Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Missed Draws & Missed Promos

This was the night I couldn’t leave the MGM.  I wanted to, many times, and I just couldn’t do it.

My first weekend in Vegas in October was wrapping up.  On Saturday, I had played in the Aria tournament (see here).  On Sunday I had errands to run in the morning and early afternoon.  As I’ve mentioned before, MGM changed their Sunday football promo from the night game to the afternoon game (the one that starts at 4PM on east and 1PM here in the west).  I just wasn’t going to be able to make it to MGM in time for the game.  The last game of the day works much better for me, but they didn’t ask me.

As I was sitting at my desk in my hotel, taking care of the stuff I needed to, I had the afternoon game on TV but I wasn’t really paying attention.  I started researching to see what other rooms had promos that would be for the night game.

I was thinking of Mandalay Bay but their promo (one payout for highest hand of each quarter) didn’t seem very exciting.  And I noticed that they only had one game going.  This was during the afternoon game and they run their promo through all three TV games (morning, afternoon, night).  So maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

I saw that MGM actually mentioned what game they were running the promo for that day.  It was the Steelers & the Colts (this was October 26).  Hmm, wasn’t that the game that I was pretty much ignoring on the TV next to me?  Yes it was.  I looked at the score.  The Steelers were leading 35-10.  Damn, I thought?  Is it that late?  Seven scores?  Game must be almost over.

It didn’t seem like close to 4PM but I guess my errands were taking longer than I expected (they usually do).  Then I noticed the time next to the score.  It was still in the 2nd quarter!  Holy crap, they were putting up points like it was a basketball game.

Recall that the way the football promo works is that every time a team scores, they select one lucky player paying in a cash game and that person wins between $100 and $500.  So, the higher scoring the game, the better it is for the players, the more chances to win.

Dammit, I picked the wrong game to miss the promo for.  Then I realized I was pretty much done with my stuff and I had time to make it over to MGM for the second half of the game. I knew there was no guarantee that the scoring would continue, but what did I have to lose?

While on the way there, at the end of the second quarter, the Colts actually scored two more times, two more opportunities for my seat to be selected to win money that I missed.

I did make it there and got into a game before the second half started.  There was a fair amount of scoring in the second half, but not as much as the first half.  There was also a safety.  That’s important because they pick two winners whenever a safety is scored.

But with all that scoring, the number of times they picked me for the promo in the second half was the same as it was during the first half, when I wasn’t there. 

I made a joke when I got there about the over covering before the game was five minutes old.  But there was a guy there sweating his over bet….he bet the second half over.  And it was close.  Pittsburgh had a 10 point lead and the ball and it was 4th and short deep in Indy’s territory.  Kicking a field goal there was the obvious move.  The guy at our table was nervous because he needed five more points to be scored, a field goal wouldn’t cut it.  He’d have to count on the Colts scoring again, and it would have to be a touchdown since a field goal wouldn’t do them any good.  Amazingly, the Steelers went for it on fourth down—a stupid call in my opinion—and scored the clinching TD.  What do I know?  The guy betting the second half over won his bet. 

There is of course the other MGM promo to consider—the cash drawings they have every four hours.  The next one was at 4PM and I still had some time to win some entry tickets for it (flush or better).  I had gotten there at around 3:15PM—the football game was running long because of all that scoring.

Early in the session I had pocket 6’s, under-the-gun.  Following Ed Miller’s no-limp strategy, I raised to $8 and had two callers.  The flop was 10-10-6. Always nice to flop a full house.  I checked, a lady bet $10, the other player folded, I called.  I checked a blank turn, but she checked behind me.  I had to bet the river….I was hoping she’d call if I made it only $15.  She did and showed pocket 8’s.  I picked up a small pot and I got the drawing ticket.

Two hands later, I completed the small blind with King-Jack of diamonds.  Six of us saw the flop, which was Jack-7-2, rainbow. I bet $10 and had one caller.  The turn was a blank, I bet $15, he called.  The river was a King.  I bet $20.  He called.  He saw my two pair and mucked.  “I should have raised you, I flopped two pair.”  Really?  With that flop it was a pretty lousy two pair.

Then came a hand that proves I’m not a total promo whore.  I raised to $10 with 7-6 of clubs, one caller.  The flop was all clubs, Jack-high.  I bet $15, the guy called.  The turn paired the Jack. I bet $20.  He raised to $65.

Ugh.  I can only get a ticket for my flush if my hand is live at the end of it.  I’d have to call the $45 and then call whatever he bet on the river—probably a shove (we each had $200+ stacks to start). Did he like the Jack?  Did it give him trips or a boat?  Or did he have a bigger flush?

I decided it was too costly just to get another drawing ticket. Yes, my flush may have been good.  But I thought there was too good a chance it wasn’t.  A baby flush on a paired board, with one more card to come?  I decided to let it go.

It was the right play as it turned out.  He had Queen-8 of clubs (he showed to get the ticket). I suppose I could have repopped it there to see if he would lay it down.  But that’s a lot easier to say knowing what he had. 

Then they had the 4PM drawing, where my one ticket wasn’t selected.  Now, the football game was still going on, so I wasn’t going anywhere, but my intention was actually to leave MGM after the football game and make if over to Mandalay Bay.  Their lousy football promo was better than no football promo (for the evening game) and my buddy Abe has lately been singing the praises of that poker room.  Apparently his ability to win there is a big plus for him.  So I definitely wanted to get over there once or twice for sure this trip.

In the very first hand after the drawing, I called a raise to $7 with pocket 10’s.  The flop was 10-8-4, I bet $15.  Two had seen the flop, but the preflop raiser folded and a short stacked called with his last $15. The turn was a blank but the river was another 8, giving me the boat. And a ticket.  Which wouldn’t be in play until 8PM.  Since the other guy had a busted straight draw, I really didn’t need to boat up—I wasn’t looking for any drawing tickets!

Just a few hands later, in the small blind I had 7-3.  There were so many limpers that I put in the buck to call.  The flop was Ace-3-3.  I bet $5 and had one caller.  I bet $15 on the turn, he called. The river was a 3.  How much do you bet with quads?  I put out $20, he called with an Ace, I won the pot and got another drawing ticket.  Why do I only get them when I don’t want them?

So, new game plan.  Forget leaving this room, try to get as many drawing tickets as possible before 8PM.  There was still over 3-1/2 hours to get more tickets.

A dealer or so later, I got pocket Aces.  But that dealer was Michelle, the dealer who never pushes me a pot, so I wasn’t counting on winning with them.  I raised to $11, two called. The flop was 8-6-5, rainbow.  I lead out for $25.  The next player made it $60 and the other player, a short stack, shoved for $39.  The guy who bet $60 was a seemingly tight player and he had a similar stack to mine, over $200.

I’m not one of those players who gets married to Aces. I considered re-raising, but really, I didn’t want to put my stack in play with just an overpair—even the best possible overpair.  If I just called, I would likely be risking my stack anyway.  I folded.  Too weak?

I thought so when I saw the turn card, which was an Ace!  The river was 9.  The big stack turned over 8-7 for a rivered straight.  So I was ahead all the way….until the river.  I guess it was a bad play that worked out for me.  The other guy had pocket Queens.

When the NFL game ended, our tabled thinned out and finally broke.  I filled a seat at another 1/2 game.  Then I took a quick dinner break.  Since a couple of games had broken and there was a waitlist starting to form, I decided to just leave my chips at the table, confident that the game wouldn’t break in the 20 minutes or so I’d been gone for food.

Back from dinner, there was still a good 45 minutes left before the 8PM drawing, and I hadn’t gotten another ticket since the first two soon after 4PM. And my chipstack had been drained down to around $160.     

A guy opened the pot for $6.  I called with Ace-King of diamonds.  The guy to my left made it $20.  Another guy called the $20, the original raiser called, and I called the $20, ending the preflop action.

The flop was Jack-10-9, two diamonds (the 9 was one of the diamonds, so I didn’t have the Royal draw).  The initial raiser checked, and I checked as well.  The guy who three-bet preflop bet $100.  The last guy called for less, about $80-$85.  The original raiser folded and it was on me.

I had a monster draw and couldn’t see folding.  And there was no point in just calling the $100, I was committed anyway.  I went all in.  The guy who bet $100 of course called.

I totally missed everything.  Two low cards hit, no diamonds.

The guy to my left showed pocket Aces.  That was only good for the side pot.  The short stack had flopped a set of 10’s.  I had Ace-high.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t show my hand there, but since I had such a big draw, I showed it, if only to get sympathy.  And I pulled out a couple of more bills from my pocket to rebuy.

It was getting close to the 8PM drawing.  The way they do the drawings now is that the shift boss pulls an envelope out of the tub that says how much each drawn ticket is worth.  They always draw at least two tickets.  They can draw as many as 10.  The most common prize is two $100 winners.  There are a couple of envelopes that are worth a total of $2,000.  It could be 10 $200 winners, or five $400 winners.  There are only a few of these envelopes, of course.

About 10 minutes before 8, the shift manager announced that he had pulled an envelope out and that they would be giving away $2,000.  Five tickets would drawn, each winner would get $400.  (If you have multiple tickets, you can win more than once).  This made those drawing tickets a bit more valuable than usual.

And I still only had the two tickets in there that I had gotten hours ago.  It sure would have been nice to have hit that flush on my big draw, would have won a nice pot and gotten another ticket.

A minute or two before 8PM, I looked down at Queen-Jack of clubs.  As I looked at the hand, the shift boss was there collecting tickets.  Now usually, he or she announces, “This is the last hand for tickets.”  Or he says it to each dealer when he collects them.  He said no such thing this time, so there was never any doubt that this hand I had just been dealt was eligible for the drawing.

An early position player raised to $10, a few people called, as did I from the button.  Now QJ suited is an “Ed Miller approved” starting hand anyway, but even if I hadn’t been following his strategy I think I would have called there, hoping to get a flush and get one more chance at the $400 prize.  Especially with all those callers.  Six of us saw the flop.

 No clubs on the flop, but there was a Queen, and a Jack.  Also, a 9.  The preflop raiser checked, and then this guy bet $40. But he didn’t bet $40 in any normal way.  He had a stack of red in his hand and he plucked down two of them (behind the betting line).  Then another two next to that.  Then another two next to that. And then another two next to that.  And then he stacked the four stacks up and finally put out his bet.  Everyone folded to me.  I just called. 

Why did I just call?  Good question.  My memory is a little foggy here, because of how the hand played out.  I didn’t write my notes about this hand for at least an hour, and I was still a little bit miffed.  So I can’t say for sure.  But I have admit, as embarrassing as it is, that it’s possible I was thinking of trying to fill up so I could get another drawing ticket for the big drawing that was just moments away.  It was now down to heads up.

The turn was another Queen—I had indeed gotten my boat!  The guy bet another $40.  In the same, excruciating manner he had bet the previous street.  You could have read one of my blog posts in the time it took for him to count out that forty bucks.  Come to think of it, I could have written one. I called again; this time I knew why.  With such a big hand, I didn’t want to risk having him fold.

But after a brick hit the river, he checked.  My first instinct was to shove; but I was worried he wouldn’t call.  I figured with the size of the pot he’d call $50 unless all he had was a missed draw.  And since he had bet $40 twice, I didn’t think I could get away with a much bigger bet.

As soon as I put out the $50, I suddenly heard, over the loudspeaker, the shift boss announcing who the first lucky winner of the $400 was.  Wait, what?  He had never announced last call for tickets.  The hand I was in had definitely started before 8PM, and should definitely count for the drawing.  And this is definitely the drawing I want that ticket to be in, the one where each drawn ticket is worth $400!  Are you freaking kidding me?

Meanwhile, the guy was looking at his chips, at his cards, and was totally in the tank.  I couldn’t say anything.  I couldn’t jump up and say wait, this hand should count, it started five freaking minutes ago, and I’ve got a goddamn full house.  I couldn’t do that.  As the guy was looking at his chips, I pointed at my hand while staring straight at the dealer.  He probably knew what I meant, but there was nothing he could do either.  The shift boss hadn’t announced the last call and I was out of luck.

In hindsight, I should have shoved, he might have insta-folded.  Or perhaps I should have just checked behind, flipped over my hand and said, “ticket please” and then the dealer could have called out that he had another ticket.  I’m not sure what the rule is, but I knew once they had drawn the first name, there was no chance of them putting another ticket in the drum.  No chance at all.

Meanwhile, the guy finished reading War & Peace and counted out $50 worth of red chips, in the same painfully slow manner as he had made his other bets.  Two freaking chips at a time.  And when he finally pushed them over the line, I turned over my hand and said, “This ticket belongs in this drawing.”  But the dealer just shrugged as he gave me a ticket, knowing there was nothing that could be done.

I won a nice pot, but I was on tilt because of the ticket missing that drawing.  I had two other tickets in there and of course, I wasn’t one of the winners.  Now I had a ticket that could only be good for the midnite drawing, and the odds were overwhelming that each ticket would be worth only $100 then.

Hmm…..having just re-read what I wrote a few paragraphs above, about how I should have played the hand (in order to get the ticket in time for the drawing), and remembering how upset I was at the time……I think I may need to join Promos Anonymous.

I had the ticket and didn’t fill it out right away.  I was too pissed.  If I filled it out and turned it in, I was stuck there until Midnite.  So much for Mandalay Bay.

The next dealer was my buddy Jack, who had witnessed this hand.  I told him the story and pretty much whined about it for quite some time.  Nothing he could do but remind me there was another drawing in (slightly) less than 4 hours.  “You’re gonna be here to midnight anyway.”  That wasn’t the plan.  But eventually I filled out the damn ticket.

That hand got me to around $350, so only stuck $50.  But I only won small pots the rest of the evening, even when I hit a couple of sets and two pair once.  And I lost money calling and missing too.  I never got another drawing ticket.  My one ticket—the one that belonged in the 8PM drawing—didn’t get picked at Midnight (when the prize was only $100, and only two tickets were drawn).  I ended up losing my original $200 buy-in because I missed the monster draw with Ace-King.

And then I missed the promo too.


  1. So aside from Mandalay Bay, did you find any good late game NFL Promos? Monday night Promos? Just curious, as I will be considering the promos when playing this weekend!

    1. Honestly,. Nick, it was over a month ago, I can't remember much.

      But if you wanna be a promo whore I'm pretty sure MGM is your best bet for the afternoon game (the one that starts around 1PM here on the west coast).

      Now, this Sunday evening, you might want to skip the football promo and be at the "official" grand re-opening of the Caesars Palace poker room. They are giving away money in a random draw every 15 minutes. At midnite, they'll be picking someone to get a seat to the 2015 main event of the WSOP.

    2. Approximately what time does it end? Oh man, I have to show up now!

    3. That's not a bad idea Rob, and I would get to play at Caesars for the first time. Something to think about anyhow. I will likely be at mgm for the 1pm game.

      Any idea what time the caesars promo starts?

    4. @Alysia. it ends at midnite when they give away the WSOP ME seat.

      @Cokeboy...oops I forgot to put the starting time, its 7PM.

    5. I unfortunately have tickets for Heart at House of Blues Sun night. This is sucking hard. Why can't I be more like Tony and not have a social life outside of poker????? Waaaaaahhhh!!!

    6. Rob, are you planning on playing at Caesars Sunday night? Just curious. I suspect the best course would be to head there directly after the football promo at MGM so as to secure a seat.

    7. @Alysia--Just not degen enough! Too bad.

      @Cokeboy -- Yes definitely planning on being there. Not sure if I'm gonna be at MGM for the afternoon game--us top poker pros hate having schedules to follow--but we'll see.

  2. I think you are a candidate to join the cult of the Wonka slots ...

  3. Naugty, naughty Rob. It wasn't long ago you were ranting about other people going for dinner and leaving their chips at the table and now you have sunk to their level....
    The 8-6-5 hand, I would call if I had position or shove more likely if he had position. His range is wide including overpairs, 2 pairs and drawing hands. Made straights he is more likely to flat call to induce further bets. Folding to a min raise is too exploitable.

    1. Heh heh...yeah, I've griped about people taking excessive time away from the table and leaving their chips there (and thus taking up a seat). I used to never do it myself. AND, I still would love it if they made it impossible to be gone for an extended period of time.

      But, as long as they allow it, I will, very rarely, do it myself. I never take advantage of it, I never come close to the 1:10 they allow at MGM, I try to keep it 1/2 hour or less.

      I do recall feeling dirty the first time I did it.

      Yeah, I suppose that was a bad laydown. It was tough. As it turned out (results oriented thiniking) it was the right play (unless a shove would have gotten a fold, which I doubt).

  4. "Just a few hands later, in the small blind I had 7-3. There were so many limpers that I put in the buck to call. The flop was Ace-3-3. I bet $5 and had one caller. I bet $15 on the turn, he called. The river was a 3. How much do you bet with quads? I put out $20, he called with an Ace, I won the pot and got another drawing ticket. Why do I only get them when I don’t want them?"

    Rob - I love this setup hand: By the river, villain has 3's full of Aces, after calling 2 streets (if he's just trying to get to showdown cheaply without AA, so be it). There's about $50 in the pot and you put out a $20 bet on the river - this is a perfect situation for a "frustrated" overbet; i.e. you're "frustrated" that he just sucked out on you.

    This hand reminds me of the Zeebo theorem which says people do not fold full houses. Period. Therefore, by the river, he's feeling very comfortable with his kicker, which is the board, and his boat. Although I wasn't there, and it's read dependent, would you consider betting $100 on the river instead of $20? I think it's far more likely he shows a pair of Aces by the riv and you get paid $100 than him calling $20 with a cheap pair under the Aces. The other point in my favor of overbetting here is: how many times do quads ever overbet pot in this situation - or any situation?

    The maths behind this bet: He needs to call 1 out of every 5 times in order for you to break even with this bet compared to your $20 river bet. I submit that he's going to call far more often than 20% of the time.


    1. Yeah, I really had no idea how much to bet there. I've written before about how it's hard to play monsters because we get so little experience playing them. Your reasoning is sound.

      Would he have called a huge bet there? Well, he had basically the second nuts so probably yes (Ok, technically, I could have AA, but without raising pre, he certainly wouldn't put me on that).

      But this reminds me of some strategy I heard from one of dealers at MGM. If you have the stone cold nuts on the river, just shove. No matter how much the pot is, no matter how much the bet is, just shove. The theory is, they won't always call, but they will call enough for it to be a profitable play in the long run.

    2. SO not to be nitpicky, but there is one other way AA could be bettered than 3's full of Aces: I'm assuming the blank turn was an overcard to the 3, so XXX full of 3's, or AAA full of 3's, but he pretty clearly holds the nut 3's full hand based on his actions: 333AA.

      Because of your flop lead, I'm pretty certain he's not putting you on XXX full of 3's for the turned 2-outer boat, so in all likelihood, he's putting you on a decent Ace or 3x for the flopped trips on the flop and turn - the two possibilities that would cross my mind given that he has called 2 streets.

      The river really helps your case since it fills him up and makes it less credible for you to show up with a 3x hand - the maths say that you spiked a one outer on the river, making it all the less likely that you show up with a 3x hand for quads. All of which is to say if it were me, I would go into acting mode and put on quite an eye roll as if to say "I know you caught up with me, dangit! Well I'm going to make you call a really big bet just 'cause I'm mad as he** & not gonna take it anymore!" Then I would push out a red stack or whatever amount you feel comfortable with - in frustration, all sloppy like and tipping over, and then stare him down completely in a strong means weak manner. He'll call because he has a boat. He'll believe he's calling for the chop. Zeebo Theorem.

      Finally, FWIW, you get a lot more poker time in than I. I know I'm not confronted with these situations on a regular basis, but I certainly have seen them live from time to time. It's similar to a read where you have top 2 or a set vs. someone else's 2 pair: bet hard because they're never folding the hand. Take this hand as a lesson in order to increase your winnings the next time you're in a comparable situation.

    3. Thanks for the awesome analysis. Why weren't you whispering in my head when this hand happened?

      One thing I couldn't do tho is Hollywood it up like you suggested Just not that good an actor. But man, a big bet sure would have looked like I was trying to get him to fold what I thought was a chopped pot. Damn.