Thursday, January 22, 2015

"I Thought You Were a Hot Blonde"

Deep, Deep Run at Aria, Part 1
As I hinted at in the post here and elsewhere, before I left Vegas early this month, I had a very nice run at the Aria 1PM $125 tournament.  It was such a nice run it will take me two posts to get it all in (poker pun not intended).  Let’s start with part 1, since starting with part 2 would be just weird.

My original plan was to be driving back to LA on this day (the first Saturday of 2015).  Initially, I figured that 30 nights in Vegas would be plenty.  But as my departure date approached, I had started to run pretty good at the poker tables.  I realized that my bankroll could easily withstand a few more nights in town, and I had nothing I needed to get home to until Tuesday of the next week anyway.  Besides, the city was still jammed with New Years visitors and the games figured to be quite juicy.

So I arranged to stay a couple of more days and go home on Monday.

That meant one more Saturday in Vegas. I almost always play in a tournament when I’m in Vegas on a Saturday.  And usually I play in the Binion’s 2PM, downtown.  However, I decided against that this time.  As I mentioned in a few other posts, the weather in Vegas during the holidays had gotten unusually cold.  Now I don’t want to hear any shit from those of you who live in cold-weather cities that desire to make fun of me for thinking that 30 degree temperatures are cold.  I didn’t tell you to live in cities where the temperature regularly reaches single digits.  I’ve lived most of my life in Los Angeles, and if the thermometer reads 65 degrees we start worrying about frostbite.  I’m just not used to anything 50 or below.

Thus, the week before, when I played at Binion’s, it was really, really cold.  Low 40’s during the day, dipping to 35 at nite.  Plus it was somewhat windy, make the temperature seem lower.

The Binion’s tournament area is kind of exposed to the elements.  It’s not part of the poker room, which is actually pretty nice.  When I first started playing in it, the weekend tournaments were held in this very nice, enclosed room that was very comfortable, near the poker room (basically separated by the Binion’s Deli).  However, management at Binion’s decided to lease that space out for an Elvis Presley Museum a year or two ago.  That didn’t go over too well and Elvis has left the building, but for some reason, the powers that be didn’t let the poker room take back the nice room for their tournaments, preferring to leave that space basically empty.  Go figure.

So the big Saturday tournament is held in this wide open area outside that nice enclosed room where it could be and should be held.  The area is very close to not one, not two, but three doors to the outside world. Traffic is constantly coming in and out of those doors.  When someone comes in or leaves, a blast of cold air comes into the tournament area.  Even when no one is coming in or out, the building is quite old and the doors don’t shut probably.  So there’s always a little bit of cold air from outside anyway.

On top of that, I think the ventilation system doesn’t work too well in this part of the casino (I walked through other parts, including the actual poker room, and it was fine).  Or, it may just be that someone thought it was a good idea to crank the A/C up on a very cold December day.  I dunno.

Furthermore, I was assigned to one of the tables closest to one of the doors to the street  As the tournament started, I was incredibly, uncomfortably cold.  I thought I was prepared for it.  I had a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater and also a ski jacket, the warmest jacket I have.  I started the tournament without the jacket on (because, seriously, who would wear a ski jacket indoors?) and was freezing.  I had to put the jacket on.  That kept my arms fairly comfortable, but my legs, feet and hands were still ice cold.  I honestly couldn’t stand it, it was extremely uncomfortable.

Everyone at my table was unhappy and complaining about it.  But there didn’t appear that anything could be done.  And as the day wore on and evening approached, it only figured to get worse, not better.

After an hour or two, I was actually dying to bust out.  I started playing super aggro and just looked for any excuse to get my chips in the middle.  I actually considered just leaving with chips behind and let them blind me off in absentia.  Instead, I called all-in on a flush draw I had picked up on the turn (a move I wouldn’t ordinarily have made that early in the tournament—3rd level I believe—and was very relieved when I missed and could get the hell out of there, something I wasted no time in doing.

The point is, the warming trend the weatherman promised was supposed to start just as I was heading out of town.  Even though it had warmed up a bit, the experience from last week had left such a bad taste in my mouth, I didn’t dare take a chance of experiencing it again.  I decided against playing at Binion’s that Saturday.

Which left me with Aria, another excellent choice.  I had already played Aria tourneys three times this trip. The first time, you read about here.  The other two times were the week after that for the PokerAtlas Meet & Greet, and then on Christmas Day (because this Jew doesn’t work on Christmas).  Neither of those two times were worth a blog post, sadly.  But I do like the Aria tournament and it is an excellent place to play, even if it is a little bit cramped (both the tables when you are 10-handed for the tournament and the room itself).

I was assigned to seat 3 and in seat 2 at the table there was a guy who had an interesting story to tell as we were getting under way.  He said that the night before, he was playing 4/8 limit Hold’em with Antonio Esfandiari, noted poker pro.  The last time I mentioned “MagicAntonio” was in the post here.  I’m going to call the fellow with the MagicAntonio story  in Seat 2 “Tim,” because that’s his name.  I only learned that days later and you’ll have to wait until part 2 of this story to find out how I found out.  Anyway, Tim said that Antonio’s father was with him, and that’s apparently why they were playing 4/8.  Tim reported that Antonio was a real nice guy and obviously it was a thrill for a recreational poker player to find himself playing with such a great player.

The tournament began and the first two cards dealt to me that day were both Kings.  Yes, yes, getting the tournament started with the dreaded hand.  Gulp.  Was this some kind of omen?  Was I about to bust out on the first hand?  I promised myself I wouldn’t get all my chips in preflop, at least.  Too early.

My neighbor to my right, Tim, raised to $200 in front of me (blinds start at 25/50 with a $10K starting stack).  I made it $500.  It folded back to Tim, who just called.  The flop was low and I bet $800; Tim called.  Another blank on the turn and we both checked.  Note, it being early in the tournament, and since I just had an overpair (and that overpair being my Kryptonite hand), I was being extra cautious.  I had showdown value, afterall.  Another blank on the river, and Tim led out for $1200.  I called.  He had 8-7 of spades and nothing on the board.  My lousy Kings held and I had dodged my first bullet this tournament.

Still on level 1, I raised with A-K & A-Q, missed, fired c-bets, got called, and let them go.  Then on level 2, I didn’t do much of anything.  Started level 3 (100/200) with $10,500.  I had pocket Queens, raised to $550 and had three callers.  The flop was 9-9-X and I bet $2K.  One player called.  I bet $4K on a blank river.  My opponent had a lot of chips, way more than me.  He tanked for a bit and then folded.

Started level 4 (25/100/200) with $14,500.   I raised to $800 with King-10 clubs.  Three called.  The flop was Ace-Queen-X, no clubs.  I bet $2,500.  A guy shoved for about three times my bet.  I folded.  I suppose a c-bet four handed was bad there, but my thinking was that since I raised pre, they’d put me on a big Ace and let it go.  Also, I did have the gutshot if I got called.  But I couldn’t call a raise.

Level 5 (25/200/400), $10,200.  From this point on, I’ll try to make note of what my “Tournament M” was.  You will see that I rarely had a lot of chips, and that, in fact, I was in desperation mode or pretty damn close to it most of the tournament.  So my “M” here is about 12-1/2.   I called a raise to $1,050 with pocket 6’s.  A guy raised behind me, the original raiser shoved, and of course I got out.  The other player called.  It was pocket 10’s vs. Ace-King.  I don’t remember who won the race, but my 6’s were never good.

Level 6 (50/300/600) $8,300 (barely above an “M” of 5—and when you reach 5 you’re essentially in fold-or-shove mode).  In the small blind, I completed with 9-6 off after two limped and I thought there was a good chance the BB would just check, which he did. The flop was 8-7-x.  I called $1,100 and it was heads up.  I suppose I should have shoved with my draw there, but I decided to wait.  I missed and folded to a shove. 

This put me in more dire straits (though if I had shoved my draw there and been called, I would have been out).  Meanwhile, an interesting guy had taken the seat to my immediately left. I didn’t know his name, but I definitely recognized him as someone I’d played with before.  An older guy, very friendly, quite loquacious, and rather witty.  And he wore a fedora. Let’s call him “Jerry” because he was a bit of a comedian, like Jerry Lewis. Or because he told me his name was Jerry.

I wasn’t sure if he had come from another table or had just registered late, but as soon as he got to the table he noticed that chairs were not evenly distributed around the table and there was not a lot of room for him.  Part of the problem was the guy in the 6 seat was taking up a lot of space.  This guy (seat 6) was huge.  He was a young guy who was morbidly obese.  Then, at one point, I noticed him jump up from the table to get something—it was Kleenex.  And he took that Kleenex and shoved it up his nose.  He was nose was suddenly bleeding profusely.  Yuck.

Seriously, he kept pulling bloody tissues out of his nose and putting new, clean ones in.  It was disgusting.  He said he hadn’t had a nosebleed in “a long time.”  Now, I felt bad for the guy but really, it was rather uncomfortable playing with him.  I mean, I know in the NBA they don’t let a player stay in the game if he’s bleeding, he has to come out until they can get the bleeding to stop.  They don’t want his blood flying all around.  This guy was possibly getting his blood on the cards and the chips! 

I seriously considered asking if he should be allowed to continue in the tournament in his condition, but I didn’t.  Eventually, his nose stopped bleeding before he busted out. 

Back to Jerry.  When he arrived at the table he immediately asked for the table to be squared.  As soon as he had sat down, our knees knocked.  He said, “As much as I might like to get to know my new friend here (meaning me), I think we might be just a little bit too close.”

I said to him, “You wouldn’t say that if I was a hot blonde.”  I knew I was speaking his language.

He said, “I thought you were a hot blonde.  I better get my eyes checked.”  For the rest of the time he sat next to me, Jerry entertained us with wisecracks and his life story.  Honestly, he talked so much that it could have easily been annoying, but he was such a good raconteur that he never got overbearing.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember his one-liners the next day.  One thing he did tell us that shocked us all was how old he was. I won’t say, but I will say he looked at least 15-20 years younger than he was.  Funny, interesting, entertaining guy and I hope I get to play at the same table with again sometime.

But I digress. On this same level, in the small blind, I once again found myself looking at pocket Kings.  It folded to the button who raised to $3K.  Easy decision for me, I shoved.  Jerry, who had me covered by a lot shoved behind me from the big blind.  Gulp.  He couldn’t have Aces, could he?  The original raiser folded.

I flipped over my Kings and Jerry showed two Queens.  The Kings held and I won a really nice pot, just when I needed it.

The very next hand I had pocket Queens myself.  A guy in late position “accidentally” raised to $2K.  It looked like he had grabbed the wrong color chip based on his reaction.  I put in a big three-bet and he folded, admitting that he meant to limp.

A hand or two later I raised to $2K with Queen-Jack offsuit and no one called.  Now I was sitting behind a fairly nice stack and Jerry said to me, “Look at you now.  I knew you when you were nothing.  In fact, I made you the man you are today.”

So at the start of level 7 (75/400/800), I had  $17,700, which was still slightly less than an M of 10.  On the button I had Ace-King off.  Someone raised to $2K, one player called, and I shoved. The first guy folded, but the next guy called all in for about $4-$5K.  He flipped over pocket 6’s. The turn was a King giving me the pot.

Soon thereafter, I had pocket 10’s and it was raised to $2K in front of me, I went ahead and made it $6K.  Then Jerry shoved behind me.  He had me covered. The original raiser folded and I did as well.  Jerry didn’t show, but he told me he had the pocket Kings this time, and I believed him. I didn’t feeling like risking my tournament life on pocket 10’s when I didn’t have to.

I raised to $2,500 with Queen-10 of clubs.  Yes, I raised with the “evil hand,” Coach.  But a short stack shoved over me for about $6-$7K and I let it go.

First in, I raised to $2,500 with King-Jack hearts and no one called.

Which brings us to the end of level 7, and also to the end of part 1 of this tournament summary.  The conclusion is now posted and can be found here.


  1. Q10 has history in the WSOP, it's not evil COACH!

    1. I guess I should let Coach reply but let me just say....10-2 also has history in the WSOP. But as they say...."don't try this at home."

    2. Q 10 has history with me, and it is evil. Rob made a good point - try playing 10 2 habitually and let me know how it goes...

  2. Now that you are learning how to play the Q-10, I might consider you for my advanced course on 7-6.

    1. 7-6? Now, that's a great a hand, I already know how to play that!

    2. Rob gave away $2,500.00 when he had to fold to a re-raise, and you consider that learning how to play it Lightning? Limp there, and maybe you can call a smaller raise with two to the royal... Again, tread carefully... ;)

    3. At that point in the tournament, with my stack size, there was no way I'd limp in with a hand like Queen-10. I was in a close-to-desperation situation and had to be aggressive. I'm either raising or folding Q-10.

    4. Okay, if you're close to desperation and aren't going to fold, I'd said that any hand that you're willing to raise with there, you have to be willing to go all the way with if you get re-popped...

    5. Well, as I remember from my readings of Dan Harrington's books on tournament poker, there are definitely situations where you have to raise with less than premium hands to try to get chips, but then you have to be ready to let it go if you face resistance.

      An "M" of between 10 & 15, which is what I had there, is exactly that situation. I wasn't desperate enough to commit all my chips preflop (except with AA, KK, etc.

  3. Cheers to Binions for driving you away to the Aria I guess - good luck in Part Two!!! :D

    1. Thanks, Coach.

      To be fair to Binion's, the poker people there would all love to supply more comfortable game conditions. I know they would love to move make in the area that Elvis vacated. Like most poker rooms, they get short shrift from upper casino management.

      I have a lot of friends who work there or play in that tournament, and when the whether is more reasonable, I'll gladly return there..

  4. You don't get to read too many good blog postings with the word "raconteur" in them. Nice post!

    1. LOL! Yes, I thought that I was using a word I hadn't used in the blog before when I wrote that. It's a good word tho.

      And let's see your stalkee PPP use that in a blog post some time!

      Thanks, Doc.

    2. Yeah, I liked that word also Rob (there's SO MUCH to remember after each of your posts... ;)

    3. I like to may sure my readers get their moneysworth, Coach.