Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene--February 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 soon if not already.


The Bellagio poker room has added a 30-second shot clock to its daily tournament. It’s the first regularly scheduled tournament in Las Vegas to feature the shot clock.
It works like this: As soon as it’s a player’s turn to act, the dealer will start the clock, which will be visible to the player.The player has 30 seconds to act.If the player hasn’t acted at the end of the 30-second period, the player’s hand will be dead, unless the player uses a Time Extension card, which gives the player 60 more seconds to consider the action.Each player is issued two of these cards at the beginning of the tournament.
Bellagio used this format for one of its Five Diamond events in December and it proved popular.That was a $1,900 event that attracted 200-plus entrants, so the Bellagio feels players in their dailies will appreciate the quick pace.
The Shot Clock tournament runs daily at 2 and has a $200 buy-in.The starting chip stack is 12,500 and the event has 30-minute levels.
Speaking of the WPT Five Diamond Classic, James Romero of Oregon took home nearly $2M for first place in the championship event in December. Chicago’s Ryan Tosoc grabbed $1.1M for second and Jack Schindler of Pennsylvania locked up $736K for third.The $10,400 tournament had 792 entries and a $7.6M prize pool.
RIO: The World Series of Poker Circuit comes through Feb. 17-28. The series starts with a $365 event with six starting flights and a $250K guarantee. A two-day mixed PLO-NLHE event starts Feb. 20. The $250 seniors event is Feb. 21. PLO fans have their opportunity on Feb. 22 with a $365 event. A $365 HORSE event runs Feb. 23. The $365 Monster Stack, with 20K in chips, is Feb. 24.
The $1,675 main event has two starting flights beginning Feb. 25 and features a $750K guarantee. The series ends with a $2,200 high roller Feb. 27, finishing the next day.
WYNN: The Wynn Classic returns Feb. 23-March 12. The first of the three starting flights for the championship event is March 2.That event has a $750K guarantee and a $1,600 buy-in.
There’s a $400, two-starting-flight event Feb. 27 that has a $100K guarantee.A $600 tourney with three starting flights begins March 9 and offers a $250K guarantee.
The $600 seniors event with a $50K guarantee runs Feb. 24. The PLO tournament is Feb. 26 and has a $400 buy-in and a $25K guarantee. Two $400 Survivor tournaments with $40K guarantees each are offered on Feb. 23 and March 8.
The Wynn is adding 25 tables to the Encore Players Lounge for the event.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The Phamous Poker Series Goliath Warmup event runs March 24-April 3. There are 13 events offering a combined $1M in guarantees. The five-day main event starts the first of its three starting flights March 30. This $1,650 buy-in event starts players with a 30K stack and features 60-minute levels. The guarantee is $529,850.
A smaller version of the main event kicks off things March 24.It has two starting flights and 40-minute levels, with the same 30K starting stack.The buy-in is $600 and the guarantee is $150K. There’s also a $4K high roller April 2.
BALLY’S: The mid-Strip room is offering progressive high hands. The royal flush of each suit will reset at $500 each. Straight flushes of each suit reset at $100.Each rank of quads resets at $50. The payoff of each hand increases daily until each is hit.
Hourly high hands run daily from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.The payout is $100.There’s a $20K monthly freeroll with 60 hours of live play during the period needed to qualify.The top-50 finishers in the freeroll each get $400.
The main cash game is a lively $1-$2 NLHE with a $100-$300 min-max buy-in.A $3-$6 limit game with a $30 minimum also gets spread.
Tournaments run daily at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m.They are all $50 buy-ins with a 5K starting stack, 20-minute levels and a $500 guarantee.
FLAMINGO: One of the busiest mid-sized rooms, the Flamingo is one of the few rooms on the Strip offering a $2-$4 limit game and it’s almost always running. The minimum buy-in is $20.
In addition, Flamingo spreads $4-$8 limit with a half-kill.It has a $40 minimum buy-in.There’s a free buffet to players for every six hours they play in this game.There’s also a monthly freeroll just for players in this game, with 35 hours of play in the period needed to qualify.The first 20 finishers in the freeroll get $250, the rest of the qualifiers get $100 each.
Of course, the room spreads $1-$2 NLHE, which has a $100-$300 min-max buy-in.
Other promos include high hands ($50 for quads, $100 for straight flushes and $300 for royals). The payouts are doubled for that $4-$8 limit game.There are also two weekly freerolls (Monday and Friday).Eight hours in the half-week before each qualify.The top-10 finishers get $250 each.
There are six tournaments a day, all starting with a 20K stack.At 10 a.m., it’s a $60 buy-in with a $500 guarantee.At 1 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m., and midnight it’s $60 with a $600 guarantee.All of these have 15-minute levels. The 4 p.m. is a turbo with 10-minute levels, a $50 buy-in and a $500 guarantee.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

Commerce Casino is currently running their L.A. Poker Classic.  I’ve been checking the Saturday events to see if they have a tournament I like.  Usually, they are either out of my price range or sometimes have a second (or final) day at a inconvenient time/day for me.  Or I’ll think that the first flight will play too long to be acceptable to me since they (almost) never have a dinner break.  I know it’s hard to believe, because clearly I never complain much about anything, but I can usually find a fault with pretty much anything.  But when I looked at the event for yesterday, I was intrigued.

There was a Noon starting time for a $350 NLH event that had a $300K guarantee.  Ok, that got my attention.  I studied the details and couldn’t find a reason to veto the idea.  It was a $10K starting stack, with 30-minute levels on the first day.  If you made it to Day 2, the levels were 40-minutes.  Cool.  Plus the money bubble would break before each Day 1 completed.  I really like that. I studied the structure and it was very player friendly, lots of play, a slow progression. They were paying 12.5% of each flight and then approximately the top 8% would advance to Day 2.  And Day 2 was the next day, Sunday, at 1PM, and they would play until a winner was declared.

So I set my alarm to wake up earlier enough to make sure I got to Commerce in plenty of time to register and get settled in before the tournament started.  I didn’t really like setting the alarm to wake up early to play a poker tournament, but what can you do?  Also it was a beautiful Southern California day.  Couldn’t I think of anything better do to enjoy the perfect weather that be stuck all day inside a poker room?  Sadly, I could not. 

Oh, the other thing I had to do was pack a lunch—which I ate in the Commerce parking lot because I arrived early enough that I didn’t have to go inside right away.  But it turned out I really didn’t need to pack a lunch.  You see my only experience playing a tournament at Commerce was last Labor Day weekend (a story told here).  But as I pointed in that post, on the particular day I was there the tournament was held in a different place from usual, as the usual tournament area was reserved for a wedding. 

This time I got to see what the actual tournament area is like and it was a much better set up than what I had experienced last year.  It was actually in a big ballroom in the hotel part of the complex.  And it had its own snack bar.  That was the best part.  Getting a soft drink is always so difficult at Commerce.  This time I could go get it myself.  And since they don’t provide free soft drinks at Commerce anyway, it didn’t matter much that I’d have to pay for one.  And it was away from all the cash games and all the other casino activates.

When I saw the set up, I realized I’d played in the ballroom before.  A long, long, long time ago.  I recognized it and realized that the first (or second?) time I played at Commerce, I was playing in that very room.  It was long before I was playing NL.  In fact, it was when I was just starting out learning the game.  Believe it or not, I’m pretty sure it was $1-$2 limit game, with blinds of 50¢ and $1!  Why they were spreading that game in the ballroom, I have no idea, but they were.  This was probably 2005 or 2006.

But I didn’t know about the snack bar so I brown bagged it (is that still an expression?).  Oh well, I’d be able to take advantage of the snack bar if I lasted long enough (and the flight lasted long enough) to have to grab some dinner there.

The very first hand I was the big blind (blinds were 25/50).  I had 9-6 offsuit.  There was a raise to $150 and two callers.  I decided the odds were good enough to call for $100 more. Except that I got confused with the chips.  Not being very familiar with the Commerce chipset, I saw the “1” on the $1K chip and put that out next to my big blind.  Oops.  The dealer was about to ask me what I was intending when I said, “Oh that’s just a call, I grabbed the wrong chip.”  He let me take back the $1K and I promptly replaced it with a $500 chip.  Oops again. I pulled that back and finally put a $100 chip out.  I’m actually not sure if the dealer was right to let me only call there.  I think by rule, I did raise, whether I intended to or not.  And by the way, isn’t it time that all chipsets at all casinos across the US be standardized?  It’s so confusing that different colors mean different things in different poker rooms.  Anyway, I was embarrassed so I said, “I’ve never actually played this game before.”  And by the end of the hand, I think the preflop raiser believed that was possible.

The flop was King-9-2, two diamonds (both my cards were black).  The preflop raiser led out for $300, and it folded to me.  How I played this hand was based on a feeling I had picked up from some pre-tournament conversation.  The preflop raiser a youngish guy with a baseball cap (worn the proper way, fortunately), had mentioned to the guy next to him that he had been playing a lot at Hollywood Park casino (located in the same lot where the L.A. Rams are building their new stadium).  And he said he had been doing very well there.  So I kind of figured he was the L.A. version of a Vegas grinder and might be fairly aggressive.  With middle pair, knowing that there was a good chance he was betting with nothing, I decided to call.

The turn card was a low diamond and he bet $450.  I was about to fold when I thought better of it.  I just figured there was a good chance he didn’t have a King or a pocket pair that beat 9’s.  Or two diamonds.  I called. He barreled again when the river was another deuce.  This time $1K.  Again, I almost folded but my gut told me this guy was weak.  So I called.  And he turned over Ace-10 off for Ace-high.  I showed my 9-6 to take the pot.  The guy was shaking his head at my bad play.

HP (for Hollywood Park guy) was by far the most aggressive player at the table, I was right about that.  In fact, he was the first player from the table to bust out.   Still in the first level, he called my open (with Ace-Jack off) to $125.  There was another caller.  The flop had two spades on it and I had the Ace of spades.  HP donked out $350, the other guy folded but I called.  The turn was an 8 that paired the board.  We both checked.  A blank on the river and we both checked again.  So he showed 8-4 off for trips.  Weird.  I couldn’t figure out why he donk-bet the flop (8 was middle pair) and I really can’t figure out why he never bet his trips (I’ve played poker too long to even question why he called my raise with 8-4 offsuit).  I guess that’s the way they do it at Hollywood Park.

I chopped a pot with a guy when we both had Ace-Jack (but mine was soooted) and took some of HP’s chips.  Then, I completed from the small blind with King-10 off, it was 4-way.  The flop was King-Jack-10.  I bet $300 and HP called.  There was a Queen on the turn, I checked and called his $500 bet.  An Ace on the river put Broadway on the board and there was no flush possible.  I knew we were both playing the board.  We both checked; he showed Queen-10.  Damn.

There was another hand or two I was involved in with minimal results.  What’s important is that late in the fourth level, the first level with antes (it was 25/75/150) I was sitting around $11K.  And in the small blind, I looked down at a couple of Kings.  Yeah, the dreaded pocket Kings.  it was the first pocket pair I’d seen all day.  Recall from the previous week at PC Ventura, I didn’t get a pocket pair all session (see here) save the time I had deuces and we chopped the blinds.  So this was essentially my first pocket pair in three sessions.  And of course it was Kings.

Well, an early position player raised to something like $500, there was a call, and then a guy made it $1950.  Hmm….This guy had struck me as one of the better players at the table, though he hadn’t played many pots.  It was more the way he carried himself at the table that gave me that impression.

What should I have done?  I didn’t really consider just calling and I surely wasn’t folding.  I made it $6100 (I just put six $1000 chips next to the $100 chip I had there for the small blind). That was a bit more than half my stack, I was pot committed. It folded back to the guy who had three-bet and he just called.

The flop was Jack-high.  I announced “all-in” and he snap-called and showed two Aces, of course.  The turn and the river were no help and since he had me covered, I was out of the tournament in slightly less than two hours.

I get my Kings cracked all the time, but oddly enough, not usually by Aces.  I can even remember a time when I ran my Kings into Aces and flopped a set for the suckout. 

Afterwards, I kept thinking about if I could have played it better.  I mean, you can’t just assume that a guy is only three-betting with pocket Aces, can you?  Maybe at a 1/2 game, but at a $350 tournament?  Surely his three-betting range is wider than that.  If I just call, am I just set-mining with the (allegedly) second best starting hand in hold’em?

And once I bet half my stack pre, I can’t see checking that flop. Maybe I should have raised smaller?  A min-raise instead of essentially 3X the previous bet? Now if there was an Ace on the flop, maybe I try to get away from it.  Of course, his calling my four bet is a strong move, maybe that’s what I should be thinking of?  I still can’t see folding and if I check, he’s betting.

Should I just call his flop bet and try to get to showdown as cheaply as possible?
Or is it one of those Aces vs. Kings situations where I’m supposed to lose my stack?  That’s certainly how it played out.

Anyway, I’d welcome your feedback on how I should have played the hand differently.

Or maybe I should do what I always joke about doing and just muck those Kings the moment I see them?

BTW, what do you think of his call instead of shoving over my 4-bet?  Good play?  Sure, a shove there screams Aces, but am I ever folding preflop?  Was it a good play on his part?

Note:  The pic above has nothing to do with this post, pocket Kings, or poker.  In fact it makes me forget about poker and pocket Kings. So that’s why I’m running it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

No, it Wasn't Close to a Jackpot

This post is sort of a follow up to the post from last week, here, where I discussed, among other things, some confusion over a potential bad beat jackpot hand.  Once again on Saturday, I went to PC Ventura and played some poker, and the bad beat jackpot was a prominent topic of conversation.

In case you didn’t read the comment section on the post I just linked, I should mention that my pal Dave solved the mystery for me of what the guy was talking about. To recap, with pocket Queens, the flop came Ace-Ace-Queen.  When I bet, the guy folded and was mad, implying that if I had a “big Ace” I should have checked and tried for the bad beat jackpot.  I couldn’t figure out how that would work, but Dave explained.  If I had Ace-King or Ace-Queen, and he had pocket Kings or pocket Jacks (no other hand would work), and the case Ace hit the board on the turn or the river, I would have quad Aces and he would have Aces full of either Kings or Jacks. The minimum qualifying losing hand is Aces full of Jacks.  And it has to be beaten by quads or better.  A bigger full house won’t do.  The reason I would need a Queen or a King in addition to the Ace is that both cards must play.  If I had quads with three Aces on the board, my other card must me at least as good as the highest non-Ace card on the board.  Since the flop had a Queen, I’d have to match or beat that.

Anyway, during the most recent session, the BBJ did indeed hit.  But not at my table, no, of course not.  It was on the other side of the room.  A huge cheer went up, the kind of cheer you hear coming from the Sports Book in Vegas when a team scores a huge touchdown late in the game.  I looked around at the TV screens and nothing was happening.  It was the jackpot being hit.  It was a cool $42K, and the distribution was as follows: 50% for the losing hand, 25% for the winning hand, the rest divvied up to the other players at the table as a table share.  I never heard what the hand was, but I did hear that the losing (and thus, winning) hand was held by a guy playing only his second hand at the table.  It was a 1/2 game, and the guy was just sitting there waiting for a seat at the 3/5 game. Apparently he was a reg, but no one had ever seen the guy with the winning hand before.  And he had no knowledge of the bad beat jackpot at all, they had to explain to him what happened after they hit it.

So our table (and all the others, no doubt) were all abuzz about the jackpot being hit, and it being reset at $20K.  All the regs at the table knew that it had been quite awhile since it had been hit.  The dealer said what usually happens when it takes a while to be hit, it gets hit again very soon.  I suppose if someone hit it again the same day, that might be considered a form of a bad beat itself, since it would be a much bigger payoff if it hadn’t just been hit earlier in the day.  But I’m sure no one would be all that upset about winning their share of $20K.

Anyway, our table had barely finished talking about it when this hand happened.  I wasn’t involved (of course).  But there was some preflop action (a three-bet, I’m pretty sure) and a few players saw a flop.  It had two Aces on it and a low card.  I think all the money got in at that point and after the shove and the call it was heads up.

So the turn card was another Ace, putting three Aces on the board.  And the dealer immediately shouted out, as loud as he possibly could, “three on board!”  Ok, I guess they’re supposed to do that when there are three Aces on board and thus a possibility of a BBJ.  But they don’t shout anything when the board double pairs and there’s a possibility of quads over quads.  Nor do they do it when the board pairs and there’s a straight flush possible too.  And it struck me as weird that they would actually want the dealer to call attention to the possibility of a jackpot since, if any player talked about the possibility during the hand, it would void the jackpot.

In other words, if in the hand I was in from the week before, the guy said to me, before I bet the flop, “I’ve got pocket Jacks, if you’ve got Ace-King or Ace-Queen, don’t bet me out of the hand, if an Ace falls we’ve hit the jackpot,” that would totally kill the jackpot.  Talking about the jackpot, talking about what you have in that situation, voids the jackpot.

But anyway, the guy yelled that there were three Aces on the board.  I think that’s when the players exposed their hands.  One had pocket Kings, and the other had pocket Jacks.  The guy with the Jacks was deflated until he saw the river card—a Jack!  He thought he had sucked out for the win, and so, for a second, did the dealer.  The dealer actually started to push the pot to the guy with the Jacks, but was stopped almost immediately by a player or two (including the guy with the Kings) that the winning hand was Aces full of Kings, not Jacks full of Aces.  The dealer realized that almost immediately and honestly, I think he would have caught himself anyway if no one had said anything.

But then one of the players said, “Is that a jackpot hand?  That’s a jackpot hand!”  The other guy agreed and the dealer corrected them right away.  Yes, Aces full of Jacks was the losing hand, but it has to be beaten by quads or better, not a better full house (as I said at the beginning of the post).

Well that should have been the end of it, but one of the players involved, maybe both of them, began pressing the dealer to find out what it would have taken to be a jackpot hand.  One of them said, “If one of us had an Ace, it would be a jackpot, right?”  The dealer had already moved on mentally and he said, “Yes…well, no, unless the other card played.” But, if either one of them had had an Ace, they would have had a totally different hand than what they actually had, since this was hold’em and players only have two hole cards.  No one could have two Kings and an Ace, could they?  But these guys kept insisting that they came really close to getting the jackpot.

They were interrupted from this bizarre fantasy by a guy at the other end of the table, who said, “I knew neither of you had an Ace, I threw an Ace away.”  Oh, so maybe he threw away a jackpot?  He was asked what his other card was….it was a 9.  And he wasn’t about to see the flop with Ace-9 in a pot that was three-bet preflop.  So for a second, everyone thought he threw away a jackpot hand, until someone realized that his hand wouldn’t qualify, because his 9 wouldn’t have played as the river card was a Jack.  It was good until then.  So no jackpot then?  Nope, he wouldn’t have gotten the table the jackpot.  But he would have won the pot with quad Aces.  He’d be the only one happy at the table.  Everyone else would have been really pissed at the Jack on the river.

Well, I that part of the discussion being over, the other two guys went back to bonding over how close they had come to hitting the jackpot.  Yeah, as long as you consider the fact that one of them would have had to have had a completely different hand than the one they actually had to have hit it.  And since we’d by now established that the case Ace was dealt to someone else, it’s just as well one of them didn’t have the fifth Ace in the deck.  Pretty sure a deck with five Aces in it voids the jackpot, too.

I didn’t say a word, I just let them blather on because it seemed like they were enjoying the fantasy.  Especially the guy with the Jacks who had just lost all his chips and was surprisingly cheery about having to rebuy.  But here’s the thing.  With their two starting hands, the only possible way for them to have hit the jackpot would be for both of them get quads.  That would work, quad Jacks losing to quad Kings would have qualified.  But essentially, once the board had two Aces on it (and that happened on the flop), there was no chance for a BBJ between their two hands. I should have told them that, but I didn’t want to burst their bubble.  I’ll bet that eventually they figured out that they didn’t come close, but at the time, I did hear their final comments about it: (Edited to add, there actually is another way to hit the BBJ with their starting hands, see the first comment, from Cokeboy, below.  I always mess up these damn BBJ posts!)

“Man, we came really, really close.”

“Yeah, we were right there weren’t we?”

Umm, not so much.

As for my session, not much to say.  I was totally card dead.  In three hours, I got exactly one pocket pair.  It was deuces and on that hand, it folded to me in the small blind, so we chopped the blinds.

The one hand I’ll mention was when I had Ace-King of spades.  I raised to $15 and had two callers.  The flop had the Queen of spades and a couple of low cards, rainbow, I think.  I made a $20 c-bet and had one call.  The Jack of spades on the turn gave me a Royal Flush draw.  This time I checked because, in all honesty, I wanted to see if I could hit the Royal—I’ve still never had one.  He checked too.  The river was the King of clubs, I bet $35 and he mucked.

I ended up down a few bucks.  I didn’t get enough good cards to lose much.  But at least I almost saw the bad beat jackpot hit.

Well, not really.

You know what else I didn’t see that day?  A woman walking a dog in her underwear.  But here’s what that looks like:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Just Another Post About Parking in Vegas

When I was reviewing my notes about my recent trip to Vegas, I realized I left something out of a post I wrote while I was up there (see here).  It had to do with the parking situation in Vegas.  So even though I’ve written a lot about that (see here, for example), I wanted to talk about this brief discussion I was involved in about it.  And then, fortune smiled on me as I heard some interesting info about parking at MGM properties that I should report to you.  So I can combine the story with the info and turn it into a blog post containing two similarly themed tidbits.

The anecdote took place during the Stratosphere tournament I played. Because of the low turnout for that tournament, it was pretty obvious that even the person winning the tournament wouldn’t be there all day.  There would still be time for the winner to play in, say, a 7PM tournament that night.

I heard a guy at the other end of the table say something to the effect of, “Well, I’d like to play the Aria 7PM tournament tonite, but I’d have to pay $10 to park.”

The guy sitting right next to him said, “Well, if you buy into the tournament, they would validate your parking for sure.”

The first guy said, “I’m not sure about that.”

That’s when I spoke up.  “They absolutely will not validate your parking.  The only way you can get away without paying is if you have a certain status on your MLife card—it’s one level up from the basic card.”  I can never remember what the status levels are called, it’s different for CET and MGM.

The guy said he didn’t have that.  The other guy said, “Oh come on, how can they not validate your parking if you play in the tournament?”  Not a bad question, perhaps.  But I said, “Well, if they were to validate for playing in a poker tournament, they’d have to validate for playing slots, or in the pit, or for seeing a show, or having dinner there….or pretty much any reason you’d go into the casino.”  I went on to explain that the “validation” is there if you’re enough of a regular gambler with them to get a level increase on your player’s card.  If you’re just an infrequent customer of theirs, you’ll have to pay the parking charge and like it.  Well, I guess you don’t have to like it.  You can hate it.  But you have to pay it regardless.

I’m not sure how the guy got the idea they validate.  I assume he’s a local.  At that time, locals parked for free at MGM properties.  That changed with the New Year, by the way.  Locals no longer can park free at MGM properties, they have to pay just like the rest of us poor slobs (or earn the card upgrade).  He probably hadn’t worried about parking up to that point.  And if he frequents downtown casinos, he knows they always have validated—for anything, really.  When I went downtown to have dinner with VegasDWP and Alysia Chang (and a fine dinner it was, at Hugo’s Cellar at Four Queens, courtesy VegasDWP and thank you very much, sir), all three of us had parking stubs we had validated for eating in the restaurant. You can probably just walk thru the casino and get the ticket stamped.  But downtown is different than the Strip.

It turned out the guy who wanted to play at Aria was not a local.  He was visiting from out of town and had flown in for a week of poker.  So I asked him where he was staying—Harrah’s. Someone pointed out—and I agreed—that he didn’t really need a car if he was staying there.  He’s in walking distance to a lot of poker rooms and can take the occasional Lyft or Uber (or even the bus or the Monorail) for the rest.  He said he thought about that, but he got a really good deal on a rental car for a week—and he didn’t know about the paid parking.  Lucky for him he took this trip before Harrah’s starts charging for parking, which will be any minute now.

But he was at Stratosphere, which would have been quite a walk from Harrah’s. Also, he mentioned the next night he was looking forward to playing in a HORSE tournament at Orleans.  Of course, you can Uber there or even take a free shuttle from the Strip.  So, unless you wanna do a lot of stuff off Strip—like hike Red Rock Canyon or drive to Hoover Dam, you very likely don’t need to rent a car in Vegas these days, especially now that they have Uber & Lyft and especially now that they charge for parking (soon-to-be) pretty much everywhere.

Then the guy wanting to play at Aria wondered if there was a good alternative to the Aria tournament that night—at a casino he wouldn’t have to pay a parking charge. He wished there was a way to find out all the tournaments that are running in Vegas on any specific day.  Ahem.  I’d like to think someone else at the table would have told him about PokerAtlas if I hadn’t been there, but lucky for him, I was indeed there. I gave him the good news that what he was asking for did indeed exist, and then said, “I’m sure there’s a good tournament at Venetian at 7PM, they just started their “New Years Eve Extravaganza.” Of course I knew this because I’d entered the tournament series in PokerAtlas not that long ago.  And so I demonstrated the PokerAtlas app (from across the room) by looking up the tournament at the Venetian that night.  I gave him the details, and I’m pretty sure he planned on playing there, instead of at the Aria, that night.

Apologies to the great folks—and they are great folks—who run the Aria poker room.  But if I run into someone who wants an alternative to paying for parking, I’m going to tell him the alternative. You might want to tell that to your bosses, who I’m sure could not care less.

And since I hate paid parking on the Strip with the intensity of a thousand suns, I wanted to make sure the suits who run MGM International know that they lost a customer over their parking policy.  So, right as soon as this incident took place, I tweeted this out:  “Playing w/ a guy from out of town. He said he would play poker tonite at Aria but won't because of pay parking. Good job, @MGMResortsIntl

I know that tweet accomplished nothing whatsoever, but it made me feel good to send it (so I guess, in a small way, it did do some good).

BTW, thinking about it now, I wish I had asked the guy how he found out about the Stratosphere tournament he was playing in.  Since it’s not a regular scheduled tournament, the most obvious way I can think of for him to have learned about was from PokerAtlas.  Obviously that wasn’t the case.  I guess someone somewhere had tipped him off.

Well, that’s that story.  Then, just the other day, I got an email from one of my loyal blog readers who lives in Vegas.  He doesn’t play enough to get an upgraded player’s card at MGM.  And I know he likes playing the Aria tournaments. Here’s what he said:

So I went to Aria for the first time since paid parking.  Got my ticket and drove in. Didn't last too long in the 1PM tournament and was going to stay and play cash.  But first I thought, they advertise getting the MLife credit card and you automatically reach “Pearl” status...which means no paying for parking.   So I called my wife (can't go apply for credit card without telling her) and told her that I was going to go to the MLife desk and see if I can get the credit card (our credit is excellent....but you never know).  She said OK.

I go to the desk, give my ID and MLife card; answer a couple of questions....type in some info on their keypad. The girl walks away for a minute, comes back and checks her screen and says, “you’re approved.” Now here is where I am flabbergasted:  she turns around.....opens a cabinet and takes a card from the machine.  I think it is going to be my new MLIfe card. But it's the freaking new credit card....printed out right there (does not have raised numbers)!     Then she goes and gives me my new MLife cards.   Had I done this online, I would have waited a couple of weeks for the new card.....but they not only approve it there, they give you your new credit card.  

And the card has no fees and no minimum use....so I will keep track of my MGM visits and see how much I save. Tho if you charge $1,000 during first 3 months, you get 10,000 points which is worth $100. And I rarely go 3 months without charging $1,000.  And no....I won't be running it up and paying interest on it.  Besides once I do the $1,000, unless I am spending at MGM, I use my airline card to get travel points.

Thanks to my anonymous pal for that info.  I knew about the credit card option as a way to get around the parking fee.  But I didn’t know they’d actually give the credit card right on the spot, in the casino, when apply for it in person.  My friend reported that he was able to use his Pearl card that very day to get out of the Aria garage without paying for parking (which was his plan). I have to wonder if you can do this at all MGM properties or just the high-end ones like Aria, and presumably, Bellagio. 

Good to know, keep this in mind.  However, if you are not a local, you probably want to get approved for the credit card in advance of your trip so it’s not an issue when you arrive in Vegas. So this would be mostly for locals who suddenly have to make arrangements for parking now that free parking is no longer available to locals. 

Anyway, that’s my latest report on Vegas parking.  They don’t call me “RobVegasParking” for nothing.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Too Much Cash

Something Tony said on Twitter the other day reminded me of this story that goes back at least 10 years or more.  In telling this story today, I’m going to sound a bet foolish.  I’m going to come off as a real nervous Nellie.  But you have to remember it was years ago and things have changed.

What Tony said that triggered this was that he was uncomfortable using Lyft and Uber to get around Vegas carrying $8K in cash on him.  I don’t blame him.  I sure never had anywhere near that much money on me, either in Vegas or anywhere else.  It would make me nervous, even if I never left the house with it.

But it did remind me of the time I panicked just a bit carrying around some cash in Vegas.  This was before I played poker in Vegas. Back in the days when my pal Norm and I were visiting Vegas regularly, I’d never need a lot of cash on me.  For most trips, my gambling fund was no more than $300 total, tops. If I had more than $500 on me (including $200 for expenses), I’d get a bit nervous.

Before I played poker, I’d play Blackjack and Craps.  We knew the odds were always against me so we played the cheapest games they had.  We pretty much stuck to the tables where the minimum bet was $2.  Good luck finding that now! But they had them when I started going to Vegas. I’d buy in for $20 at the BJ table and $40 at the Craps game and that was it. When Pai Gow Poker came along, Norm and I started playing that.  The min bet was $5 (or sometimes $10) but the pace of the game was so much slower than either BJ or Craps that a $40 buy-in usually lasted a long time. Plus, one of the reasons we played Pai Gow was that it was getting harder and harder to find $2 minimums at BJ or Craps.  And the money just disappeared too fast at a $5 minimum table for those games (also virtually impossible to find now).  We had a lot of fun visiting Vegas three times a year playing at those low stakes.  Sometimes one (or both) of us would get on a good run and actually have a winning trip.

Even today, I try not to have much cash on me.  But I need more than when my stake for each game was $20 or $40!  Still, I rarely have more than $1K on me, unless I’ve had a couple of winning sessions in a row or have just had a $1K+ cash in a tournament.  And these days, I have an account in a bank that has locations in Vegas. I’ll go to the bank to deposit the excess cash so I’m never carrying more than $1K for very long.  Similarly, I can go to the bank to get more funds when I’m having a bad run.  But again, I never carry more than a few buy-ins for the games I’m gonna play in.  That’s not only out of safety concerns, but also helps insure I don’t lose too much in any one game if things go awry.

But back when this story took place, I was used to carrying less than $500 and probably never, ever had as much as $1K in cash on me.  Maybe once or twice after a particularly good run at the craps table. It was rare.

Until I started playing poker, and until my life situation changed so that I was going to Vegas a lot more than three times a year (and mostly alone), I didn’t have any way to deposit money into the bank while I was in Vegas; I had to wait until I got home.  Getting money was a bit easier of course, you can use ATM’s.  But I never liked that idea, as there are always charges for using an ATM not owned by your own bank.  So I had established check-cashing privileges with a few of my favorite casinos.  To this day, I can still cash an actual personal check in one of the local joints, and always do so at least once a year to keep it active.  Note: it’s check cashing only, they don’t give me funds on credit.  I wouldn’t want that!

Actually, when I first started going to Vegas, it was actually before ATM’s were even around (or maybe they were, but you could only use the one at your own bank, and they weren’t in casinos).  My first few Vegas trips, I actual got Traveler’s Checks to use in Vegas to get money for gambling.  Do people even know what those are? Do Traveler’s Checks still exist?  Today I can go to ATM’s all over Vegas (but not usually the ones in casinos) to get money without any fees.

But I digress (that’s so unlike me).  At the time this story took place, I was either bored with BJ and Craps, or just frustrated because I couldn’t play the games at stakes I liked. Pai Gow was fine, but I needed a little variety.  Pai Gow got me interested in poker, so I started occasionally playing Let it Ride and Three-Card poker to mix it up.  Yeah, they were $5 minimum bets (at least) but the money seemed to last longer even if your luck was bad.  And I didn’t play them too often.

On this trip, I was staying alone at a friend’s house.  He had bought the house for his retirement but was still living in L.A.  It was mutually beneficial.  I had a place to stay for free and he had someone checking on the house and making sure everything was ok between his own visits.  I think it was summer, so it was a vacation for me, not just a long weekend.  My friend’s house was on the south end of town, not far from the M Resort and South Point (not sure if either of them existed when this story takes place).

So, one afternoon, I’m sure it was a weekday, I visited Circus Circus.  Don’t laugh.  We’ve established that I was looking for games with low minimum buy-ins and thus in those days, Circus Circus was always a stop on the gambling tour.  I’m sure I went there hoping to find $2 BJ or Craps. I dunno if I found it or not.  I might have played one of those first, but I somehow ended up at a Let it Ride table.

And I ran hot.  I don’t remember too many details now. I don’t have any notes. Actually I probably do have hand written notes somewhere, but if I could find that notebook, I doubt I’d be able to read my own hand writing.  I was running so well that I decided to double up on my bet—from $5 to $10 (which, if you know the game, was really from $15 to $30).  I always did the opposite of Martingaling when I played pit games—increase the bet when running well, not when I was losing and trying to get even.

All I can remember is that I hit two really big hands.  I don’t think I caught a straight flush, which would have paid 200 to 1 (according to what I just looked up online).  But I must have hit a few straights and flushes and then a full house.  I guess I was betting $10 per spot ($30 total), when I caught quads.  Ironically now, I remember it was quad Kings! So I actually won a huge hand that started with pocket Kings, tho I didn't even know the term at the time. I know they actually had to stop the game and have the tape reviewed before they paid me off for the quads.

I played my hot streak out and when it seemed to be over, I cashed out.  I’m not certain, but I seem to recall counting $2,200 in chips.  Not sure what I bought in for, possibly as much as $100.  So probably a $2,100 profit.  Easily the most I’d ever won at one session in my many trips to Vegas.  In those days, a $100 profit in any session was a fantastic result for me and quite rare.

But as extremely happy as I was, I was nervous as hell.  With whatever was already in my wallet, this would be the most cash I’d ever had on me, ever.  I just wasn’t comfortable carrying around that much cash.  I realize that for Vegas, this was nothing (although it was more than it is now due to inflation), but for me, it was way too much cash to be carrying.

When I took the chips to the cashier, I was nervously looking around the whole time.  Was anyone watching me? My eyes kept scanning. I didn’t take the time to put the money in my wallet, I didn’t want all that cash “exposed” for that long.  I just grabbed it and shoved it in the bottom of my pocket as fast as I could.  Then I exited the casino to head to my car as quickly as possible.  It was mid-day, mid-week, but I was sure I was about to get mugged.  Once I exited the casino, I pretty much ran to the garage to find my car, the whole time looking around for potential muggers. 

The various garages at Circus Circus were not well maintained, and the elevator I had to take to get to the floor my car was on was old, creaky, and dirty.  As soon as I got out of it, I ran to locate my car, and found it, got in, and locked the car right away. 

Now, my original plan was to spend the rest of the day and evening on the Strip, playing.  No more.  I didn’t want to go anywhere with all that cash on me.  As I said earlier, I had no bank I could deposit it in.  I was still in town for another few days.  The only thing I could think of was taking it back to my friend’s house and leaving it there. My friend may very well have had a safe, but I sure didn’t know where it was or how to open it and I didn’t think he would tell me.  So I figured I’d just have to hide it somewhere in his house.

I drove back to his house as fast as I legally could.  I was very happy to get inside his house.  The only thing I could think of was to put most of the cash in a book in his book case, so that’s what I did.  I left the house and returned to the Strip feeling relatively secure.  Although I did have an irrational fear that his house would burn down while I was gone.

A few days later it was time to head home.  Fortunately, I remembered which book I put the money in and retrieved it.  Meanwhile, I had searched the internet to find the closest location of my California bank to Vegas.  The nearest one was in Barstow, half-way between Vegas and L.A, about two hours from Vegas. I really didn’t want to wait until I got back to L.A. to deposit the money.  I knew the L.A. offices would be closed by the time I got close to any of them.  So I would have to keep the money at my house that night and not get it deposited until the next day (I might have actually had to work that next day—not sure—so that would have further complicated things).

I remember that the Barstow office closed at 4 PM.  It must have been mid-week. I figured I had a chance to get to the Barstow branch by then.  Of course, it would have an ATM, but there was no way I trusted the ATM with that much cash, I wanted a receipt from a human being who would count it.  I’ve never been comfortable depositing cash at an ATM.

There was the matter of finding the bank in Barstow.  This was years before GPS’s, and cell phones with GPS’s, and Google Maps phone apps.  Fortunately the internet existed and I was able to get directions from that, which I had to write down with pen and paper.  Before leaving town, I had to stop for lunch at a Subway, which made me nervous of course. Fortunately, it was near my friend’s house, a very nice neighborhood, and it was broad daylight so I was only mildly concerned.  Then on the way home, I think I would have peed in my pants rather than stop anywhere for a bathroom break before getting that money in the bank.

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary.  But I almost didn’t make it to the bank in time.  I guess there was some heavier-than-usual traffic on the I-15.  Then, when I got off at the main drag in Barstow to get to the bank (Main St, which was also where the bank was located), it was close enough to rush hour that traffic on Main Street was stop-and-go. Who know a dinky town like Barstow even had a rush hour. I think there was also some road construction so that one or two lanes were closed.  I kept nervously looking at the clock, and I didn’t know exactly where it was (I had never been there before, of course, and was driving on a road I was unfamiliar with, except the tiny portion right adjacent to the I-15).  But I did see the bank ahead after awhile.  It was still touch-and-go that the traffic would allow me to get there in time.  I think I pulled into the lot at around 3:57PM or so.  I ran from the car and got in the door just in the nick of time.

Phew.  I filled out the deposit slip, got in line, reached a teller and finally could relax.  I guess the teller commented about making a deposit so distant from my own branch.  I explained that I had won a lot of money in Vegas and wanted to get it in the bank as soon as possible.  She said that was a good thing, and then said that it is much more likely that they would get someone driving back from Vegas to withdraw money because they lost it all there.

Well, that’s the story. I know it seems silly now.  Even to me. If I was “stuck” with $2200 from a tournament win now, it wouldn’t faze me (tho of course, I would be able to get it into the bank while in Vegas).  But when your entire gambling fund for a trip is $300 or so, it was a lot of money and I just wasn’t used to carrying around cash like that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The ATM at Red Rock

During one of the first few evenings I was in Vegas last month, I found myself at the Red Rock Casino.  I was there to have dinner with some friends.  When we split up after, it didn’t make sense for me to drive to the Strip to play, it was much easier to play some poker at the Red Rock poker room.

I’ve played at the Red Rock a number of times over the years, and the one thing I can be sure of when I play there is that I can’t be sure of anything.  Every session, every experience there, is completely different.  One time it will be the nittiest game in town, another time it will be a table full of maniacs.  Sometimes it’s all regs who know each other and I feel like I’m intruding on a private game, other times, they act like they don’t know each other (and yeah, sometimes I’m convinced they are just acting).  And you know, sometimes, I see a girl with the largest breasts in the free world get motor-boated by another girl (see here to find that story). Sadly, that is not a regular feature of the room; I only saw that once.  If it happened all the time, I’d move into the room.

On this night, my first impression of the table was completely wrong.  In one corner, there were three older guys all next to each other.  These guys were old enough to call me “Sonny” though none of them did.  I figured with them all together, it was going to be a nitfest. 

Boy was I wrong!  Soon after I got to the table, a younger guy entered the game and sat directly to my right.  When I say “younger” I mean with respect to the three guys on the other side of the table.  And yes, he was younger than me, too.  But he was not a kid by any stretch.

But what he really was though, was a human ATM.  He went through money like nobody’s business.  He bought in for $300 (the max) and lost that in just a few hands.  He bought in for another $300, and that too was gone in about the same amount of time.  This time he got up and said, “Hold my seat.”  He came back a few minutes later with $300 in chips.  Which he lost just as fast.

Generally, each buy-in would last about two hands he’d play thru the turn.  If he got out on the flop, he wouldn’t lose that much.  He played virtually every hand.  It was either call a raise, make a raise of various sizes (from $7 to $25) or even limp.  It was hard to tell if there was ever any rhyme or reason to his preflop bet sizing.  But generally he’d play a hand where he’d lose 1//2 to 2/3’s his stack, and then a hand or two later go all in (either a call or a shove himself) and lose the rest.  I noticed a few bad bluffs that were called, and I guess when he called and didn’t show he made some bad crying calls.

He was apparently a regular.  The dealers all called him by name and I got the impression they weren’t just reading his name off the Bravo board in front of them, they actually knew him.  I wondered, does he come here every night and do this?  Surely sometimes he must win.  He didn’t say much and didn’t seem even remotely upset at all his loses, he was totally non-committal about it.  Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t seem happy about it and he didn’t really seem like he was enjoying himself, either.  But he sure didn’t seem upset.

He got up to get more cash or chips several times.  I would say he went through at least $2,400, $300 at a time, before he took off for good.  He won a few small hands that I saw, but that just meant more chips for whoever he stacked off to a hand or two later.

He was away from the table a lot (getting more money) but the action was good whether he was there or not.  The table was mostly loose, aggressive players.  There was one time a player 3-bet to $30 and got three callers.  A bit later, another player 3-bet to $30 and had two callers.  No nits here.

Well, except for yours truly.  Actually I got off to a good start.  Before I was there for one complete orbit, I got pocket Aces.  As soon as I made my usual $8 bet (first in), I realized that the open was too small for this game. Three players called.  The flop was 9-2-2.  I bet $20 and got one caller.  The turn was a 3, I bet $30 and he called.  The river was a 4.  I didn’t bet this time, and he mucked when he saw my bullets.

Maybe an orbit or two later—with the same dealer—I got Aces again.  Mr. ATM to my right opened to $10.  I made it $30, and it folded back to the ATM and he called.  The flop was Queen-high, he checked, and as soon as I went to grab chips, he insta-mucked.

Then I went card dead for a long time. A few of the other aggro players left, and the game nitted up.  But Mr. ATM was still there.  He was on what was to be his last buy-in and he was playing tighter now.  And I got Queens on the button.  It folded to the ATM who made it $9.  I suppose that’s a situation that cries out for a three-bet from me, but I just called, as I usually do with Queens.  The big blind called as well.  The flop was low, the ATM led out for $20 and I called.  The other guy folded.  The turn was a King and he checked.  I checked as well.  Another low card hit the river.  There was a straight draw out there, but I called his $25 bet.  He showed 5-3 off.  He had paired the 3, but that’s all, I took the pot.

I had gotten a late start because of the dinner with my friends, and when the human ATM  left for good, it was time for me to leave soon thereafter.  I booked a $105 profit for my relatively short session.  Would have been nice to have taken a big pot off the ATM but it wasn’t in the cards, I guess.

Note:  The pic below is courtesy Josie.  She recently posted this on Twitter with the comment, “Clever,” and I thought it belonged on the blog.  Seems quite appropriate.  She agreed.  Thanks, Josie!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Ace Whisperer

On Saturday, I headed out to Player’s Casino in Ventura to play my first Southern California session of the New Year.

It started out as a loose game.  Lots of action, and on the wild side.  I only recognized one person at my table, an older gentleman who’d I’d played with a few times before.  He was moderately aggro as always, and whenever he’d raise preflop, it was always to $16, whether there was a limper or two or not (the game was my usual 2/3 NL, with a $100-$300 buy-in).  I remembered finding out one time that his son, who used to play in this room quite a bit, is a touring pro with some big cashes on his resume.

Didn’t recognize anyone else, but at least three or four of them knew each other very well.  They were talking and teasing and razzing each other a lot. I almost felt like I was intruding on a private poker game.  However, they weren’t all like that; there were a few of us at the table who weren’t part of this clique.

I had seen absolutely nothing like the hand I’m about to describe until it happened, and I never saw anything like it again.  It was a one-off.  There was a guy who was definitely part of the clique sitting on about $350.  The other character in this hand was sitting on at least $550, maybe $600.  He had busted out soon after I got there but had hit a big hand or two with his second buy-in.  Although he seemed to know the other guys in the group, he was the least social with them of anyone at the table that I thought might be part of the group.  And if he had any contact or conversation with the other player I described, I hadn’t noticed it.

I don’t think this was a three-bet pot, but it might have been.  The guy with the shorter stack was the raiser or the re-raiser, and the bigger stack called.  It was not a big raise, though I can’t remember the size.  I’m guessing the pot before the flop was between $30 and $50, give or take.

I happened to look over to the smaller stack as the dealer was about to put out the flop.  He was in seat 3, the other guy was in seat 8, so they were across from each other, about as far apart as you can be.  Anyway, I saw the preflop aggressor mouthing something to the other guy.  There was no sound, and I’m not a great lip reader, but I was sure he mouthed the words, “I’m going all in.”  Interesting.  With the size of the pot, his $350 shove would have been some huge overbet.

 Well the flop came out 10-10-x (very low card).  And sure enough, the shorter stack, first to act, said “all-in.”

The other guy didn’t react right away.  It appeared like he was actually thinking about calling.  Again, he had the bettor covered, he’d still have $200+ left if he called and lost.  So, the next thing I see, the guy who went all-in is holding up, in front of his face, his two cards, totally exposed, showing the guy his hand—two Aces.

The other guy paused for a second and then said, “How’d you feel if I showed you a 10 right now?”  And then he flipped over his hand, showed his pocket 7’s, and pushed them to the dealer, without calling, of course.

I didn’t get it and still don’t. I thought the purpose of playing poker was to win money, not to avoid winning money.  Yes, yes, I know I’ve already explained it—the guy was soft playing (in a weird way) his buddy.  But I swear, nothing else I saw during the session was like this at all.  As I said, the guy with the 7’s wasn’t all that chummy with the “clique.”  And the other guys who all knew each other—they seemed to be playing at each other pretty hard.  Every other hand I can think of where one of these guys was involved with another one, they really seemed trying hard to take their buddies’ money.  This was the one exception and it was a hand where, if the guy just played it normal, the other guy didn’t figure to lose much.  And of course, the guy could have a 10 (or a pocket pair same as the low card) and the guy shoving could have lost everything.  I mean, if he was that committed to soft-playing the other guy, just shove preflop and not risk a dangerous flop.

I was on extra-alert after this hand to see if anything else like this happened, and it did not. It was just the one hand.  I suppose maybe the guy with Aces had a thing about them.  Maybe he’d lost a bunch with them lately.  But also….there was really no point in telling the guy he was going to go all-in before the flop hit.  I guess there’s a possibility he said that before the guy decided to call, but I don’t think so.  I mean, if he wanted the guy to not even call his raise, he could have shown his hand before he called or said he had Aces.

Now I’m sure the dealer must have seen the player show his Aces and he said nothing.  But that is a house rule that varies from room-to-room.  Some rooms allow one player to expose his hand in a cash game if it’s heads-up.  Others don’t.  Last time it came up while I was playing at MGM, it was still not allowed there. 

Very strange, and I didn’t like it.

As for my session, it started slowly for me.  I was going to try to force myself to be a little more aggressive, but the session started so wild I realized my best bet was to just wait for a medium or better strength hand and go for value. 

Calling some raises and missing cost me $100 over time. For example, I called a $6 straddle with pocket 3’s, all but one player called and then the straddler put his last $25 in.  All the callers called so I did as well.  I missed and folded on the flop, but there was a side pot.  It turned out the straddler had pocket Kings and they held up even though there was an Ace on the river.  So he got an octuple-up.  How could the dreaded hand hold up in an eight-way pot???

I finally won a pot when I had Ace-King, raised to $12 and had two callers.  The flop was Ace-Ace-4 and I bet $15 and took it.

In the small blind with 8-6 off, I completed but the big blind made it $13.  Since two others called, I took a chance and called as well.  No one bet a Queen-8-4 flop.  On a blank turn, the preflop raiser checked again, another guy bet, and I called, and the big blind called.  No action on the river.  Turns out my pair of 8’s was good.

There was no raise when I had King-Jack of spades in the big blind.  It was four-way. I flopped the flush draw and no one bet.  The turn was a blank and someone bet $20.  There was a call, and I called.  I hit the flush on the river, led out for $25 and didn’t get a call.

Then came the most interesting hand involving me.  I had pocket Queens in late position and there was a straddle ($6, UTG).  A whole bunch of people called the straddle.  So I made it $40.  Fold, fold, fold….until one guy called.  It was the guy who had flashed his Aces to the other guy earlier.  I saw two Aces on the flop….and then I noticed the Queen in the middle.  He checked.

I didn’t know whether to slow play the boat.  I guess usually I do.  But I started counting out chips.  I figured if he had an Ace, he’s never folding.  And what do you call a $40 preflop raise with?  Ace-King, Kings, Jacks….not much else.  Pocket Aces if you want to get cute.  I dismissed that.  I figured he’s calling with Ace-King (or raising) and he might stick around with Kings because two Aces on the board makes it less likely I have an Ace.  So I did bet.  Only $60 into a pot that was around $100.

He thought for awhile and then said, “Do you have a big Ace?  It could be a jackpot hand.”  And then he mucked.  It was clear he thought I had killed our chances for the bad beat jackpot and was pissed.

I didn’t say anything, just took in the pot.  But I wondered if I had blown it—cost us a shot at winning the bad beat jackpot?

You see, I don’t often play in a room with a bad beat jackpot so I never think of playing for it.  Well, technically, that’s not quite true.  The Bike has always had the BBJ, and for that matter, so has this room.  I just don’t think about it, because it’s so unlikely.  When I first started playing here, the BBJ was house funded and pretty small (a few thousand I think).  Now they take a jackpot drop for it and I noticed it was up to $35K.

I felt dumb….but then I tried to remember what qualified for the BBJ, and I didn’t think my hand qualified.  I was pretty sure it had to be Aces full of something for the losing hand.  I didn’t think Queens full of Aces were good enough. I didn’t ask at the table, I didn’t want to reveal my hand.  Also, I was starting to feel silly for betting just for strategic reasons, not even considering the BBJ. 

But when I was done with my session, I went over the shift boss and asked.  I was right, the minimum losing hand is Aces full of Jacks.  And the winning hand has to be quads or better.  So there was never a jackpot on the line in that hand.  And so I wondered what the guy was talking about.  If he thought I had an Ace—let’s say Ace-King—I’d have to pair the King and he’d have to get quads somehow. Not possible.  If I had Ace-Queen, and he had a pocket pair, it’d have to go runner-runner that pair to hit the jackpot.  That is ridiculously unlikely.  If he had Ace-King, there’s no jackpot possible (if I had an Ace as well) and of course, he’s not folding Ace-King there.  So he didn’t have Ace-King.  He must have had Kings, or maybe Jacks.  Even then, he has to put me on Ace-Queen for it to work.  So what the hell is talking about?

OTOH, as it played out, if he checked behind, there are two Kings (if he had Kings) and two Aces that beat me—with no chance of it turning into a jackpot hand; my hand will never be good enough.  That’s not why I bet, but checking there was a small risk.  And even if I remembered the jackpot, I had no chance for it.  But I’m still not getting his logic.  I mean, he asked if I had a big Ace, not Ace-Queen.  If you can figure out what he meant, please let me know.  You can also let me know how bad you think my bet is anyway (if it is).

(Edited to add: see Dave's comment below, it's the first one, he explains how we could have hit the jackpot if I had an Ace in my hand)

NOTE:  As I was about to post this, I thought of way to get to the jackpot.  If I catch the case Queen, giving me quads, and he had an Ace, his Aces full would lose to my quads.  But, his hand wouldn’t qualify, as both cards have to play.  Now, if he had Ace-King and the last two cards were exactly a King and Queen, it would work.  Only that way though.  And he was asking me about my big Ace, not his.  He didn’t have an Ace or he would have called.  He’s not putting me only on Queens or Ace-Queen there, not the way he played.

That was the last hand of note.  I left up $30, after being down over $100.  Considering the cards I was getting, it wasn’t a bad result.