Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. It's been some time since I've given you a "real" blog post, I know. Last time it was just a reprint of my latest Ante Up column, and the one before that was a totally off-topic rant about the NBA playoffs. But you know, I've been in Vegas for well over a week now, and I've been busy, busy, busy. The good news is that there's plenty to write about, the bad news is that if I take the time to write up the stories, I can’t get more stories to write about.
So let's see how fast I can knock out this story about a fun time at the MGM poker room Saturday night.
I was assigned to a table right along the rail leading out into the casino. I already mentioned it was a Saturday night so you know why that was a pretty good table to be assigned (in case you don't, well the club is open Saturday night, got it?). It took me all of half a nano-second to notice that there was a very attractive young woman sitting at seat 5 of this table, directly across from the dealer. In addition to a pretty face, it was clear, even while she was sitting in her chair with a table in front of her, that she had a very nice figure, to say the least.
I like having women at the poker table with me, and that has nothing to do with how they play. I make no great assumptions about female poker players. I know there's a stereotype that they play less aggressively than the typical male poker player, and while that might be somewhat true, I've seen enough exceptions so that I know I can't rely on that. I like them because female poker players tend to look better, and smell better, than their male counterparts. Also, female poker players are a great source of "woman saids," and I'm always looking for those, as you all well know.
Originally I was stuck in seat 3, which was bad for a couple of reasons. I don't see well from there; it's hard for me to see the action on the other side of the table. The other problem was it was very close to one of the chairs on the table behind me, meaning staying there meant getting bumped into every few minutes, something that annoys the hell out of me. So as I soon as I noticed the seat next to the young lady, seat 6, was available, I moved there.
But not long after that, I noticed seat 9 was available. Seat 9 is directly next to the dealer. It also has the best view of the folks walking through the casino on the way to the club. So of course you understand why this would be my preferred seat. I grabbed that seat as soon as I could. When I got up to leave, the woman in seat 5 said to me, "What's wrong, do I smell bad?" I laughed and assured her that was not the case. Another player wanted to know why I kept moving seats. I said, "I just want to keep moving so I can play the blinds more often." He laughed and said, "OK, whatever works for you."
I never really got anywhere with the poker. But the dynamics at the table were interesting. The fellow in seat 3 started peppering the woman in seat 5 with questions. It was clear that the woman had pricked his interest. Thus I soon learned the lady's name was Anna and she was from Brooklyn, NY. I also learned her age, but as a gentleman, I won’t reveal that. Yes, Anna is her real name, and it will soon be obvious why I am not giving her a blog pseudonym. I commented that she didn't sound like she was from Brooklyn, no hint of a New York or Brooklyn accent. She just shrugged. She then said she now lives in New Jersey, which she prefers to Brooklyn because it isn't so crowded…and it was pretty, there are flowers and trees there. It was there that I no doubt impressed her with my vast knowledge of the states by saying, "Yes, it's the 'garden state.'"
The guy in seat 3, who was hitting on Anna, said he would never, ever live in New York. He said he was from Los Angeles, and Anna returned fire by saying she couldn't see herself ever living in L.A. I didn't take offense at this, nor did I admit to being an Angelino myself. I felt that seat 3 was being so annoying to her that he deserved this comment whether it was true or not. He was not representing L.A. well. Then he claimed that he now lived in Tennessee, which is probably an embarrassment to the Volunteer State.
From seat 3's third degree, we learned that Anna is a dog lover (she did indeed show us a pic of her dog) and that her passion was poker. This surprised me a bit. I hadn’t been there long, but since I had been there, except when she was responding to questions from seat 3, she seemed a lot more interested in whatever she was reading/watching/listening to on her cell phone than the poker and had not played very many hands at all. My assumption was she was just a recreational player, not even a very frequent one, just killing time playing 1/2 while waiting to do something more interesting. I had noticed what appeared to be a Twitter screen on her phone in the brief time I was sitting next to her.
Seat 3 wanted to know what her passion was after poker, and she said handball. I have to admit, I never heard that one before.
At one point Anna asked how long she could be away from the table. Told it was an hour, she nodded and said, "Oh, are you gonna take an hour break? We'd miss you." She said she wouldn't take a long break, but…..
Although she was talking a lot more with seat 3, I don't recall her ever asking him what his name was. She did, however, ask me my name, which was nice.
The other big discussion was on politics. I will leave that entire discussion out of this post because, as you know, I don't like to discuss politics on the blog. But it appeared there was a lot of agreement between seat 3 and Anna on the world situation. Fortunately, no one spoke up to disagree with their world view, which was a relief to me, because that could have gotten unpleasant. But at one point seat 3 said, "I bet we've offended a few people at this table. Sorry."
Anna handled this character's inquisition with charm and class. She was, in fact a pleasure to play with the whole evening.
Anna handled this character's inquisition with charm and class. She was, in fact a pleasure to play with the whole evening.
Seat 3 won a big pot, to add to his big stack, and then racked up and left. The conversation quieted down after that. The guy who replaced him looked familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place him. To me, he looked like an English or Economics professor, don't know why. But I knew I'd seen him before, I just assumed that I'd seem in a poker room or two around town. He didn’t say much, at least that I could hear, since we were on opposite sides of the table. The previous guy in seat 3 could be heard from a few tables over, I'm sure.
Two guys took seats 7 and 8 next to me, who were together, either friends or brothers. They looked kind of similar, both had shaved heads, so maybe brothers. The guy on my immediate right obviously fancied himself a great poker player and was somewhat coaching the other guy, telling him all the time why he did something, and how great a play it was. "Did you see that? That was expert play there." I heard him say that a number of times.
I also heard them whispering a bit about "the girl"—I assumed they meant Anna, but couldn't really make anything out more than that.
I'll only mention a couple of poker hands before getting to the payoff for this post. I called a $7 raise from the big blind with Ace-8 off, and three of us saw the flop, including the "expert" to my right who was the small blind. The flop came Ace-8-x. The expert checked, and I checked, expecting the preflop raiser to c-bet so I could check-raise him. Indeed, he bet $7. To my surprise, the small blind made it $15. WTF? Now I didn't know what to do, had he flopped a set? I was caught off guard so I just called, as did the preflop raiser. The turn was an innocuous looking 9, and to my surprise, the small blind checked again, as did I. Preflop raiser bet $25, and the small blind….folded. Huh? Totally lost and confused, I just called. I checked a blank river and called another $25. When the guy turned over Ace-9, I was livid. What the hell was the guy doing check-raising the flop and then folding on a nothing looking turn? I felt he ruined the hand for me. I would have checked-raised a lot more than $15. But after I had a chance to calm down, I realized the preflop raiser probably was not going to fold top pair on the flop no matter what, so it wasn't as bad as I thought. And then Mr. Expert said to me, "I screwed that up. I had pocket Jacks and was trying to get all his chips. I should have just raised preflop." Yeah, that would have saved me some money. Thanks, guy.
I raised to $10 with Jack-10 of hearts, and two players called, including Anna. The flop came Queen-10-x, two spades. I bet $15 and Anna shoved. I said, "Really Anna?" It was around $70, but she had played so few hands that I assumed she had a monster. I folded. After she took in the pot, she said, "I had a pair and a flush draw." Hmm….
The last hand of the night I noted was when I had the dreaded pocket Kings. Four people had limped in so I made it $16. No one called, and a few people questioned why I raised so big. Apparently they hadn't noticed that there were so many limpers.
Anyway, Anna finally took a long, long break. She was gone well over a half an hour. I heard the two guys on my right mentioning "the girl" and her being away so long, and wondering if/when she would return. And then finally, the guy on my right nudged me and showed me a picture on his cell phone. "This is the girl in seat 5."
Man, oh man, I saw a strong resemblance, but I had no idea. He told me who she was. "She was on Survivor. She's a professional poker player, and a professional handball player." I saw her name, Anna Khait. I immediately started Googling her. Since I'd seen her on Twitter I quickly found her Twitter account, read up on her and sure enough everything checked out. There were other pics that looked exactly like the Anna in seat 5. She was indeed a pro (or semi-pro) poker player based now in Jersey. Funny, when she had mentioned living in NJ I commented that she could play on WSOP.com there and she acknowledged that she did. I almost asked her handle then and if I had, maybe I would have found out who she was then.
Sorry I didn’t recognize her. But I confess, I've never watched one second of Survivor. And I just don't follow professional poker much. It's not my beat, I don't cover the professional game for Ante Up, I follow the scene for the recreational players. Often when people mention a name of a pro I should know, I just nod and try to remember the name so I can look them up later.
Anyway, the guy said he had indeed recognized her (I think it was from poker, not Survivor) and he didn't want to "out" her. But he was obviously bursting with his secret and finally he shared it with the rest of the table while she was gone. I have no idea if anyone else knew who she was before that. But I honestly don't think she was trying to keep her identity a secret, for what it's worth.
When she finally returned from her dinner, no one said anything about it. It was like our little secret. But I knew what to do. I figured I would tell her privately that I finally knew who she was. I'd used Twitter to do this with other people before...tweeted to someone, "I'm the guy in seat 4!" So I sent her a tweet that said, "don't feel obligated to say anything, but I'm the 'Rob' in seat 9. Nice to meet you!" She had her phone down for awhile but when she looked at it finally, she looked up at me and gave a nice little smile. Then she tweeted back, "you're so sweet. Fun playing with u."
When I realized she was a pro, I was really surprised she was playing so tight. I would have expected a pro playing 1/2 to be playing a much more LAG style. I guess she was card dead, or maybe that's the way she plays, or perhaps she was working on certain aspects of her game Or maybe I don’t know what I'm talking about. There's always that possibility.
I finally gave up the game and said goodbye to the lovely Anna Khait. She was total delight the entire night.
And here's a picture of her I found that looks a little more like she looked when I met her Saturday night.
There's a punch line to this story. The next day I got a private tweet from "KKing David Bass" asking me if I had been playing with Anna at MGM too. This was in response to a tweet I sent out the next day saying how much fun I had playing with her. He said he had been in seat 3 at her table. All I could remember about seat three by then was the Tennessee guy who had been quizzing Anna. So I looked up to see if he had a Twitter pic. Holy cow! It was the guy who I felt had looked like a professor, who I thought looked familiar. I was right. Only I had recognized David from his Twitter pic, which I had see many times before, since we follow each other (and read each other's blogs). You should check out his blog here. What a nice coincidence. But David, since you put the title "KKing" in front of your name, and use two "K's" to indicate pocket Kings, I would suggest you change your name from "David" to "Dreaded." Just sayin'.
Finally, a note about this post's title. I'm sure you've noticed I sometimes use take-offs on books, movies and TV shows for titles, sometimes copying them outright. I thought I'd do something with "Anna" and recalled that the novel that the Broadway musical and movie "The King and I" came from was called (or so I thought) "Anna and the King." Wow, that's perfect, what with my thing with pocket Kings and then KKing David working his way into the story. The trouble is, I checked, and the actual title of the novel is "Anna and the King of Siam," and I can't figure a way to work "Siam" into the title. So I guess it's more of a miss, but I still like the title.