I saw the flop.  But I failed to point that out to him, because that’s the kind of guy I am!
One more hand of note.  I had A/J of hearts and called a pre-flop raise by “Raisy Daisy”.  Heckle only called the raise (remember, this is limit, the raise pre-flop can only be two bucks).  Ace on the flop, plus two hearts.  Turn is a blank but the river is 8 hearts, which is the second 8 on the board.  So I had to be a little concerned about a full house beating my nut flush, especially in a limit game.  Heckle bets the river, pre-flop raiser calls, I raise.  Heckle and other guy call.  Pre-flop raiser had pocket 9’s and should have gotten out a long time ago.  Heckle showed AK and was really upset.  He said I was behind the whole way and said I sucked out on him….I “chased it down.”  He said he wished he was playing No Limit so he could have bet me off of it.
I tried to point out that not only did I flop top pair, decent kicker but I flopped the nut flush draw.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  He wouldn’t listen. This was another really big pot for a 2/4 game.  He wouldn’t stop pissing and moaning about it.  Again, I reminded him I flopped the nut flush draw, and then he got mad because he said I didn’t have the nuts.  He’s right, I didn’t have quad 8’s.  I told him I had the nut flush and tried to make the distinction, but he was too upset to listen.  I even asked the dealer to confirm that I was right, I had the nut flush even though I didn’t have the nuts.  But Heckle wasn’t in a mood to listen.
I guess I’m making it out like these two guys were bad guys but really they weren’t.  At least 90% of the time they were laughing and joking.  It was only when they lost a big pot that they turned sour.  Especially since every time they lost a big pot it was to me.  At one point, when they were back to being jovial, they looked at all the chips in front of me (most of which I got from them) and one of them said, “Well, with your winnings, at least you can get laid tonight, Phil.”  I just laughed.
The whole table was chatty and fun, led by Heckle & Jeckle.  One topic of conversation was movies, and there was a debate about what Natalie Portman’s first movie was. I neither remember nor care about the answer—a cell phone was used to confirm—and Heckle said something to the effect that Portman was a beautiful woman but she had absolutely no breasts whatsoever.  He made several comments to the effect that she had gone far as an actress without actually having any breasts.

A bit later, Heckle & Jeckle started bitching about the waitresses refusing to serve them shots. And then he made the rather bizarre statement, “Not being able to get shots in Vegas is like getting in trouble for showing tits in Vegas.”  Suddenly I was getting the impression that Heckle was “obsessed with bosoms,” (unlike me).  Especially when soon thereafter I heard him brag, “My wife has the world’s greatest tits.”  Jeckle confirmed this.  He said “they are real and they are spectacular.”  Brent was dealing at this point and he said, “Oh, like Terry Hatcher on Seinfeld.”  Yes, they agreed, except Mrs. Heckle’s breasts were truly spectacular.
Jeckle said that not only had he seen Mrs. Heckle’s tits, but he had actually had the thrill of motor-boating them.  And this was with the encouragement of Heckle.  Heckle pointed out that his wife will go “topless or even naked in public” at the drop of a hat.  He insisted that was true, and then, to back it up, he took out his cell phone and started looking for some pics.  He indicated he had no problem with his wife doing this at all, he had no problem with anyone seeing his wife’s tits, just as he had no problem with his friend not only seeing his wife topless (at least) but motor-boating her.
First he showed a pic of two naked women, and after insisting that this was his wife and her best friend, admitted that he was kidding and that this was just a porn pic.  But then he showed me a close-up of a huge tit, completely out of a dress, completely exposed (yes, I could see the nipple, plain as day).  Heckle insisted, and Jeckle backed him up, that this was really his wife’s bare breast.  After he showed me, he passed the phone around for all the guys at the table to see. Even Brent (our dealer), got a peak.
When he got the phone back he was involved in a couple of hands, then began to start fumbling around with his phone again.  He said he was going to find a fully nude pic of his wife that she sent him this morning from a girl’s night out that took place the day before as he and his pal arrived in Vegas!  However, before he could get the picture, somehow, a female floorperson, had somehow gotten wind of him passing around the prior topless pic and came over to him.  She said that he had to stop doing that.  She didn’t say what “that” was but it was clear that she somehow knew about him passing around the topless pic, and perhaps the pornstar pic before that.  She said that such activity might “offend” someone.  Interesting.  There were no women at this table, and I don’t think any of the guys would be upset, and if they would be, they could have passed on it.  But, I can see from the casino’s point of view that they might not want such activity at the poker tab;e.  Whatever.  So he had no choice but to put the phone away.  If he really was about to show us a totally naked pic of his wife, I’ll never know for sure.
A down or two later, Samuel came to deal.  Samuel is generally one of the less talkative dealers, but every once in awhile he snaps off a wickedly witty comment.  So somehow, the discussion turned back to Heckle and his wife’s allegedly amazing breasts. Of course I had to tell Samuel that Heckle had actually shown most of us at the table, including Brent, a picture of his wife topless. Samuel of course was interested in that, and asked the guy if he could see the picture.  But he refused, telling him that the “mean” floorperson said it was offensive and he couldn’t show any more risqué pictures at the table.
Samuel instantly replied, “That’s not fair.  Show one, show all.”
Not long after, the Heckle and Jeckle had decided they’d lost enough money for the night—most of it to me—and took off, never to be seen again.  But since I had most of their money, it was a very good night—in more ways than one—for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Ugly Man, The Ugly Hand, and The Happy Ending

Here’s a tale that dates back to my December Vegas visit from last year.  This was the trip where, the first half of it, I mostly played 2/4 limit, and the second half, I mostly played 1/2 No Limit  So this is the trip I really more-or-less made the transition to No Limit.
And this happened on my second to last night of my trip, when I was starting to have real doubts if I wanted to continue to play NL.  Not because of the results, which were ok, but because of the difference in the tables….in the difference of the “fun” and “entertainment” factor I was discovering.  I discussed those issues in this post here (“The Difference Between Limit & No Limit Poker”).  In that post, I first alluded to the “villain” of this story.  Basically, what I found the first few nights of playing NL regularly was that the players were not talking much, were not joking much, were too serious, and were decidedly and almost unanimously male.  Of course this was just one night before I meet Prudence who totally changed my opinion on all these observations.
On this night, I bought in for $300 and started losing a bit.  After awhile, the most seriously ugly looking guy I could ever remember seeing joined the table.  Honestly, this was one bad looking dude.  He wasn’t disfigured or anything, he just looked fugly to the nth degree.  And mean.  He looked really mean.  As I said in that prior post, he looked like he belonged as a villain on the great TV show “24”.  He looked like a guy who would be torturing and beating the crap out of Jack Bauer until, of course, Jack figured out a way to get the upper hand, turn the tables on the guy, escape, and kill him with his bare hands, as he inevitably did.  Normally I am not preoccupied with how men look, preferring to concentrate on how the ladies look, but this guy was, sorry, so hideous-looking you couldn’t help be distracted by him in a negative way.
He joined the table that was all male (except for the occasional female dealer) and extremely quiet.  Occasionally guys would grunt after a bad beat. I chatted with some of my dealer pals as they dealt.  But otherwise, it was actually a depressing table to be at.  This is when I looked over to the 2/4 games, and at each one, there was laughing, a lot of cheerful noise, and at least one or two reasonably attractive women at each game. When I wasn’t in a hand, all I could think of was getting up and going over to the 2/4 table.  But somehow, I never made it over there.
Now we have to give this bad looking guy a name, so I figure “Igor” works. I apologize if anybody out there is really named Igor and is offended by this.  Anyway, Igor had around $100 in front of him and I had a bit less than $200 when this hand happened.  In early position I look down and see the dreaded pocket Kings.  Yes, my favorite hand.  It’s been a while since I talked about how much I love that hand, which is one of the reasons I’m posting this now. If you don’t remember how much I hate this hand, you can start reading here.
I opened the pot for about $8 and it folds to Igor in late position.  He re-raises all in.  Huh? Really?  With around $100.  There hadn’t been a lot of moves like this at this table, and he hadn’t done anything like that before.  Gulp.  This happened just days after the story I linked to above occured, so I already had nightmares from this hand.  So I probably threw up a little in my mouth at this point.  But I knew that I had the second best starting hand in Hold Em and that sooner or later I would start winning with this hand.  Right?  Right?
I had the guy covered and I was almost positive he didn’t have pocket Ace’s.  If he did, that’s a fairly bad play on his part.  He should have raised much smaller.  So of course I called.
We both showed our cards.  He showed pocket Jack’s, and I showed my cowboys.  When he saw my cards, somehow, although this should have been scientifically impossible, his face got even uglier.  He stood up.  Apparently he had no plans to re-buy when he busted out.  The flop was benign, but since it was pocket Kings and I had them, of course a Jack came on the turn.  No King for me on the river.
Yeah, freakin’ pocket Kings.  Again.  So now I had a bit less than $100 and kept plugging away.  Boy that 2/4 game looked even more fun now!  But I stayed, hoping for a chance to make a comeback.
Sometime later, after winning and losing a few small pots, I still had around $100.  Igor had almost double that, thanks to my generosity.  This time in early position, I see a pair of bullets.  I bet $6, which was a reasonable opening bet for this table.  Igor pops it to $25.  Folded back to me.  Any re-raise I make takes over half my stack, so I might as well try to get my money back right now.  “All in” I say. Igor calls without thinking very long.
This time he shows me pocket 10’s.  He was very unhappy to see my Ace’s.  He couldn’t suck out on me twice, could he?  Actually, no he couldn’t.  My Ace’s held up and I got my money back from Igor.  Again, somehow, he grew uglier after losing my chips back to me. After the hand was over, another player mentioned that he threw away a “10.”  I didn’t realize it at the time, but his decision to wait to say that means he obvious subscribes to missingflop’s superstition regarding the “curse of the folded out” that he described in his blog post here. I didn’t know it then, but I should have thanked the guy, because clearly if he had said “I folded a 10” before the cards were dealt out, the dealer surely would have put the case 10 on the board and my Ace’s wouldn’t have been worth anything more than my King’s were an hour earlier.  So thank you, sir, wherever you are, for not reporting your mucked 10 until after the hand was over.  Had I known about the curse then, I would have tipped you a redbird.
I played a couple of hours more and eventually got almost all of my money back, leaving around even for the night.  Igor made a few more all in moves and busted out, but not to me.  Although I would have preferred he lose all the rest of his money to me, I was so relieved that I would no longer have to look at his sorry face, I was still delighted to see him leave.
And oh, yeah, I’m sorry if you were hoping the “happy ending” in this post’s title made you think this was going to a story about something else.  But you know, both Stripper Week (see hereand Hooker Week (see here are over.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Your Testicles are Huge, Sir" (The Return of Prudence, Part 3)

This is the final installment of the “Return of Prudence” saga, picking up where I left off here.  Part 1 is here, the introduction to Prudence is here and the story of how she discovered my blog is here.  And the latest with Prudence can now be found here.
This story actually takes place over two nights, the Monday and the Thursday of my recent visit to Vegas.  On Monday, when I arrived at BSC fairly late, around 9:30 I saw Prudence at a 1/2 game that had a couple of empty seats.  I walked past it to go tell them at the front that I wanted a seat and in particular, I wanted that game.  No problem.  When I got there I was surprised to see that the dealer there, who I had already said hello to when I also said hi to Prudence, had put a “reserved” button in one of the seats to hold for me!  Nice.
Prudence was much more low-key than she was the previous night.  One reason may have been because, although Ginger, her “partner in crime” the previous night, was playing instead of dealing, she had moved up to the 2/5 game.  Thus Prudence had no one to play off of.  Still we chatted a bit as the play unfolded. 
There was a somewhat attractive blonde girl at the table a seat away from me, and I was sitting across from Prudence, who was sitting next to the dealer.  The somewhat attractive blonde girl was soon joined by her friend, who was a very attractive, girl, not quite as blonde as her friend, but a lot better looking.  She was also wearing a fairly low cut top, I wasn’t the only one who noticed the hot girl joining the table.  Prudence took one look at her and said to me, “Oh, Robert…that’s for you.”
If only it was so.
Actually, I’ve already described this gal on grrouchie’s blog, in a comment I made the night after he and I and Prudence all played together.  Might as well quote myself instead of trying to come up with a new description of her.  “Oh, and by the way, Monday nite, when you did not join me at BSC, there was this gal at my table with incredible ta-ta's that may actually have been real. She was wearing a low-cut, cleavage revealing top that was also super tight to further emphasize the boobage. Also, the top was somewhat see-through so it was really eye catching. Yes, she was wearing a bra, or perhaps it was built in, but because of the transparency a lot more cleavage was revealed than otherwise would have been.”
Actually, when she first sat down she was wearing a covering on top that somewhat reduced the cleavage, but watching her remove the covering and also stretch backwards was a rather pleasant sight.
But nothing I’ve written so far should give you the impression that I’m “obsessed with bosoms.”

So enough about her tits.  You’re not interested in them, I know.  You want to read about poker right?  Well, she was good player actually.  So good so that she didn’t really need to use her breasts to try to work the “Jennifer Tilly” effect that she was so obviously employing.  And she and I got into it in several hands.  Unfortunately, by the time I got around to writing notes about this night, the specifics of the hands were forgotten.  My recollection though is that we battled in three significant pots, and that I won two of them.  Once, she was staring me down to see if she could read how good my hand was.  She finally folded.  That time I had a semi-decent hand, but I was thinking if she called she probably had me beat, so it was probably a good lay-down on her part.  Or not.  Anyway, despite her attempt to distract me with her cleavage, I took more of her money than vice-versa.  Unfortunately, she didn’t play long, choosing to pick up her chips, as her friend had earlier, and just watch her boyfriend play at another table.  But before she left, the guys on either side of her had noted that, as she was facing out into the main casino area, guys kept stopping to look into the poker room, ostensibly to check out the action but in actuality they were checking her out!  Yeah, they actually told her that and she just nodded in agreement.
Meanwhile, Prudence was not having a lot of success at this game so she decided to move to another game.  Since I was doing well, I stayed there and didn’t see her again, at least during the actual poker-playing part of this evening, for the rest of the night.
There were two memorable hands from this session, and they came back to back.  In a limped pot, my pocket fours saw a flop of 9-9-4.  Always nice to flop a boat.  I led out a small bet, hoping someone would bite (because the pot was limped, with that flop, I feared no one would bet).  A guy tried to raise, but he screwed up and put the call out first and then tried to add more chips to it…a forbidden string raise.  The dealer insisted that was only a call.  But this was valuable information for me.  I knew he wanted to raise, he must have liked that flop too.  Awesome.
Since I knew he wanted to raise on the flop, I checked the turn, which was an Ace.  He bet $25 and I just called, setting the trap.  The river was a blank, I check, he bets $50.  I’m sure I have him but I didn’t think he’d call a shove.  If I was wrong, then he might shove against my minimum raise to $100.  Nope, he just called.  He had K-9 and I took down a very nice pot.
Next hand, I have pocket 3’s, another limped pot, and a 3 hits on the flop.  Wow, two sets in a row, one a full house!  This time nobody called the small bet I made on the flop.  The same guy I’d just beat was thinking about calling but decided he didn’t want any part of me.
I played for several hours and walked away up over $250.  Not bad.  After cashing out, I noticed a couple of my dealer buddies loitering near the cashier and they ask me how I did, and I told them I had a good night.  Among the dealers there were Jack and Tom, which meant Prudence was hanging with them too.  Tom pointed to Jack and said to me, “Here’s a guy who can help you with your blog, he’s a computer whiz.”  News to me.  But that reminded Jack that he still hadn’t checked out the blog so he took this opportunity to finally nail down the URL and promised to check it out, which he in fact, did.  But now that I am remembering that and realizing Jack is a computer whiz and he reads my blog, Hey Jack, is there anything you could do to help the blog?  Perhaps Jack is web-designer in his spare time?
We talked briefly about the blog and I was careful to point out that I change the names, and even the name of room, to protect them.  But one of the dealers who I’m just too lazy to create a fake name for until I have a better story about him to blog about said, “Well, I bet we can figure it out anyway.”  So I asked him if he had seen my blog and he had not.  Perhaps by now he has?  Anyway, I know the guilty parties can figure out who they are, I just don’t want everybody to be able to figure it.
Suddenly I was in the middle of a nice conversation with a bunch of BSC employees where I was the only one there who wasn’t a BSC dealer or at least sleeping with one.  It was a fun conversation, many topics covered, one of which was how to play 1/2 No Limit and whether Prudence should be doing it.  Tom offered the opinion that you can’t get away with bluffing in a 1/2 game and thus you shouldn’t even try.  Apparently this has been a problem with Prudence’s game. 
Prudence mentioned that her friends and (I think) family back home are surprised—I assume pleasantly so—that she has pretty much lived the straight and narrow since moving to Vegas (other than her amusing table talk at the poker table), and not turned into a degenerate party girl.
Suddenly Ginger joined us, fresh off what I believe was a successful run at the 2/5 game.  To my pleasant surprise, she could not wait to have Prudence tell the story again of her most outrageous comment from the night before. And about how I had missed it the first time and she had gotten Prudence to repeat it. Prudence was only too eager to comply.  “Well he missed it the first time and wanted to know why some guy turned so red.  So I told him how Tom is very supportive of me, but he really doesn’t like it when I talk about my vagina at the poker table.”
At least a couple of the dealers in this group hadn’t heard her say this before, at least to my knowledge.  This caused a good laugh and then I said, “You know, I was about to make a comment that I hadn’t heard the ‘v-word’ spoken all night.  Whew.”  Then I said, “I can’t imagine why Tom doesn’t like that” and Tom, who was pretending to be looking at his cell phone at the time, muttered, “Yeah, who could imagine that.”
Prudence brought up the two hot girls that had joined the table she was first at,  I believe she did this to remind everyone of my alleged “obsession with bosoms.” I pointed out that only one of them was really hot.  She agreed, and then pointed out that that is very typical of the two girl dynamic….one’s hot, the other not so much, and it really sucks for the one that isn’t hot.
It was at this point that I decided to get a clarification and confirm whether or not Prudence had actually encouraged Ginger to show her boobs to a guy during the hand.  I reminded Ginger of the incident and she said no, Prudence said, “Show him your nuts”.  Ginger pointed out that being a woman, she didn’t have any nuts to show.  It was then that one of the other dealers, male, I’m not sure which one, did a little snipping motion with his fingers to indicate what needed to be done if it indeed turned out that Ginger had nuts.
Some of the dealers had tables to get to, some had to leave for the night, and the group broke up.  I wasn’t sure if I’d see Prudence again on this trip but it turns out she returned to BSC on Thursday, my last night in town.  I didn’t see her at first and got a table where I won a few very small pots to start off.  Jack—by now a big fan of my blog—asked me why I wasn’t playing at Prudence’s table and I said I didn’t realize she was there.  Yes, he referred to her as “Prudence” even though he knows her real name.  He also likes to call himself “Jack” now! Jack pointed out her table and I eventually I moved to her game and we sat next to each other for quite some time.  I told her about my “fan” being in the room and how he had flown all the way from the Midwest just to meet me and she was impressed, as explained here We chatted a bit, but with Ginger nowhere to be seen (I think this was her day off), Prudence was again low key and spent most of time when not in a hand playing games on her phone. 
Meanwhile, after being up well over $100, I started a bad run and suddenly was getting close to needing to buy more chips. This was when Michelle came to deal, a scary sign.  Michelle is a terrific woman but we have a running gag that I never win a pot when she deals.  There was a period where it seemed like I went about 20 or so of her downs with winning anything.  So now I keep a count in my mind of how may pots she “owes” me.  It started at 100 (that was her number) and has now gotten into the 80’s.  Anyway, her appearance didn’t bode well for my dwindling stack.  Worse, she had walked past me a while back when I had a much bigger stack, so when she came to the table, she said, “What happened to your chips?”
Prudence accused her of rubbing it in but I didn’t think that was the case.  I told her it was starting to go bad for me and would like get worse now that she was here!  But with Michelle dealing came the hand of the night.
It was limped pot and I had pocket 9’s.  There were two King’s on the flop and a low card.  A guy with a shorter stack than me put out $10, about the size of the pot.  Folded to me.  I should have folded, surely he had a King, right?  But it would be heads up and this was, in my opinion, a weak player and he didn’t have a lot of chips.  I thought what the heck and decided to make a move, I wouldn’t lose that much since he didn’t have many chips and I was ready to re-load anyway.  So I made an overbet to $40.  I thought if he had a weak king or maybe any pocket pair (other than Kings), he’d fold. Otherwise, I’m ready for the re-load.
He thought about it but called.  Then on the turn, a miracle 9 shows up, giving me a full house!  Wow.  How lucky can I be?  And with Michelle dealing yet?  The other guy checked and I pretty much figured he was pot committed with his small stack (about $40 or $50 left) so I just shoved, pretty sure he’d call.  He did.  The river was a blank, I showed my boat and the guy stared at it for a bit and then mucked, and walked away, shaking his head. 
It was a nice pot that made rebuying unnecessary. As Michelle pushed me the pot, I told her, “That’s 83 now!” meaning her debt of pots to me is down to 83.  Now, my rather bizarre play had not gone unnoticed by Prudence.  “I’m impressed!  What cojones you have!  That’s a retard move like I would make!”
I of course started to crack up.  My play had really surprised her, to say the least.  Actually it kind of surprised me too.  Anyway, as I was laughing, she said, “Your testicles are huge, sir!”
I really wish Doug, my fan had dropped by soon after that, I would have loved to have her repeat that line to him.  But I never saw him that night, except through texts.
I was back on my way but Prudence was soon busted out and she left.  She said she would reload at another table but I never saw her again.  Oh well, she and I will be both be back at the BSC, you can be sure of that.
Anyway, one more hand from this night.  I had AK suited and raised pre-flop, one or two callers.  Flop is QJ-x, only one in my suit.  Someone bet $30, I called. But a 10 hit the turn, giving me the nut straight.  The guy who bet $30, who had taken over Prudence’s seat to my left, shoved.  Wow.  He either had AK for a chop or I was gonna win a nice pot.  I of course called, I had him covered (he had around $150 or so left when he shoved).  River was a blank.  He had the bad fortune to have the bottom end, 8/9 suited.  So that was a nice pot to send me on the way, and I won a couple of hundred that night.  And had my testicles praised in the process.  Not a bad final night in town.