Sunday, November 30, 2014

Half A Million

I apologize in advance for what will will be the most self-indulgent post I've ever done.

I know, you're saying they're all self-indulgent, and that's technically true.  Doing a blog gives you the freedom to do it anyway you want.  I don't answer to anyone.  I write what I write and I write when I want to.  Every post I do pleases me, first and foremost.  When I write for someone else, like my Ante Up columns, I have guidelines to follow.  For example, I don't think they want me writing about hookers, or talking about how (not) to play pocket Kings.

But this one is more self-indulgent than usual.  You see, I just reached 500,000 pageviews on this here blog.  That's half a million.  A half a million times in the past 3+ years, someone has landed on my tiny corner of the internet.

It's very flattering and not a little bit humbling.  I want to thank all of you, all of my loyal readers, for coming back post after post to see what I'm babbling about this time.  Even if you don't read every post.  Even if you skim through the longer posts and don't read every single word.  Thanks to all of you for making it possible for me to do a post celebrating such a milestone.



To celebrate the occasion, I made a little video. This is the self-indulgent part.  It's a video of Hitler reacting to the news that I reached this particular landmark. It's the famous "Hitler reacts" meme that you're all familiar with. In fact, I posted one already, that my pal Woody made for me (see here). 

I guess maybe I should give you some context.  As I explained in the post here, where I was celebrating 50,000 pageviews (wow, now I've hit ten times that!), a lot of the early posts here were rewritten from emails I had sent my friends about my Vegas adventures.  Two of those friends Luv Malts & Woody, were the two who encouraged me to do something more with those emails, which led to this blog.

Another friend of mine saw these emails too.  I thought he was enjoying them as well.  However, as sometimes happens, the two of us had a tiff. Instead of things getting resolved, it escalated.  Harsh words were exchanged.  It got to the point where words were thrown back and forth that had nothing to do with the original quarrel, as I'm sure you can all relate to.

And so at one point, this friend of mine referenced the lengthy emails I was sending him and my other friends.  He said they were too long (imagine that?) and pointless. And at one point he said to me, "No one is interested in your silly stories."

To be fair to him, I really am not sure if he really meant, or if it was just something he said in the heat of an argument, when one tends the just throw everything including the kitchen sink at the other party.

This happened some time before I started the blog.  He didn't know about the blog when it started, and he never, ever suggested that I shouldn't do a blog.

Still, whenever I reach some sort of blog milestone, whenever I do a really popular post, whenever someone comes up to me out of the blue and tells me that they enjoy the blog, I can't help thinking of what he said to me.  And that amuses me no small amount.

And now, achieving half a million pageviews, all I have to do to make myself smile is replay those words in my mind, "No one is interested in your silly stories."

Oh, and just to save you some Googling, the word "ficken" I use in the video is, as best as I can tell, the German word for the f-bomb.  I hope I've used it properly.

I hope you enjoy this.



Friday, November 28, 2014

The Min Cash is Too Min

My last post (see here) told the story of my long run in the Aria tournament, where I earned the minimum cash (or min cash for short) after 7-1/2 hours of play.

The buy-in was $125 and the min cash I received was $174.  They paid 18, I was the first person to bust out after we were all in the money (actually, another player busted out on the same hand, but the last two places were both $174).  That’s my buy-in back and an additional $49.  I left the four singles as a tip for the staff (that’s almost 10% of my profit).  So for all that time, I made $45 on a $125 investment.

That’s not enough.

I have no math formulas to give you, no numbers to crunch, no scientific method at all.  Just a gut feeling.

It’s not enough.

In general, the min cash amounts for the tournaments I play are not enough.


I’m not talking about really small tournaments, with small buy-ins and small turnouts.

But the two tournaments I most often play, this Aria $125 and the Binion’s $140 Saturday tournament, have really nice prize pools that pay many places (almost always 10 or more).  They take hours and hours to play.

You’re into early evening if you cash at the Aria 1PM, and even later in the evening if you cash at Binion’s.  Last time I got a big cash at Binion’s, it was after midnight before I had the money in my hand.  The tournament started at 2PM.

That’s a lot of poker.  And also, $125-$140 is a reasonable amount of money.  Now granted, 90% or so of the people who make that investment walk away empty-handed, out that money.

But it seems to me, if you make that investment, if you make it into the 10% or so who actually get paid, you should at the very least get double your money back—your profit should be at least the amount of the buy-in itself.

I’ll go one step further….it should be $5 more than the amount of the buy in.  That’s to encourage the players to put that extra five bucks in the tip pool and still walk away with the amount of the buy-in as pure profit.  So the min cash at Aria should be $255.  The min cash at Binion’s should be $285.

Keep in mind, all the tournaments at this level allow re-entries (in the case of the Aria tournament, you can only re-enter once).  As revealed in a comment to my previous post, Cokeboy99 (Nick) played in that Aria tournament with me and did indeed have to re-enter.  He didn’t cash, but let’s say he had, and joined me in min cashing.  He would have gotten paid $174 and still lost money--$76 to be exact (more if he left a tip, which he might not want to do since he actually would be losing money on the deal).

It just seems to me that if there’s over 50-60 players, if the buy-in is over a $100 and it takes more than four-five hours to cash, the least you should get, if you do cash, is double the buy-in.

These tournaments have nice prize pools.  The Binion’s event has a $10K guarantee, usually has over 100 players so they almost always surpass the guarantee.  The total prize pool in the Aria tournament I just played was over $16K.  That might be higher than average for them, but I suspect they are almost always at $12K at the least.  So there’s enough money in there to give those min-cashers a decent payout.

How should they adjust the prize pool to make them less “top-heavy”?  Definitely not by paying less spots.  No, that won’t do.

They need to take the money off the top, just slightly reduce the amount they pay the first two or three or four places.

As I said in the last post, first place in that tournament was nearly $5K.  Surely they could have reduced that a few bucks (along with second & third) to give the bottom of the pay scale some more money.

Easy for me to say, you say, since I am more likely to min-cash than finish first.  Ok, that’s true.  But I believe there’s incentive for the very best players—the ones most likely to score 1st place— to want to make the pay scale a little “fairer.”

I recall a few years back, someone posted on the AVP forum their opinion that tournaments should all be winner take all.  Just one prize.  No matter how big the field.  Winner gets it all.  Second place is the bubble.

Of course, others pointed out how foolish that was.  If you did that, very few players would play in the tournament and the prize pool would be virtually nothing.  Maybe even literally nothing.  If players didn’t think that had at least a semi-decent chance of winning some money, they wouldn’t play.  But if the field was somehow the same size (although of course it wouldn’t be), the odds of winning—no matter how good a player was—couldn’t justify the investment. 

If it was a one-time event, it wouldn’t make sense for even Phil Ivey to play it, assuming a 150 player field and that the rest of the players are at the same level as they are now, and not other top pros.  Phil Ivey isn’t going to win that tournament every time.  Even against a lot of fish.  There’s too much luck involved. 

Of course, in the long run, it would make sense for Ivey to play that every day, because then he would win it enough times to make it profitable.

I think that if they offered more incentive for the marginal players to play, a promise of a better pay out if they did survive into the money, they would attract more players.  More players mean a bigger prize pool.  I’m thinking that taking money off the top and giving to the bottom of the pool would therefore pay for itself (for the top finishers) and then some. 

It could not only bring more players in, it would bring worse players in, another incentive for the best players.  Of course, the more players, the more you have to eliminate to get paid, but that’s the nature of a tournament in the first place.

But basically, I just think that making the min-cash double the buy-in is the right thing to do.  Certainly if the tournament pays 10 or more, it shouldn’t be a problem to do that.

What do you all think? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Seven Hour Aria

The first Saturday I was in Vegas in October, I didn’t play in the Binion’s 2PM tournament that I really like.  The reason was that there was a big event going on downtown, the “Life is Beautiful” concert.  Maybe life is beautiful for those who attended the three-day event, but it wouldn’t have been very beautiful if I had gone downtown and fought the traffic to get there.  Plus, parking would have been a nightmare.  And expensive.  And it may actually have been impossible.

So instead, I did the next best thing.  I played in the Aria 1PM $125 tournament, which I also really like.  I bought in and was assigned Table 7, Seat 7.  Lucky 7!  How could I lose?  Well, I’m about to tell you.

One thing I’ve gotten used to lately is 9-handed tables.  Binion’s went 9-handed on their tournaments over a year ago.  Most 1/2 games in Vegas are now 9-handed.  Aria’s tournament is still 10-handed and it makes a big difference in comfort (not so much in how it plays).  People seem to be keep getting larger.  I felt cramped the whole time.

Plus, the one problem I have with the Aria poker room is that the tables are all kind of jammed in fairly closely.  And that 7 seat was in a corner so that people were constantly bumping into me walking behind me.  All day long.  It wouldn’t have been quite so annoying if even one person who bumped my chair said “Excuse me” or apologized in any way.  Yet not one person did.  Not once.

But enough whining.  Let’s get to the poker where I can really whine.  By the time registration closed there were 169 runners, top prize was almost $5K, 18 would get paid, and the min cash was $174.

The first hand I really played was pocket 4’s.  It was the first level, so the blinds were 25/50. I still had most of my $10K starting stack.  I limped in, then had to call a raise to $150.  Four of us saw a flop of King-10-4, two clubs.  I led out for $400.  One person called, one folded, and then the player to my right went all-in.  He had been very aggressive all this time, and had managed to lose close to half his starting stack. 

Hmm….he hadn’t been the preflop raiser.  He had limped in front of me. A set of Kings was therefore unlikely.  A set of 10’s?  No, I think he would have raised with pocket 10’s.  King-10? possible.  Aggressively playing a flush draw? Very possible.

Bottom line, I’m not folding a set there.  If I bust with a set of 4’s on the first level, so be it.  I called.  The lady who had raised preflop and called my flop bet took a long time to fold.  She said she had her “favorite hand.”  It was a hard choice for her.  But she folded.  Later she said she had pocket 6’s. She almost called a bet of around $5500 with that on the flop?  Wow..

But it was just the two of us and he showed 10-4.  Offsuit.  He had limped in with 10-4 offsuit in early position.  I guess he found out why you don’t limp in with 10-4 offsuit.  The board blanked out and I had won a nice pot and he was toast.

Started 2nd level (50/100) with $17,500. I raised to $400 with King-Jack of hearts (one person had limped in front of me). Just the limper called.  Ace-high flop, I c-bet $650 and took it down.

I raised to $275 with King-10 of clubs from UTG, both blinds called.  Flop was Queen-Queen-5, no clubs.  It was checked to me, I bet $650 and no one called.

Level 3 (100/200), started with $18K. The new guy to my right, another aggro, raised to $650.  I just called with Ace-King of spades.  He was definitely a guy I should have considered three-betting with that hand.  Bad play on my part.  The flop was all low and I folded to his c-bet. 

I got Ace-King again and after a limper, I made it $800.  Two called, including the aggro on my right.  The flop was low, I c-bet $1,600 and only the aggro called. I checked the last two streets, both blank. Couldn’t bring myself to fire another barrel with nothing.  He didn’t bet either.  He won the pot by catching a 6 on the river (I think he had Ace-6).

Started level 4 (25/100/200) with a little less than $17K.  In the cut off seat, the guy to my right raised to $625.  I had King-Queen of clubs and raised to $1500 (probably the first time ever I three-bet with that hand). I thought he was just trying to steal since it had been folded to him. He tanked for a bit and then folded face up—Ace-10.

After two players limped, I raised to $800 with King-10 of diamonds. Three players called.  Flop was Ace-Jack-x.  I c-bet $2,700 and no one called.


Level 5 (25/200/400). I started with around $18K.  On this hand, which was late in the level, the key player was an attractive, not especially young woman who wanted to be somewhere else. Seriously, she kept looking at her watch and wondering if she was gonna bust in time to get over to the Wynn and play in the last satellite for the final of the Wynn Classic, the last flight of which was the next day.  Here’s a question:  If you want to play in a 5PM satellite at one poker room, why do you play in a Deepstack tournament that starts at 1PM in another poker room?  Weird. I suppose if she won this tournament (or finished high enough), she’d have enough to buy herself into Wynn final directly—the entry fee was $1,600.  But what if she busted out too late to enter the satellite without getting a big (or any) cash?

Well, no problem.  I was only too happy to help her make it to the Wynn in time.  In early position, she raised to $1,200.  Three others called.  I was in the small blind with 9-8 of clubs.  With all that money in the pot, I thought it was worth a call, especially since I had some chips in there already.   The flop was Ace-Jack-10, two clubs (the Ace was one of the clubs). 

Great flop for me, draw-wise. But I checked to the preflop raiser.  She shoved for around $5,500.  It folded back to me, last to act. I called. She flipped over Ace-9, no clubs.  The turn was a low club and It took down a very nice pot and sent the nice lady over to the Wynn for that satellite she was lusting after.

We move to level 7 (75/400/800), I started with almost $35K.  I called a shove of $5,700 with Ace-King of hearts.  He had pocket 7’s.  I took it when a King fell on the turn.

Level 9 (200/800/1600), started with $38K. Down to 46 players left.  First in with pocket Jacks, I raised to $3,500.  One guy called—a player I usually see every time I play at Binion’s.  The flop was King-King-9.  I bet $6k, he stared me down and folded. 

Before the level was over I got pocket Jacks again.  I raised to $4,000. The guy on my left made it $10,000.  He hadn’t been very aggressive.  I probably should have just laid those Jacks down, but I did call.  I had this guy covered, but not by very much.  The flop was Queen-high, I checked, he shoved, I folded. He showed me two Aces. That hurt.

Level 10 (300/1000/2000), down to $34,600. Pretty close to fold-or-shove mode.  Raised to $7K with Queen-10 of diamonds. Only that Binion’s guy called from the big blind. The flop was Ace-Jack-4. He checked, and I announced “all-in” firmly, quickly, definitively.  I was sure this guy thought I was too tight a player to do that on a semi-bluff (all I had was a gutshot). And the way I announced it sold it.  He folded. Phew.

I had gotten some chips that level with first-in bets that weren’t called, so I was up to $55K at level 11 (400/1500/3000).  The last hand of this level was maybe the story of my tournament, where I blew my opportunity to get enough chips to get a nice score.

I had pocket Aces.  I was actually thinking that I was almost to the point where I would take a shot with Aces and limp in, and see if I could pull off the limp/re-raise.  But no, this time, I raised with them, to $8K.  Only one player called, the table’s big stack, who had fairly recently moved to the table and had been attempting to bully us ever since.  He was definitely being aggressive.  He was in the big blind.

The flop was Ace-Queen-Queen.  Yeah, pretty good flop for me. He led out for $1,200.  And I thought about what to do, but not well enough.  He had about 4-5 times as many chips as I did, and I was sure he’d call a shove.  Of course if he had pocket Queens, my tournament is over.  But if had had pocket Queens, he would have three-bet me preflop and then possibly called my shove. And if he had flopped quads, he wouldn’t have bet out.

He didn’t have pocket Queens.  I figured he probably had Queen-something, maybe even Ace-Queen.  I reasoned I was fine as long as he didn’t hit his one-outer.  But I didn’t think long enough.  He had been so aggressive that I figured he’d call me unless he was making a total bluff. I shoved.

He tanked forever.  He asked for a count ($48K). He took more time than it takes to read one of my blog posts.  But then he turned up one card—an Ace—and folded.  Damn.

For the rest of the tournament, that haunted me.  I should have just called.  Of course, he was probably expecting me to fold, so maybe if I had called, he would have checked the turn and not called anything I bet.  Who knows?  Still, I couldn’t help thinking I didn’t get enough value for my monster hand.

That got me up to around $73K but I was still short stacked.  For the next few levels I couldn’t steal enough with preflop raises to keep ahead of what the blinds and antes were costing me.  One hand, I raised with King-10 on the button and was disappointed when both blinds called me.  The flop was Ace-high and I couldn’t continue.

But I was surviving.  We got down to 20 players, two away from the bubble.  At this point, I didn’t note my stack because I could do nothing but fold or shove. When they did the redraw for the final two tables, there were too huge stacks at the table that were both very aggressive.  On virtually every hand, at least one of those two stacks raised before it got to me.  I didn’t get any hand close to being playable against a raise.  The few times I had a chance to get in first I had hands not even remotely worth gambling with.

I swear I wasn’t tightening up just to get that puny min cash; I just didn’t have any chance to take a chance.

A player busted and we were about to go hand-for-hand. Someone proposed paying the bubble…..each of us would give $10.  I pointed out that in that case, the bubble would get more than the min cash ($180 vs $174).  Someone said it didn’t matter, but before we got into a discussion of that, it became moot as someone refused to pay the bubble. 

My stack was really getting small, but there were a couple smaller ones.  I looked for any opportunity, but Aces, other broadway cards, pocket pairs, were just not coming my way.  True, one time I had pocket 9’s.  But someone raised in front of me and one of the big stacks called.  My shove would not have been enough to get anyone to fold.  It didn’t make sense to me to keep them. If I had been first in, I would have gladly shoved with that hand.

Finally a player busted and we were down to 18 and we were all in the money.  And I was still looking for a hand.

I was probably down to 5-7 big blinds.  A few hands after the bubble broke, I was in late position with King-10 of clubs.  A monster compared to my recent hands.  Astonishingly, it folded to me—both of the two big stacks had folded.  Of course I shoved.

Unfortunately, the guy to my immediate to my left shoved over me—he was the third or fourth biggest stack at the table.  A lady who had been the shorty at the table before the bubble broke—but had gotten a lucky double up when she had shoved light earlier—shoved from the big blind.

She turned over pocket 6’s.  The guy to my left had Ace-King.  Ugh.  I need a 10 or a bunch of clubs.  The flop was all blanks, no clubs.  A King came on the turn, not what I needed.  No 10 on the river and I was out, as was the lady. We both got the min cash for $174.

I had played for 7-1/2 hours and had less than $50 profit to show for it.  I’m gonna talk about “min cashes” in tournaments another time. (And in fact, I now have, in the follow up post here) But I had fun and I could have played 10 minutes less and lost $125, so I couldn’t be too displeased.  Wished I’d just called that bet when I flopped Aces full, though.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Damn, Another Dreaded Pocket Kings Post

It was my second night in town last month.  For weeks, Nick (formerly Cokeboy99, aka “The King of Pocket Kings) had been threatening promising to join me at the poker table after he arrived in town late this nite.  Then I saw a tweet from Chris, who I guess had his Stump removed since he no longer seems to go by that name, saying he was going to join us.

The three of us all ended up at the same table (but it was late in the session when that happened).  And indeed we had a fun time.  There was much bullshit, a lot of gossip (about mutual friends and bloggers, ahem) and many laughs exchanged.  However, as fun as the gossip was, none of it is fit for a family publication.  And when I listened to my voice notes, it appeared that there was no actual poker played amongst the three of us.  Or at least that involved me.  And from my notes, it appears that all the interesting poker took place before they arrived (tho I’m not sure if they might have witnessed some of it). So while I had a blast with the two of them, this is almost the last time I’ll mention them this post.  Sorry guys.

But it was wild ride of poker for me.  I was doing well for the very early portion, won a few smallish pots without losing anything significant.  I had about $250 in front of me (from a $200 buy-in).  Eventually a familiar face had joined the table, a BSC dealer I’ve played with before.  In fact, I’ve mentioned him before.  You can check out this post here.  He’s the guy I busted out to in that tournament.  I mentioned in the post that I was too pissed at him to bother giving him a phony name.  So I just called him “BSC dealer.”  That event took place at the Stratosphere.  This current story took place at BSC.  However, since he was the only BSC dealer that I played with that night, it shouldn’t get too confusing. And besides, I am now way too pissed at him to bother giving him a blog name.

BSC dealer is a tough, tricky player, fairly aggressive.  But on this particular hand, I had the second best starting hand in hold’em, so what could go wrong?

Yes, yes, I did indeed have my favorite, the dreaded pocket Kings. This was the first time this trip I had seen them.  In fact, it was the first time in a long time—I had had 4-5 sessions at the Bike before returning to Vegas and never had them (or pretty much any big pocket pair). I kind of missed them.  You know, in the same way you miss a toothache when it’s gone.

I was in the small blind.  Before it got to me, BSC dealer raised to $12 three spots in front of me.  It folded to me. I started counting out chips for my three-bet.  But as I was doing that, I heard the player to my left, the big blind, say, “Raise.”  The dealer immediately stopped him and pointed out that the action was on me.

That player to my left was European, but not at all the typical aggro Euro.  He had been playing pretty tight since I’d been there.  I can’t honestly say that this thought affected my action, but I was thinking, as I bet, “If he comes over the top of my raise, he must have Aces.”  But I still would have raised back if he had raised—I’m pretty much always getting it all in preflop with the dreaded hand.

But here’s the thing, I was already in “raising” mode.  I didn’t react to the guy saying he was gonna raise.  I should have taken that cue.  I should have been quick-witted enough to not go ahead with my raise, and let my neighbor raise for me.  If I had done that, the result of this hand might have been a whole lot better.

Of course……since the dealer had pointed out to him that the action was on me, he probably noticed that I was counting chips for a lot more than $12.  So that may have prevented him from raising, if I had merely called there myself.  He might have been worried about me raising back and just called.  Who knows?

But as I said, I was in mid-raise so I went ahead and put out $36.  The big blind did not repop it, he merely called. Back to BSC dealer, who called as well.  The three of us saw the flop.

The flop was Jack-Jack-4, rainbow.  I had first action.  The pot was over $100.  The big blind had less than $100 left and BSC had about the same as me, give or take (over $200).  What am I supposed to do there?

I bet.  Does anyone think I should have checked?  I would love some feedback.  I took a stack of reds, took away $25 and put out the rest.  It turned out, that my stack was off, it was an $80 bet instead of the $75 I meant to bet.  Big blind went all in for $82.  BSC dealer called. I put in the extra $2, very unhappy that both players called. Did I now have the third best hand?

The turn was a blank.  I checked (right decision/wrong decision?).  BSC dealer shoved. 

Ugh.  That made the pot around $475, and I had around $130 left.  I was obviously committed. There was no way I could fold considering the size of the pot and the size of my stack. I didn’t like it but I made the hero call.

There was another brick on the river.  The big blind showed pocket Queens.  But BSC dealer turned over King-Jack offsuit.

Pocket Kings, oh how I’ve missed you.

Damn it.  Not the first time BSC dealer has gotten me.  I couldn’t help thinking that if he hadn’t been in there with his stupid King-Jack off, I’d have taken all the chips off the guy with the Queens.

Then I thought some more and remembered the guy with the Queens had announced raise while I was in the process of betting.  Shit.  If I had caught myself in time,  just called the $12, let him make his raise…..BSC dealer may have called.  Or he may have seen that I wanted to raise and thought better of it.  But even if he had called, would he have called my four-bet?  Because of course I would have put out a hefty re-raise then.  Big Blind would have gotten it all in, but I doubt BSC dealer would have called my big raise (may have been a shove) with his lousy King-Jack.

I was really mad at myself.  I had been given a chance to play that hand perfectly, and couldn’t change gears fast enough to take advantage.

Both the big blind and I rebought (I had about $6 left).  That was the last hand of that particular dealer’s down. The new dealer, my pal Brent, was trying to get us some chips.  I had two $100 bills and big blind had a single $100 bill.  So BSC dealer said he would sell us chips.  He gave Brent a stack of red for the big blind and one for me.  Brent was moving the $100 bills back and forth and suddenly, for some reason, I had a stack of red in front of me and still had both the $100 bills!  That didn’t quite seem right to me.  I’m sure BSC dealer would have said something, but I beat him to it.  “Thanks, Brent, I appreciate it, but I think I’ve got too many bills.”  He laughed and took one of my bills and gave it to BSC dealer.  Of course, at the time, cheating BSC dealer out of $100 didn’t seem like such a bad idea to me.

I did manage to win a couple of smallish pots with Brent, including one where I made a questionable call on the turn with a gutshot that hit.


Then I had pocket Aces in late position.  I raised to $12 and had three callers.  The flop was King-Queen-x. It checked to me, I bet $35.  One player shoved for $113, the others folded.  For that price, I felt I had to call.  Sure he could have had a set or two pair, but he could also be doing that with top pair or a draw.  We didn’t show.  The turn was a Queen which I didn’t much like, but the river card was a pretty nice looking Ace.  He flipped over pocket Kings!  Wow.  So it’s not just me who gets stacked off with that dreaded hand huh?  That was damn lucky, sucking out on him on the river, wasn’t it?  I did wonder why he didn’t re-raise preflop though.  We could have both gotten it all in before the flop.  Of course the outcome would have been the same.

Lost a few small pots, then I looked down at pocket Queens.  I raised to $10, a player behind me made it $25 and I called.  We were heads up.  The flop is Queen-Jack-8.  I checked.  He bet $15.  I made it $30.  He shoved for about $75-$80 more.  Of course I called (not expecting him to have 10-9).  He turned over his pocket Jacks.  I turned over my Queens.  Set over set is very nice if you are on the right side of it.  The river bricked and I won a nice pot.  You could say that was my second set over set win for the night (although with the Aces, by the time I hit my “set” it was a full house).

I wasn’t done hitting sets.  I called a small raise with pocket 7’s and hit one, bet all three streets and was paid off by a top pair hand.

One time, after returning from the Men’s room, I heard that someone at our table had just flopped a Royal Flush.  I missed it—but of course, if I had been dealt in that hand, it wouldn’t have happened.  That reminded me that a player earlier had flopped quad Kings there.  I think that was the only way to win with pocket Kings at that table that night—flop quads.

At one point, I had almost $500 in front of me, so almost a $100 profit for the night.  I stayed longer than normal to chat with Nick and Chris, and eventually left late, just a tiny bit above break-even.

But it was a fun night and there were enough good hands to overcome my usual bad luck with those damn Kings.

((Edited to add:  There is now a follow up to this post, another encounter with BSC Dealer, this one with a much better result.  See here.))

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Chicken Fried Steak BBQ

I wasn’t really planning on doing a post about the wonderful BBQ that the extremely generous Alysia Chang had last month.  I was hoping that my tweet about it (“The food was excellent. 2. Tony talked non-stop. 3. Vince didn't show up) would be sufficient—and prove, to the shock of you all, that I am indeed the master of brevity. 

Plus there was Alysia’s own version of the event, which for some reason appeared on Lightning’s blog (see here).  I guess it was best that her report appear on a “neutral” blog.  But I do wonder how Lightning became the unofficial home of Alysia’s blog posts, inasmuch as they have never actually met.

But…but….it seems that multitudes of my loyal readers were begging me for my version of the affair.  OK, to be honest, I think it was only one person.  But every reader is important to me.

And then also, I remembered a bunch of pictures I had taken.  No, I didn’t take pics of the participants, that would have been too obvious.  But I did take some pics that I want to post, so I might as well talk about the event.

The organization of this event was a lot of fun (tho perhaps not for Alysia).  She had already met Koala, the long-time reader (and commenter) on Tony’s blog. Koala was visiting Vegas from Australia. And so she decided to host a BBQ for Koala, Tony and myself. 

But Tony almost didn’t accept. The invitations and planning were all done thru Twitter.  When she was trying to come up with an acceptable day to have it, she asked everyone what their schedules were.  Tony tweeted back, “I don’t follow schedules and I never know I’ll be til the last minute,” (note: I corrected his typos). Alysia fired back that the rest of the western world follows a schedule.  Tony’s response: “to have the best odds of making money, u can’t do that.” AC asked him if the best money earners in poker managed without schedules?  Tony: “people don’t know how long they’ll play or what hours they’ll be awake the follow day. They play till the fish leaves or til they tire out.”  I tweeted out that if only the WSOP main event didn’t follow a schedule, Tony would play in it and win it every year.

But somehow, Tony agreed to break with his personal tradition and agreed to show up at Alysia’s at the scheduled time.  And there was a lot of great back and forth, with comments from the peanut gallery….Both Lightning and Pete Peters were kibitzing (via Twitter) from long distance. Obviously they were both jealous that they weren’t in town and couldn’t attend. The back and forth was highly amusing and folks, this is why I keep telling you that you have to get on Twitter.  Follower all the bloggers you read and see some of the back and forth.  Note:  Alysia has promised to organize another event in early December.  This time Lightning will be there, as will Nick.  I’m hoping that the one and only Prudence will be there too.  Although epic blog posts from many of us may follow, the concurrent Twitter feed before, during and after this event will be the next best thing to being there.  Even PPP, a long-time holdout from Twitter, has recently joined up.

As far as I knew, Tony was still a question mark for attending, when I got the following tweet from him, “Can u fix it so Vince is invited to AC barbeque.”

I asked how I could “fix” that.  I was informed, “u and Koala have her cell phone and I don’t. I meant explain I’d feel more comfortable at a stranger’s home if Vince along.”

I dunno about Koala, but I don’t have Alysia’s cell phone number. I told Tony that.  But Alysia saw Tony’s tweets and graciously invited Vince (Tony’s good friend that often puts him up) to join us. 

I asked Alysia what I could bring to the BBQ and she suggested salad.  I could do that.  So I brought salad.  Lots and lots of salad.  She asked Tony a few times what he was bringing and he did indeed bring several big bags of potato chips.  Koala brought fruit juice—though, of course, it would have more appropriate if he had brought the Koala Tea of Mercy (see here).

As it turned out, I was the last to arrive at Alysia’s luxurious condominium complex.  But there were only three people there. No Vince. Apparently he had to work.  So Tony made all that fuss about getting Vince invited, and then he didn’t even make it.

Readers will recall that the last time I saw Tony, I ended up giving him a ride, at approximately 2AM, to Summerlin where he was staying (with Vince).  That story is here.  Not long after that, I published a post here, and in a comment on that post, Tony—not once, but twice—said that I was “dumb as f***.” (note: of course he spelled out the f-word).

I only mention that because of the very first comment Tony made to when I arrived at the BBQ.  He said, “Pete Peters said you were offended when I called you ‘dumb as f***.’  But why would you be offended I called you ‘dumb as f***’ when you and I completely agree on the button straddle?”

It was pretty hard to argue with logic like that. 

Anyway, what is important here as that recently the Venetian started allowing the button straddle.  And more recently, according to Tony, they changed the way they do it, so it is now done the “right way.”  At least the right way according to us.  That is, first action is on the UTG player, not the small blind.  I offered Tony my theory as to why most rooms do it the wrong way.  The dealers—and perhaps the players too—are less likely to get confused doing it the wrong way.  Just a theory.

The food was excellent—BBQ ribs and mashed potatoes (Tony’s favorite).  Now, I’m not sure if Tony insisted on this or Alysia just did this out of the goodness of her heart, but instead of the ribs, she served Tony his favorite entrĂ©e—chicken fried steak.

The area near the pool was beautiful—as is everything about the place Alysia lives—and the weather was perfect.  This was late October but the temperature was still very mild. Perfect, in fact.

As for the conversation….well, initially, Tony was just talking and talking and talking.  He said he would like to live in this very same complex, and was sure that he could afford now that his roll was so big.  But he feared he wouldn’t be able to pass a credit check.

Then he talked about the possibility of his learning to drive a car.  But we all pointed out that he had no idea of the costs associated with owning a car.  He just wondered if he could find a driving instructor who would be able to teach him for a reasonable fee.

And then…well, it kind of turned into an intervention.  Alysia pressed Tony on why he had been banned from so many casinos.  She pointed out that the rest of us had never been banned from a casino, and wondered why that was. 

Tony went over his various bans and thought they were unjustified.  Throwing glasses at empty pit areas, talking and fighting (verbally) with hookers and yelling at people who were watching him play video blackjack were no big deals.  Some places he’s not even sure why he was banned.

He did make the point that he’s actually been banned from some casinos he’s never even been in.  Aria, for example.  Because he has a corporate-wide ban at all MGM properties, he was banned from Aria before they even opened.

Alysia asked Tony what he was doing to address his anger-management issues and he had no answer.

After we were all sufficiently stuffed, Alysia took us on a tour of her complex and it was very impressive to say the least.  There is a community room on the 38th floor with a balcony that offers an incredible view of the Strip.  So I took a bunch of pics from there which I present below.

Later, in a blog post, Tony accused me of being “quick to leave.”  That is not true.  It was not my decision to call it an evening.  I departed when we all concurred we were all ready to go.

Thanks again to Alysia for hosting such a nice event.  Always good to see Koala, too.  And seeing Tony is always an interesting experience.





 





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Call

If one were to engage in strictly results-oriented thinking, this would be a post about a brilliant call I made at the Bike this past weekend. But if we think about making the “right” call—regardless of the actual outcome—it might just be a post about a really bad play that I was a fool for making.  I’ll let the reader decide.

Yes, I was at the Bike, in elegant Bell Gardens, CA, playing my usual $2/$3 game with my usual $300 buy-in. For the first hour or so, I was ridiculously card dead.  My first hand, in the big blind, I had pocket 3’s.  I called a raised, saw a flop with all paint cards and folded to a bet.  That was my last pocket pair for that hour.

I got a few hands to call raises with, but never was first in to raise first myself and certainly didn’t have a hand to three-bet with during this time. Never connected with a flop.  I was down about $40-$50 when I finally had a chance to raise.

The hand was King-Queen of spades in the small blind.  After a few limpers, I raised to $17.  Only one player called.  This guy had aggressively played a pair of pocket 5’s when I had first sat down.  He called a raised, then led out in front of the raiser on a 7-8-8 board.  He bet again on a 6 turn and shoved on a 9 river.  He caught the bottom end of the straight on the river but bet the whole way like he had a big hand.  He cracked the preflop raiser’s Aces.  I’m thinking the guy with Aces should have raised the other guy’s flop bet.

The flop was King-Queen-10, rainbow.  I suppose I should have slow played it, but I thought the guy would call a smallish bet, so I bet $20.  He tanked and folded. 

The very next hand, on the button, I got my second pocket pair of the day, Queens.  Again, a few people limped, I made it $17 and no one called.  And so ended my rush for awhile.

I raised with Ace-4 suited (as per Ed Miller’s starting hands) and didn’t get a call.  Then I had suited King-Queen again, this time clubs.  I was under-the-gun and made it $10.  It folded to the guy in seat 5 who made it $30.  This guy was fairly aggro.  He often (but not always) straddled (only UTG is allowed here at the Bike). He had a shaved head, so let’s call him Shaved Head.

It folded back to me and I called.  This is in keeping with the Ed Miller strategy (see here).  If I was on my own, I likely would have folded.  Come to think of it, if I was on my own, I would probably not have raised under-the-gun with that hand.

Heads up, the flop was all red, two 9’s and a 7.  Shaved Head bet $60.  Ed would have me call there, but I folded.  With just overcards, nothing else, and knowing that I could hit one of my cards and still be behind, I couldn’t do it.  Of course, the real reason to call is to try to steal the pot on the turn, but being out of position, I gave up.  But I didn’t forget about the hand.

Then I got my third pocket pair of the session: my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  First in, I raised to $13.  The guy who cracked the Aces with his pocket 5’s shoved for a total of $25 (his luck hadn’t lasted, obviously).  It folded to Shaved Head, who asked the dealer if I could raise if he called.  The answer was of course yes.  I had raised the blind $10, and the guy who went all-in had raised another $12, so yes, I could reraise.  Shaved Head thought about it and folded.  Note: this would have been a pretty good angle to have played if he had Aces, right?  Look afraid of a reraise by asking that question.  I go ahead and reraise and then he comes back over the top.  I’ll have to try to remember that.

But he was out of the pot and I put in $12 to see the flop.  The guy said he needed some luck and showed one card only…a King.  He didn’t show the other card.  The flop had two hearts and was Jack high.  But the King he had shown was black.  Another Jack hit the turn.  A blank hit the river.  He showed his other card.  Of course, it was a Jack.  I had had my Kings cracked by King-Jack.  Again.  However, I haven’t yet blogged about a similar hand I had in Vegas last month, so consider this foreshadowing.  At least this time it only cost me $25.

I raised to $11 with King-Queen of clubs (King-Queen being my favorite hand of the day) and had three callers.  The flop was Queen-high, rainbow.  I bet $30 and had one caller.  It looked like he was thinking of raising, but he just called. The turn was a blank and I bet $75.  He called again. The $75 was more than half his stack.  I put him all in on a blank river.  He called and showed King-Queen for a chopped pot.

I had pocket 10’s and the guy to my right bet $23.  Now there was a straddle which might have explained the big bet.  I called, as did two others (hey, this is the Bike). The flop was Ace-high and no one bet it.  When the preflop raiser checked again on the turn, I knew I should bet.  But I didn’t.  I choked.  Everyone else checked.  How about betting the river when the preflop raiser checked again?  I should have done that and gagged again.  I guess I was thinking my 10’s might be good.  No one bet and the preflop raiser showed pocket Kings!  Really?  He didn’t bet?  Did I mention this fellow was Asian?  Never bet after the flop.  I said to him, “I guess you were scared of that Ace, huh?”  He said that with three callers he assumed one of us had an Ace.  Hmm….I wonder if he would have called a bet if I had put out some chips?  I think he probably would have made the crying call, but it definitely would have been the right move for me to bet.

Very next hand, with Ace-7 of diamonds, I raised to $12.  There were four callers.  The flop was Queen-Queen-x, two diamonds.  It checked to me and I bet $35.  No one called.

Now, there were a lot of hands that cost me some chips, never a lot of chips on any one hand, but enough small loses to offset all the wins I’ve mentioned so far and then some.  It was getting to be near the end of my session, near time to wrap it.  I was down to about $210-$220.

Under-the-gun, I got pocket 10’s again.  I raised to $10.  Although I don’t usually do this, I actually said, “Raise” as I put out my two yellow chips (the $5 chips at the Bike are yellow, not red).  Not sure why I did this, if I put out two chips totalling $10 and don’t say anything, it’s obviously a raise.  Anyway, I was sitting right next to the dealer and I thought I heard him say “Eighty!”  I was confused….was someone wanting to buy $80 worth of chips?  Then I saw a guy calling me by putting out one $5 chip and three $1 chips.  Apparently the dealer thought I had said “Eight” instead of “Raise.”  So he had said “Eight” indicating my raise was to 8, not 10, which of course was incorrect.  I corrected him and told him I said “Raise” and he corrected himself.  The caller put out two more bucks.  I commented that I thought I heard him say “Eighty” and assumed it was someone buying chips.  A lady at the table said she thought she heard him say “Eighty” as well.

Well, that was all corrected and it folded to Shaved Head—remember him?  Once again, he three-bet me.  This time he put out two stacks of 4 yellow chips each.  The dealer said, “That’s half of eighty.” It folded to me. 

While I was thinking, I joked, “Half of eighty, huh?  I can do that in my head…..that’s forty, right?  That’s pretty good, huh?”

He chuckled as I considered my action.  Pretty standard Ed Miller strategy to call the three-bet there.  Then I looked at his stack.  After he put out the $40, he had around $80 left, give-or-take.  Shaved Head had three-bet before and I didn’t see what he had.  I considered just shoving to see how much he liked his hand.  He hadn’t three-bet a lot, but enough to make me feel like his range was a lot wider than AA, KK & AK.  And as I said, it was the second time he had three-bet me.

Now the thing with the Ed Miller strategy that I’m kind of ignoring is that he is assuming deep stacks.  And that wasn’t the case here.  The other guy in the hand had at least as much as me but I didn’t assume he would call the $40.  So it was probably a really bad call there, but I made it anyway.  The other guy folded.

The flop was King-8-4, rainbow.  I checked, and Shaved Head instantly put out all his chips.  Now, at the Bike, unlike a lot of places in Vegas, they let you keep racks on the table and even let you bet out of the racks, you don’t have to have a stack out to bet with.  He had all his chips in the rack, so he just put the entire rack out in front of him.  I asked for a count.  It was $77.  “So, $77 to call?  Plus the rack?.  But I don’t have a rack.”  The guy next to me grabbed a rack off a drink tray between us and said, “Here, you can use this.” 

I tanked for a good while.  There was something about the way the guy bet instantly, as if he was going to do that no matter what, that made me quite suspicions. I just picked up a vibe that he was c-betting with nothing.  Yes, I thought, a very likely hand for him there was Ace-King.  I knew that.  But I wondered if he would shove with Aces, and I certainly didn’t think he’d shove with a set of Kings; he’d play that slower.  Would he have shoved with Queens or Jacks?  Yeah, maybe.  But the King might have slowed him up in that case. 

I thought some more.  And I did some math.  The pot, with his bet in it, was about $160 (there’s a big rake).  I was getting 2-to-1 for my call.  Which wasn’t very good if he already had me beat.  But…..I had put about 1/3 of my effective stack (against him) in there, making it very tempting to call. It seemed like maybe I should call.  And I figured his range included AQ, AJ, maybe even AT and hands like QJ, J10.

And then I thought, well, if I call and lose, I will call it a day, and I’ll have lost about $200 for the day.  If I fold, and keep my current stack, I’ll be out $120.  In the greater scheme of things, does that $80 make that big a difference?  Plus, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my 10’s were good.

So I did it.  I made the call (which is the call I’m referring to in the title of this post).  I called the $77.  We didn’t show as two blanks hit the board.  He flipped over Ace-Jack.  He had missed, as I suspected.  I flipped over my 10’s, heard a bunch of players say, “Good call” and started stacking my chips. In fact, the dealer gave me Shaved Head's chips still in the rack, so I got the rack too.


I was ahead for the first time all day.  I played one or two more orbits, didn’t get anything playable, and left up around $85.

Because, rightly or wrongly, I had made “the call.”