Yesterday I returned to Player’s Casino in Ventura for my first poker session since returning from Vegas at the beginning of the month. The way things went, it might be my last for awhile.
I had to wait a bit for a seat. As the list grew, it was beginning to look like they’d have enough to open a new 2/3 game shortly. While I was waiting, I noticed the fellow I dubbed “Director” in the post here was also waiting to get in a game. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to change my mind from that post and let you know that the director this fellow looks like is actually Steven Spielberg. Keep that in mind.
But there was another guy waiting for a game that caught my attention even more. He was, ahem, an older gentleman. And I did a double take when I first saw him, because he really, really, really looked a lot like Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee. You all know who that is, right? If not, I’m sure that by now, at least 60% of you have figured out how to use Google. “Stan” was waiting for either a 2/3 game or a 3/5 game. It never occurred to me to tell Stan that he looked like Stan Lee, that’s just something I almost never do.
It didn’t take long for the new game to be called, and both “Stan” and “Spielberg” as he will now be referred to were there at the start. Most of the players and all of the dealers knew Stan and called him by his real name. I assumed the reason I didn’t recognize him was that he is usually playing the bigger game. I took seat 9 right next to the dealer. Stan was in seat 5, across from me. Spielberg took seat 7. The guy in seat 8 didn’t look familiar to me either, but it was obvious he was at least a semi-regular in the room. He probably wasn’t familiar with Stan though, for the same reason as me. Anyway, I’m not sure there had been a hand dealt when seat 8 said to Stan, “Have you ever been told how much you look like Stan Lee?”
I cracked up, and immediately said, “Yeah, I thought the exact same thing. Totally.” But Stan denied knowing who Stan Lee was. Seat 8 gave him a brief primer, and said how glad he was that they were finally making movies out of the comic books. I added, “Yeah, and most of them are good. In the old days, the ones they made sucked.”
And then seat 8 turned to the guy next to him, Spielberg, and said, “And this guy looks like Steven Spielberg!” Spielberg just kind of groaned and nodded. “Yeah, I get that all the time. I just wish I had his money.” I said, “Just 1/10th of his money would be more than enough.”
I whispered to seat 8, “I’ve thought that since the first second I laid eyes on him.” He responded, “I guess we’re both revealing our nerd side.” Note: I was reading comics long before it was cool to do so. And now that it is cool, I no longer read them. I was about to ask him if I looked like anyone famous (like Gabe Kaplan, or Costanza), but we got sidetracked. He would have said something if he had noticed though, for sure.
The dynamic of the game was impacted almost immediately by a couple of incredible luck boxes at the table. One was Stan, the other I’ll get to shortly.
Stan opened the first two pots with huge raises, and at least one shove on the flop. But he started showing his hands when he wasn’t called, and he always hit something. If he only had top pair, it was a poor result for him. He’d hit two pair with two crappy cards time and time again. If there was any way he could make a straight, he’d do it. At least once he played two really crappy suited cards (not even close to be connected) and turned a flush. Once he hit two pair with Jack-4 (he had limped in) and said, “Doesn’t everyone play Jack-4?” We were all in agreement that he should play any two cards, they were all like Aces to him.
He would raise big preflop. At first he wasn’t called very often, but then players had to start calling. Frequently then, he’d shove on the flop, always an overshove. Sometimes he would get called by a smaller stack; other times he wouldn’t, but he’d show a good hand. He was kind of surprised himself, saying he couldn’t remember having a run like this.
The shoves were interesting. I think most of the time, he was actually shoving so that players wouldn’t call and loss their chips. Seriously. Although there were other times when he was shoving to prevent a draw from hitting. One of the oddest times I recalled was when there were a bunch of limpers (he did limp quite a bit after all, but very rarely didn’t enter a pot at all). The flop came 9-8-7, rainbow. It checked to him and he said “all-in.” It was an $18 pot and he had by this time around $600 in front of him. No one called and he said, “I had to shove, I had to prevent any draws, I had the bottom end,” and he showed 6-5. So it was an interesting playing style to say the least.
After about 20 minutes, he was called to the 3/5 game. To no one’s surprise, he turned it down, preferring to stay put, where he was catching cards like nobody’s business.
I’d only played a few hands, one was a pocket pair that missed, and I think I raised with Ace-King and whiffed. There were many callers and I folded to a donk bet.
So it was still early in the session when I was dealt two Aces in early position. I had around $260 when the hand started. I opened to $15. That’s actually more than my standard open here ($12) but bigger raises were being called. I probably should have made it $20 or $25. Only 4 players called me. The flop was 10-8-2, two spades (no spade in my hand). I led out for $50. It folded to the button in seat 6. I was very relieved Stan had folded, I would have bet that he had at least two pair or a set or the flush draw. Now set 6 was yet another look-alike. It took me awhile to figure it out but I eventually realized he looked like Prudence’s ex, Tom, if Tom had a beard. So let’s call him Bearded Tom. Bearded Tom took a long time to decide, and then finally called. His stack was pretty close to mine, probably just a few bucks more.
A red 9 hit the turn, and I really wasn’t concerned about filling in a gut-shot. I led out with $100, with maybe $95 left behind. Bearded Tom immediately announced all-in.
Ugh. Well, I knew I might be behind and possibly even drawing dead. But based on the size of the pot and the amount I had left, I couldn’t see folding. I had made that bet of half my stack prepared to get the rest in anyway. With stack-to-pot ratio of just a bit over 3 on the flop, that’s what should happen, right? I called.
The river was a meaningless deuce or something. He showed pocket 9’s for a turned set.
Pocket-freaking-9’s? I said nothing. I rebrought, and just simmered. As soon as I got my chips, I took a break and walked outside. Ugh.
He called $50 on the flop and then hit is god-damned two outer. Yeesh.
So I’ve been trying to figure out if I made any mistakes on the hand Would welcome feedback. The problem is that the pot was so big preflop that I almost had to bet enough to commit me if the turn wasn’t scary. At first, I thought he just made a bad play and got lucky. Well the lucky part is true, but calling me on the flop maybe not so much. I could have just been making a c-bet with an Ace-King type hand. Although with four players, including luckbox Stan in the hand, that seems unlikely.
I know, for this table, I should have raised more pre. But even if I had opened $25, I’m sure that Stan would have called it with any hand that he’d call $15. Bearded Tom almost certainly would have called with 9’s if Stan had called. So even if it was just the three of them, the pot would have been the same, and could have been more.
I think my flop bet is ok….2/3’s the pot? In hindsight, a few bucks more may have gotten a fold, but I think that was a good size bet, no? Maybe a pot-size bet would have discouraged his float there?
I really wasn’t worried about the gut-shot. But should I have checked the turn just to avoid getting it all in? I thought I wanted to get it all in. And if he was on the flush draw, I wanted to charge him.
So any thoughts would be appreciated.
As a result of this hand, Bearded Tom became luckbox number two. He also started catching cards, just like Stan. He rivered a straight flush against Stan, but Stan didn’t call his bet. He flopped a boat. I mean, for awhile there, they were just taking turns hitting flops. The rest of us were basically spectators to the show.
What do you do in a situation where two people are getting hit by the deck like that? I mean, if there are obviously better players than you at the table, you should ask for a table change. But if they’re just lucky, the luck should even out eventually, right?
I figured I’d wait for that to happen. In less than 10-minutes after returning from my cooling off break, I found myself looking at the dreaded pocket Kings in the big blind. OK...An early position player made it $10, and then Stan bumped it to $45. I made it $100, which was too little. It made absolutely no difference as it turned out, but I should have made it more. I guess I was just thinking about how lucky Stan had been, and how it was so likely he’d smash the flop if he didn’t already have pocket Aces. The first guy thought for some time before folding, and then Stan called. I had decided that I would shove over a raise from him and call his shove if he had shoved.
Do I have to tell you that the flop was Ace-high? I don’t remember the other two cards, but neither of them was a King. Before I even had a chance to act, Stan, totally acting out of turn, announced all-in. Well that made it easy for me. There was no way he didn’t have at least an Ace. I checked and folded to his shove. He showed his hand…Ace-King. So I’m rather certain there was no four-bet I could have made that would have gotten him to fold, though I suppose he might have thought twice if I had shoved initially. But that wouldn’t have been the right play.
I guess I got off lucky. My too-small four-bet ended up saving me some money.
I got Kings again not too long after. Stan limped in from early position and it folded back to me. I made it $25. This time, everyone folded including Stan.
I might have won another small pot when I raised with Ace-King after a few limpers and no one called.
My stack had dwindled down to about $120, and I was about finish, time to leave. Actually, a bunch of players, including Stan, announced they were about to leave so the table was likely to break. I called a $6 straddle with pocket 7’s. It was like 6-7 of us seeing the flop, including Stan. The flop was all hearts, something like 10-7-3. Stan led out for $40. It folded to me. Well, if I lose the rest of my chips on a flopped set, so be it. I shoved, sure that Stan would call and hoping he didn’t already have the flush. It folded back to Stan, who had announced that this would be his last hand and had already racked his chips. I was sure he’d call, it wouldn’t have been all that much more and he had had a great day. But he said, “OK, I’ll let you have it.” He showed a 10. So I got some money there, just not that much.
Actually, it was a very friendly table, a lot of laughing (mostly in awe of Bearded Tom and especially Stan) and tons of politically incorrect jokes (so extreme I can’t relate them here). At one point, Stan asked a dealer if he had seen the Asian lady he was playing with the day before. He had not. He said, “She had tits that wouldn’t quit.” Who wants tits that quit? He claimed that he told her that he couldn’t play at her table, she was too distracting. I think there was more to the story, but he got distracted by another flop he had just smashed and never finished.