Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Rude Maniac

On this particular Sunday night—the Sunday night of my first weekend in town—I found myself at the Mirage for some 1/2. There, I encountered one of the most annoying players I've played with in awhile.  I have to give this bastard a name, so I'm going to call him "Appendix," because, let's face it, he needs to be taken out.

He was annoying in so many ways.  Yes he played like a maniac, but there's so much more.  When I first got to the table he was away from it, and there were open seats.  For the first hour or two the game was constantly short-handed, and his numerous visits to the sports book didn't help.  He was gone at least for the first 20 minutes I was at the table.  Then he came back, posted his missed blinds, played two hands, won them both and took off again.  This time he was gone for at least half an hour.

All the time he was gone, I was upset that he was gone so long because of the table already being short-handed.  But once he returned and stayed awhile and played some hands, I began to long for the time when he was absent.

He was super aggro, open raising to $20 or more an awful lot.  Sometimes he'd only open to $15, but never less.  Oh he did limp occasionally and even folded preflop once in a while.  But that wasn't the norm.  And of course, he'd three-bet a lot. 

He had a short stack when I got there, managed to have to rebuy and then started building it up.  You know how it is—some maniac starts raising with and playing garbage hands and gets on a heater and starts hitting everything in sight.  Well that was Appendix this night.  He also won some pots on pure aggression, although once we saw how often he was playing bad cards he got called down a lot.   But during this stretch, he always seemed to catch the card he'd need to win the pot on the river.  You know how it is, he'd shove with bottom pair playing something like 9-4, get called, be way behind to the caller and then catch his second pair on the river when he needed it.

He managed to get his stack to over $1,100 at one point.

He was sitting next to me, but at least he was on my right.  A bunch of players who were originally stuck on his right asked to move to the other side of the table whenever they could.

But he was making the game difficult.  Oh sure, having a guy like that, creating a lot of action can be profitable, especially if you catch a hand and he pays you off in a big pot.  But I was extremely card dead all night.  There was no making a move against this character.  You had to have a hand and then value bet the hell out of it (or, even easier, call all his big bets).  And it was very costly to play any speculative hands as long as he entered a pot.  And if you had a decent but not nutish hand, he always seemed to catch the second card he needed to win when called.

Actually the game wasn't that good anyway.  His big bets were inhibiting a lot of the action from the other players.

In addition to being a maniac, he was very rude too.  For one thing, he was one of those guys—and I seemed to constantly run into them this trip—who liked to sit sideways, taking up my space at the table, kind of locking me into my seat, getting his shoes on me or rubbing his leg up against me.  Why does that last thing never happen when a hot girl is sitting next to me? Why can't people keep their legs and feet under the table, in front of their own chair?  Or he'd put his feet on the bottom ring of my chair, which annoys me (I don't like people using my chair to rest any part of their body—again, there would be the "hot girl" exception to that).

Also, he was an obnoxious winner.  When he won a hand, either at showdown or when his bet wasn't called, he tended to shout "Ship it!" or, "I got you, I got you!" as if he was rubbing it in.  One time on the flop, he re-raised all-in against a guy who then went into the tank and finally folded.  Appendix had three-bet preflop on this hand.  The other guy must have folded a pretty good hand, so after he folded, Appendix showed his cards—3-2 offsuit, which hadn't connected with the board in any way whatsoever.  And so he said, "Well, I did have the best hand preflop."  The other guy was not amused.

I would have asked for a table change but I knew it wouldn't fly because our table was always short-handed.  Finally when the table did fill up and there was actually a wait list, I was about to go up and ask for a table change when the clown asked to borrow my phone charger.  I should have told him where to go, and in fact I did say to him, "Well, I'm about ready to leave the game," but he said he just wanted to try it because his didn't work.  So I lent him my charger and delayed my exit from the game.  It turned out my charger didn't work either—he said it didn't fit his phone (although I had already noticed he had the exact same phone as mine).  He finally borrowed one from the podium and then finally figured out that the USB port in front of his seat was not working.  So he asked if he could try my USB connector and he ended up using that one.  So I not only had to deal with his legs and feet getting in my way but his phone charger cord too.

Also, his buddy was at another table and they were talking and he was bragging to his buddy that he had all these chips....and he was threatening his buddy that he was gonna move to his table and take all his chips.  So I held out hope that maybe he'd move so I wouldn't have to.

But then, he got into a hand with a fairly new player at the table.  The new player bet, and Appendix shoved.  The new guy tanked for quite a while and finally called.  I think this was on the river.  The new player showed his hand—two pair.  And Appendix mucked without showing, claiming he had a pair of 6's and saying he was sure the guy would think he "had it" and would fold.  The new player only had around $150 and Appendix started the hand with over $1,100 so it wasn't a very big hit. It was the first sizable pot I'd seen him lose and he didn't seem upset.  Nevertheless, as soon as the hand was over, he went up to the front and grabbed a couple of racks, took them back to his seat, and started racking up.  He played no more hands.

One of the players who'd been there a long time said, "Oh, you can't take it, huh?"  Appendix said, "No, it's just that I gotta go to a Strip Club with my buddy."  As he was about to leave, he had to get the phone charger out of the USB port I was sitting behind.  Without any warning, he reached in front of my gut and pulled the charger out, and brushed his hand against my stomach.  He didn't hurt me, but it was such a final act of rudeness not to say excuse me first—I could have easily slid back so wouldn't have had to have touched me. Anyway, he was gone.  No one was really sorry to see him take his big stack and leave with it.  Instead, there was a audible sigh of relief from almost everyone at the table.  He was just that much of an asshole.

After he was gone, the dealer said, "He's in here every day, pissing people off.  He raises with 6-deuce, whatever and rubs it in when he wins." 

Earlier, I was amused when one of the players at the table answered his phone (while in the middle of a hand), saying "Joe's Bail Bonds."  I thought, now that is just so Vegas, isn't it?  And for 15 minutes he had a conversation with an associate about some new client who needed to post bail for a domestic violence change (the client was female, for what it's worth).  Joe was mostly concerned about whether or not his potential new client had enough collateral.

There was only one hand of note for me, it took place after Appendix took himself out.  The game had gotten pretty nitty at this point and I was down to about $100 or so.  In late position I limped in with pocket 9's.   Six of us saw a flop of Queen-5-3, two diamonds.  A guy led out for $5 and everyone called.  So, for $5, I decided to call too.  It was a long shot, but it was cheap to see one more card.

Good decision.  The turn card was a 9 of clubs, putting a second club out there.  The guy who bet the $5 checked, but another guy bet $20. I remembered watching this guy call the flop.  He was playing with his chips and I really thought he was about to raise.  Had he done that, I wouldn't have called.  But it seemed like at the last minute he decided to just call.

I wanted to raise, but I didn't have as much money to raise as much as I wanted to and I thought a shove there was unlikely to get a call.  So I bet $50, which left with me ~$50 behind.  He tanked forever and finally said, "OK," and called.

The river was a third diamond.  He checked.  I decided to play it safe and not bet.  I honestly didn't think he'd call me unless he had caught a flush.  So he turned over Queen-3 and was really surprised to see my set.  "I was gonna raise the flop but decided to slow play it, the game was so tight.  I shoulda bet."  Yes, he should have.  Glad he didn't.

I managed to break even for the session after four hours.  When I left, I was on my way to the parking garage when I noticed these boobs walking perpendicular to me.  Well, they were actually attached to a blonde woman.  She was nice looking, wearing a summery dress that was fairly conservative except for the fact that it was wide open on top and her jumbo after-market ta-ta's were practically falling out of it.  I didn't immediately suspect working girl because the dress didn't seem sexy enough (if you ignore the cleavage).  It was neither short nor tight—just extremely low-cut, the kind a lot of ladies visiting Vegas might wear.  Thus, at first glance, she just didn't seem like a hooker to me.

But she stopped in front of me and said "Hi."  Random blondes with big tits don't just say "hi" to me unless they want to sell me something.  I said "hi" back as I tried to keep walking but I guess she didn't hear me. "You can say 'hi.'"  So I said hi again, this time louder.  By now she was thinking she had my interest but after that, I moved fast and just kept walking.  I dunno why I was so anxious to get away from her.  I think maybe if I chatted with her bit I could have possible gotten a better hooker story than I did.  Oh well.

And that was that.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Day at the Movies

This post will have nothing to do with Vegas or poker.  And you know what?  After the way I felt upon returning from Vegas last week (see here,  if you've forgotten), I very well may start doing more and more off-topic posts,  We'll just have to see if the burning desire to talk about poker and Vegas returns.

In the meantime, I'm gonna tell you what I did on Saturday, my first weekend back home after my return from Vegas.  One thing I didn't do was play poker.  Really had no great desire to do that after spending over a month in Vegas playing a whole lot of it.  So in the afternoon I went to the movies and saw the newest Spider-Man movie, which is called "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I don't think it was quite as good as the first Tobey Maguire Spidey (the one co-starring the fetching Kirsten Dunst), but it was probably the second best Spider-Man movie to date.  Now, that first Tobey Maguire film just shocked the hell out of me—for years they had been making disappointing if not outright awful super-hero/comic book movies.  That first one was not only a great comic book movie, it was a great movie, period.



Comic book movies have been better lately—or at least they haven't been as consistently awful as they had been for the longest time.  Certainly the first Avengers movie was terrific, and of course The Dark Knight was a classic (but so different in tone from the Marvel movies that it's hard to compare them). And I can report that while I was in Vegas I saw the new Wonder Woman movie and really enjoyed that as well. 

This new film sets Spidey up to be part of The Avengers now that the movie rights to all the Marvel characters have been straightened out.  No Spidey origin tale was spun, although it was briefly mentioned that Peter Parker had been bitten by a spider—but surely anyone seeing the movie already knew that.  And a lot of familiar Spider-Man characters are either missing or very different (no way was Aunt May as hot as Marisa Tomei in the comics!).  But the portrayal of Peter in high school kid struggling to be accepted is perhaps the closest to the original comics yet (at least, as I remember them).

Michael Keaton as the villain, The Vulture, does a fine job.  Although everyone is pointing out that Keaton went from playing "Birdman" to the Vulture, I am more amused that he long ago played Batman in two movies—you know, including the one where Jack Nicholson played The Joker.  So Keaton went from playing one of DC's most iconic super-heroes to playing a villain to Marvel's most iconic character.  That's show biz.



I thought it was a fun ride, and hopefully they can keep that going in future films with this version of Spidey. 

Actually, the main reason I am even discussing the movie is to ask this burning question:  Doesn't everybody know to stick around through the credits of every Marvel movie by now?  Hasn't the word gotten out?  I'm talking about the "kickers" that virtually every Marvel movie has in the closing credits.  You know this right?  So why did 99.5% of the audience at the theater I was at get up in unison and exit the theater as soon as the first credit appeared on the screen at movie's end?  I can't believe they don't know.

Spoiler warning:  There's actually two kickers.  The first one presents what seems to be an important piece of information that I assume will have major significance in a future Spider-Man movie.  And everyone at my theater missed it.  The second kicker, at the very end, was just a funny gag—but certainly worth hanging around for.

I don't get it.

Anyway, so much for Spider-Man.  Later that evening I was checking thru my DVR and was reminded that while in Vegas I had recorded something off ESPN that I wanted to watch—it was a 30 for 30 documentary on the Lakers/Celtics rivalry.  Actually I only recorded one part but fortunately the whole thing was available On Demand.

It was called Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies.  I guess it debuted during the NBA finals last month.

When I started watching it, I thought it was only two parts and intended to watch just the first part.  I was riveted (even though I knew exactly how all the games ended).  I just couldn't turn it off.  And when part 2—which all along I was thinking was the last part—ended with the humiliating 1984 NBA finals (the one that the Lakers gave away in 7 when they should have swept), I nearly screamed.  That was the most painful memory I have as a sports fan.  They couldn't end it there, could they?

Well they didn't.  I finally noticed that there was a third part, and so, even though it was well after 1AM, I started watching the final part and didn't stop until the whole thing was complete.  I got to bed at 3AM—later than I had been getting to sleep while I was in Vegas.  But the third part was the best part because of course the Lakers finally got their revenge on the Celts.

I highly recommend this documentary.  Of course, as  I longtime diehard Lakers fan, I am exactly the demographic they are going after (same thing for diehard Celtics fan—assuming such vile creatures exist).  But I think most neutral basketball fans would find it highly entertaining and informative.  Even non-basketball fans would probably enjoy it. 

It is really well done.  And it is it totally neutral in its approach, it's 50/50, half Lakers, half Celtics.  Of course many players from the 80's gave them in-depth interviews—Magic, Bird, McHale, Worthy, and many others.  Prominent sports writers who covered the teams chime in.  The film is co-narrated to give two different points of view.  Ice Cube narrates from the Lakers fans' point of view, and Donnie Wahlberg gives the Celtics fans side.

It goes beyond basketball, talking about how race played a part of the rivalry. The claim is made that all white people—if they weren't otherwise committed to one team or the other—rooted for the white team (the Celtics).  And similarly, all black people outside of Boston were pulling for the Lakers—the black team.  I'm not sure how true that was but it sure was interesting to think about.

One thing that it made clear—Magic and Bird together, coming into the league at the same time, each going to one of the two marquee franchises in the sport—quite literally saved the NBA.  How many of you remember that in the early 1980's, NBA playoff games were not shown live—they were on tape delay, shown after the 11PM news because they couldn't get ratings.
Magic and Bird, the Lakers and the Celtics, turned that around, and then set the table for Michael Jordan a few years later.

Anyway, it is extremely well done and worth watching, even if you don't care about either the Lakers or the Celtics.

Worth staying up to 3AM for, in my case.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bloggers Night at Planet Hollywood

I might as well get to this brief session I had at Planet Hollywood on the last Friday in June.  Special guest stars were TonyBigcharles, VegasDWP and Lightning.  In fact, it was only because I knew the three of them were all there that I even went there.  Otherwise, I would have spent that part of the evening in my room, quietly sobbing.

You see that was the day—or evening, I should say—that I had planned to play in the GIant over at the Rio—the only pokering I did at the WSOP all summer.  I suppose I will do a separate post about that experience one of these days—but today is not that day.  Suffice it to say that I didn't get to play in the Giant nearly as long as I had hoped to.

Even before I had unceremoniously busted from that event, I had learned through texts and social media that that the aforementioned trio were all at Planet Hollywood—and in fact, were all at the same table. As it happened, I'd had a much more hectic day before the tournament than I had planned (starting time was 7pm) but I felt fine until that critical moment when I ran out of chips.  Suddenly, almost at once, all the energy completely drained out of my body.

I staggered to a bench in the WSOP hallway and checked my phone to see if the gang was all still there.  They were.  But for awhile, I couldn't drag my ass off the bench.  I was really too tired to play any longer.  I know that if I had remained alive in the tournament, the adrenaline would have kicked in and I would have been fine, but once I was done there, I was really out of it.

I was pretty sure I'd skip PH, but somehow, as I started driving out of the Rio, my car inexplicably headed toward the Strip and towards Planet Hollywood.  And I realized that tired as I was, I wanted to be sociable for a change.

By the time I parked and took the long walk to the poker room, I was almost in a zombie like state.  I knew I was in no shape to think, so I vowed to nit it up even more than usual and play almost nothing but nuttish hands.  I'd just be there to shoot the breeze with my buddies.  If I happened to get Aces, I'd hope they wouldn't get cracked.

I arrived and found the table.  Tony, DWP & Lightning were sitting next to each other in seats 3,4,& 5.  I said hello.  Tony greeted me with a long explanation of what he meant in a recent post of his where he seemed to blame me for all the spam comments his blog has been getting lately (as has mine).  Maybe it was because I was out of it, but I didn't follow Tony's explanation.

As an aside, he's sure right about the spam comments, they've been totally out of control of late.  So just recently I switched the setting on my blog so that you have to verify you're a human before it will accept the comment.  Fortunately it's one of the less intrusive kind of verifications—you just have to check a a box. I hope that won't inconvenience anyone too much.

Anyway, after Tony gave his explanation to me, he returned his undivided attention to his phone, and, as far as I can tell, barely looked up from it for the rest of the time that I was there.  Seriously, I didn't see him say a word to anyone the rest of the time I was there.

So I went to the podium to put my name on the list.  It was a long list, but there were lots of games running (the room was packed) and it didn't take all that long for my name to get called.

The guy took me to a table which was not the one the boys were at.  I asked him, "Can you put me on a table change for table 6?"  He said, "You want to play at table 6?"  Yes, you could certainly take that inference from what I had just then said.  "We have a seat open there, let me take you there."  Nice.  And thus I joined the party.

The open seat was seat 9 (the game is 9-handed).  So I was far from Tony and Lightning and not really that close to DWP. And at this hour of the evening (11:30pm I suppose), Planet Hollywood is one of the noisiest poker rooms around.  The poker room is not really separated out from the casino, and is near the "Party Pit" where they have loud music and go-go dancers dancing behind the pit tables.  And a whole lot of people walking by, talking, screaming, shouting and just generally acting like they're in Vegas.

I don't believe that PH has a nightclub ala Hakkasan, so I had forgotten that despite that, in the evenings it is a damn fine place to, um, "people watch."  There were scores of very attractive young ladies wearing outfits that would encourage their fathers to send them to a convent if they ever saw them (regardless of whether or not they were Catholic).  Sadly, my back was to the main pathway for these young ladies, so I didn't get to enjoy the show nearly as much as DWP & Lightning must have (I left out Tony because he was too into the game he was playing on his phone to ever look up).

So I didn't really accomplish the main purpose of my trip there—to chat with my friends.  But then, I may have been too tired to carry on much of a conversation anyway.  But as best I could tell, DWP and Lightning weren't talking to each other much anyway.

The main dynamic at this table was that there was a loud-mouth European sitting on my immediate right, and a very chatty, bubbly young lady sitting immediately on DWP's left.  The young lady had reddish brown hair (or perhaps it was brownish red) and was cute in sort of a "Plain Jane" way.  But she had a whole lot of personality.  She was clearly having a good time.  And most of the time, all I could hear above the casino noise and music, was the aforementioned woman and the obnoxious European on my right bickering, bantering, blathering and generally talking to and at each other non-stop.


Sitting between these two was a rather quiet guy who never-the-less seemed to be enjoying himself.  He may or may not have been with the Plain Jane gal, I never could quite tell if they were a couple or if they just met at the table.  I guess he was talking to both the girl and the obnoxious guy but the other two were so loud and so boisterous—and were talking non-stop—that I really couldn't hear anything he said.  (Edited to add:  Please be sure to scroll down and read the comment from VegasDWP giving a lot more detail on the three characters I just introduced you to.)

I only mention the quiet guy because he figured into the big hand of the night.  At least it was the big hand that I witnessed during my brief time there.  It didn't involve me, but it did involve VegasDWP.  Since I wasn't involved, I didn't take contemporaneous notes, so I'm basing my retelling of this hand based on voice notes I made a day after it happened.  I may have some of the details wrong.  If I have anything significantly wrong, DWP can correct me in a comment.

I believe DWP raised preflop and both the quiet guy and the obnoxious guy called.  Others may have called as well, but after the flop they became irrelevant (assuming they ever even existed).

The flop came Ace-high, two clubs.  The non-club card was 4.  DWP bet and the quiet guy shoved.  Now I had noticed when I get there that DWP had a healthy stack of at least $400.  The quiet guy had considerably less, probably less than $200 but not by much.  Now the obnoxious guy went in the tank, and he agonized verbally for a good long time before he finally said, "OK, let's gamble," and shoved himself.  I guess his stack was in the neighborhood of the quiet guy's stack.

So it went back to DWP who also went in the tank.  He did so a lot more quietly than the obnoxious guy.  But finally he said something like, "I'm feeling good....I call."

I'm pretty sure they all showed their cards at this point.  DWP had Ace-King (no clubs).  The quiet guy had 4-3 of clubs.  So a pair, a flush draw and possibly a straight draw (not sure about the straight draw).  The obnoxious guy had 10-6 of clubs, so a bigger flush draw than the quiet guy.

The turn was a harmless Queen of hearts, but the river was another 4, giving the quiet guy trips and the pot.  DWP reacted stoically, the quiet guy seemed happy but was still rather quiet but the obnoxious guy was acting as if he won—he was really happy, even though he lost.  He said, "I love that.  Look at that, I lost the biggest pot of the night," and he was laughing.  I think he just loved the gamble that both he and the quiet guy had exhibited.

Later, I guess maybe when the obnoxious guy was away from the table, DWP told the girl that I was a famous writer and that I'd be writing about this game—and about her.  So that's the main reason I even mentioned her in this story—I didn't want to make a liar out of DWP.  The girl, by the way, didn't seem the least bit interested in the fact that I was supposedly a famous writer.

Then he said to me, "Rob, when you write about that big hand, please try to make me look good.":  I said, "Yeah, of course.  Hell, you were ahead when you got it all-in."  He replied, "that's right, I was."

As it happened, I only wrote down one hand that I played.  It turned out that Tony was also in the hand.  From the button, I limped in with Jack-10 suited.  I was too tired to think about raising there.  There had been a few limpers, and I think four of us saw the flop.  Tony was either the big blind or had limped in under-the-gun.

The flop contained two of my suit (I was too tired to even note which suit it was).  Tony led out for $5 and I called, and we were heads up.  The turn was a blank and I checked behind him.  I hit my flush on the river.  Tony checked, I bet $10 and Tony folded.  Real exciting, huh?  I think it must have been the only hand I won.

Did I mention I was tired?  Also, I was developing a nice headache, I guess from the noise of the casino and also from having the obnoxious guy talking loudly in my ear for the past hour.  So when the seat on Tony's right opened up, I didn't bother to move to it because I knew I was basically down to my last orbit.

And thus when the big blind came around again, I racked up, said goodbye and took off.  I had just enough strength left to make the long walk to my car and then drive back to my room.

It was nice to see everyone—at least to the extent that I did in my drowsy state.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Where Did the Time Go?

It seems like it's been such a long time since I've done this, I hope I remember how.

By "this" I mean write a blog post.  Yeah, I posted something Monday night before going to bed (this), but let's face it, even those of you who complain about my posts being too long couldn't be pleased with that.  It was such a trivial post I didn't even tweet it out.  I just stuck something up here so you'd all know I wasn't dead.  At least the GIF was nice.

I really can't believe I found so little time for writing while I was in Vegas for an entire month.  Where did the time go?  I honestly don't know.

I really expected to write and publish more than three "real" blog posts while I was up there.  I can't account for all the seemingly lost time.

Sure I played a lot of poker, but I bet I played less poker, on a percentage basis, than I have on most if not all of my recent Vegas trips.  I worked of course, but I wasn't overworked.  For a change, most of the Vegas rooms holding series didn't have a lot of last minute changes and corrections for me to tend to. And I saw friends and socialized, but really not as much as I would have expected.

And I can tell from the way I felt dragging my ass out of bed my first morning in L.A., I sure didn't spend much time in Vegas sleeping.

I just don't know where the time went, but it didn't go to blogging.

Perhaps the problem was that I wasn't very inspired.  It was a disappointing trip in many ways, and I don't just mean the poker. I mean, I did ok on the cash side but (spoiler alert) I failed to cash in any of the tournaments I played—and I played in a lot of tourneys.  I used to think I was a better tournament player than a cash game player, but I guess I need to rethink that.  Or maybe it was just being on the wrong side of variance.  On the other hand, maybe those times I did cash in tournaments (in what seems like the ancient past), I was just on the right side of variance?  But with all the series going on while I was there, this was certainly the time play tournaments if you like to play tournaments.

But it was more than the poker.  I was hoping to get some really great stories to write up, and the amount of good material I came back with was, again, disappointing.  There's not one incident, one story I'm dying to write up, and that's unusual.  And honestly, I haven't a really crazy/funny and or salacious story to write in a long time.  Those are the kind of stories that inspired me to start this blog and that I most like to write.  Just writing up poker hand histories is starting to bore even me—especially when the outcome is not favorable.

It got so bad—the lack of that kind of material to write about—that I actually considered playing some 2/4 limit. One night, I decided to take a break from poker and somehow found myself at the Flamingo.  That's the only poker room on the Strip where you can still find a 2/4 game.  I went over to check it out, thinking I may play some 2/4—not to play as much as to see if I could find a fun game that might just give the kind of story I'd like to blog.

Well, as it happens, they had just called a new 2/4 game when I got over there, and I checked out the players at that game.  OMG.  What a miserable looking group of human beings.  When I was playing it regularly, 2/4 games were fun—people laughing, joking, talking.  They were there to have a good time, not necessarily to take your last four bucks.  And there were usually women there.  Almost always.  And women were always a key part in my early, fun stories.  I sure do miss the "woman saids."

But this group...yikes.  All male, every last one of them miserable looking, like they had just lost their last ten bucks and had to beg on the street to come up with the buy-in for this game.  Not a one had a smile on their face, nor spoke a word.  You could tell just by the way they were all sitting there they had no interest in socializing. All with headphones or earbuds. It was sadder than the worst tableful of 1/2 grinders I had ever seen.  I suppose I could have looked at another 2/4 game but once I saw that game, I had no interest in playing 2/4 anymore.  The only story I could have gotten out of this game was a bad beat one. No thanks.

And truth be told, this trip just continued to sour me on the whole Vegas experience.  I've talked about this in the past, but really, aside from the poker (and a few friends who live there or I meet there), Vegas really has nothing for me anymore.  It used to be a bargain to go there, but now it's just a money pit.  There are no bargains. The rooms are expensive,  the food is expensive, and of course, they are now charging for parking most everywhere (not that I have to pay—yet—but it's only a matter of time).

When my buddy Norm and I used to visit Vegas regularly back in the day, aside from the gambling, we'd really look forward to a variety of really cheap, really great food options.  A lot of the time we'd hit a great buffet for just a few bucks that would usually provide us enough food for the entire day.  If not, we'd hit a really great snack bar for something to tide us over til morning.  Again, it was cheap.  We'd actually look forward to eating at all these places and plan our trip so that we could hit them all in the short time we had.  There were also great food specials at most of the casinos' coffee shops (and no, I don't mean a Starbucks).

Now it's so pricey to eat that I try to eat almost exclusively where I can use my poker comps—especially since now it seems those poker comps are going to expire, so if you don't use them fast you are gonna lose them.  That means I also choose where to play poker that night by where I have comps I can use.  And those places that take my comps—well, it can get pretty boring to keep eating there.

And as I get older, I have less patience with the inconveniences of Vegas and of Vegas poker.  For example, I won't mention any names but there are some poker rooms that are just too damn cold to be comfortable in. It was obscenely hot in Vegas when I was there—over 110° virtually every day and hitting 117° a couple of times.  But in the poker rooms, at least some parts of them, I felt like I needed a parka and gloves to be comfortable.  It's ridiculous. Seriously, I carry around a zipped sweatshirt but I'm not going to carry a heavy jacket around when it's over a hundred out there.

Also, a lot of rooms (again, no names) are not built for comfort.  For various reasons, the tables are too close together.  Certain seats are jammed up against the seat behind you from the table behind you.  Others, there's just a narrow path between them—too narrow for the average human to get through.  This doesn't stop people from trying.  It annoys the piss out of me when people walk behind me and bump into my chair, especially when they fail to exhibit the common courtesy to say "Excuse me."  Yeah, that really upsets me.

In most cases, it wouldn't take much effort to go around, just a few seconds.  And surely these people who do it have to be able to tell they can't really fit between those two chairs without bumping into people.  Perhaps these folks think they are a lot skinnier than they are.  But in a lot of cases, even if these guys were as fit as they were in high school—and clearly they no longer are—they wouldn't fit.  They'd have to be freakishly skinny to squeeze in, and they are not.

So what happens is I go to a room based on the comps I can use and then get sent to a table and a seat where I am freezing and being bumped into.  So I have to ask for a table change and maybe a seat change too.  And then I end up choosing a game to play based not on what table would be the most profitable for me, but based on where I won't freeze to death and also where I won't want to kill the next person that bumps into me.

Nowhere in any poker book have I read the section on "game selection" and read about picking a game in the warmest part of the room.  One time I actually left a really juicy game because I was too cold to concentrate on the poker.

So, I really dunno when I will be returning to Vegas.  Lately, every time I come home, I feel less and less eager to return.

But I don't want to sound too negative (too late?).  I did have a lot of fun, and I got to meet up with some friends and some fellow bloggers.  I'll have reports on those meetings for you at some point.

Assuming, that is, I can light a fire under myself to get to writing them up.  Like I said, maybe it wasn't the lack of time that prevented me from doing more writing.  Maybe it was lack of motivation.


Sigh.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I'm Back!!!!

From Vegas, that is.  And I hope to resume "regular" blogging soon

In the meantime, there's this...



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene--July 2017 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 by now.

==================================================


VENETIAN: The next Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Aug. 31-Sept. 24. Among the highlights is the $1,100 superstack event that has two starting flights beginning Sept. 15. Players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K.
Another event with a $200K guarantee is the $800 eight-max that starts Sept. 1. The starting stack is 15K and has 40-minute levels.
The $340 doublestack event, which has a $100K guarantee, offers two starting flights beginning Sept. 12. The starting stack is 25K and levels run 40 minutes.
Players with tighter bankrolls should check out the $250 event Sept. 19. With five starting flights, it has a $250K prize pool. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels to start, progressing to 40 minutes on Day 2. A similar tournament with three starting flights and a $125K guarantee starts Sept. 7.
Omaha/8 players will enjoy the $250 O/8 event Aug. 31, starting with 10K chips and play 30-minute levels. The prize pool guarantee is $7K.
The series has 42 events and guaranteed prize pools exceed $1.4M.
In other news, a deal was reached at the final table of the main event of Venetian’s May Weekend Extravaganza, resulting in Australia’s Rajkumar Ramakrishnan and Las Vegas’ Stephen Ma each taking home $20K-plus. Carl Grounds of Las Vegas left with $18K-plus, while Christopher Busch of Colorado grabbed $17K and Mark Cannon from Southern California earned $16K. This $340 doublestack had more than 620 entrants, resulting in a prize pool of $176K, easily surpassing the $100K guarantee.
SOUTH POINT HOTEL AND CASINO: July 1-31 is the qualifying period for the poker room’s $10K player-appreciation freeroll, which will be Aug. 8. The top 50 players with the most hours played will qualify with $4K being paid to the winner of the tournament. Payouts, rules and more info is available in the ad on Page 11 of our current issue.
HARRAH’S: The room hosts a Ladies Warm-up event July 6. The $240 tournament offers a $7K first-place prize package that includes a cash prize, a day of training from the WSOP School of Poker, sunglasses, headphones and a bracelet. The event runs at 10 a.m. and starts with 20K chips and 20-minute levels. A $10 add-on gets 5K more.
ARIA: Christoph Vogelsang took home the $6M first-place prize for winning the Super High Roller Bowl on June 1. Jake Schlinder came away with $3.6M as runner-up. The event was limited to 56 players, each paying $300K to compete for the $16.8M prize pool. The tournament welcomed actor-comedian Kevin Hart as the special celebrity player and he played admirably, knocking out Phil Hellmuth and Fedor Holz on consecutive days. He fell short of cashing, though.
Aria hosted a number of high rollers leading up to its Aria Classic. The two-day, $100K event in late May was settled with a three-way deal. Christian Christner of Germany won $1.4M, Steffan Sontheimer of Germany won $1.2M and Benjamin Tollerene of Texas took home $1M. The total prize pool was $5.2M and there were 54 players.
MANDALAY BAY: The revised tournament schedule offers three $65 tournaments a day, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Players start with 10K chips and have 15-minute levels.
The main cash game is $1-$2 NLHE with a $100-$300 min-max buy-in. Another option is a $1-$3 game with a $1K max buy-in and a mandatory button straddle. There’s also a $2-$5 game with a $200-$2.5K min-max.
Aces and Kings Cracked is one of the promos. Players who lose with pocket aces win the size of the pot ($150 max). Players losing with pocket kings win the size of the pot ($75 max). The pot must be a minimum of $20 to qualify. This promotion runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. and daily 6-9 p.m.
Rolling High Hands runs at specific time periods during the week and there are three specific prize pools, all starting at $100 and progressing until it is won. The minimum hand to qualify is jacks full or better.
There are high hands, too: $100 for quads, $200 for straight flushes and $400 for royals.
STRATOSPHERE: The poker room at the north end of the Strip offers two versions of its daily 7 p.m. tournament. Every night except Mondays and Wednesdays, the buy-in is $50 for 4,500 chips. There’s an optional $20 add-on for 6K chips. The levels are 20 minutes.
Mondays and Wednesdays offer a similar tournament at $70 with $20 bounties. The starting stack is 6K and has a $20 add-on for 6K chips.
The room offers its popular Stratstack tournament periodically on Saturdays at noon, usually twice a month. It has a $110 buy-in, 30-minute levels and a 20K stack.
All tournaments offer players free pizza during the first break.
The regular cash game running is $1-$2 NLHE, with a $50-$300 min-max. There are high hands, which pay double when flopped between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The $50 High Hand of the Hour runs three times a day (11 a.m. to noon, 2-3 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.). Aces Cracked pays $50.
CAESARS PALACE: Jake Revelle is the new poker room manager. He moved over from Bally’s, where he was manager for several years. Before that, he managed poker rooms at Harrah’s, Flamingo and the Quad.
BALLY’S: Chris Gawlik takes over for Revelle. He had been running Planet Hollywood’s poker room for more than five years and will manage both rooms now.
LUXOR: The poker room closed in June.





Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Tribute to the Luxor Poker Room

Note:  As you've probably heard, the Luxor closed its poker room a few weeks ago.  So I thought I would repost my one and only post about the one and only time I played in the Luxor poker room as my lasting tribute to the room.  

And also, I haven't had time to write a new blog post and I need something to post before you all forget I exist.  So I can kill two birds with one stone.

This took place almost exactly four years ago, and features a few fellow bloggers you should all be familiar with.  You will note that it is bit out-dated.  For example, reference is made to Los Angeles not having any any NFL team, but now, today, we have two!  Also this is so long ago that I actually like the "Bra Burger" place--as you recall, I had a bitter disagreement with that place more recently (see here).

One might wonder if the room closed because in all the time I've been playing poker in Vegas, I only played there once.  I do feel guilty about that!

Finally, I should mention that the original title of this post was "A Duck & A Schmuck (x) 2," which explains the beginning of the post.  

I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.....


I guess I should explain the title of this post first.  A wise woman once told me that she referred to the starting hand of King-deuce as, “a duck and a schmuck.”  I thought that was quite funny and never forgot it.  But when I googled it, I was unable to locate any source that indicated this was an “official” nickname for that hand.  So I feel obligated to credit my pal Donna for that nickname.  Thanks Donna.  Whenever I get K-2, I think to myself, “a duck and a schmuck.”  And by the way, it’s a much better hand to get than the dreaded pocket Kings.  After all, when you see K-2, you just muck it and it doesn’t’ cost you any money.  Not so with KK.

Anyway, this is a tale about two “Ducks” and two Kings, Hence the "times 2."
In this case, the two “Ducks” involved are not cards but people: fellow blogger Lucki Duck and his awesome wife, Mrs. Duck.  I actually thought about giving Mrs. Duck a phony name, but, I don’t know, Mrs. Goose just sounded too silly.
Our story begins with a wonderful blogger’s dinner at Le Burger Brasserie, which is basically the official dinning place of poker bloggers.  As I explained in this post, it has everything a poker blogger could want.  Burgers. Women in sexy lingerie. Women in sexy lingerie serving burgers.  See what I mean?  The only thing missing is that since it is named after a woman’s support garment, the burgers should either be served on edible bras or on top of the girls’ actual bras, as I lamented here.  But to me, this eatery will always be known as “The Bra Burger” place.
I suppose I should mention that also joining us for the meal was Lightning.  But he doesn’t get mentioned in the title since he generously paid for the meal and that is his reward.  I suppose I should publically thank Lightning for the meal, but since his friggin’ Blackhawks beat my beloved Kings (the hockey Kings, not the pocket Kings), that seems like thanks enough.  Imagine my Kings losing?  Who’da thunk it?
Lucki Duck has already told his (totally false) version of the events here.  The burgers were good and the conversation was excellent.  A lot of fun. Lucki told us of his big score at the WSOP bracelet event, a tale he told here.  My first, if brief, meeting with him was there when he was in the process of winning a big pot and I stopped by to say hello and wish him well.  I have no doubt that it was my good luck wishes that propelled him into the money.
Lightning told the story of how he went to school with every known mass murderer of the 20th century.  On a totally unrelated topic, he told us how he spent several days providing taxi service for TBC.  They had fun hitting limit games, Omaha games, stud games, and I believe he drove Tony as far north as Reno at one point.
A lot of the discussion involved sports, as Lucki & Lightning debated the merits of their favorite home town sports teams.  So, it was the Cowboys vs the Bears.  Of course, I stuck up for my hometown of Los Angeles, proclaiming that my NFL team was the best of all time, the Los Angeles…..oh shit, we haven’t had a NFL team since the single wing, have we?

But I did get into the act.  For some reason, Lightning took great joy in dumping on Troy Aikman, former star QB of the Cowboys (and by “cowboys”, I don’t mean pocket Kings).  I pointed out that before he went to the NFL, Aikman was the star QB of my beloved alma matter, UCLA, for two years.  And damn it, in those two years, he was unable beat the University of Spoiled Children even once.
Mrs. Duck chipped in with a great story about being unable to get their clothes out of the washer at their luxury hotel (or was it the dryer?).  Fortunately, Mrs. Duck was able to figure it out before having to call the SWAT team to assist her.
Then Lightning noticed I had tweeted about our dinner.  I said we were having “bra burgers” for reasons I’ve already explained.  So he proceeded to make the ridiculous assertion to Mrs. Duck that yours truly is “obsessed with breasts.”  I am confident that I have put this ridiculous notion to bed with a recent post (see here).  But before I could explain what a total misconception that was, Mrs Duck proceeded to tell us about a woman she saw on the Vegas Strip recently.
“You would have really liked this woman we saw on the Strip, Rob.”  According to Mrs. Duck, she was wearing a pirate outfit from the waist down and almost nothing from the waist up. 
That pricked my interest.
She said the only thing this gal was wearing on top was mechanical tape.  Apparently very little of it, and apparently very strategically placed.  I couldn’t believe that Mrs. Duck didn’t call it what it was (or should have been).  Duct tape.
After all, you can fix anything with duct tape.  Even sagging breasts, no doubt.  And sagging was what these breasts were, apparently.  Mrs. Duck described her figure as “Rubenesque,” 
“Oh, she was overweight?”  Mr. & Mrs. Duck nodded affirmatively—quite a bit overweight, it seems.  And it seems that there wasn’t a whole lot of duct tape being used.
“Well it was very hot out there,” one of the Ducks explained.  In case I didn’t get the picture—oh, and trust me, I did—Lucki compared the tape and it’s placement to “tassels.” 
What the Ducks were too polite to say was that the gal was obviously using the duct tape to cover her nipples and not much else.
According to Mrs. Duck, the lady in question wasn’t just standing there.  No, she was dancing, jumping, shaking.  If she was indeed Rubenesque, I’m sure a whole lot more than just her ta-ta’s were shaking.
We all had a good laugh about that.  There’s no truth to the rumor that I spent the rest of my Vegas trip fixed to the corner where they said the girl was spotted.
Lightning suggested that before leaving town, the Ducks might go to a hardware store and pick up some duct tape for their own use.  Mr. Duck seemed enthusiastic about that idea, but Mrs. Duck said that he’d have to wear it. I have nothing further to report on the Ducks’ duct tape use, or lack thereof.
Lightning had already arranged to meet another blogger, Ron, over at the Luxor for an after dinner poker session, and invited us to join them.  Of course we said yes.  Ironically, I’d sat right next to Ron less than two weeks earlier at the first event of the Binions Classic, an event Ron discussed briefly here and I mentioned very briefly here. (Ron has now posted a more in-depth post about the session here and Lightning's version of the evening is here.)
We reassembled over at Luxor, (or as I’ve always called it, “The Luth Luxor”, which seems quite appropriate now that a new Superman movie just came out).  Oddly enough, I had never played at the Luxor poker room before, one of the few poker rooms in Vegas I could say that about.
As soon as we got there, they opened a new blogger’s 1/2 game, but I think we all wished we could have been in the other 1/2 game they had.  It was one of the wildest, craziest 1/2 games I’d ever seen.  There was like $5,000-$6,000 on the table, maybe more.  At least three players had stacks of over $1K each and the dealers were telling us that there was some guy there who was just giving money away.  He’d buy in for $300 and within two hands he gave it all away, almost without fail.  Apparently he kept shoving with nothing.  There was actually a crowd around the table watching, as if it was the final table at the Main Event.  It was hard to believe a room like the Luxor, of all places, could get that kind of an insane action table going, and it kept going the entire time we were there.
I sat between Lucki and Lightning, with Ron across from me.  Lightning will no doubt describe in painful detail how he lost his car, his house and his first born in a huge pot to Ron, who only happened to have flopped a boat.  Lightning promised to get it back over time by never tipping him again (Ron is a dealer at Bally’s).  For what it’s worth, Ron actually felt bad about taking Lightning’s money….but he took it just the same, of course.
I think all four of us left the room ahead, which was nice.  Lightning made a nice recovery; apparently his strategy was to give money away to people he knew and take it from total strangers.  Ron can almost retire on the money he took off Lightning and Lucki spent about two hours not playing a hand and then starting winning.
I’ll talk about three hands of mine, the last of which was especially noteworthy.
In a five way pot ($35), I flopped a set of 7’s.  In early position a guy (and I think it was the preflop raiser), bet $5.  There was two to a flush on the flop so I wanted to raise.  Three times the bet wasn’t good enough of course.  That was a ridiculously low bet for a pot that size.  I made it $30 and he folded. I couldn’t see betting less there and giving anyone a good reason to call.
Immediately after winning a nice pot when Ace-King resulted in a top pair/top kicker hand, I was dealt pocket Queens.  A fairly short stacked player in early position made it $6.  I made it $18 and he called.  The flop came King-Jack-9, giving me the gutshot, plus the pair of Queens.  He checked and I made my continuation bet for $30.    
He check-raised all-in.  But his stack was only $60 total.  It was an easy call for $30 more.  The last two cards were low and meaningless.  He showed his hand, King-Jack offsuit for a flopped two pair.  OK, that hurt, and I was left wondering what the hell he was doing, other than taking my chips.
I don’t get his preflop play.  Raising in early position with a crummy hand like King-Jack?  And with such a short stack?  My understanding of a short-stack strategy is you wait for a good hand to play before the flop, not play such a dangerous, speculative hand.  Whatever.  But with that hand, he called a three-bet?  It’s not like I was playing a lot of hands, even though I just had won the previous pot.  Anyone like his play?  I know, I know, you want him to call there.
By the time this next hand happened, Lucki had already taken off, and this was his last night in town.  He’s a great guy—despite what Lightning says—and it was a pleasure spending some time with him and of course, Mrs. Duck, who gifted me with a nice “woman said” story earlier.  But sadly then, only Ron and Lightning were around to witness this freakish hand—freakish for me, anyway.
In late position, I look down at the dreaded pocket Kings. A couple of others had limped, and Lightning, on my immediate right, also limped.  I made it $14.  Only two called, including Lightning.
The flop was Ace-King-8, rainbow.  It was checked to me.  If ever there was a temptation to slow play a set, this was it.  But no, I’ve taken a vow to never slow play a set again, so I bet out $30.  Both players called.  I’m sure Lightning couldn’t put me on a set of Kings, because he knows Kings never treat me that well.
A 6 on the turn, checked to me, and I bet $60, which was a little less than half my stack (that damn King-Jack-off).  The other guy called, and Lightning thought about for quite some time, but folded.
The river card was a beautiful 6, giving me a full house.  He checked, I shoved, of course.  And he called—he had me covered.  I showed my boat and he showed….Ace-7 offsuit. 
This is why you want people to make bad calls preflop, isn’t it?  He limped with a hand he should have folded, and called my preflop raise with a hand he never should have called a  raise with.  Then he kept calling me on every street, even though he had to believe, at the very least, that I had a bigger Ace than he did!
As Ron pointed out, the pair on the river was a great card for me.  If he was worried about his kicker, he might now think that it’d be a chopped pot and we both had two pair, Ace’s & 6’s, with a King kicker (on the board).  Well, as long as I hadn’t raised preflop with Ace-King!
Lightning told me he folded an Ace, and that it was bigger than a 7.  But I wonder—if he didn’t know me, if he’d never read my blog or played with me before, would he have possibly hung around until the river?  I’m glad he didn’t.  I would have felt guilty enough to at least have considered paying him back for the dinner if he had.

It was a nice pot, and put me up over $100 for the session.  I took off not long after that, saying goodbye to Ron and Lightning.

As I said, Lightning recovered by taking money from strangers instead of giving it to friends.  Summing it up, it was a great night…..great dinner, great conversation, great poker….a good time was had by all.
Except the guy who called my preflop raise with Ace-7 offsuit.