For the third straight time, I’m doing a multi-part post. I guess I can get a little long-winded. Why hasn’t anyone every told me this? I expect to get this done in two parts.
Since I just reported on what I did for the Labor Day weekend here in L.A., I thought this would be a good time to tell you about what I did on the 4th of July in Vegas. Because that’s how I roll.
My Vegas trip was coming to a close. The 4th was on a Monday and I was going to be heading back home on Wednesday. So just two days of poker in Vegas left.
Honestly, I would have loved to have played a tournament on the 4th. In theory, all of the summer series should have still been going on, as the main event over at the WSOP was still a few days from starting. But in fact, there was nothing available. A few of the series had already ended (Including the one at the Golden Nugget), and the others had their big ticket tournaments, or their main events, going. All out of my price range.
I suppose I could have just worked during the day and played cash in the evening, but no. It seemed un-American to me to work on the 4th of July. What better way to honor this nation’s birth than by playing the all-American game of poker?
I did write a blog post before heading out, so it was late afternoon when I finally found myself in a poker room. I ended up heading over to MGM. I hadn’t really played there much this trip, certainly not nearly as much as I usually do. I figured by getting there in the afternoon, maybe I could see some of my daytime dealer pals that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
It wasn’t really my plan going in, but it turned out this session was all about the MGM promo they had running at the time, so I better explain it.
Recall that at the beginning of the year, MGM got rid of all their old promos (cash drawings, football promo, and the freeroll). The promo that replaced them all in January was one I really, really liked, and it proved very popular. In fact it was so popular they were actually giving away too much money. You can read about that promo here. Basically you had to make five different types of hands and when you got all five, you won $100.
After just a week or two, they were giving out so much that they had to make it tougher to fill out a card. So the pot had to be $40 instead of $20 to qualify, and you had to use both cards in your hand to get that hand stamped instead of just one card.
That promo lasted through February, and as I mentioned here, they went back to a variation of the drawings in March. Somewhere along the way they brought the freeroll back and tied it into the drawings. They might have had something else in between that I’m forgetting, but by the time I got back to Vegas in late June, the “Poker Parlay” cards had returned, and it tied into the freeroll.
They made the parlay card a bit tougher to complete than when they had it going early in the year. You now needed six hands to complete a card (thus they could no longer call it the “Drive for five.”). They added a second flush. You had to make both a black flush and a red flush. Also, when I got to town, the full house had to be 10’s full or better or it didn’t count. Yeah that made it a bit tougher, for sure. I mean, it’s hard enough to get any full house, right? In fact, the first time I played the new promo in June, I got a “small” full house, presented my card for a stamp, and was informed by my dealer pal to “read the fine print.” Yep, deuces full of 7’s (or whatever it was) just wasn’t good enough! The other hands you needed, by the way, were two pair, three of a kind, and a straight, to go along with a black flush, a red flush and a 10’s full or better boat.
I didn’t get more than two stamps on that first card I had, but that was at the end of that period. Since the parlay card promo tied in with the freeroll, and the freeroll took place once every two weeks, the parlay cards were only good for two weeks. You had two weeks to fill out a card, and if the period expired with you only having five of the six stamps needed, you were out of luck.
I believe I had only played once at MGM after getting a new card for the new two-week period when I arrived there on July 4th. I had my totally blank card with me. Since I was only playing in Vegas two more days, it sure didn’t look good for me to fill out a card and get a hundred bucks before heading home. My card would expire long before I set foot in Vegas again. And that promo was once again discontinued shortly after I returned home anyway. Although there’s a version of it that ties in with the NFL games, along with some other promos they have going, but honestly, it’s a bit complicated for me to keep track of.
The one improvement they made with the second card I got (the one that was valid for the session I’m writing about now) is that they made it so that any full house qualified. So yes, a crappy deuces full of three’s boat would get you a stamp. Phew. Nice to know such a puny hand is worth something, right?
I didn’t really go to MGM with the expectation of completing a card, but I did at least consider it a possibility. I was thinking, if I could get four stamps in a long session, maybe it would be worthwhile to return then next night and play my last session there to try to complete it. But I wasn’t really counting on it.
I got into a 1/2 game, late afternoon. I may have won a small pot early, but I was down to about $175 or so from my $200 buy-in when, pretty early in the session, I looked down at—stop me if you’ve heard this before—the dreaded pocket Kings. I was under-the-gun and made it $8. There were a couple of callers and then a guy made it $30, and it folded back to me.
This guy was a pretty loose player. I remembered a hand earlier where he had played pocket Queens very aggressively. He three-bet with them and shoved a big stack on a low flop with two hearts on it (he didn’t have a heart). So I knew his three-betting range was probably wider than it is for most 1/2 players. I did what I always do in that situation. I re-raised. I made it $90.
The other players folded and the guy who had three-bet me went into the tank. So I figured he didn’t have Aces. Finally he called. We saw a total nightmare flop, Ace-Queen-x, two hearts. Both of my Kings were red. I checked.
He almost immediately announced “all-in.” His stack was roughly the same as mine. What to do, what to do?
It seems so obvious that “fold” is the correct answer, doesn’t it? I mean that flop is right in the fat part of his range. And I’ve got Kings. Shouldn’t I fold them routinely any time I don’t flop quads with them?
But I looked at my remaining chips. I had less than $90. In other words, I had put over half my stack in the pot already. Didn’t that make me pot committed? Haven’t I read a dozen poker books telling me that?
Plus I did have the back door flush draw. With more than half my chips already in the pot, was that enough? Probably not, but for some reason, I thought so at the time. I called.
We didn’t show. The turn was a heart. Nice. But the river was a brick. He showed his hand….pocket Queens. I was a bit surprised. I expected Ace-King, maybe Ace-Queen. Whatever, those would have beaten me too. The dealer counted the stacks and I had about $6 left over. Awesome. I rebought $200, and then took a walk to clear my head.
After a good walk, I sat by a slot machine and wrote down the hand. I thought about it. It was a bad call, regardless of half my stack already being in the pot. It was, right?
Then I started wondering about his play. Was his shove there a good move? I mean, although I hadn’t been there long, he had to figure I’m (normally) a pretty tight player. How many hands am I four-betting with? Aces and Kings, right? And that’s assuming I’m four-betting Kings. Plenty of players would have just called his $30 with Kings. I’ve seen it many, many times.
If I did have a set of Aces, I very well might have checked to induce a bet. So when he shoves there, isn’t there at least a 50/50 chance I’ve got him crushed? Do you like his play?
On the other hand, he’s never folding his set of Queens, and he wants to protect against a flush (maybe, just maybe, I have Ace-King of hearts). So perhaps his play is correct.
It’s my play that sucks.
When I got back to the table after trying to clear my head, a new dealer was pushing in. It was Michelle, the dealer who “never pushes me a pot.” That’s a bit between us going back years, as I’ve mentioned many times before. But I haven’t discussed Michelle lately because she switched to day shift, thus I rarely see her anymore. I had just missed the big blind, so she asked me if I wanted to buy the button. For reasons that are unclear to me now, and probably were then, I said yes. Actually what I said was, “Sure, why not? You’re my lucky dealer.” She chuckled and said, “Yes…starting now.”
A few hands later I raised to $10 with pocket Jacks. The flop was 10-6-6, I bet $20 and got one call. The turn was a 10 and it went check check. The river was a 5 and I folded to his $35 bet. He showed 6-5.
I raised to $8 with Ace-6 of spades. Three of us saw an Ace-high flop. I bet $15 and took it, proving I could drag a pot with Michelle dealing.
Now, there was this really young kid at the table, and his wife was sitting behind him. Somehow I learned that they had just gotten married. And they both looked too young to be in a casino. I’m sure they couldn’t walk anywhere inside for more than five minutes without getting carded.
And boy, were they in love. How do I know? Because of the public display of affection they were treating us all to whenever he wasn’t in a hand. Now you know how you might see a couple out in public and they just can’t keep their hands off each other? And it is so obvious they both really want to go at it but can’t because they’d get arrested? And you just want to yell at them, “Get a room!”
This wasn’t like that. It wasn’t the “super-horny” couple scenario. No, this was the “No two people have ever been this much in love” scenario. They were just giving each other tender, romantic, soulful kisses whenever they got the chance. But really passionate. And when they separated, they would gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. I dunno if I am describing it properly. I am pretty sure they were whispering to each other how much they loved each other before and after each kiss.
Anyway, he announced they were taking off. I have a pretty good guess what they were planning to do next. I think he had said the last hand was his last hand, but he got dealt another hand and decided to play “one more.” He raised to $10. I had Ace-King and called. We were heads up.
The flop was King-7-7. He bet $20 and I called. The turn was a blank; he bet $45 and I called. The river was an Ace and he checked. I bet $60 and he tanked. But eventually, he called. I showed my hand, he just mucked in disgust. He said, “Man, I guess I should have left already.” The player next to him said, “Yes, whenever you say you’re gonna leave, leave.”
It was not only a nice pot, but it got me my first stamp on my parlay card (for two pair, the easiest to get). Hey kid, you know what they say, right? Lucky in love, unlucky in cards. Or do I have that backwards?
Just a few hands later I had Ace-10 in the big blind. There were a bunch of limpers, no raise. The flop came Queen-Jack-4, rainbow. No one bet. The turn was a King, giving me Broadway. Since it was a limped pot, I led out for just $5 and had 3 callers. The river was 9. No flush was possible, I had the stone-cold nuts. I bet $20 and got one call, fortunately. The caller didn’t show his hand when I tabled mine. The call put the pot over $40 and thus I got a stamp on my card for a straight; if he hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have gotten the stamp. Now, if I had been playing for the stamp, I would have bet smaller. A $10 bet would have put the pot over $40 if he called. But I wasn’t playing for stamps at the time.
The very next hand, in the small blind, I completed with Ace-8 of hearts. Seven of us saw the flop, which had two spades, one heart, and an 8. I called $15 and there were now just two of us. A second heart hit the turn and I called $20. A third heart hit the river, completing my back-door flush. I wasn’t sure if I should bet or hope he would keep firing so I could raise. I decided to bet and put out $30. He called, but said nothing and didn’t show when I showed the flush. I not only took down the pot, I got another stamp on my card, this time for the red flush.
It was rather amazing. I had been playing for a considerable amount of time and hadn’t come close to getting a stamp, and suddenly I earned three within a matter of minutes. The last two on consecutive hands. One of my neighbors said, “You’re filling up that card of all of sudden, huh.” Indeed I was.
I had actually planned on taking my dinner break, but I decided to play a little longer to see if my rush continued. I wanted to stay at least until this dealer was pushed out (this was many dealers after Michelle, in case you’re wondering).
But the rush was over and I was ready to get some food. Remarkably, I had worked that second $200 buy-in up to $430, so even with the disaster with the Kings, I was up $30 for the day.