Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

And I suppose the title of this post really should be, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Out of the Forum.”
But I wanted the title to match the musical I’m paying homage to exactly.  You know that musical, don’t you?  It’s the one that opens with the following: 

But before I get to the story from whence the title came, I have to discuss a little poker first.

For this evening’s session, I decided to return Caesars Palace another shot.  I failed to mention that the story I told here took place at Caesars.  It wasn’t the bad beat that made me hesitant to return to Caesar—that could happen anywhere (and usually does). The reason I almost didn’t return was because of the temperature in the room that night was unbearably cold (as I’ve mentioned, this was a running theme during this trip—poker rooms almost as cold as the outside temperature).  When I told my pal Don of the issue of the temperature, he told me that the back of the room is particularly bad and that the tables closer to the front are usually much more comfortable.  My table was in the very back, of course, and my seat was as far away from the front as you could get.

So I went back there in hopes of getting assigned or reassigned a table where it wasn’t freezing.  I arrived and was taken to a table right away.  They took me right past a table with an empty seat in the very front.  I asked if I could play at that one and they said no, a player from another table was moving there.  So instead, they took me to the exact same table I had played at a week earlier, the freezing one.  Worse, the open seat was the same one I had then, too.

Well, I would have asked for a table change immediately but it turned out that a player was leaving in a middle seat, so not quite so far in the back of the room as the other one.  I took that seat instead, and figured if the temperature wasn’t more to my liking, I’d ask for a change.

And in fact, for the first half hour or so, the weather at my table was pleasant enough.  And then, there was the poker….

One of the first hands I hand was pocket deuces.  There was no raise, and in fact no betting at all.  The flop was all face cards, more highish cards on the turn and river, no one took a stab at it, and my deuces were good.  It was an $8 pot, but that sure as hell beats hitting a set with those deuces and losing your stack.

I limped in with pocket 6’s and then it was raised to $12.  Another player called the $12, my call would close the action so I called. The flop was King-8-6, two spades.  Remembering what happened the last time I caught a set in this room, and seeing those two spades, I decided to make a donk bet, I put out $25. The other reason for the bet was that I hadn’t been at the table very long, and hadn’t see the preflop raiser raise before, so I really had no strong feeling that he would c-bet and give me the opportunity to go for a check raise. The preflop raiser folded, but the other player called.

The turn card was the 6 of spades, not a bad card for me.  This time I checked my quads and hoped that maybe the other player caught his flush.  But he checked behind.  The river was a blank.  It looked like the other player had about $40-$45 left, so I bet $35.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you’re more likely to get called if you don’t say “all-in” when you don’t have to.  He immediately announced all-in, and I announced call and turned over my quads.  He was showing the flush.  Lucky for him he didn’t have more chips.

The very next hand I had Ace-King offsuit in the big blind.  There were a bunch of limpers so I added $15 to my buck and had one caller.  The flop was Jack-10-4 and my $25 c-bet took it.

Not too long later I called $12 with 6-5 of diamonds in late position.  I was hoping a few of the early limpers would call but they didn’t and we were heads up.  The flop was 8-7-7 rainbow.  I called $20.  The turn was a 9, giving me the straight (but the “ass” end of it, as I’ve recently started hearing it referred to).  I called $40. The river was another 8.  Yikes. Having a straight on a double paired board didn’t really thrill me.  He put out $40 again and I went into the tank.

The reason I hadn’t raised the turn was because my straight was the bottom end and the board was paired.  Now it was double paired.  It pretty easy to believe he had a boat there.  But I dunno, I guess I just had a feeling that maybe he didn’t.  So I made the hero call.  I was pretty surprised, pleasantly so, to see him turn over King-9 there. That was a nice pot to drag.

I had Queen-Jack of hearts in the big blind, no raise.  The flop was Queen-high, one heart, I called $20, heads up.  There was no more betting and my Queen was good.

I was up $235 but I had a dilemma.  It was no longer comfortable at my table.  It was freezing again, every bit as cold as the last time I’d played there.  I couldn’t stay there and that was frustrating because obviously I was running well.  I’d doubled up in less than 90 minutes. If poker was the only consideration, I’d have never considered leaving, but I was at the point where the cold was so bad I couldn’t really concentrate on the game anymore.

Of course, I could have asked for a table change in the hopes of finding a warmer spot.  But here I became kind of superstitious (hard to believe for a poker player, I know).  I don’t like changing seats when I’m running well, and I certainly don’t like changing tables when I’m running well.  While I was wrestling with that, another problem presented itself.  The table got short, and there were no players to replace the players who left.  We were down to 6 at one point.  And I realized that even if I wanted to change tables, it would be a good while before they could move me because they would want to fill up this table first.  Either that or I could hang on and see if maybe they would break the table.

But I really didn’t think I could wait. It was just too unpleasant where I was sitting.  So I felt I had no choice but to leave the poker room, even though it was too early to quit for the night.  Now, there are any number of other poker rooms near Caesars of course.  However, this brings me to the other issue of the night—my back.  Actually, my back had felt real good all day, as good as it had been since I got to town.  Then I drove to Caesars, parked a million miles away from the casino, and by the time I walked to the poker room, it was aching pretty good.  If I walked to my car and headed to almost any poker room on the strip, that would still be a lot of walking.

So I started wondering if I could make it on foot to any nearby room.  The trouble was that it was really cold outside, which would ordinarily encourage me to walk briskly when I was outside.  But my back only allowed me to walk slowly.  I was trying to figure out if I thought I could make it across the street to the Linq.

Then I had another idea.  Just up the Strip from Caesars is Mirage, And you know, when I’m feeling ok, I’ve been known to park at the Mirage and walk to Caesars (because I hate the Caesars parking structure).  If you exit Caesars from the northern most exit/entrance, you are actually only a few yards or so from the southern most entrance of Mirage.

The trouble is that at the northern most end of Caesars is something called “The Forum Shops at Caesars.”  It is their big shopping plaza.  So the closest entrance/exit to Mirage from Caesars is thru the Forum Shops.

I’ve walked through the Forum Shops many times over the years.  And every time I do, I come out of there with but one phrase going through my mind.  “Never again.”  If I ever meet the architect/designer of this place, I will punch him in the face as hard as I can.  If you’re familiar with it you no doubt know what I mean, and if you’ve never been there, there’s no way I could accurately describe it for you (and also, consider yourself lucky).

The place is a maze, and it is designed to make you walk as much as possible to get thru it.  I swear, Magellan couldn’t find his way through it.  When I enter it from the Strip, I always get lost trying to find the casino, reaching a dead end instead. Also, you have to go up one or two levels from the street (I never remember which) just to get to the level that actually has most of the shops and that goes to the casino.  On top of that, the escalators are super slow and semi circular so it takes forever to go up or down a level….and then they are spaced so you have to do the maximum amount of walking from wherever you happen to be to get to them.  There’s a point where are literally two feet from the bottom of the escalator and you can’t get there because of some barricade blocking you and you have to basically walk a city block to get on the damn thing, all in a big, useless circle.

So why would I even consider going thru the shops to get to the Mirage on this night?  I mean, aside from the fact that I’m stupid?Well, I usually get lost coming in from the Strip and heading to the poker room.  This time I was doing it in reverse.  I figured it would be much easier to find the Strip from the casino than it is to find the casino from the Strip.

I wasn’t sure how much—if any—walking I’d save if I went thru the shops.  But the important point was that it would be warm walking thru there, so I could walk slowly.  The key though to making it work was to not waste any steps—in other words, not get lost.

Thus, I cashed out and proceeded to the shops.  I kept looking for the fork that I knew I had to correctly navigate in order to take the direct route.  And then….somehow, as much as I was looking for it, I totally missed it.  Suddenly, after seemingly walking forever, I was at a freaking dead end, and had to double back.  The scream I let out was likely heard at the In-N-Out Burger.  Not the one on Tropicana.  The one in Barstow.

Note: Yes there are one or two giant maps in the place you can look at, but because the place is so weirdly laid out, I found them totally useless.  I was so mad, and by this time my back in so much discomfort, that I almost gave up and figured I’d just get back to my car and call it a night.  But as I was retracing my steps, I realized what I had done wrong.  There was a restaurant jutting out that, from the angle I approached it originally, looked like it didn’t have a way around it.  It turned out that if I noticed I could make a right there, I would have found the exit to the Strip.  Grrr.  I decided to make my way to the Mirage as planned.

By the time I got near the exit, and had to take those stupid, slow moving escalators, I was pretty enraged, and then as I said, I had to take a long walk around to get to the front (hard to explain, but if you’re familiar with the place you know).  I escaped, took a few more steps, and entered the Mirage.

By the time I got to the poker room there, I was in bad shape.  My back hurt and I was actually sweating (because I was wearing a heavy jacket inside the Forum shops).  And I was dying of thirst.  I had to wait a good 20-minutes to get seated.  By then, I was not really in the best frame of mind to play poker.

I don’t think that was the reason I lost my $200 buy-in in relatively quick fashion, however.  It was mostly that I was getting bad cards, and a few second best hands.  Nothing noteworthy enough to mention here.  It wasn’t pretty though.  When I was done, I still had a small profit for the night.  But now I had to head back to Caesars.  I was sure this time I would be able to find my way back to the casino from the shops.  I was 100% positive.

And then when I got to the Forum entrance, it was freaking closed for the nite!  My luck had sucked since the first hour of poker. I had to make my way back into Caesars the “long way” in the cold.  Grr.  Somehow I made it.  I think I sat by a slot machine to catch my breath before heading to my car—which was parked a long way from the casino. 

I made it somehow, wondering how such a night that started so well ended up like shit.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"You're A Grumpy Old Man"

Sadly, getting into it with assholes is a rather regular feature of this blog.  And so, on Christmas night, of all nights, I ran into another asshole and here is that story.

Said asshole was from Chicago, and he mentioned that repeatedly.  He also mentioned that he usually plays 5/10 back home, but was only playing 1/2 there in Vegas to kill time while his buddy was playing roulette.  He was middle-aged, bald, and had a vague European accent.  He was a very active player.  Played a lot of hands, raised preflop or called preflop raises a lot more often than the average player. 

He was in seat 5.  In seat 6 was a guy from North Carolina.  NC and Chicago had obviously just met at the table sometime before I arrived and had become instant buddies.  NC had a similar style to Chicago and they liked playing with and at each other.  I think if they could have made the game heads up with just the two of them, they would have jumped at the chance.  If one of them was in the pot, the other one would generally be there too.

One time, after Chicago made a bet, NC announced raise and was trying to figure out how much to raise to.  It was a multi-way pot. So Chicago said to him, “Raise to X….I’ll call that.”  Well that of course was totally inappropriate in a mult-way pot (and in some rooms, even in a heads up pot).  The dealer sadly sad nothing, but Seat 1, who was in the hand, said to Chicago, “You can’t say that.”

Chicago begged to differ.  “Well, I just said it, so I guess I can.”  Seat 1 shot back, “Well, you can’t say that, it’s not right.” Chicago responded, “Well, obviously I can say it, I proved you wrong. Be quiet.”  At this point the dealer said something, not sure what, but I guess there was a mild warning about “one player to a hand.”  Meanwhile North Carolina started to say something to Seat 1 about minding his own business, he seemed even more agitated than Chicago.  Well of course, since Seat 1 had a hand, it definitely was his business.  Anyway, at this point Chicago said to North Carolina, “Let it go, it’s ok,” and the hand went on.

I mentioned that story to kind of paint a picture of Chicago.  The other thing you need to know was that the cash drawings promo I’ve mentioned a thousand times were still going on during this time.  Fill out a ticket for the drawing every time you get a flush or better, remember?  You didn’t have to win the pot to get the ticket, but your hand must have been live. You couldn’t fold to a bet and still get a ticket. 

Well there was a hand where this came up.  Seat 1, Chicago and one other guy were all in the hand at the river.  The other guy made a bet on a board with 4 hearts on it.  Seat 1 folded.  Chicago folded too, but he turned over one of his cards—the 9 of hearts, I believe.  The guy who bet took the pot, but he also showed his hand so he would get a drawing ticket.  He had the Ace of hearts for the nut flush.  All fairly routine.

Except that Chicago said, “Well I get a ticket too.”  And the dealer, to my shock, gave him a ticket to fill out.

I should mention this dealer was one of the new dealers that they had hired during the summer, and I hadn’t seen her very much since the summer.  I couldn’t believe this dealer gave him a ticket when he hadn’t called the river bet.

I was about to speak up when Seat 1 beat me to it.  “I had a flush too.”   Chicago said, “Well, you don’t show.  I showed, so I get a ticket.”  Seat 1 said, “No, you have to call to get the ticket, showing doesn’t matter, you have to call to get a ticket.”  Chicago said, “No, I showed, I get a ticket.”

The dealer kind of sat there like a deer in the headlights.  I was amazed this dealer didn’t know the rule.  It’s been that way since they started the promo a year or two ago.  The dealer wasn’t new to the room.  What the hell was going on?

I was sitting in seat 9 directly to the dealer’s right.  So I said to her, “He doesn’t get a ticket because he didn’t call.  You know that.  He’s gotta call to get the ticket.”

The dealer kind of went, “ummm…ummmmm…..let me call the floor.”  Wow, this dealer was really that clueless?  Ok then. Meanwhile, Chicago addressed me and said, “No, you get a ticket, you just have to show.”  The dealer had turned the light on for the floor and all I said was, “That’s not the rule.”  Chicago said to me, “What do you care?”  I said, “Well, the rule is the rule.” 

Before I could say anything else, Seat 1 came to my defense, “Maybe he’s got tickets in there, and your getting a ticket you don’t deserve reduces his chances of getting picked. It’s not fair.”  Well, good logic, but at the time, I didn’t have a single ticket in the drum. I said, “Do you know how many times I didn’t get a ticket when I had a flush and folded?” 

By this time Chicago had returned his completed ticket to the dealer, who put it off to the side while waiting for the floor to show up.  In the meantime, we continued to the next hand.  It was a busy night and it took a while for the shift manager to show up, but eventually he did.  After the dealer explained the issue, I was expecting him to express either surprise or displeasure (or both) at his dealer for not knowing this basic rule, but he did not.  But of course he explained to both the dealer and Chicago that he doesn’t get a ticket because his hand wasn’t live at the end, just as I had said.

To his credit, Chicago took the news well, he even shook the shift manager’s hand and thanked him. The dealer ripped up the ticket and gave it to the shift manager, who moved on to his next crisis. 

That should have been the end of it, but as soon as the shift manager was out of sight, Chicago looked at me and said, “Is your heart pounding?”  Huh? I said, “What?”  He said, “Was your heart pounding?”  I shrugged and said, “I’m fine.”

Then he asked, “Do you live alone?”  WTF?  I let out a laugh and didn’t answer.  So he continued, “Yeah you live alone.  You’re just a grumpy old man….and you live alone…you’re a grumpy old man.”  Yeesh.

I was not pleased.  But I didn’t say anything and I kept my cool.  I kind of looked at the dealer to see if she would say anything.  Dealers are not supposed to let players insult other players like that.  But she was silent.

Hmm….I considered asking to call the floor back and telling him what the guy said.  And then also complain about the dealer, who not only didn’t know the promo rules, but didn’t know she should warn the jerk not to insult other players.  But I resisted the temptation.  It was after all Christmas night, and I didn’t really want to get anyone fired on Christmas.

At that point, I knew I would never feel comfortable with Chicago at the table.  So after a few hands I got up and requested a table change.  In the meantime, since I was quite pissed at the dealer, I vowed to myself that if I ever won a pot that she dealt, her tip would be non-existent. But she never pushed me a pot—not that night, or the rest of my trip.

There was also another reason for the table change.  I was thinking of it anyway because of the temperature at the table.  It was very cold there, uncomfortably so.  I had resisted moving because I thought with Chicago and NC putting chips in play, it was actually a table I could have made some money at.  But now there was just too much discomfort there. 

Unfortunately, the table I moved to was extremely tight.  It’s unfortunate when non-poker related reasons influence table selection.  At the new table, the temperature was acceptable. And so rather than risk moving to a game where it would be freezing, I stayed there the rest of the night at a crappy table.

All because the dealer didn’t know the rules.  I suppose that Chicago being the dick that he was, we might have eventually gotten into it over something else if it hadn’t been the promo.

I dropped about $100 at the first table mostly on a nut flush draw that didn’t hit.  Nothing much happened at the second table.  It was a losing night at poker and all I got out of it was aggravation and unpleasant story to tell.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vegas Poker Scene (February Ante Up Column)

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.  The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room soon.

MGM GRAND: The poker room introduced a new promotion to start the year. Replacing all previous promos, it’s called Drive for Five. Players receive a card to use at the table while playing and it has five poker hands the player must make to win: two pair, three of a kind, a straight, a flush and a full house. It’s any two pair, any set, etc., not a specific rank. When a player wins a pot with one of those hands, that hand is stamped on the player’s card. When all five hands are stamped, the player receives $100. Only one card from the player’s hand needs play to qualify and the pot must contain $20.
If a player has a winning hand that could meet the requirements of more than one qualifying hand, only the best hand possible earns a stamp. In other words, if a player has a hand that makes both a straight and a flush, the player could only get a stamp for the flush.
As part of the promotion, drawings are every hour on the half-hour. One randomly selected player in a cash game wins a cash prize based on how many stamps they have on their card. If they have zero or one stamp, they win $25. If they have two or three stamps, they win $50. If they have a card with at least four stamps, they win $100.
This promo was introduced on a trial basis for January but early reports are it’s quite popular. The room may tweak some of the details going forward, but you can expect a version of this promo to be running for some time.
ARIA: Long-time Binion’s tournament director Paul Campbell has moved to Aria to manage the tournaments and he quickly made his first change.
The Friday and Saturday dailies will have $240 buy-ins. Players start with 20K chips. The levels are 30 minutes for the first 15 levels and then 40 minutes. Late registration and unlimited re-entry are available for the first six levels. The starting time is 11 a.m.
The popular $125 tournament still runs Sunday through Thursday at 1 and nightly at 7. The levels are 30 minutes throughout, the starting stack is 10K and late registration and unlimited re-entry is open through the fourth level.
BINION’S: The downtown room has changed its tournament schedule. Daytime events have moved to 1, including its popular weekend deepstack on Saturdays, which has a $10K guarantee.
The $160 buy-in event starts players with 20K chips and has 30-minute levels. Late and re-entry is open for four levels.
The rest of the week the 1 p.m. has a $100 buy-in for 15K chips and 20-minute levels, late and re-entry open for the first three levels.
The evening tournament moves to 7 with its turbo format of 15-minute levels and a 7K stack for a $70 buy-in. Late and re-entry is open for four levels.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The mid-Strip room started the year by announcing it was reducing the maximum rake from $5 to $4 per pot. The $1-$2 game is known for action. The buy-in is $100-$300 and straddles are allowed from any position. The under-the-gun straddle is $5, the button straddle is $10 and players can straddle from any position for $20. Every hour, pots are splashed for between $25 and $250. High-hand bonuses are $75 for quads, $150 for straight flushes and $500 for royals. A free buffet is offered for three hours of live play.
Ryan Laplante of Minnesota took first place in the December PHamous Poker Series weekend $565 main event, earning $46K. Maziar Keshavarzi of Texas grabbed $24K for second and Corey Hochman of Arizona took home $21K for third. The prize pool was $200K as 349 players entered.
The next PHamous Poker Series Weekend was scheduled for Jan. 28-30 with a $600 main event with starting days running Jan. 28-31, so if you get this in time, check it out.
LUXOR: The south-Strip room has been running a series of $100 “Preferred Players” periodically. They are $100 buy-ins with 30-minute levels and 10K stacks. In addition to the prize pool, various house-funded prizes are awarded, including gift cards, free tournament entries, free shows and food comps. The next one is Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.
BALLY’S: The World Series of Poker Circuit comes to Bally’s on Feb. 25-March 7. The series kicks off with a $250K guarantee, $365 event with six starting flights, two a day starting on Feb. 25. A $250 seniors event is March 3. The $1,675 main event has a $1 million guarantee and two starting flights beginning March 4.
VENETIAN: Deep Stack Extravaganza I runs through March 2. New for this series will be two “Double Stack” events that start players with 24K chips. The $400 buy-in event has 40-minute levels, a $100K guarantee and two starting flights beginning Feb. 11. The $300 buy-in is a one-day event with 30-minute levels and a $15K guarantee on Feb. 29.
A $250 PLO event runs Feb. 8 and a $250 Omaha/8 tournament is Feb. 22. Nightly events at 7 offer $200 and $300 buy-ins. All the tournaments and most of the satellites have guaranteed prize pools. More than $2.9M is guaranteed for the series.
The $1,600 main event has three starting flights beginning Feb. 18 and features a $750K guarantee.
GREEN VALLEY: The fourth annual Charity Poker Tournament for Kids will be Feb. 27, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Green Valley. The top prize is an entry to the this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event.
BELLAGIO: The Five Diamond WPT Classic had 639 entrants for the $10,400 buy-in event for a prize pool of $6,198,000. Kevin Eyster ($1,587,000), William Jennings ($929K) and Benjamin Yu ($607K) took the top three prizes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Skunk Weed Tournament

I’m pretty sure I mentioned before that during my Vegas stay in December, I played in three tournaments and cashed in two.  I played 8 plus hours in all three of them!  Thus, I will do write ups about all three, and so I might as well do them in chronological order.  This will be the write up of my only time at Binion’s this trip.  Since I didn’t cash, I won’t give quite as detailed a post as I would want to do if I had made some money.

I sometimes amuse myself when, days, weeks or months (or longer) after a day in Vegas, I play back the audio recording I made of my notes the next day.  Playing back the notes for this tournament was one of those times.  I heard myself say over and over again that, after this experience, I was never going to play in another tournament again, that it was stupid to play in tournaments, that it was just too frustrating to play them, too inconvenient, etc, etc.  Very little of my ranting (to myself, you understand) had to do with the issues I raised in this post here, although I did hear myself say, “Tournaments are not designed for diabetics.”  So there were some of that, but it had more to do with playing so long and having nothing to show for it.

Let’s start with a pocket Kings hand in the fourth level.  I raised just under 3X with them and got one call.  There were two Queens on the flop so I had to fold to a donk shove.

A bit later, I limped/called $1100 with pocket 6’s (blinds were 200/400).  The flop was Queen-Ten-6.  I raised $1,800 to $4K.  He called, but wouldn’t call my turn shove (didn’t have enough chips to bet anything less). 

I started level 5 with $19,200, and since the starting stack is $20K that’s not good.  But the last two hands of the level I came back.  I limped in from the button with Ace-10 off, five ways.  The flop was Ace-10-x, two spades.  The guy on my right bet $1,700 and I raised to $4k and took it down.

Very next hand, in the cut-off, I called a raise to $2K with pocket 4’s.  I did that because 4 people had already called the $2K.  The flop was King-Queen-4 and it folded to me.  I bet $7,500 and no one called.

Soon after I raised to $2K with Ace-King and a big stack made it $7K.  That was not the time, I thought, to get it all in with Ace-King so I folded.

I raised with Ace-7 off, got a caller, and had to fold to his shove when the flop totally missed me. 

After a couple of limpers I made a nice raise from the button with 10-9 offsuit and took it down.

I opened to $2,700 (bb was $1k, no ante) and had a couple of callers when “Nice Guy” made it $5K.  Nice Guy is a player I see virtually every time I play Binion’s, and more often than not, I end up at the same table with.  So a total reg, pretty much an ABC player—and also, as the name indicates, a heckuva nice guy. I couldn’t imagine him doing that with a hand that didn’t have me crushed.  We all folded and sure enough, he showed us his hand—a couple of Aces.

Same level, in the big blind, no raise, I saw a flop with 4-7.  Pretty good flop for me: 8-6-5.  I led out for $4K and got a call.  I didn’t like the 6 on the turn, but I shoved, and he folded.

After one limper, I made it $3,500 with King-Jack of clubs.  A short stack shoved for $5,500, I of course called.  He had Ace-rag.  King on the flop, Jack on the turn and I was good.

At level 8 I had $28,500 (blinds are 100/600/1200).  I raised to $4K after a limper with Ace-8 of clubs from the button.  I totally whiffed on the flop, it was Jack-high, no clubs.  It checked to me and I shoved.  No call.

Then I got a little cuter.  I limped with pocket 6’s and missed.  There the flop was Queen-Queen-10.  I bet $2k to try to steal it, but had one caller (one other had seen the flop).  I bet $5k on the turn when I still had nothing but 6’s.  He called.  No betting on the river—I gave up—and he a crappy 10 to take it.

The end of level 8 meant it was time for me to get some dinner.  I guess maybe that’s why I made the two moves I just described.  I wouldn’t have minded so much getting eliminated there so I wouldn’t have to rush thru a really crappy dinner.  But it was clear I was hanging around for awhile and that damn deli next to the poker room would be closed by the next break. I would like to actually miss a couple of hands there at the end of the level so I can race to the deli before it becomes too crowded and I can’t get my food in time.  But I was stuck being the blinds. Luckily, those hands went quickly, and with just a minute or two to the break, I decided to forgo my button to get a jump on the crowd to get my dinner.  See, this is what I mean about the inconvenience of dealing with my condition in regards to tournaments.  Maybe that button hand was Aces and I would have doubled or tripled up?  Of course, it could also have bounced me out of the tournament, sure.  And actually, the fact is, we were at the point of the tournament where being in late position isn’t really that valuable.  It’s sometimes better to be in early position to be the first to raise or shove when so many others are contemplating the same maneuver.

I actually missed both the button and the cut-off but I was able to get my two hot dogs ahead of the crowd and managed to consume them during the break.  I honestly can’t tell you if they were the best hot dogs I ever had in my life (doubtful) or tasted like rancid moose meat (more likely).  I ate them too fast to notice.

Level 9 (200/800/1600), $23K.  I limped/folded pocket 7’s.  Then I open shoved with King-Queen, no call.  Open shoved with King-Queen again.  This time a short stack called with $11,500.  He had Ace-5 of spades.  I caught a Queen on the flop and took it.

It had become a running gag that I seemed to be doing much of my raising when Nice Guy was the big blind.  He started giving me a hard time about it, it a kidding way—counting how many times I had done it, “threatening” me with payback.  One time when I had garbage he was the big blind, and I looked at him and grabbed some chips and “Let’s see, since you’re the big blind so….” But I quickly mucked before it went too far. 

Level 10 (300/1000/2000), $36K. Nice Guy was the BB again I raised to $6,500 with Ace-9 off after a big stack limped in.  Nice Guy and the big stack called. The flop was Ace-high, I shoved, Nice Guy folded, the big stack folded after tanking a bit, showing an Ace. The big stack said she didn’t like her kicker, but I wonder if it was really less than 9?

Then I got a much needed double up at Nice Guy’s expense.  He shoved in front of me, which was pretty cool since I had two Aces.  He showed Ace-King.  No suck out for him.  I had him covered by just a bit.

Level 12 (400/1500/3000), $65K.  After the big stack limped in, I raised to $11K with 10-9 of diamonds.  Limper called.  Flop came Jack-7-x, both the Jack and the 7 were diamonds.  I bet $20k.  Big stack tanked forever and then folded.

Then came an instructive point of rules with this next hand. I had Ace-4 of diamonds in the big blind and it folded to the small blind.  He raised to $7K.  I figured he was just stealing and I had an ace.  So I grabbed some chips and announced “raise.”  I was trying to figure out how much to raise to.  I had picked up three white chips, which were $5K each, but I really wasn’t sure what to bet.  But as soon as I said, “raise” the player shouted, “all in.”  Fine, except I hadn’t finished my action yet.

The dealer pointed this out to him and he said, “He has three $5K chips in his hand, that’s a raise to $18K. He has to put them in the pot.”  The dealer said no, I hadn’t done anything except announce raise.  The floor was called who said, as anticipated, that I was only obligated to put in the min raise.  Well, this guy had a very similar stack to mine and I wasn’t about to risk it all on Ace-4.  I made the min raise to $11K and then put on a show of how I was thinking about whether to call his shove.  I even asked for a count to make it look good.  But I never intended to call of course.  I saved myself some chips with the guy jumping the gun like that but I honestly can’t say what I would have bet if he had kept quiet.  Considering that he literally couldn’t wait to shove, I assume that he had a really big hand.

That took us to the next break for what I guess you could call “The Chinese Fire Drill.”  I should explain that for the big Saturday tournament, Binion’s has a separate tournament area a bit away from the actual poker room.  When I initially started playing in this tournament, there was an actual room they held the tournament in, which is right on the other side of the deli.  It was actually a great room for the tournament, so naturally the management at Binion’s decided to take it away from the poker dept and use it for something else, against the objections of the poker people. 

First they had an Elvis exhibit in there.  Then it was used for storage.  Recently, they turned into a (very) small showroom and they have a hypnotist act in there.  I’m not sure if this act was running when I was there last, but it was running this night and the room is right next to the tournament area.  Apparently the hypnotist act is so loud (and the guy is so vulgar) that they can’t really use the tournament area once the show starts—too loud, too distracting.  So on this break, when they are down to just a couple of tables, they move everyone into the actual poker room to finish the tournament.

For this break, players are told they not allowed to leave the table early (although I don’t know how they can actually stop anyone from doing that) and then, when all the tables are finished with the last hand, everyone takes their chips and follows their dealer to their new seating assignments inside the poker room.  It’s a pit of a pain to be sure and a nice waste of about 10 minutes getting everyone situated in their new seats.  Really shows you how casino management treats poker.

By this time, we were down to three tables and just one player away from two tables (9-handed).  There were 90 or so players, the prize pool was over $11K and first place was around $3,500.  You had to get fourth place to just barely get $1K.  The min-cash was around $250, so not even double your $160 buy-in, which I maintain should be a requirement of a prize pool for a tourney this size.  They were paying 12.

And it was also the prize pool distribution that I heard myself complaining about playing back my notes.  It was like, “And even if I had cashed, I wouldn’t have gotten enough money to make it worth it.”  Of course, not getting any money back made it a whole lot worse. 

After the break, it took us just one hand to get down to 2 tables.  So there was a redraw of course.  Now this was really annoying.  After all that we went through to get situated in our new seats because of the new location, we all had to move again after just one hand.  Frustrating!

The climate in the poker room was vastly different than the tournament area.  The former was very much on the cold side, especially since I was sitting near the door to the outside, and every time someone came in, we’d feel the cold air.  The poker room itself was very warm, almost stiflingly hot.  It was maybe the only time on this whole trip I was ever too warm.

There was another issue with room.  Every now and then, we would all notice a very distinctive scent permeating the area.  Either there was a skunk loose in the poker room, or someone was smoking marijuana.  It was a really strong odor—very unpleasant.  Presumably one of the players in a cash game was taking frequent marijuana breaks and was coming back wreaking of it.  Ugh.

So down to 18, the rest of my tournament was pure torture.  I would have expected more people to bust out sooner.  But this took forever.  We had moved to the poker room for level 13 and late in level 16 we still had 15 players—three from the money.  Meanwhile, I had gone completely card dead.  I tried shoving and stealing as best I could, but I just couldn’t keep up with the blinds.

During this period, I raised or shoved with hands like Jack-9 off, Ace-9 off, King-Queen suited, King-Jack off, King-9 of clubs, Ace-3 off, and Queen-Jack off.  Never did I get a call, so I never had the double up I needed.  All the money I was getting with these hands were not enough to keep up with the blinds and antes.

I started level 16 with $41K, where the blinds were 1500/5000/10000.  So I was beyond desperate.  I kept stealing blinds and antes, but not enough to even keep that stack. Three away from the money, it was not looking good for me to hold on and cash.  I had been playing over 8 hours.  I’m pretty sure that any similar tournament I have ever played I would have been in the money by then.

I was under-the-gun and I had 10-9 offsuit.  Knowing that being the big blind next hand meant I would pretty much have to shove with whatever two cards I had, I figured 10-9 was more than good enough to open shove.  Sadly for me, the big blind had Ace-Queen and called with his big stack.  I caught a 9 on the flop, but then an Ace hit the turn and I was out.

It was 10:20PM, I had been playing since 2PM and was extremely frustrated leaving empty-handed.  I would have been slightly less frustrated taking home the $350 min cash.  I really couldn’t believe that I was there so late and didn’t get a penny, the last few levels had been painful to play, the lack of players busting was excruciating.

And thus the vow to never play in tournament again.  Of course, I’ve already given it away that I didn’t keep my vow very long.  Not sure if it will be my next post or not but I will tell you about the next tournament, one with a better ending, soon.