Monday, May 8, 2017

The Roller Coaster Ride at PH (Part 1)

It's not that every game I've played at Planet Hollywood is a wild, crazy, roller-coaster ride of a poker game.  It's just that if I'm in one of those insane games, I'm more often than not at Planet Hollywood.

The variance can be alarming.  Usually I seek out places to play where the games are more likely to be saner.  But everyone once in a while a poker player—even a nit like me—needs to take a walk on the wild side.

This was a late Sunday afternoon, third day into my recent trip.  And as soon as I sat down in my 1/2 seat with my $200 buy-in, I realized I was sitting next to an absolute maniac.

Fortunately, he was on my right, not my left.  But he made the game so nuts it didn't much matter.  I think he shoved either preflop or on the flop on the first four hands I witnessed.  After that, he went for a good 20 minutes where he raised every single hand preflop, or, if someone raised first, he three-bet them.  He had to rebuy once or twice and didn't seem fazed by that at all.  The guy on his right was also a bit wild--or at least wild enough to give him plenty of action.

Me?  I just wanted to play some cards.  The Designated Maniac to my right was making it difficult to play a lot of hands, but I wasn't getting much to play anyway.  I knew I had to wait for a hand and try to get him to pay me off for it.  In a game like this, you don't have to have an awesome hand either.  The trouble is, you don't want to be calling a huge preflop raise with something like 9-3 offsuit hoping to catch two pair (although winning with 9-high wasn't out of the question).

I did find a few hands to play without much success.  My stack was thus down to $120 or so when I finally got what most people would could consider a good hand—pocket Aces.  And it happened that I was in the small blind at the time.

Now, PH offers what I guess is called "the Mississippi Straddle," meaning you can straddle from any position, not just under-the-gun or the button.  Mr. DM straddled a few times from other positions, but what he always loved to do—every damn time—was button straddle.  Which meant that my small blind was button-straddled every time from the moment I took my seat.

The button straddle is $10 in the 1-2 game (it's $5 UTG, and it has to be $20 from any other position).  When they have the button straddle on, the rules for play are ones I believe to be incorrect.  That is, the action begins with the small blind, not the UTG.  I've discussed why this wrong before.  Basically, it punishes the blinds way too much, and changes the basic nature of the game—why all of a sudden make the blinds play first when they normally act last?

Anyway. that meant that I'd be the first one to act with my Aces, knowing that the DM had blindly made it at least $10 to play.

Since I'd been at this game, he had raised every single time from his button straddle.  I suppose there may have been one or two times when it was raised first and he just called--or maybe shoved--but if it got to him without a raise you could be fairly certain he'd raise.  Really, I was 99.76% certain he would raise if no one raised in front of him.  Let's put it this way:  I would have fainted from shock if he just checked his option.

So I resisted the temptation to raise.  For one of the few times in my poker life, I just called with Aces.  Now if I had raised, I think there was actually a chance he would have folded.  You see, I had played so few hands he had to notice.  While I assumed that if it was just limped to him he would raise with pretty much any two cards, I also thought his calling/raising range if I was the one raising was a little narrower.  Not much, but a little. I'm thinking he might have actually folded half of his hands if I raised.  But if I just called, he's raising 7-2 and up.

I was a little surprised that no one else came along, and so when it got to him, we were just heads up. He didn't disappoint me.  He made it $35.  Hmm.  With my $120 stack, I couldn't see any bet I could have reasonably made other than an all-in.   So I shoved.

His reaction made absolutely no sense.  Without a second's thought, he said "All-in."  Then he turned to me and said, "Good call....I concede."  Huh?  First of all, I didn't call, he did.  I re-raised.  Second...what the hell does "I concede" mean?  The dealer hadn't even put out the flop yet, so whatever garbage hand he had, he still had a chance to win, of course.

Also, he put his cards face down, slid them ever so slightly towards the dealer--but not nearly far enough so it was an obvious fold--and put a $1 chip on top of them (to protect his hand--the one he had just "conceded" with!)

Well, the dealer dealt out a board--all fairly low cards--and then I showed my Aces.  He looked at them, looked at the board for a bit, then slid his cards the rest of the way forward and said to me, "Nice hand."

And although he had some chips remaining, he took out a couple of hundred and bought some more chips.  And I had a nice double-up.

And I'm afraid I'll stop there for now.  I had no intention of making this a two-parter, but it turns out I spent the weekend geeking it up, spending pretty much all my time trying to bring my desktop PC  back from the near-dead by reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling everything.  I'll let you know how it worked next time, but trust me, it's not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

So I'll break now so I can at least get something for you now.  It's been too long between posts.  I'll see you in a few days.  Well not really.  It's just a figure of speech.  (Note: part 2 is now up and can be found here.)


  1. Hi Rob I actually play poker with this type of player at my card room. You may call him an aggro maniac but to me he is playing an aggressive style with high variance. If he raises and people fold he steals pots without a showdown. Until someone stands up to him he makes money. If you call him and he is behind the on the flop unless you bet he can still hit something. I have seen this guy surrender many times if he reads you for a better hand. When you bet he folds and you do not get paid off your premium hands. This guy is tough to play against because he is always putting people to the test. In my card room this guy is always re raising pots and unless wait for good cards you are going to get blown off a lot of hands.

    1. Thanks, Ed. Yeah, those maniacs are tough to deal with. You've just gotta strap in and hang on for dear life, and hopefully catch a big hand.

  2. It is a Mississippi straddle I was playing on the road down there when they started that crap. Your right about button straddles punishing the blinds totally not fair!

    1. Thanks, John. I don't get why everyone doesn't see the button straddle the way I do.

  3. Yeah, those games at PH can build the stack quickly ... or torture your soul. The last time I played there I got stacked when I made a big raise with pocket Queens and an aggro guy called with a crap hand, but got lucky and hit two pair.

    1. It's actually great when guys call your raises with crap cards....until that time when they get lucky and catch a big hand. Then it sucks.

  4. P-Ho late night has easily been the most consistent source of big wins for me the past 6+ years.

    1. Interesting. But seeing your tweets when you're in Vegas, I wonder if you ever lose?