This took place just two days before Christmas, last year. I wanted to check out a store that was part of the Linq Promenade, so I figured I’d try to play at the Linq. But when I got there, there was no game going and no one was on the list. So I headed over to Harrah’s. There were two games going, but both were shorthanded. I think I was the 6th player at the table they sent me to, but there was a missing player. I was thinking that if I hadn’t shown up, they might have soon combined the tables.
The table I was at was pretty tight, not exactly an action table. I think under different circumstances, I might have headed for greener pastures. But this was during the time that my back was acting up and I just didn’t feel like I could walk to the Venetian or Caesars across the Strip. Of course, I could have gone back to my car and driven somewhere else, but I figured that would be just as much walking as trekking to the V, so I decided I’d gut it out at Harrah’s.
It turns out that not only did both tables fill up, but they were actually able to start a third 1/2 game before I left.
One thing that usually impresses me at Harrah’s is the cocktail service. It may be as good as any poker room in Vegas. The waitress, a cute young girl I’ll call Rachael, seemed to come back for orders every 10-15 minutes. There was an Asian man at my table (shocking, I know), who I believe was a regular. He was wearing a baseball cap. I couldn’t really tell his age, but he was definitely old enough to be Rachael’s father. And in saying that, it’s entirely possible that I may be understating that by a generation.
Well, at one point, as Rachael had her back to our table while she was tending to the other table, this Asian man leaned back, and without really looking at her, asked, “Rachael, do you have a boyfriend?”
Rachael stopped what she was doing and responded, “I do not.” I thought it was a bit odd the way she answered. Not “no.” Not “I don’t.” But “I do not.”
The man then asked, “Have you ever had an Asian boyfriend?” Rachael laughed, and I just totally cracked up. That was an interesting approach.
Rachael said, “No, I never have.”
The Asian gentleman said, “Well, you should try it some time.” She didn’t respond, and left to get her drinks. I believe the Asian man had left the game before she got back.
It took quite some time for me to get any cards worth playing. I did call a straddle with pocket deuces. Three of us saw a flop of 6-6-2. I called a $10 bet and it was heads up. The turn was a 5, and when the other player bet just $10 again, I raised to $25, but he folded.
I called $7 from the big blind with Ace-9 of clubs. Four of us saw an Ace-high flop that had two clubs. I called $15 and it was heads up. I called another $15 on a Queen of spades turn. The river was another Ace and I bet $35 and took it down.
So I guess I was a bit over my $200 buy-in when the first really interesting hand took place. In middle position, I opened to $8 with pocket Jacks. A big stack called, and then a new player in the game made it $35 from the big blind and it folded back to me. Hmm. The guy had only been there for a few hands. He had been fairly active right from the start, definitely on the aggro side. Still, I didn’t think I had enough information to peg him as a maniac. He might have just gotten an unusual amount of decent hands to start. It happens. He had a similar stack to mine, perhaps a little less.
Well, I’m not going to four-bet Jacks unless I think the three-bettor is a total maniac. Does anyone think a fold there is appropriate? I mean, if I was purely set-mining, the potential payoff isn’t enough to justify it. But you know, sometimes a pair of Jacks is a winning hand. I decided to call, the other player folded.
The flop was 10-9-5, rainbow. To my complete surprise, he checked. It was hard for me to come up with a hand he would three-bet with (from the big blind, no less) that he would not c-bet that flop with. He’s either got an over pair (maybe Queens, most likely Kings or Aces) or maybe Ace-King. At least that’s what I assume from players who three-bet in a Vegas 1/2 game until I see something to convince me otherwise. I know that if I had raised with Ace-King and it was heads up, I’d definitely c-bet that flop.
I know that Ed Miller would be saying that since he checked, I should bet. I did have an over pair. But I didn’t, I checked. So I have to admit that I played the hand badly. Really no reason not to bet there.
But the turn was a Jack. This time, he bet--$50. Also interesting. Did he have Ace-Jack? Was he taking a stab with nothing since I had checked behind? Did he now have some kind of draw? Well, of course, he could have had King-Queen and just filled in his gut-shot when I caught my set. I really dismissed that. I just didn’t think it was very likely he would three-bet from the big blind with King-Queen, even if it was sooooted.
I raised to $125. He snap-shoved, and I snap-called. If I was wrong about him not having King-Queen, at least I had outs. The river was harmless looking low card. He flipped over pocket 9’s! I showed my over-set and took down a very nice pot. I had him covered by just a few red chips and he left the game. I counted $455 in front of me when I finished stacking.
So he three-bet with pocket 9’s from the big blind. He was indeed an aggro, huh? He got real unlucky with his decision to slow-play the flop. And he got unlucky because I misplayed it by not betting. I’m guessing he might have check-raised me if I had bet the flop. And then I likely fold. And so he would have won a decent pot instead of losing all his chips.
Back to being card dead. It was quite a few orbits before I played the other interesting hand of the night. I had Ace-3 of hearts in the big blind. The button raised to $12, the small blind called, I called, and it was three-way. The flop was King-Jack-5, all hearts. I recommend flopping the nut flush whenever possible. Knowing that many players won’t c-bet a monotone board (especially three-ways), I donked out $25. The button made it $75. Sweet. The small blind quickly got out of the way. I made it $200 which was essentially putting him all in to call. He snap called. What did he have? A set? A smaller flush?
We didn’t show. The final two cards were total blanks leaving me with the stone cold nuts. He showed his hand: King of diamonds, Queen of hearts. OK, top pair, decent kicker and a draw to the second nuts. Did he play that well? Or did he just give me $200 due to bad play? Either way, I was glad to take those chips off his hands.
The only other hand I noted was another suited Ace, this time A-4 of clubs in the small blind. I called a small raise and the flop was 7-4-4. That time I checked and the preflop raiser checked too. I bet $25 on the turn and took it down.
Before I left I decided to take a picture of my stack. I tweeted out the pic and also posted it on Instagram under the title “Chip porn.”