Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Boobage 2017 Edition

This post is a hybrid of a repost and a new post.  Actually it's not really a post at all, it's just some pics to carry me over until I can do a real post.  Most of these pics ran a few years back but there are a couple of new ones.  Yes, I am still too busy to do a complete a new post.  Sorry.  I will be back to writing 100,000 word posts soon!  In the meantime, enjoy the boobage.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Go Dodgers!

Sure, Houston may have Kate Upton, but that doesn't exactly leave the Dodgers flat!

Enjoy the Series!

P.S....This crazy little blog just passed a million and a half pageviews.

Monday, October 23, 2017

"This is For You" (Revisited)

(Note:  Sorry folks, I've been too busy to either finish the long blog post I started writing last week--a recap of my last great tournament run--or even do a new, quickie post.  Since it's been awhile since I've posted, I'm running this fun post that originally ran during the first year of this blog's existence.  Most of you probably either haven't read it or don't remember it, so hopefully you'll find it worth a revist!  Note the reference to "BSC"!)

Tonight, playing at BSC, I saw one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen at a poker table.  A player kept attempting to tip the dealers by putting his own chips directly into the rake box.

Let me back up.  Early in the session a rather unusual looking young fellow joined the game, taking the seat directly to the right of the dealer.  He was Asian, and he had unusually long hair (down to his shoulders) and was wearing a baseball-type cap.  And he was happy.
Boy was he happy.  I’m not speaking euphemistically here, at least at first.  He was just real happy.  I’ve seen this before, a person who is just really happy to be in Vegas and to be playing poker (or whatever) in Vegas.  And that’s what this guy appeared to be.
Of course, he got happier as the evening went on.  He was ordering beer after beer, and when he switched to hard liquor for one round, the waitress refused to let him take the drink until he relinquished the beer bottle in front of him.  The rule is, no one can have more than one alcoholic beverage at a time.  He put up a fuss, and begged the waitress to make an exception for him.  She said she couldn’t because of all the cameras that were watching. When he heard that, he got excited.  “There’s cameras on me?  Oh wow, I’m a superstar!” He finally solved the dilemma by chugalugging the rest of his beer (he had about 1/3 left).
Surprisingly, he seemed to be playing reasonable well, nothing too out of the ordinary.  Then one time he looked at his hand and let out a rather maniacal laugh. It was the kind of laugh you might hear from a villain in a super-hero movie.  It was really loud too.  I think there was a limper or two—but no more than that—and he raised to $35.  Yeah, $35.  In a 1/2 game.  A bit of an overbet, don’t you think?
I said about the laugh, “I think that’s a tell.”  Anyway, no one called his bet and he showed his hand as he collected his $5 or $7 pot.  It was indeed a pair of Aces.  He laughed and made a big over bet every time he had Aces, which happened a few times.  But he started laughing oddly and in this slightly maniacally tone more and more.  When he looked at the cards.  When someone raised.  When the flop came.  When the turn came.  When someone folded.  This happened whether he was in a hand or not. Eventually, he found almost everything funny. 
After a few hours, he was both happy and drunk.  He proved this by trying to help another player play his hand—a definite no-no.  In a limped pot without much action until the river, the board showed 6-7-8-9-x, no flush possible.  The river card was the 8, completing possible gut shot straight draws.  The 8 caused some action.  One player bet out $35.  The other player made it an even $100.  The first player went into the tank, trying to figure out whether to call or not.
He was taking a long time when the happy Asian started talking.  “If you have a 5, you have to call.”  The dealer of course warned him not to comment on the hand while action was pending.  He was surprised, and didn’t understand why not, but he kept quiet.  For a few seconds.  As the guy was still thinking about what to do, the happy Asian repeated his advice.  Several times.  The dealer told him to be quiet.  Other players near him (out of the hand) tried to explain why this was wrong.  He wasn’t getting it.  Eventually though, he stopped talking, and the player who was thinking did fold, showing his 5.  The winner didn’t show, we’ll just have to assume he had a 10, if not Jack-10.
Now for the oddest part.  Being seating near the dealer, the player was right next to the rake box.  He suddenly found this fascinating, particularly the slide the dealer pulls out to make the chips for the rake drop into the box.  And during the play of the hand, when there were some chips there as part of the rake, he started pulling back on the slide himself to make the rake drop.  As soon as the dealer noticed this, he told him not to do it.  But I think he may have done it a few more times.
But then, he started putting his own personal chips to the chips in the rake slot, before they were dropped.  Suddenly the dealer, who had just dropped the rake, saw a dollar chip there before the next hand had been dealt.  He realized that the happy Asian put them there, from his own stack.  The dealer asked what he was doing.
“This is for you, right?  This is your tips.”  No, the dealer explained, that was not tips, that was going to the house.  Now, the player had indeed being tipping—directly to the dealer—when he won a pot.  But apparently he hadn’t noticed that the dealers were putting those chips into their shirt pockets.  He thought that the money going down the chute were the chips that the dealers were being given for tips!
This happened at the end of one dealer’s down, and it appeared that he had gotten the message across to the guy not to mess with the rake box, and that those were not tips.
But that wasn’t the case.  Dennis was the new dealer and soon saw the guy putting his own chips on top of the rake chips.  He too asked him to stop that.  He too heard the player say, “This is for you, right?”  No, Dennis explained, it was not.  “This money goes to BSC.  They have enough money.  You don’t need to give them any more.”  Dennis started wondering how much money the guy had given away to BSC.  All the players did.  No one knew, but it was clear that the guy had given away some of his money to the house, thinking he was tipping the dealers.
It took Dennis about half his down to get the guy to stop trying to put chips on top of the rake.  Although I think he had stopped pulling back on the slide, he did touch it a few times and make Dennis think he might be doing that. Dennis then told him that cameras were watching and he again got excited about being on camera.
Dennis wondered how much money he had given away, and I said it could have been $40 or so (but I really don’t think it was that much.)  Then I said the accountants will be wondering why the take on this table was so much higher than average.
It appeared he had gotten the message by the time Dennis was done with his down.  But not so. The next dealer caught him doing it again!  Then, in an incredible display of good timing, the rake box jammed, as it sometimes does.  I really don’t think he had put enough money in there to cause this himself, but it was funny.  When a floor person came by to clear the jam, the guy said something about having put money down there from his own stack, and the floor said, “You put your own money down there?  Don’t do that!  But I actually think he thought the guy was kidding.
By the time Dennis was done with his down, it again appeared that the guy had gotten the message, but again, that wasn’t the case.  He started doing the same thing with the next dealer.  And was warned again.  Finally, he took his last remaining stack of $1 chips, which was about $10-$12, and started to place it right on top of the slot for the rake.  The new dealer saw this of course, took the chips and handed them back to the player.  So the player said, “Ok, then this is for you,” and put the chips in the general vicinity of the dealer. So the dealer took the chips, put them in his shirt pocket, and thanked the player. 
The happy Asian was done.  He still had a decent amount of $5 chips left, which he took with him, saying he had to eat.
After he left, all of us at the table had a good laugh about this.  And no one could recall ever seeing anything like it.  So, when I was leaving, I spoke to Dennis, who was dealing at another game.  I asked him if he’d ever seen that before.  He’s being dealing at BSC for around 7 years, and he said no, this was a first for him.  And repeated the guy’s line, laughing, “This is for you, right?”
I have no idea how much he gave away to BSC tonight, but I will say this.  He was damn happy about it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"I Hate Slow-Rollers!"

It was getting near the end of my Vegas trip, the second Friday night I was there (and leaving Monday).  So I had a nice dinner with Lightning and then a poker session with him and VegasDWP.

This was the night after our big group dinner at Hugo's, you know the one where we met Naked Girl completely dressed.  I mean Naked Girl was completely dressed.  Wait, that's still ambiguous.  We were all completely dressed.  Anyway, Lightning had been playing all afternoon at the Mirage so I meet him there and we ate at the burger place there, LVB Burger.  Actually the full name is "LVB Burgers and Bar" so I dunno if "LVB" stands for Las Vegas Burgers (which would be redundant—Las Vegas Burgers Burgers and Bar?—or maybe Las Vegas Boulevard).

Neither of us had ever eaten there before.  We were looking for a cheap meal and it was only cheap because Lightning had enough Mirage poker comps to pay for it.  Because honestly, $15.50 for a burger is not even remotely cheap.  And that's not even a cheeseburger, folks, just a plain hamburger. And at that, it came with nothing, no fries, no drink.  Just the burger.  If we wanted to add fries and a drink they'd give us the meal deal for another $7.50.  Like I've been saying, Vegas ain't what it used to be.  But at least they didn't charge extra for the pickles, onions or ketchup.

I have to say that the burger was really good though.  Not $15.50 good, but good.  I guess I might go there again if I ever build up my comp balance at Mirage to $15.50.  Although I usually use my Mirage comps for a pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli, which is right across the way from the burger joint.

Lightning and I had a nice dinner re-hashing the surprise appearance of Naked Girl and Rich Guy the night before.  Then we headed over to the Wynn for some of that pokerz.  By the way, Wynn is the latest casino to start charging for parking.  However, I found out that they will validate the parking ticket for poker players (two hours of play or more).

We got there a few minutes before VegasDWP arrived and although Lightning and I were at the same table to begin with, DWP had to go to a different game and wait for a table transfer.  But eventually we all ended up not only at the same game but all next to each other.  Lightning was on my right and DWP was on my left.

The game at Wynn is 1/3 so I bought in for $300.  The table was a little less aggro than I'm used to at the Wynn.  But there were still some fireworks.  One of the players was a heavy-set guy who said he spends about half his time in Vegas and half his time on the East Coast—New Jersey, if memory serves.  And we were just settling into the table when he started telling the story of how he really, really hates slow-rollers. 

How much does he hate them?  Well, he once got banned from a casino for 24-hours (I think it was Foxwoods) for throwing a chip-rack at another player for slow-rolling.  Seriously.  But that's not even the worst of it.  He said the guy who he threw the chip-rack at wasn't even slow-rolling him!  He was slow-rolling some other player.  But he got so mad he threw the rack at him.  He said that the guy had been warned a couple of times about slow-rolling, that's why he got so pissed. they warn you for slow-rolling?  I've never seen it.  Now that I'm thinking about it, if the guy was warned, it must have been this guy, the guy we were playing with at the Wynn, who did the warning.  Unless the slow-roller was doing it in such a way so that it was obvious taunting of the other player. I dunno.  But this fat guy made it clear he really hated slow-rolling, that's for sure.

So a few hours into the session, this happened.  There was a nice, white-haired older woman at the table.  She'd buy in for $100 any time she busted.  She had obviously played a lot of poker over a lot of years.  And in this particular hand, she went all-in for less than $100.  I think it was on the flop.  The fat guy, who had well over $500, called.  It was heads up, and he flipped over his hand.  I believe it was top pair, top kicker.  The lady said and did nothing.  The dealer put out the last two cards which didn't help the guy's hand at all.  After the river was dealt, she turned over her hand, a set of 8's to take the pot.

That totally set the guy off. He was livid.  "You've played poker for a long time.  You know not to slow-roll."

The lady said, "What are you talking about?  I didn't slow-roll."  She had turned over her hand as soon as the dealer finished dealing the board.  What the guy was referring to was her not tabling her hand when he showed his top pair hand, that she was ahead of.

The guy said, "Yes you did.  I showed my hand right away, I had my chips pushed forward in the pot, why slow-roll me like that?"

"I can do whatever I want.  I didn't slow-roll you."

"Yes you did.  You slow-rolled me.  You should have showed your hand as soon as I showed mine."

"I don't care what you think.  I don't give a shit."  She said something about how she's "only been playing poker for 50 years."

"I told you I hate slow-rolling."  In fact, he sure had.  And the lady was at the table before we were all there, so she surely was there for his story about getting banned for throwing a rack.

To be honest, I thought it got nasty enough between them for the dealer to say something, but he didn't.  Actually, I was kind of waiting for him to call the floor.

I wonder how you feel about this.  To me, she was not slow-rolling.  It was a cash game, not a tournament.  She was not required to show her hand before it was finished being dealt.  It is strictly player optional.  Some players do it (like the fat guy), others refrain.  Personally, I usually wait and only show if the other player does it first.  Sometimes I don't even do it then if I feel that maybe I made a bad play.

And I've heard many a player say, when asked to show early, "No, it's bad luck."  I can see that.  Poker players are nothing if not superstitious.  She was the overwhelming favorite to win the hand at that point, but she could have lost.  OK, it was the longest of long shots, but if she's played poker for fifty years, she may have a story about just such a horrific bad beat like that in her memory bank.

Anyway, things quieted down, but there was another similar incident.  This time the guy who hated to be slow-rolled was in a hand with an older gentleman, who had also been at the table the whole time.  But he may have had a language problem, not sure.  He said very little.  I think the old guy called the guy's shove, verbally, and the cranky guy kept insisting that he push his chips forward.  "Put your chips in the pot. Are you all-in?"  The old guy said, "All-in."  But the other guy was pissed that he hadn't pushed his chips forward. He asked the dealer repeatedly if the older guy was all in and he was told he was.  But he was upset he hadn't pushed his chips forward.  Again, the cranky guy lost the hand, and he was pissed that guy had slow-rolled him.  I don't recall if he had actually waited long to show his hand (I think, but I'm not sure, that the betting action had taken place on the river this time), he was more upset about him not pushing his chips in front of him.  "Again?  I'm being slow-rolled again?"  This was a little less contentious than the previous time.

In his defense....well, he didn't throw a chip-rack at anyone.

As for the poker itself, by far my best hand came very early in the session.  It was early in the first orbit I played and I was the big blind.  I had Queen-Jack of hearts and I called $12 (it was sooooted!).  It was 3-ways.  The flop was rather sweet: 10-9-8, two spades.  Because I was so new to the table and didn't have a clue how anyone played, and because there were two spades on the board, I donked out $20.  The preflop raiser made it $80.  He had about $200 (including the $80 bet) and I started the hand with my original $300 buy-in.  I tanked for a bit and tried to come up with a raise that wasn't a shove and couldn't.  I suppose I could have made it $150 but I figured if he'd call that he'd call the rest of his stack.  So I shoved. 

He tanked for a bit and finally called.  He had pocket Aces.  My straight held and I suddenly had about $500 in front of me.

Later I had Aces myself.  There was a limp, a raise to $20, a call of the $20.  I made it $80 and took it without a call.

With the dreaded pocket Kings I opened to $15 and it was four-ways, including DWP.  The flop was Queen-Queen-x, which I didn't like very much.  I did make the c-bet of $30 but DWP called as did the older lady I've already told you about.  The turn was a blank and I was pretty sure there was at least one Queen out there.  I checked.  DWP bet $40 and the lady called.  I folded.  I don't remember the further betting action but DWP took the pot with Queen-Jack.  I think the lady only had pocket 8's, unimproved.  Apparently you can play poker for fifty years without being very good at it.

I got Kings again and opened to $12, two callers.  The flop was Queen-hi which was much better than two Queens.  I bet $30 and didn't get a call.

I didn't lose any big pots, just smallish pots. After 3-1/2 hours, we left and I had a $125 profit for the session.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Long Day's Tourney Into Night (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final chapter.  You can find part 3 here, part 2 here and part 1 here.

We pick up with the start of day 2....

I made it to the Venetian with plenty of time to spare.  The player on my immediate left, with a big stack, was an older gentleman.  And he was not at all an aggro—he was clearly not about to use his big stack to bully the table.  That was a break for me, to be sure.  He played rather nitty, but that didn't prevent him from busting out of the tournament before cashing.

The blinds for level 16 were 500/2K/4K and I had $126,500 chips.  Early on, from the button, I opened to $9K with Queen-10 off and didn't get a call.

After a limp, I raised to $11K with Ace-Queen off.  One call, the flop was Queen-Queen-x and I bet $20K and took the pot.

I opened to $11K with King-Jack off and got a call.  The flop was King-high, I bet $18K and took it.

Level 17 (500/2500/5000), $145K.  First hand of the level I was the big blind with King-10 off.  The big stack made it $11K and it folded to me.  I called.  The flop was Queen-9-x so I had a gut-shot, but after I checked, he bet big and I had to fold.

I opened to $11K with King-Jack and didn't get a call.

I opened to $11K with Ace-Queen and got three callers.  King-Queen-x flop, two spades and I checked.  A guy shoved and the rest of us folded.  The guy who shoved showed his cards—he had the nut flush draw.

It folded to me in the small blind with pocket 8's.  I put $15K on top of my blind and the big blind folded.

I think it was towards the end of level 17 that we got down to the bubble and had to go hand-for-hand, which of course is excruciating.  With 55 players left, of course there was no way everyone was going to agree to pay the bubble.  You can't get 55 people to agree that water is wet.  The way they did it was different then I've seen before.  Yes, it was one hand at a time, but what they did was instruct the dealers to stop the action at any table whenever there was an all-in and a call.  Then they had every other table finish their action before completing the action at the table where the player was all-in and at risk of busting.  I guess that makes sense, but it made the hand-for-hand go even slower.

Level 18 (1K/3K/6K), $118K.  Still hand-for-hand as the level began.  It took a long time, but finally the bubble did indeed break and we were all in the money.  We were all good for a $257profit (assuming you only bought one entry). 

Carol opened to $15K.  I shoved with pocket Jacks and took the pot.

Later I had pocket Queens.  A shorter stack shoved, I re-shoved.  No others came along.  The shorter stack had Ace-Jack and a Queen on the flop ended the suspense.

That got me to the first break of the day, time to eat lunch.  With 10-minutes to eat, my meal consisted of three energy bars. 

Level 19 (1K/4K/8K) $192K.  With Ace-King, I opened to $21K.  A short stack tanked, said, "OK, I gotta gamble," and shoved for $60K.  This guy had moved to the table after the table chip leader busted out and was on my immediate left.  He knew Carol, they were gently ribbing each other the entire time.   He was kind of a joker, and as soon as he announced "all-in" he stood up and shouted, "Seat open!" It was pretty funny.  Even though his "I gotta gamble" could be a misdirect and he could have Aces, I figured I had to call for only $40K more. But I was surprised when Carol called before it got to me after tanking for a long time.   Hmm...

Having played with her enough that I felt pretty sure she didn't have Aces or Kings. She would have likely shoved with those, seeing as how I was behind her and had raised first. I had never seen her slow play, and I recalled a comment she had made earlier about not slow playing   And I knew she figured I had a pretty good hand.  She had made comments about how I always had the goods whenever I had to show my cards.  And there was one thing I absolutely knew she didn't have—Ace-King.

Why did I know she didn't have Ace-King?  Because I had heard her comment probably half a dozen times when other people had played AK strongly, saying things like "Ace-King isn't god," "I don't know why everyone loves Ace-King, it's not that great a hand."  Or, let me say this.  If she did have Ace-King, she wouldn't call my shove.  So I shoved.

Back to Carol, she took forever to decide after getting a count of my chips (in the neighborhood of $190K).  She counted her chips and then counted how much she'd have left if she called and lost.  Finally she said, "I can't believe I'm doing this....I said I'd never do this...I don't believe in doing this....but there's too many chips already in there.  I have to call."  And she showed Ace-King!

Well the short stack was deliriously happy when Carol and I both turned over Ace-King as he turned over pocket 10's.  Carol and I were blocking each other, and his 10's were looking pretty good there, it wasn't just a race.  And by the way, when Carol called his bet, and when I shoved, both times he stood up again and shouted "Seat open!" This confused the tournament director a bit.

Carol said to me, "I can't believe you did that, Ace-King isn't that good."  Ahem....I thought my situation made more sense than hers did, but what do I know?

The board bricked out, Carol and I took back our bets (she had asked the dealer to bring in the $60K bets that made up the main pot) and the short stack had a triple up.  Get this:  As the short stack was stacking his chips, the player next to him said he folded the other two 10's.  He had no outs.  Lucky for him, he didn't need any.

I was down to about $100K and back in desperation mode.

Level 20 (1K/5K/10K), $80K. Once the bubble broke, players started busted out fairly rapidly.  I watched the clock and saw that number of players kept dropping.  I made it past the first pay jump and was guaranteed $650.  Somewhere along the line I made another pay jump and was guaranteed $717.  So I had managed to earn more than double my buy-in back!  That's what I wanted but that should have been the min-cash—not my possible reward for outlasting 18 players and making two pay jumps.

Meanwhile, just by posting blinds and antes, I was down to $50K, way past desperation time.  I really didn't get any hands to play for a long time.  By now my stack was so low it I would definitely shove with any Ace.  And I was about to post the big blind, they moved me to balance tables.  There were 32 players left and it was still quite a ways from the next pay jump.

I was the big blind at the new table and I had garbage and folded after one of the players made a standard raise.  But in the small blind, I had Ace-6 and figured this was it.  The same player made the same raise, there was a call, and I shoved.  Both of the other players called. 

Since they weren't all-in we didn't show our hands. I didn't see any 6's on the board which I figured is what I needed (I assumed one of them had a bigger Ace than mine).  There was no betting until a Jack hit the river and one of them bet, the other guy folded.  He had Ace-Jack and my tournament was ended. I played pretty close to 15 hours of poker over the two days and cashed for $717.

As I was driving back to my room, I had mixed emotions, and a lot of them were negative.  I was actually kind of mad that I had played so long, done so well, and received so little.  All because of the ridiculous pay scales they use.  I don't blame the Venetian, pretty much every poker room does the same thing, they make the min-cash too small, pay the top three finishers (relatively) too much.  It really gives me an incentive to never play another tournament.  And this is how I felt after cashing and making a $377 profit!  Imagine how I would have felt if I had bubbled?  Actually maybe not so bad because I know you can't get a decent payout if you don't cash.  But playing 15 hours of poker, over two days, being totally wiped out by it, outlasting 442 players, (out of 474), getting my ass there at eleven freaking o'clock in the morning for day 2—well I just felt like I should have gotten a better reward.

I will say this.  It definitely made me rethink playing multiple day tournaments.  I just don't see myself doing that again.  I mean seriously, I don't think I'm playing another two or more day tournament where there is no payout on day 1.  I just won't do it.  Well, I suppose if a main event seat were to magically fall into my hands, I'd play that, but otherwise, I don't think so.

That meant I decided right then and there that I wouldn't be playing in a very similar multiple day tournament the Venetian was running that weekend. Before arriving in Vegas, I was definitely leaning towards playing in it. It was a $250 tournament with day 1 flights on Friday and Saturday.  Day 2 Sunday.  But after my experience, I just wasn't interested in playing that much poker for so little reward.  Sure, I could always finish in the top 3, but that is such a long shot.  So I played a different tournament on Saturday, and that very happy story will be told in the near future.

On the other hand, I was very happy about the way things went, other than the payout.  I played against 474 players and finished 32nd.  That's damn impressive.  Remember, it had been a long time since I'd cashed in a tournament and I was beginning to have my doubts that I was any good at them.  But this result seems to suggest that I'm a decent tournament player after all.

Sure I got some luck.  I mean, until I wrote this up, I didn't even realize how many sets I hit.  I hope I haven't hit my lifetime supply by now.  And I got some luck in specific hands when I needed to.  But that's always the case when you run deep in a tournament. You have to win the flips.

But what was also nice that this was not some turbo I had cashed in.  This was a huge deepstack with a really great structure.  That makes it tougher to do well in.  I recall a few years ago when all the pros were saying how much they like the Monster Stack at the WSOP.  It attracts many recreational players who like the huge starting stack.  But the pros know that the big starting stack gives them a huge edge over the rec players—the longer the tournament structure plays out, the bigger the advantage for the pros over the amateurs.  Almost anyone can get lucky and do well in a $60 tournament that starts with 15-minute levels and $6K chips. This tournament was designed to favor the better players.

So. in the end, I really have to be happy with the result, and I'm proud of my play. And it did do wonders for confidence.  Just wish it had had a bigger income on my bankroll for the time invested.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Long Day's Tourney Into Night (Part 3)

You can find part 2 here and part 1 here.

Picking up where we left off, we start with....

Level 13 (300/1K/2K) $75K.  I opened to $5,500 with King-Jack off and didn't get a call.

With Ace-King in the small blind I just called a big stack's open to $6K.  He had just come to the table.  Carol was the big blind and she came along too.  I checked the flop, Ace-Jack-x, and the other two checked as well.  The turn was a Queen and this time I put out $13K and Carol immediately raised to $26K.  The preflop raiser folded and I tanked.  From my observations of her game to that point, I just didn't think she would min-raise there unless she could beat top pair/top kicker. As I folded, I said to her, "Ace-Queen, huh?"  She didn't say a word or react in any way.

I opened to $5,200 with King-Jack off, only the big blind called.  The flop was Jack-high, I bet $7K and got a call.  The turn was a King and I bet $14K and he folded.

The last hand of the level was a crucial one.  I opened to $5,200 with Queen-10 of clubs.  There were three callers, including Carol.  The flop was pretty nice I thought—Queen-Queen-3.  I bet $12K and Carol made it $25K and it folded back to me.  Did she have a Queen with a better kicker?  At that point, I wasn't going anywhere with trip Queens.  I shoved, she tanked, ask for a count  and then called.  She still had a shitload of chips.  And she turned over Queen-Jack.  Ugh.  Looked like my tournament life was about to end.  But the turn was a 3 and suddenly we both had the exact same boat.  The river was blank and we chopped it.  Phew.  That's the kind of luck you need from time-to-time to run deep in these things.

As soon as the 3 hit the turn said, "Oh, are you lucky!"  She said it a few more times as the dealer was dividing the pot between the two of us.  Then she added, "Well, you could have caught a 10 there.  I can't complain. I'm happy with the chop."

Level 14 (400/1200/2400) $70K.  I opened to $6K with K-10 of spades.  Carol called.  Carol was another one of those players who seemingly called every bet I made.  But the aggro calling station next to her shoved, and two more players shoved after that!  I folded, as did Carol.  Well the biggest stack (the second shover) had two Queens, the first guy had Ace-Jack and the last guy had Ace-King.  The Queens held and we lost two players including that aggro that had been a pain in the ass the entire tournament to that point.  Carol pointed out that she had Ace-10 and would have caught a straight if she had called.  Just the 10 was needed for the straight.  I would have caught it too, but of course neither of us could have risked our tournament lives with our hands.

Card dead, I headed to level 15 (500/1500/3000) with just $56,500.  This was the last level of the night, if I survived this I'd be coming back for day 2.  But that was a pretty meager stack and even if I just stayed with that stack for the rest of the night, I'd be pretty desperate at the start of level 16 the next day.

I realized there was no point in just  hanging on to return next day—at 11AM—so I could just find a hand to shove with and get bounced after playing maybe one hand.  I figured I needed to take some risks to try and build the stack and if I busted out instead, I could live with that.  I'd rather bust out now than return tomorrow with a desperation stack.  I likely could have folded my way to day 2, but there was no money in it if I did that—no payouts until day 2.  I wasn't sure how many players I'd have to outlast on day 2 to get money—that info wasn't posted yet, but it was clear I'd need some kind of stack if I came back to have a shot at any money at all.  Of course, I wanted more than just the min-cash, whatever it would be.

I should have been more aggressive earlier but there were always one or two players behind me who always seemed to call every bet or raise I made.  Now Carol was playing that roll for the aggro who had recently busted. 

So in the small blind with Ace-Jack, there was a raise in front of me and I shoved.  There was no call.  Two hands later I opened to $7K with Queen-10 off.  But a big stack who had just moved to our table shoved and I folded.

Then, on the button, I got the dreaded pocket Kings. First time since the first round of the tournament.  Well, I figured this was it.  Since it was Kings, I expected to bust out there.  But obviously it was a great time to get them and if I could win a big pot I'd be in much better shape for a day 2.  A guy with a big stack who wasn't as aggro as maybe you'd expect with his stack had raised in front of me.  I didn't even pay much attention to the amount, I had one play.  I shoved, it folded back to the preflop raiser who asked for a count.  It was $59K.  He had chips galore and he tanked and then called.  He had pocket 7's.  There was an Ace on the flop because of course Kings are "Ace magnets" but this time the Ace didn't matter.  I was thinking it was pretty sweet that he hadn't done that with Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  No 7 showed up and believe it or not, my Kings held.  I got my much needed double-up and I had the not-so-dreaded pocket Kings to thank!

That was the last hand of "normal" play.  What they did then was new to me.  The clock showed 12 minutes left and they froze it.  They waited for the hands to stop at every table.  I believe there were five tables left and we were now playing 9-handed.  And they announced that they were just going to play six more hands at every table, run 12 minutes off the clock for those six hands.  They wouldn't move any players to balance no matter how uneven the tables may get.  I guess they want to do that to make sure that some players aren't stalling just to run out the clock to make day 2.  But I really don't think that's necessary since there is really no incentive to get to day 2—not with a really short stack.

So we played six more hands, the dealer at each table kept count.  With the Kings double-up, I felt I would be coming back to day 2 with a workable stack.  With only six hands to go, there was a good chance I wouldn't get another hand to play unless I wanted to take a needless risk.  Of course getting Aces then would have been nice.  But since that Kings hand was my button, I wouldn't have to post another blind that night.  That KK couldn't have come at a better time for me.  I folded garbage for five straight hands and then on the final hand of the night, I got pocket 5's.  I figured I could take a small risk and limp in with them, planning to fold to any raise.  But it was a limped pot.  It was five-ways and believe it or not, I flopped a set.  I wasn't going to try anything cute there.  I lead out for $13K and took it down.

And so the bagging and tagging started and I bagged $126,500. While we were counting, they finally posted the final numbers.  I almost forgot to look before I left.  But it was weird during the last few levels of the tournament, seeing the "number of players left" figure keep going down, and then reminding myself that it didn't really mean anything this time.  Ordinarily at this time in a tournament I'd be looking at the number and seeing just how close I was getting to being in the money.  But this time I knew that no matter how low that number got, it didn't really mean I was getting close to the money—at least on this day.  So I tried to stop looking at it, but I couldn't help myself. 

Anyway, the final numbers showed that over the two starting flights, there were 474 players, with 76 players left to return on day 2.  They were paying 54 players, so I had to outlast 22 more players to get in the money.  But here's the killer. The min-cash was $597, well under the double-the-buy-in figure that I think should be the minimum min-cash for this type of tournament, as I've mentioned many times  Very discouraging but I guess not surprising.  Perhaps worse, nine players would get that pathetic min-cash.  Nine!  The first pay jump was 45th place for $650—still not double the buy-in!  Again, nine players would get that.  It wasn't until the next pay jump—36th place—that the payout reached $717, slightly more than double the buy-in. And again, nine players were getting that.  Then, starting at 27th place, three players make the jump to $889. 

The total prize pool was $132K.   First place was getting $28.5K, second was $17.5K and third was $12.6K.  Couldn't they have taken a little off the top 3 to give more meaningful money for everyone who played two days of poker and cashed?  Guess not.

It was like 11:15 PM when I left the Venetian and headed to my room. That's 11 hours of poker!  I was exhausted, mentally and physically.  I needed to get to bed quickly to make sure I was at the Venetian the next day for the 11AM restart.  So of course, for my convenience, there was a problem at the hotel I was staying at and as I was getting ready for bed, a terrible loud, squealing, high-pitched siren erupted out of nowhere.  It was not coming from my room.  I had to throw my clothes back on to check it out.  It seems there was some repair work being done on the hotel's water pipes and when they turned the water back on the sudden pressure set off an alarm.  It was a false alarm and it went quiet as I was talking to them about it.

Impressively, the Venetian already had the chip counts and seating assignments online by the time I got back to the hotel.  I was actually in pretty good shape, my stack was just about right in the middle of 76 remaining players—the 40th biggest stack.  Plenty of players had fewer chips than me.  And I saw that my buddy Carol and her still big stack was at my new table, but this time she was two seats to my right instead of on my immediate left.  Unfortunately, the player on my immediate left was one of the chip leaders for the entire tournament and the chip leader at our table.

I couldn't fall asleep—I was too amped up.  And when I finally did fall asleep, I woke up after about three hours and was still too amped to get back to sleep  I dragged myself out of bet when my alarm went off but I had only been barely dozing on and off for the most part.  I was going to have to cash in this tournament functioning on three hours of sleep.

And that's the end of part 3.  Part 4 is now posted here so you can see if this story has a happy ending.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Long Day's Tourney Into Night (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.  We pick up right we left off.

Level 6 (50/200/400), $48,500.  Now we get to my least favorite hand of the tournament (except maybe for my bust-out hand, I suppose).   This was where I could have won the tournament right then and there. I called $900 with pocket 6's and there were five of us seeing the flop. It was 4-4-3 and the preflop raiser bet $3,600 and got two calls.  I was very certain my 6's weren't good and there were three players very interested in the hand, they likely all had me beat. What was the point of calling with my two-outer? And then I thought, well, I sure have been hitting a lot of turned sets today.  Maybe I could catch another one?  No, I decided, there's just no way I'm going to hit another.  I'll probably go the rest of my life without hitting another.  I mean no one gets that many turned sets in such a short time.  Yes, of course I know that the fact that I had just hit several had absolutely no bearing on whether I would catch another one this time.  Each one is independent. Still, I had to think it was just asking way too much of the poker gods to hit another one again so soon after the others.  I wasn't getting the right price.  It made no sense to call so I folded.

Well you know I wouldn't have spent so much time on this if the turn was indeed a 6 and if I had only called I would have hit another turned set (actually a turned boat in this case).  I was sick to my stomach.  On the turn three players put at least 4K into the pot.  The river was a 10 and I prayed that someone had gotten sticky with pocket 10's and thus caught a bigger boat than I tossed away.  Anyway, somebody put their last $8K in on the river, the preflop raiser called and the other guy folded.  The short stack had flopped a boat with pocket 3's.  The other guy didn't show (a mistake on the dealer's part, he called an all-in and should have shown, I'm guessing he had an overpair).  That huge pot would have been mine if I had called the flop.  Surely that guy who flopped a boat wasn't going anywhere and I would have busted him and he'd be left with a horrific bad beat story to tell.  I might have even gotten more money than he did out of the aggro who raised in the first place.

I had forgotten the cardinal rule that I always followed when I was playing table games.  Always bet the streak, never bet against the streak.  I was running hot catching sets on the turn, I should have bet it.

It would have been tough not to have cashed if I had taken that pot. I know you're not supposed to be upset about "what might have beens" when you make the right play, but I couldn't help myself, it took me a level or two to get over it.  I kept thinking that I could have won the tournament right there if I had called that flop bet.

Level 7 (75/250/500), $44K.   Early on I raised to $1,200 with pocket 7's.  It was five ways.  The flop was Jack-9-8.  I checked and called a bet of $2,100.  With the gut-shot I thought it was worth calling the smallish bet.  But the turn paired the board and I folded to a big bet.

The next hand I was the big blind with pocket 10's.  I called the big stack's raise to $1,200 and it was three ways.  The flop was low and it checked around.  I bet $2K on the turn card, a 9, which was now the highest card on the board.  The preflop raiser folded but the other guy called.  We both checked on a Jack river and he mucked when he saw my 10's.

Not long after that I got pocket 10's again.  Again I called the big stack's raise to $1,200 and again it was three of us.  The flop was King-Queen-5 and I called the big stack's bet of $2,100, it was now heads up.  There was no more betting and my 10's were good against his pocket 9's. 

Level 8 (75/300/600),  $39.5K .  Now here I made a little note to myself that for that previous level I didn't take any notes on the hands I lost.  You know, routine losses where I'd call a raise preflop and miss and let it go, or maybe even called a flop bet and then let it go.  I was finding it was getting too distracting to write down the hands that were not of much significance.  I did it that way for most of the rest of tournament. 

But not always.  After a limper I made it $2,200 with Queen-Jack, it was heads up.  The flop was Ace-high and I made a c-bet of $3K but he called. The turn was a blank and I checked-folded.

I opened to $1,600 with Ace-King and it was heads up.  The flop was Jack-high and I made a $3K c-bet, he called.  No more betting and he showed Ace-Jack to take it.  

Level 9 (100/400/800), $25,900.  Under-the-gun plus 1, I open to $2,200 with King-Jack off.  It was heads up.  The flop was all low and I bet $4K and dragged the pot.

In the small blind with Ace-King,  there was a limp and a raise.  I went ahead and shoved and took the pot.  I didn't really have to shove there, but it seemed like a good spot to take a chance.  The raiser was one of the aggros at the table and I didn't think he necessarily had that great a hand.  And if I did get called at least I'd get to see all five cards and that's what you want with Ace-King.  It was a calculated risk and it paid off.

I suppose in the back of mind there was the fact that the dinner break was coming up.  I certainly wanted to keep playing and I had a workable stack, but it did occur to me that if I did bust out there, at least I would be able to enjoy my dinner instead of wolfing it down with one eye on the clock to make sure I was back to the table in time for the first deal of the next level.  Again, I want to make clear I wasn't trying to bust there, not at all, but I suppose it was in my subconscious and maybe influenced my decision by possibly as much as 1%.

So we were on a 30-minute dinner break and I'd be coming back to level 10 (100/500/1000) with $30.5K.  The Venetian will give you a $10 food comp for playing in any tournament that has a buy-in of $340 or more, and this one qualified.  Note:  It's not well-publicized and it isn't automatic, you have to know to ask for it.  The $10 comp is good only at three locations: Café Lux, the Asian Noodle place and the food court downstairs (there's a food court upstairs that does not take the comps).  Well Café Lux would take too long, and the Asian noodle place is not my thing so it was the food court for me. Note: you could also use it for table side dinning but no way did I want that distraction while I was playing. I suppose I could have eaten anywhere and just held on to the food comp, it's good for a few months.  But since at this point I had no idea if I would get anything back for my $340 investment I figured I'd take advantage of the free food.  Or at least the partially free food.

There's a pizza place there that has semi-adequate pizza that figured to be fast.  Two slices of pepperoni was a bargain at $17.50. That doesn't even include a drink, which I didn't need since I had a bottle of water with me.  Wow, good thing I had the $10 comp, at $7.50 it would be close to what it was worth.  But to my surprise they said they wouldn't accept the comp. They did last time I tried to use it in April.   But they said they had been closed for awhile, they just re-opened and weren't set up yet.  Huh?  Well, I went next door where I got a foot-long hot dog and fries for a few bucks more than the comp.

I'm a fast eater and at least the food court wasn’t crowded (with those prices, no wonder) so I managed to get back to the tournament in plenty of time.

After dinner I was really card dead.    The only hand of level 10 I noted was when I raised to $2,500 with 9-8 of diamonds and had two callers.  The flop was King-8-3.  I checked and folded to a bet.  Turned out they both had me beat.  One had a King and the other had pocket 9's.  The turn was another King too.

Level 11 (200/600/1200) $23,300.  There was a raise and a call and I looked down at pocket Jacks.  I shoved.  The raiser had a big stack and he called, the other guy folded.  He had pocket 8's.  The flop was all blanks, but the turn was a Jack and, just for good measure, so was the river.  It was overkill and I suppose a waste of quads but what the hell, I wasn't about to complain. That got my stack up to about $44K.

I limped in with Jack-10 of spades.  Ordinarily I would have raised but the aggro was behind me and I figured he was just gonna raise anyway and if it wasn't too much I'd call.  But the aggro folded this time and three of us saw the flop which was Jack-10-5.  I bet $5K and took it down.

Level 12 (200/800/1600) $41K.  In the big blind with Queen-3, it folded to the small blind who completed.  I just checked behind.  The flop was a total miss, but when the small blind checked I bet $3K and stole it.

I opened to $4K with Ace-8 of diamonds and didn't get a call.

There was one limper and it was on me with pocket Aces.  I made it $5K and only the limper called.  The flop was King-high, two spades and I did have the Ace of spades.  I bet $10K and didn't get a call.

I opened to $4K with Ace-Queen of diamonds and had one caller.  The flop was Ace-high, two spades. I bet $7K and took it.

With pocket Jacks, I called $4,200 from a guy with a huge stack. Nice flop, I had top set.  I checked because I knew the guy would c-bet.  He did, $5.5K. I meant to make it a little more than a min-raise and thought I was making it $13K.  But I had a little brain-fart.  I grabbed two $5K chips but instead of grabbing three $1K chips I picked up three $100 chips.  So my bet wasn't quite a legitimate raise, only $10,300.  The dealer didn't say anything at first and the other player said, "What is that, a call or a raise?"  Not realizing my mistake, I said, "It's a raise."  I didn't clarify but the tone in my voice cleared added the word "duh."  The dealer said, "That's $10,300, that's not enough."  Still not realizing the goof, I said, "Of course it's a raise, "$13K.  His bet is less than half of that."

Well the player on my immediate left tried to intervene.  Let's call her Carol because that's actually her name and she had moved there when that really good player I told you about earlier busted out.  Carol made the same mistake I had and thought I had also bet $13K.  We were both under the impression that dealer was in error but finally the dealer picked up the $100 chips and said, "These are $100 chips, not thousand dollar chips….what are you, color blind?"

Well, that was uncalled for, I thought.  OK, I got it.  I’d been playing with both denominations of the chips since the beginning and just goofed and now I finally realized the goof.  But there was no need to get insulting.  I was embarrassed about the mistake but I was kind of pissed at the dealer.  None-the-less, the obvious ruling was that I had to make the min-raise which I did.  The guy folded.  So why make the fuss?  I guess he was hoping they'd consider my action just a call so he could see a free card.

By the way, I mentioned the lady named Carol there because she was either on my left or my right the entire rest of the tournament.  She was a middle-aged woman with a New York-ish accent who didn't exactly look like a poker player and came to the table with a huge stack.  My initial thought she must have gotten extremely lucky to build up that stack but the more I played with her the more I realized she was a very solid player who had earned those chips. You'll hear about her again.

Before the level was over I got pocket Jacks yet again and I opened to $4K.  Didn't get a call.

And that's the end of part 2, you can find part 3 here.