Sunday, January 11, 2015

Aces vs Kings--MGM Invitational Edition

This is part 2 of the post I started last time (see here) and picks up right where the last post ended.

The next day, my plan to easily pick up three more hours of play for the freeroll ran into a roadblock.  I got “stuck” playing in the Aria 1PM tournament for nearly 9-1/2 hours.  As you can imagine, that was actually a very good thing, and in the near future I will do what I’m sure will be a multi-part post giving all the glorious details of that tournament.  But for now all you need to know is that I left the Aria at around 10:30 PM with a wallet I could barely close and my brain totally fried from all that poker.  Also from having to finally eat on the last break—shoving two slices of pizza down my throat in less than 8 minutes. 

I was in no condition to play poker for three more minutes, let alone three hours.  The smart thing to do would have been to go back to my room and hit the sheets, or perhaps go over to MGM just to regale my buddies in the tale of my Aria score.  And then avoided actually playing poker and just enjoyed the scenery provided by all the pretty young ladies going to the club in dresses that would surely give their fathers a heart attack if they ever saw them.

But no, no, I was stupidly fixated on getting that damn $400 from the freeroll.  Even in my frazzled state, I knew my odds weren’t very good of cashing without that extra 5K in starting chips that was only three hours of play away. 

So even though it meant playing poker until past 2AM the night before having to get up way early to play at 10AM, I did indeed get into a cash game at MGM to make my 30 hours.

It was a bad idea on so many levels.

Did I mention my brain was fried?  There was no way I was capable of playing good poker.  My brain shut off as soon the tournament at Aria ended.  I got into that game with one intention only—try to get thru the next three hours as cheaply and as safely as possible.  I became a total nit--even nitty for me.  I don’t think I raised once.  I would have only raised with AA, KK or AK and I never saw those hands.  I limped in with pocket pairs, suited connectors, suited Aces—hands that I routinely raise with now.  I didn’t want to put chips in play if I didn’t have to.  I tried to play only “no-brainer” hands because my brain was not functioning properly.

Actually, proof that my brain was not functioning was that I was playing at all.

Playing the way I was playing was pretty much a guarantee of losing.  Perhaps not as much as I might have lost playing “normal”—but I really wasn’t giving myself a chance to win anything.

In the three hours, I sat there, zombie-like, slowly seeing chips disappear from my stack.

I swear, if I had gotten to the poker room at 7 or 8, I would have played my normal game. I wasn’t playing so tight stupid because I was just playing for the three hours.  It was the exhaustion I was suffering from the tournament.  And the fact that I was only playing to get my hours in for the freeroll.   

I didn’t write down a single hand from the session.  Partly because I didn’t have a memorable hand (good or bad), partly because I was likely incapable of holding a pen properly.

I do want to mention one of the guys at my table.  He was a reg, had a huge stack.  When I first played with him this trip, I vaguely recognized him, and I assumed I had played with him maybe once or twice before.  But all through the month of December I saw him more and more, maybe every time I was at MGM. Played with him some, but if not, saw him at another table.  When I first noticed him he was fairly aggro.  But the last few times I played with him, although he usually had a big stack, he played very few hands and it seemed like he played them passively.

At one point, he got up to check his hours.  When he came back, he said, “Well, I made it….75 hours this week. “  I said, “So, you’re gonna start the freeroll with $25,000 in chips?”  He nodded.  “You won’t have to play a single hand, will you?”  “No, I guess not.”

Then I noticed he wasn’t racking up his chips.  This was well past midnite.  I said to him, “Aren’t you gonna leave?  You don’t have enough time to get another 15 hours anyway.”  No, he said.  “Where else am I gonna go?”

I dunno, why not home for a few hours of sleep?  In fact, later (or it may have been earlier) when I complained about being able to get so little sleep before the freeroll, he said to me, “Why even go home, just stay here and play until it starts?”  Umm…..not a good idea.  I would probably pass out before the freeroll started and miss it.

I kept looking at my watch.  When it finally reached 2AM I got up and checked my hours.  It was just slightly over 30 hours.  Phew.  I was done  I picked up what was left of my chips and cashed out.  I had “only” lost $115 trying to make my hours.  In my mind then, that $115 was coming out of the $400 I was going to earn the next day.  Because I never would have lost that $115 if I wasn’t going for the freeroll.

Somehow, I managed to drive back to my room and fall into bed—after setting the alarm so I could wake up early enough to play poker at 10AM the next day.  Which, honestly, is absurd.  Playing poker is not something you should have to set the alarm for.

And then, for some reason, exhausted as I was, I couldn’t fall asleep.  Perhaps I was overtired.  Or I was thinking too much of how stupid it was to have played those last three hours of poker.  Maybe I was thinking of the success I had had at Aria when my brain was still functioning.  But for whatever reason, I couldn’t fall asleep.

I finally did, but it was only about three hours before the alarm went off, reminding me that I had a poker tournament to play in and $400 to win.  I dragged my ass out of bed and into the shower, and then ate breakfast, and managed to get to the MGM at 9:30 or so.  Amazingly, I didn’t feel too tired and I wasn’t sleepy.

As my starting table assembled, I didn't get the table draw I was hoping for. I was hoping that at least half the players would actually have mega-starting stacks (20K or more) so they wouldn’t have any incentive to actually play.  A good alternative would be that most of the stacks would be the 5K minimum and my 10K stack would be the big stack at the table.

But it was not favorable in either direction.  There was only one guy who had a 20K stack.  He was a guy I recognized and knew I had played with this trip, but I honestly couldn’t remember his play at all.  I suspect he got all those hours playing rather tight to make the hours.

There were two players who had 15K starting stacks.  To my mind, that was the worst possible starting stack to be up against.  It wasn’t quite big enough so that they could fold their way to the money; they’d have to play poker.  But they were starting with 50% more chips than me right from the get-go.  Two more players had the same 10K stack as me, and three had just the minimum 5K stack.

I studied the table, noting all the stacks and what it meant for each player and how I needed to adjust my play to deal with it all,  Having decided to play in the freeroll despite my reservations, it was on me to make my adjustments.

Still, I could play some poker and get the money.  They only had 47 players, so all I had to do was outlast half the field.  I didn’t check and they didn’t post it, so I wondered how many players started with more chips than I did?  Twenty-five or more?  Not likely.  But quite a few, for sure.

The very first hand of the tournament, I raised with King-Queen offsuit and was immediately three-bet (by one of the players with 15K.  Damn.  I called and had to let it go when I whiffed on the flop.

Before the first level was over, I found myself looking down at the dreaded pocket Kings.  My Kryptonite hand had actually been good to me at the Aria tournament the day before.  A lady who had only started with the minimum stack raised.  It was a big raise compared to her stack. I three-bet shoved, of course.  She thought for a bit, then said, very reluctantly, I thought, “Well, I have to call.”

No shit.  She turned over pocket Aces!  I really thought the way she said it, she was saying that because of stack size and her bet she had to call, and not because she had the best damn starting hand in poker and you dream of having some dumb schmuck shove into those Aces with a shitty hand like pocket Kings.

The Aces held, I lost half my stack—the half that I played those last three hours the night before to get.

I was not amused.  Now short stacked, I got super aggressive.  But I did slow up once.  I raised with Ace-King and an older gentleman I had played a lot of cash with three-bet me.  It was the second level so I wasn’t completely desperate quite yet.  I knew this player was unlikely to three-bet me with anything less than Aces or Kings.  I was absolutely sure of it.  So I let it go.  He didn’t show, but he said he had pocket Aces and I am sure he did.

I could only add a few chips to my stack by being aggro.  By the fourth or five level, my stack had gone from around 4500 when I had the Kings to about 5300.  At that point, it was definitely fold or shove mode.  I had Ace-9 in the big blind.  It folded to the small blind who had raised.  He had started with 15K and had at least 2-1/2 times my stack.  I felt it was very likely he was making a move based on it being blind vs. blind.  So I shoved.

He tanked, a good sign.  He didn’t have Aces.  Or Kings.  He asked for a count and then finally said, “Call.”  He flipped over Ace-King.  I was drawing thin.  Then, to rub it in, a King hit the turn.  Ok, ok….I knew I was behind.  But as long as one of our kickers was going to hit, it could have just as easily been the 9, no?

I was out.  In less than an hour.  Ugh.  I managed to grab some lunch, head back to my room (mostly awake) and then went back to bed.  I slept away the afternoon.  Pretty much ruined the whole day by playing in for the freeroll money. 

Of course, I had only myself to blame.  It was my own poor decisions that got me here.  I should never have played those three hours the night before, or set the alarm for the wee hours of Sunday morning.  I should have been happy with my big score at the Aria the day before and slept in on Sunday.

So I blame myself.  

Lesson learned.  Don't chase promo money when you're dead tired. 

Note: I thought the pic below had a tie-in to this post, but in researching it I think it does not have any connection.  But I like the pic so I'm running it anyway.


  1. im glad u agree u shouldnt set an alarm clock if u play poker for a living. tired of people on my blog saying i need to set it to play certain hours other than the ones id naturally be awake

    1. Well, actually, I don't play poker for a living.

  2. Hi Rob

    Sorry I missed you when I was in Vegas. I was confused by your undisclosed location post. I did play the MGM twice but both times during the day.

    Great post, great pic and can't wait to hear about your Aria score!


    1. Thanks, Paul, and so sorry I missed you. The undisclosed location was somewhere in Las Vegas, just minutes from the Strip. Next time, please just leave a comment in my current post when you hit town, or email me at the address over on the right side of this page. I would have definitely tried to meet up with you.

      I was at MGM during the day on some weekend days and certain holidays. How was your trip? Profitable, I hope?

    2. Yes, 2 good sessions both involving crazians. Finished over $1k up! I am back at Easter so hopefully we can play then. Keep up the entertaining writing, I always look forward to your next post.

  3. Maybe we should think, screw the extra hours for chips, take the 5k start stack or whatever, and play rested, Stay in shove mode, if you double, great!. If not, play cash, problem solved. -115 real money, -285 in ev, and -several hours sleep, makes for unhappy rec./semi pro player.

    1. Well, the problem is the ungodly early hour of the freeroll. You see, that screws up my whole day because after playing in it that early--however long it is, I'm not ready to start my poker day, I'm going to crawl back into bed and get some more sleep. So it really is a burden for me to play in it.

      I might think differently if it was at a more convenient time--a time after which I could just move over into a cash game after it was done. Now that I think of it, now that the football promo is over for the year, it would be really nice of them to move the freeroll to 1PM or so and I'd have much less of an issue with it. I could go over there, start my poker Sunday with that. Shove every chance I got until I either busted or had a monster stack, and then, whenever, I'd get into a cash game. But 10AM just doesn't work for me.

      Then the other thing was....I knew I was starting short, but being THIS CLOSE to a double stack, that was really what got me even considering playing. If I had been five hours short, I would have definitely passed. But it only made sense to increase my starting stack since others would have bigger starting stacks at well.

      Have I mentioned I really hate the way they do it?

  4. I have rebought in a Golden Nugget cash game so I could get the $10 food voucher for 4 hours of play and left with the $10 voucher and only $20 of my rebuy. I should have left the poker room without rebuying at the three hour mark and just bought an effing lobster instead.

    1. Yeah....always have to be careful not to spend more money chasing the prize than the prize is worth.

      Lesson learned.

  5. Rob, What time do you think they should hold this freeroll? Saturday at 10pm? Friday at 2pm? Tuesday at 4am? Why do you think most places that hold events like this do them in the morning? It's because that's when you have the most availability of table space. They couldn't hold a 5 to 7 table event on a Saturday night because they would never have the space available to run it.

    1. Thanks, Anony.

      I thought I had addressed this in one of my many posts about this freeroll, but I couldn't find it in a quick skim so maybe not.

      But YES, of course I know why they have the freeroll at 10AM, I completely understand. That's one of my initial gripes about it. They have to have it at a time when the room wouldn't otherwise be busy. Actually...3AM Saturday nite/Sunday morning would probably be better for me than this. If you read the initial post from a few months ago, I did expressed my hesitancy to ever even try to play because the hour is so bad for me.

      And actually, it could be worse. As I recall, when CET properties had that property wide freeroll, they held at NINE AM. so this is better.

      I'm sure there are plenty of people who have no problem with the time of the freeroll, bless their little hearts. I'm not one of those, and for that reason alone, I should just never ever consider playing in it again.

  6. I laughed out loud about the way you wrote up the aces/kings hand - it's AWESOME when they go through internal turmoil before deciding to call with aces preflop... Congrats on the Aria though (looking forward to that miniseries)... :)

    1. Thanks, Coach, I must admit that was my favorite paragraph in the post myself.