My first day back in Vegas last month. It was a Thursday. As I arrived in Vegas in the middle of the afternoon, I suddenly remembered that MGM had extended its football promo to include the Thursday night game. Hmm….I was catching up on my Twitter feed over lunch and I saw that the game this night was Denver vs. San Diego. Intuitively I felt that would be a high scoring game. That mattered because of the way the promo works---they pick a random poker player every time there’s a score in the game, winner draws between $100 and $500. The more scoring, the more money they give away and the more likely it is that a random person playing poker—me, for instance—gets selected to win some money.
I decided to make sure I was playing poker at the MGM by 5:30PM, the time the game started (here on the West Coast). I had had a late enough lunch so that I could hold off on dinner until after the game.
I got into a game just a few minutes before the football game started. Note: to save you some suspense, although there were 8 scores in the game—all TD’s—yours truly was never selected for a cash prize.
For a good hour or so I was totally card dead. I had two playable hands, Ace-Jack suited both times. I raised preflop and didn’t get calls either time.
I managed to drip down to about $110 from my $200 buy-in. One hand that hurt was when I turned a straight and lost to a rivered flush.
Then Max came to deal. Max is my all time bad beat dealer. When you’re a regular in a room, you start to notice that some things happen more regularly with certain dealers than others. Some dealers seem to bring you good luck; others just the opposite. As well documented here, the dealer I call Michelle is the dealer who rarely pushes me a pot. But she doesn’t usually cost me a lot of money. Most of the time, she just never gives me any cards to play, or gives me hands that I can get away from easily.
But Max is different. I can win pots with him dealing. Small pots. Very small pots. But as soon as the pot gets big, I’m in trouble. If I’m all in on the turn with the stone-cold nuts and Max is dealing, you can be sure that the other player is going to hit his one-outer against me.
More often than not, when I’ve talked about big pots that I lost, if I didn’t mention the dealer’s name, it was Max.
So Max dealt me pocket 10’s and I raised to $8 in early position. Two others called. The flop was 10-8-5, rainbow. Hmm……I decided to slow play it. I checked. The next player checked. The last player to act was Asian. Not really a “Crazian,” just borderline more aggressive than your average 1-2 player. He started to grab some chips to bet……but after thinking about it some more, he checked too.
The turn was a 3, a second card of one of the suits already out there. I had to try to get some value for my top set now, so I put out $15. The next guy folded, but the Asian made it $30. He had me covered. Hmm.
Did he really, really like his hand? Or was he trying to get me to fold for cheap? I thought about just calling, but decided against it. I put out $40, a $25 raise. Also about half my stack, give-or-take. He called.
River was a deuce. No flush was possible, but it was conceivable he had a small straight. I didn’t think that was very likely. And then I remembered it was Max dealing. Suddenly I put the odds of my opponent playing Ace-4 at less than even money. Sigh. No matter, I knew I couldn’t really think that way, I had to bet, of course. I put out the rest of my chips and he snap called. I showed my top set. The Asian groaned and showed his set of 3’s. Which he had turned, not flopped. Slow playing may have paid off.
Before Max was finished with his down, he sent me a pair of Aces. I was in the small blind, a number of folks limped. I made it $14. The player under-the-gun, who had limped in, called and then the aforementioned Asian, who had also limped in, shoved. By this time his stack was down to less than $80. It folded back to me. I didn’t bother asking for a count. My only question was, should I just call and see if the UTG player wanted to come in, or shove and make it more unlikely he’d call? I went with shoving, because I’d just assume play my Aces heads up if I can. I know that some of you would be ok playing them three-handed.
The UTG player did indeed fold. The Asian showed his hand, Ace-King off, which I was quite happy about. I showed my pocket rockets. The board was all low cards. I remember two 4’s and a 5, not sure what else. One of the original limpers said he had 5-4, but of course, he folded to my original raise. A woman said she would have caught a straight, but she folded to the Asian’s shove. The UTG player said he had Queen-10 suited and although he called my $14, he wouldn’t have called the Asian’s shove if I had just flatted.
That was a decent pot. The most amazing thing was not that my Aces held up, but that it was with Max dealing. This is just the type of hand he’s clobbered me with in the past, just like the previous hand. Maybe Max will now become my lucky dealer? I’m not counting on it.
I was now up around $160. And the same player was responsible for most of my stack, thank you very much. I lost some chips calling a fairly big raise (maybe $15) with pocket 7’s. The raiser was short stacked so I ordinarily wouldn’t have called, but a guy with a stack bigger than mine also called so I thought I might be able to get paid if I hit a set. I missed and there were nothing but high cards on the flop. Easy fold.
The football game was winding down, and players started to leave. There weren’t enough players on the board to replace them all, and I felt confident that the game was going to break (very typical that a game or two breaks after the NFL game is over on football promo nights). So it was easy to decide to cash out for dinner. Once I was headed for food, I thought about it and decided it would be nice to book a nice little win to get my trip off to a good start. I was tired from the long drive to town anyway, so why take a chance on losing my profit due to fatigue? I called it an early night and booked a $130 win for my first night in Vegas.