Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another Dreaded Post

Saturday I was back in Ventura playing some 1/2 ($100 max buy-in).  It only took me three hands to say hello to my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings in the big blind.  After a few limpers, a guy made it $10.  I added $30 to my big blind. A short stack who had initially limped shoved for his last $8.  Everyone else folded.  He showed Ace-2 of spades.  Of course there were two spades on the flop.  But the third spade didn't come.  Neither did an Ace and my Kings actually held.

With King-Queen off in early position I made it $6 and had one caller.  On a flop of 9-9-4 I made a c-bet and took it.

I called $6 on the button with Ace-7 off and it was four-ways.  The board totally missed me but no one bet.  A 7 hit the turn and it checked to me.  I bet $6 and didn't get a call.

In the big blind I had 8-7 of hearts and no one raised; there were a bunch of limpers.  The flop was Ace-8-7.  I bet $6.  Another guy made it $15.  Now, on the previous hand, this guy, who was fairly new to the table and I think was waiting for a bigger game, had shoved a pretty good amount on the flop with just  a gut shot.  Of course he hit his straight on the turn and won the pot.  But shoving with a gut shot (in response to a bet) made an impression on me.  So I made it $40.  I only had $10 behind.  He tanked and shoved and of course I called.  The last two cards were bricks and when I showed my two pair he just mucked his cards.

I raised to $8 with Ace-Jack off and it was three-ways.  The flop was low, I made a $15 c-bet, and a lady shoved.  Easy fold.  The other player folded too.  She kindly showed us pocket Jacks.  Well, good thing a Jack didn't hit the flop!  But it was interesting she didn't three-bet with the Jacks.  Earlier I had noticed she three-bet with pocket 10's.

I had pocket Queens and there were many limpers. I made it $12.  Only one call.  The flop was low and the other guy donked out $20.  I made it $50 which looked like about what he had left.  It turned out to be a few bucks more than he had.  He called and showed pocket Jacks.  The ladies held.

Now, there was this kid at the table who wasn't really familiar with the game.  And I do mean "kid"—he really looked like he was barely old enough to be in the casino.  I'm sure he was carded.  He didn't really seem to grasp all the rules of the game.  One of the first questions he asked the dealer was, "What's the most I can bet?"  When it was explained that it was between $2 and as much as he had in front of him, he said, "Oh, I'm used to it being a fixed amount and then you can double it."  He was told that he was talking about limit poker and this was no-limit. 

Of course the newbie had some serious beginner's luck and soon had more than doubled up his original $100 buy-in.  And he was making some odd plays.  He three-bet a surprising amount of the time, and one time I noticed he had three-bet with Queen-7 off.

Anyway, on this particular hand he was under-the-gun plus one and made it $4.  However, I realized that he hadn't actually meant to raise there.  He had seen a couple of bets close together and thought he was calling a $4 straddle.  There was a call to his bet and I found myself looking down at pocket Kings again.

I made it $16.  It folded to a "mature" woman who was probably the tightest player at the table.  She shoved—but she only had $27.  It folded back to me and of course I snapped. But she flipped over pocket Queens and once again my Kings held.

Sometime later, the kid disappeared from the table for awhile and when he came back, we noticed that two racks of his chips were gone.  The dealer asked what happened to his chips (he still had about $30-$40 left).  He said he cashed them in.  Of course, the dealer told him he couldn't do that, he had to keep that money at the table as long as he was still playing.  So he thought for a while and took the rest of his chips to the cage and cashed those in too.

Winning twice in a session with pocket Kings—unimproved Kings at that—was a nice day for me.  I booked a small win and headed home. 

How does the pic below tie into the post?  Well, Ventura is right on the Pacific Ocean.  And this is an example of the type of native creatures you might find on the beach.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Can You Change Tables With a Short Stack?

On this evening, I learned about a rule that is apparently pretty common in poker rooms that I didn't know.  Pretty surprising that I've played live poker all this time and wasn't aware of it.

The venue was Caesars Palace and it took me about two hands to figure out that I was in for a rough night.  There were three or four maniacs at the table.  The opening raises were like $20, $25 or more and someone raised almost every hand.  There was a lot of three-betting and those bets were big too—when they weren't shoves.

I probably should have table changed right away.  You see, I was in the midst of a bad run and my bankroll wasn't exactly flush (partly because I couldn't make a flush).  So I walked into the room with only two $200 buy-ins on me.  That was all I had to play with this night.  I refuse to pay the ATM fees at the casino ATMs. 

So when I realized it was going to cost me a lot more than usual to see any flop, I should have gotten up right away.  I don't mind a game like this when I'm rolled for it—in fact, I like them, you can win a lot of money at them—but when I'm not prepared to dig into my wallet more than once, I know I might not last long enough to end up on the right side of variance.

But I thought I would stay for awhile and see how it went.  Obviously I was hoping for a big hand. The problem was I was definitely not card dead.  I kept getting medium and low pocket pairs and had to either fold them preflop or pay more than I should have to set-mine.  And of course I never caught a set.  I also had a few hands with Broadway cards that I whiffed with.  I was seeing huge turn and river bets—usually all-ins—and people showing up with all kinds of cards. And for the record, I never saw a hand where my medium or low pocket pair would have been the best hand on the river if I had  decided to roll the dice with it even knowing these guys were raising with crap.

In less than 45 minutes, without putting any money in on the flop or beyond, I was down to $84.  That was when I finally decided I wasn't prepared to invest a second buy-in at this game and got up to ask for a table change.  By the time I made it over to the new table, I was down to $65. 

I hadn't already added on because I had been thinking of changing tables and just starting fresh.  And so my original plan was, when I got to the new table, I'd add-on then.  But as I was making my way over there, I decided to hold off adding on immediately. I figured I'd play an orbit or two and see if I liked this table better.  Maybe there was something in the air at Caesars this night and every game was as nuts as my first table had been?  I didn't see the harm in waiting.

I had played one or two hands at the new table when one of the players finally noticed my stack and said, "It's a $100 minimum isn't it?"  The dealer looked at my stack of $65.  I of course said, "I came from another table."  I mean, I had originally bought in for $200, twice the minimum. 

The dealer asked if I came from a broken game.  I said no, it was just a table change.  So the dealer said if you change tables you have to start with at least the minimum buy-in.

Well, that didn't seem right to me, I'd never heard that before.  But then, I doubt I've ever asked for a table change when I was that short stacked before.  Still, I think if that's the rule, they should tell you up front.  Suppose I didn't have enough money on me to get back to $100?  I'd already moved and in this case played a couple of hands (that last part was on the dealer for not noticing my short stack).  So in that case, would I have table-changed myself out of the room?  It seems to me anyone asking to move in that situation should be advised of the rule and then given the option of staying at the original table if he wanted to keep playing the short stack.

But I didn't say anything.  I was originally planning to add-on anyway. It wasn't a big deal, it was just new to me.  I added-on right away and we went on with life.  But I was curious if that rule was unique to Caesars or more universal.  So I tweeted out the question, asking dealers, floor people and poker room managers if a player had to have at least the table minimum to get a table change.

Initially, everyone said absolutely yes.  I was impressed that quite a few poker room managers, in addition to my dealer pals, responded.  However, a few dealers eventually came back and said at their room, the answer was no.  If I was moving to a table of the same limits, it was considered all one game and I didn't have to bring my stack up to the minimum.

So obviously it is a house rule that varies from room-to-room.  Hopefully I won't have that situation again (it took me years and years to encounter it) but if I do, I'll be sure to ask before accepting the table change.

The new table was not full of crazies.  It was much quieter.  Meanwhile, not long after I gotten to the new table, I noticed that all the craziest players at my old table had taken off.  Perhaps I should have waited them out?

At the new table, there was a discussion of those infernal $2 chips that they are still using over there.  One player made the point that the reason they use them is to reduce the frequency of the fills. But then I noticed something interesting.  There were no green chips in the dealer's rack.  And by green chips I mean real green chips—the $25 chips, not the light green $2 chips. At MGM and most other rooms they keep green chips in the racks to sell to players when they rebuy if the run out of red.  Venetian and Wynn even use some black $100 chips.  But no $25 chips at Caesars.  If they got rid of the damn $2 chips and instead kept a bunch of $25 chips in the racks, it would reduce the number of fills without having to use those damn $2 chips.

Anyway, I got a few hands to play at the new table and was able to win a few of them.  Nothing very big though.  I raised preflop with pocket Aces and pocket Queens and didn't get a call.  Why couldn't I have gotten those pocket pairs at the first table when I could have possibly won huge pots with them?

I won a small pot raising with King-Jack of diamonds and flopping a Jack. An Ace on the turn and a third club on the river kept me from betting past the flop but the Jack was good.  I also won a pot raising with pocket 4's and c-betting on the flop when I didn't catch my set.

I managed to win most of the money back that I'd lost at the wild table, and I considered that a win.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"I'm a Damn Handsome Man"

This post will cover two sessions from my last trip, both of which took place on the same Saturday.

I started off late afternoon at the Venetian, where I knew from Twitter that I would find my pal Chris, aka Stump.  I was able to get into the table he was playing immediately, sitting on his immediate left. 

The game was pretty dull. There really weren't any poker hands worth reporting. Oh, I did manage to win a pot with the dreaded pocket Kings.  In fact, I even flopped a set with them.  I had raised to $10 pre and only had a single caller.  I flopped the set with two clubs on the board, I c-bet $15 and didn't get a call.  With any other set, I'd be disappointed with that result.  But with Kings, I was relieved.

We had one amusing dealer.  When he pushed in, he said hello to all the players and with great enthusiasm said, "How's everybody doing today?"  There wasn't much of a response so he said, in kind of a deflated tone, "Oh I see everyone's fine.  Me too, thanks."  Well that guilted a few of us to start answering as to how we were, but he was having none of it.  "No, no.  Too late. Too late."

Chris had been distracted by the waitress who had just brought his drink. He heard the dealer complaining so he said to him, "Sorry, I was paying attention to the most attractive person at the table."   The dealer said, "Well you're right.  She was the most attractive person at the table. And that's saying a lot.  Because I am a damn handsome man."

We all had a good laugh at that.

Then he noticed one of the players at the table was named "Avery."  He saw that his last initial was not "G", which he thought was too bad.  He said to the guy, "It's a shame you're name's not Avery Goodman....because then it would be, 'a very good man'."  Chris said, "Yeah, like 'Saul Goodman—'s all good, man." (that only makes sense if you watch "Better Call Saul")

Somehow that got the guy on a riff where he was conceiving of a crime novel right there at the table. He was imagining a plot where there are two twin brothers, who are really bad guys but they never get caught because no one knows they're really twins and they always have alibi.

Bookmark this post and come back in a couple of years and see if that's the plot of a New York Times thriller.

After a couple of hours, the game got even duller and I wasn't getting any cards so I said good-bye to Chris and headed to MGM for dinner and more poker. 

My very first hand at MGM, I looked down at pocket Queens.  A guy had raised to $12 and another guy called.  First hand at the table, not knowing any of the players, I just called.  It ended up being four-ways to the flop.  The flop was Jack-high, two diamonds.  The preflop raiser checked, but the next guy bet $20.  I called and we were heads up.  The turn was a King and he bet $35 and I called.  There was a third diamond on the river and this time he checked.  I checked behind.  He showed pocket 10's.  It was a nice pot.

Sometime later, I was in the small blind with Ace-5 off and I completed.  Six of us saw a flop of Ace-9-6. I checked and called a $10 bet and it was now 4-way.  A 4 hit the turn and I checked.  Same guy bet $15 and I called and we were heads up.  River was a deuce. I checked/called another $15 and he showed only Ace-3.  My 5 played, just barely. 

Much later, I had pocket Jacks.  There were a number of limpers and so I made it $14.  Three players called.  The flop was Jack-high, which was nice, but there were two diamonds.  I bet $40.  Only one player called.  The turn was a brick and I put out $100 which looked like about what he had left.  It turned out he was a few bucks short of that but he called.  The King of hearts hit the river which obviously didn't help him because he didn't show when he saw my set and just left the game.

I didn't get another hand to play for the next couple of orbits.  I noticed I was getting real tired and it was getting a bit late anyway, so I racked up and cashed out up $305 for the session.  It certainly wasn't an awesome result but it was the best I'd done in awhile so I even took a pic of my stack and tweeted it out with the caption: "Not my best chip porn but I'll take it."

And indeed I did. 

Below is better "chip porn."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"That Bet Makes No Sense"

I'm sure that sometime before my summer Vegas trip—or perhaps during it—I mentioned that I was not finished discussing my April trip.  So for this post, I'm going to discuss a night from that April trip.  There are a couple of reasons for posting this story now.  One, I will be discussing the high hand promotion that was running at the Venetian at the time, and they have a similar one running right now. The other reason is that the theme of this post ties in with the theme of my last post (here) . So this is a double-timely post.

Back in April, Venetian was running a high hand promo.  Now that they are taking a jackpot drop, they have a bad beat jackpot running at all times.  In addition, several times a year they will be offering some kind of additional promo.  So while I was there, during certain hours during the swing shift, on Mondays through Thursdays, they were giving away $250 every twenty minutes for the highest hand of that period. 

Naturally, since I was there during this promo, I wanted to play in the room and try to get some of that promo money.  But I was also curious to see how the Venetian was actually managing the promo.  Having seen high hand of the hour promos before, I actually thought they were crazy to use such a narrow time-frame—20 minutes—for the high hands.  I've seen rooms have trouble keeping track of this when it was for a full hour.  Not that I ever saw a room make a mistake, but there might be delays in the games waiting for a floor person to verify the hand and then there's all that paperwork to fill out.  And then you had to make sure that the floor person was available to count down the clock and cut off the promo at the proper time.

I didn't see any way the Venetian could run a high hand of the past 20 minutes promo smoothly.  Boy, was I wrong.

On a Monday night, I showed up to the very busy Venetian and was just blown away by how efficient they were.  Several TV's around the room were dedicated to a "high hand clock."  It looked to me that they used some kind of tournament clock that they must have used before they went to Bravo.  On it, the clocked showed exactly how much time was left in the period.  Also, it showed the exact high hand that you had to beat to win the money.

They had extra floor people circulating around the room so that the second any dealer called out "high hand",  a floor person was there within a few seconds to verify it.  If it was the new high hand, the floor would electronically communicate the high hand, along with the table and seat number, to a dedicated podium person who would update the clock and announce the new high hand to the entire room.

When it came time to award the money, little time was wasted.  The floor would go to the winner, have him or her sign the paperwork, and the dealer would pay the winner off right out of the rack.

I was actually a little bit in awe of how seamless the whole thing was.

One funny story about the high hand promo.  The entire time I was there, no one at the table I was at came close to winning a high hand. But one time, with about 5 minutes left in the period, a guy at our table turned quad Aces.  However, they had already announced that the current high hand was quad Aces with a Queen kicker.  Well, on the board with the two Aces to match the two Aces in his hand was a 3 and a 5.  The only card that would put him in the lead for the $250 was a King.  When the river card was another 5, he slammed down his hole cards in disgust, pretty pissed off that he had actually gotten  quad Aces and it wasn't good enough for the promo money.  Honestly, have you ever seen anyone upset at having four Aces?

Here's the payoff.  With about 30 seconds to go in that period, they announced that a new high hand had been made—a 5-high straight flush.  I imagine the guy who had made quad Aces with a Queen was none-too-pleased!

Now, as I publish this in early August, the V has a different version of the high hand promo running.  It's Monday thru Friday 1pm to 6pm and again 8pm to 1am.  And the payout is $500 every half hour.  It's actually a pretty sweet promo and if I was in Vegas right now, a lot of my cash game play would be there.

Anyway, back to April.  The very first hand I limped in with pocket 4's.  No raise and it was seven to see a flop.  I caught my set, it checked to me, I bet $10 and didn't get a single call.  Perhaps I should have checked and tried to get quads for the high hand promo?

Soon thereafter I got pocket 5's in the small blind.  I completed and five of us saw a flop of King-Queen-5, rainbow.  I led out for $7 and two players called. The turn was a blank, other than it being the second spade, and I bet $25 and only one player called.  The river was the 10 of spades, so three spades plus the straight draw. I bet $40.  The other guy put out a big stack...a raise.  Initially I thought it was like a min raise but then I noticed one of the chips was black—a $100 chip.  I asked for a count and it was actually $200.  I was still new to the table but had never seen this guy—an older gentleman—make a bet anywhere near this big before.  The $200 was more than I had, but with all those draws completed and the fact that he just didn't strike me as a guy who would make that kind of bet on that board without at least a straight—I  let it go.

From there, I went totally, ridiculously card dead.

I sat there for a couple of hours barely playing a hand. My stack dropped to about $76 and so I added on $100.  Now, the one thing I had noticed was that they were not doing fills very often, and also they weren't calling chip runners for re-buys like they usually do.  Most of the re-buys were coming out of the dealer's rack.  Now the dealers had a lot of chips in there but they weren't getting red chips when they were getting fills—it was mostly $1 chips, with some green and even some black ($100).  So when I added on the dealer had to give me four green chips. 

I could have gotten change from another player I suppose, but I didn't bother, figuring that one of these days I'd get some by winning a pot.

That didn't work out so well, I just couldn't win a pot to save my life.  And I wasn't getting any cards to bet with.  So somehow I managed to lose all the chips I had except for the four green chips.

I used my last two $1 chips to post the big blind and so when I was the small blind, I had to put one of my green chips to post it.  Well, at least I'd get some change I could use, I thought.

Except that I looked down at two Aces.  And someone in early position had raised to $6, and gotten three callers before it got to me!  I'm not used to seeing that many callers to an opening raise when I have a hand I want to three-bet with. Now, my "formula" for a three-bet is 3X the raise, plus add the amount of any limps or calls.  The $6 had opened the pot so it would have been $36.  I was actually thinking of making it $40.  Of course, I only had green chips in front of me.  No reason why I couldn't add a second green chip and verbalize "40."  But I was thinking, with my stack I'm committed anyway, might as well bet exactly half my stack and just put the other half in on the flop if I get called.  In fact, with so many players in already, I did consider just shoving right then and there, I don't think that would have been a bad play. I'd most likely pick up $26 and my first pot in like two hours.

But I went with the $50 bet.  If someone was gonna call $40 (or even $35) they're probably gonna call $50 right? 

It folded to the first guy who had called the original $6 raise. He was brand new to the table and had only been dealt a hand or two before this one and hadn't played one yet.  And he started grumbling, "$50?  That bet makes no sense. It makes no sense."  He wasn't completely wrong, it was a bit of an overbet.  But would he have kvetched about a $40 bet too?  He grumbled some more and continued to talk about how my bet made no sense and then finally he said, "OK, let's see what he's got, let's see if he'll call.  All-in."  And he added, "I got a pair."  He had me covered, but it didn't matter, obviously I'm calling.  Everyone else folded and of course I called.

We didn't show and the board was mostly low cards, 3-4-6-7 and a paint card. There were three clubs and I did have the Ace of clubs, but never got the fourth club. And then when the board was out, he said, "I have a straight."  And sure enough, he turned over pocket 5's.

I didn't show, I just mucked.  And got up to leave.  Meanwhile, the guy with the straight was celebrating.  "I knew his bet didn't make sense!"  It was obvious to me by the way he was acting that he was thinking he'd made a brilliant play against my terrible bet and was rewarded for it.

I swear that was the impression he gave off.  Maybe I'm projecting.  Perhaps he thought I had Ace-King and he was ahead the whole way.  Whatever.  And it was pretty obvious to me that I had actually somehow induced him to shove against my "bet that made no sense" by betting so much.

Well it that's true, then my play was pretty damn good.  Because in reality, I got exactly what I wanted.  I got it all in as an 80/20 favorite.  I'll take that every time. 

Right?  I mean everything was fine.  It was perfect, in fact....until he sucked out on me. 

And of course, to add insult to injury, I got to hear the guy criticizing my bad play.  But in this case, that bad play—if it was that—got me everything I wanted until the river card.

Poker, right?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Ace-King Doesn't Raise Like That, Buddy"

I don't know why it is, but for some reason I seem to be more sensitive to criticism at the poker table than in most other aspects of my life.  I know intellectually that if someone criticizes me at the table for how I played a hand, I should just laugh it off, perhaps say, "I'm sorry, as you'll find out, I'm a really bad player," and use the fact that the critic thinks I don't know what I'm doing to my advantage.

But for some reason when someone suggests I played a hand incorrectly, I take it way too personally.  I always want to defend myself by explaining why what I did was correct.  Now, I always stop myself from doing that, but the frustration of holding back my response makes the annoyance with the original comment last longer.

This was a night where things were going decently until four Queens (but not The Four Queens casino) and an obnoxious jerk put a damper on things.

In the small blind I had pocket Jacks and someone opened to $5 and got a couple of calls.  I made it $31.  The original raiser was the only one who called.  The flop came 7-2-2 and I bet $50.  He folded.

The very next hand I had pocket 6's and limped in with a few others.  The flop was 10-9-6, the first two cards were diamonds.  A guy bet $15 and there was a call.  I made it $60.  The first guy shoved for his last $65 total and the other guy folded.   The turn was a blank and the river was an Ace—no more diamonds came.  The guy who shoved showed 10-8, so all he had was a pair of 10's (and a missed gutshot).  Here's the crazy part.  The guy who called the flop and then folded said he had King-Queen of diamonds.  Huh?  He had the second nut flush draw and a gutshot to a straight flush?  How does he fold that?  I wasn't sure I believed him.

I opened to $6 with pocket 6's but there was a raise to $19 and then a shove for $49.  I folded.  The other guy called.  Of course there was a 6 on the flop!  The guy who made it $19 had pocket Queens and the guy who shoved had pocket Jacks.  The guy who won with his Queens left a few hands later and I told him that I would have had a set if I had stayed in.  He looked to the sky as if thanking god.  What about me?  I'm the one he should have thanked.

I opened to $10 with King-Queen of diamonds and only had one caller.  The flop was pretty nice: Jack-10-9, rainbow.  I bet $15 and he made it $30.  OK....so I made it $65 and he shoved.  I had him covered and of course I snap called.  The turn was a Queen, and the river was a Jack.  I was worried about the paired board but it turns out he had.....pocket Kings.  Yeesh.  Damn Queen on the turn counterfeited me and made it a chop.  But I did find it interesting that he didn't three-bet with his Kings.  Could have gotten rid of me preflop with a three-bet.

Then I got the dreaded pocket Queens.  Yes, I said Queens.  It's been awhile since I've referred to them like that but you'll see why.  I opened to $10 and got two callers. The flop was low, two diamonds.  I bet $20.  The next guy shoved for $67 and the other guy called without any hesitation.  He had me covered. Well, I had to figure my Queens were no good there—they sure didn't seem to be worth another $47 against two players who really liked their hands.  I folded.  The turn was a King and the river was a blank—no diamond appeared.  Well, the guy who called the $67 had King-4 of diamonds and took it with a pair of Kings. Someone commented on his calling such a big bet on the flop and he said, "I had a monster draw."  The other guy shocked me by saying he had a straight draw.  I hadn't seen him bet a draw all evening.  BTW, he was the same guy who hadn't three-bet his pocket Kings in the previous hand.  That's one of the reasons I was so sure he was really strong there. 

Just several hands later I got pocket Queens again.  A new player had taken over for the guy who busted out with his straight draw a few hands earlier.  He was, well, "rough" looking.  I mean, I wouldn't want to run into this guy in a dark alley.  Or even a bright alley.  He bought in for $160.  And this was either the first or second hand he'd played.  He was under-the-gun and straddled for $5.  Two players called the straddle and now it was on me.

What am I supposed to do there?  I've mentioned before, I'm never quite sure what to raise when there's a straddle—how do I take the straddle into account? I mean, if it was three limps in front of me, I'd make it $14.  But that's too little, obviously.

To me, you can look at the straddle in one of two ways—as a small raise, or as a third blind.

If I look at it as a small raise, well I'm three-betting so I would normally triple the amount of the raise (the total bet).  So that would be $15—but I would also add the amounts of any calls.  Two calls, $5 each, and I come up with $25.

If I look it as a blind, well, I'm raising usually 4X, plus the amounts of any calls.  So 4 times $5 is $20, plus the two $5 calls and I come up with $30.

Does anybody think I should have raised less than $25?  Or for that matter, more than $30?

I was using the first method so I made it $25.  It folded to the new guy, the straddler, and he thought about it for a bit and then called.  Everyone else folded.  The flop was King-high, rainbow.  The other two cards were something like 8-3, 9-4, or similar.  He checked.  I c-bet $35 and he immediately announced "all-in."

I know, the over-shove screams of a bluff, and I was sure thinking that.  On the other hand, I didn't know this guy from Adam.  Did I really want to risk most of my stack with Queens on a King-high flop?  My answer was, no, I didn't. I folded. It was late, this was already going to be my last orbit so I didn't really have time to get it back if I lost

I'm sure some (most?) of you will think that's too weak.  But against an unknown opponent, I didn't feel like making the call.  If I was planning on playing longer, I might have been more tempted to call, if only to see if he was really bluff-shoving for $160 on his first hand.   That information would have been useful.  But under the circumstances, I'd likely never get to use it.

Anyway, here's the payoff.  When the pot was pushed to him, he said to me, in a pretty nasty tone, "Ace-King doesn't raise like that, buddy."

That irritated the hell out of me.  I didn't say a word, but I so wanted to set him straight.

I wanted to tell him, "I would have raised to $25 with any hand that I thought I should raise with, including Ace-King, buddy."

I wanted to say, "Since you straddled and there were two callers, that $25 was the least I should have raised to, buddy.  What would you have raised to in my position, buddy?"

I also wanted to say, "Don't call me buddy, buddy.  I'm not your buddy.  And I never will be."

Yeah, I don't really like it when someone I don't know calls me "buddy."  We're not buddies.  It always sounds like an insult to me.  Note: It's totally different when someone I know—someone who is my buddy—calls me that. I have no problem with that at all.  It's only when it comes from a stranger.

But again, I said nothing.  I hated that I couldn't explain the logic behind my raise—as if it would have made a difference.  But like I said at the outset, I took the criticism of my play personally.

And what did his comment suggest?  In my annoyed state, I initially assumed it confirmed my suspicion that it was a total bluff.  He was pissed at me for raising "so much" and so he would get his revenge by bluff-shoving to steal a pot off of me.

It was only later, when I was discussing the hand with my poker buddy pal Don that I considered another possibility.  Don heard my story and immediately said that for sure he had a King, just not a very good one. But that he wasn't worried about me having Ace-King because "Ace-King doesn't raise like that."

Well buddy, what does raise like that?  Pocket Aces?  In fact, a lot of folks raise bigger the bigger the hand.  But if he put me on Aces, he wouldn't check-shove against me—unless he'd gotten really lucky and caught a set.  Even then, he'd likely slow play it, at least on the flop.  And if he did put me on Aces, is he gonna bluff me there?

Or, people tend to bet bigger with pocket Jacks, everyone hates those.  Would he shove there if he put me on Jacks and he had a crappy King?  I'm not sure why he would have.

Well, I'll never know what he had.  As I intended, I left a few hands later, having lost a few bucks.  It wasn't Kings this time, it was Queens that did me in.

Queens and my new buddy—the guy who gave me instruction on how much not to bet with Ace-King.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Lost the Minimum

You've all said or at least heard that one before, right?  "I lost the minimum." (The "I" could be "you," "he," or "she.")  Well I guess that's what happened at my most recent session at PC Ventura last Saturday.  But we'll get to that.

I was playing 1/2 (max buy-in $100).  I'd lost some money chasing and was dealt Ace-8 offsuit in the big blind.  There was a $4 straddle from under-the-gun (the only position it is allowed).  There were a bunch of callers, and the straddler hadn't raised the first time I'd seen him straddle so I took a chance and called.  Once again, the straddler just checked behind me.

The flop was 9-8-8.  I checked and someone bet $15, someone else called the $15 and I called.  The turn was a blank, I checked again and the guy who lead out last time shoved for his last $37, and the guy behind him called.  I was thinking the second guy may have been slowplaying a boat.  I just called.  The river was a blank, I checked again and the other guy checked.  Well, I guess he didn't have a boat.

The guy who was all-in showed 10-9, the other guy showed King-8 and I showed the winning hand.  It was a nice pot for the game and suddenly I was up almost $90.

It didn't last long.  I had pocket deuces in a limped, multi-way pot.  The flop was 5-3-2, two hearts.  It was a pretty ugly flop for flopping a set.  In this game, in a limped pot, anyone could easily show up with Ace-4 (even offsuit) or even 6-4.  And if anyone else had flopped a set, it was better than mine.  I decided to proceed with caution.  A guy led out for $7 and he had four callers, including myself.  A 9 hit the turn and he bet $21.  With that board, betting like that, I really assumed he had a made hand that was better than mine.  He had given no indication before this that he was the type of player to bet a draw.  I called and one other player called.  A 10 hit the river.  The third heart never did show.  The same guy led out for $20 and I called. The third guy folded, saying "I missed."  The post-flop aggressor turned over his pocket 3's. I even wrote down in my notes, "I guess I lost the minimum."  Losing set over set usually means losing your entire stack.  I still had some profit left.

I raised to $8 with Ace-Queen of diamonds, it was four-ways.  The flop was King-Queen-x. And early position player donked out $20, there was a call, and I called.  The turn was a blank and the same guy shoved for his last $21, the other guy called, I came along.  Another brick on the river and the guy all-in showed King-Queen to take it.

I lost $25 with pocket 9's.  I called a $4 straddle, there were other callers, then the big blind made it $25.  But two others called, so I figured I'd roll the dice on trying to win a huge pot (there were some big stacks in play).  One more guy called after me.  The flop was Queen-high and I folded to a big bet.  One guy went all in for about $40 and the preflop raiser called.  At the end of the hand, the guy all-in showed Queen-8 pair for a flopped two pair to take down the preflop raiser's dreaded pocket Kings.  I mean, if he didn't dread them before he surely did now!  Someone commented to the guy who won, "You called $25 with Queen-8?"  He said by the time it got back to him there was too much money in the pot to fold.  I'm not sure if the math works out there but for this hand it did.

In the big blind I had Ace-7 off.  There was a raise to $6 and a bunch of callers so I threw in another four bucks.  The flop was Ace-Jack-6.  I checked but so did the preflop raiser and everyone else.  I bet $9 on a 9 turn and had two callers.  The river was another 9 and it checked around.  My Ace was good. I

t was a rather dull session after the early fireworks but I managed to survive the set-over-set hand and left even for the day. I guess it could have been a lot worse.

(Here's a contest with absolutely no prize whatsoever.  The graphics I use in my posts always tie in somehow with the text, unless I point out that it doesn't.  The graphics above definitely tie in, but can you figure out what the connection is? Leave a comment with your guess!)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene--August 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.


The $850 championship to the Binion’s Dog Days of Summer Poker Jam saw Zinoviy Pelekh of Plymouth, Mich., take home the title and $58K in late June. Jiqiang Tong of Wilton, Conn., was second ($41K) and Mixime Chilaud of France was third ($40K).
The event got off to a slow start with only 57 entries on Day 1A, but finished strong with a final number of 433 over three starting flights. The prize pool, guaranteed to be $200K, reached $318K.
When the series ended, Binion’s unveiled a new daily tournament schedule. There are two $125 tournaments Sunday through Friday, at 1 and 6 p.m.Players start with 20K chips and 20-minute levels.Registration is allowed for the first six levels and the subsequent break.
On Saturdays, the popular 1 p.m. tournament has been revised.There’s still a $10K guarantee and the starting stack remains 20K.
But the first eight levels are 30 minutes, the next six are 40 minutes and the rest of the tournament has 60-minute levels.Late entry is allowed before Level 5.
GOLDEN NUGGET: Sacha Mendelsohn of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, won the main event of the Grand Poker Series, taking home $113K.Marco Palacios of Austin, Texas, took second ($96K) and Yuk Lee of Las Vegas was third ($84K).The $570 event brought 2K-plus entrants downtown, resulting in a $1M prize pool, doubling the $500K guarantee.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: Goliath 2017’s main event drew 1,300-plus entrants over five starting flights, resulting in a $2.375M prize pool.
Ralph Wong of Washington, D.C., won the title and $421K.The United Kingdom’s Luke Brereton received $260K for second and Las Vegas’ Anthony Spinella II earned $191K for third.
ARIA: Jon Borenstein won the WPT500, earning $230K. Joep Raemaekers received $160K and Aleksandr Gofman took home $115K.At the final table, Borenstein was down to five big blinds at one point.
The event had nine starting flights and attracted 3,500-plus players with its $1M guarantee.The prize pool exceeded $1.7M.
VENETIAN: As part of the Deep Stack Extravaganza, the Venetian offered a $10K high roller in early June.The event drew 107 players, creating a prize pool of $1M-plus. David Stamm of San Francisco won the event for $306K.Sam Soverel of Las Vegas was second ($190K) and Paul Volpe of West Chester, Pa., took third ($133K).
The October Extravaganza runs Oct. 17-22. The biggest event is a $340 doublestack with two starting fights beginning Oct. 20.Players start with 25K chips and play 40-minute levels. There’s a $100K guarantee.The rest of the schedule is filled with one-day tournaments for $200, $300 and $400.
The room revised its daily schedule as there will be two daily tournaments (noon and 7 p.m.). Monday through Thursday the noon event is a $150 event with 30-minute levels and a 12K stack.The guarantee is $9K.
Friday at noon, it’s a $200 superstack, with a 15K stack, 30-minute levels and a $15K guarantee.Saturday, it’s a $340 doublestack with 40-minute levels, a 24K stack and a $25K guarantee.Sunday afternoon is a $200 rebuy tournament that starts players with 12K chips and has 30-minute levels and a $20K guarantee. Rebuys are offered for the first six levels.
Monday evenings, there’s a $150 superstack with 15K chips, 20-minute levels and a $5K guarantee.
The Tuesday night offering is a $200 bounty event with a 12K stack, 30-minute levels and a $9K guarantee.The bounties are $50.
Wednesday night is a $125 rebuy with a 12K stack, 20-minute levels and a $7K guarantee. Rebuys are offered for the first six levels.
A $125 bounty event runs Thursday evenings with 12K chips, 20-minute levels and a $7K guarantee. The bounties are $25. Friday is a $200 rebuy with a 12K stack, 30-minute levels and a $17K guarantee. Rebuys are offered for the first six levels.
Saturday and Sunday evenings feature a $150 superstack with a 15K stack, 20-minute levels and a $5K guarantee.
MGM: The tournament schedule has been slightly revised. Every day at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. the $80 tournament features a 15K stack and starts with 15-minute levels that increase to 20 minutes at Level 10. The 11 a.m. tournament has a $2K guarantee and the 7 p.m. has a $1K guarantee.
At 2 p.m. daily and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, a $60 turbo runs, offering a 10K stack, 10-minute levels and a $500 guarantee.
The main cash game at MGM is $1-$2 NLHE with a $100-$300 min-max buy-in.The $2-$5 game has a $200-$500 min-max and offers double the comps of the $1-$2 game. 
The room frequently changes its promos so it’s best to check with staff to see what’s offered.Recently, the room paid the three highest hands during a six-hour period (4-10 a.m. and 4-10 p.m.) $300, $200 and $100.And a progressive pyramid for selected full houses recently awarded a lucky player $12K. Special promos for specific days also have been offered.