Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Turkey of a Thanksgiving


I really should have gone with my initial instinct.  But I decided to take a shot and ended up having a pretty pathetic Thanksgiving experience this year.

I didn't have a family Thanksgiving to go to, the rest of my family had something else to do, something I always opt out of, and I'm fine with that. But that meant that I was on my own, and I thought about playing some poker.  When I was at PC Ventura the Saturday before, I had noticed that they were serving a complimentary, traditional Thanksgiving dinner to all their players on Turkey Day.  So that was an option.

I'm not really big on most of the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Oh I like turkey and mashed potatoes of course, but the rest—stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc, I don't care for.  That said, I didn't have a Thanksgiving meal last year.  I was recovering from my triple by-pass and couldn't drive. I think I spent the weekend watching movies.  I dunno, maybe I had a turkey sandwich?  So the thought of having a turkey dinner while doing something I love to do—play poker—certainly had its appeal.

On the other hand, I kind of suspected that going to a local L.A. card room on Thanksgiving would be somewhat depressing.  I figured the players would mostly consist of lonely people who had no family or friends to gather with and it would just be kind of sad.

Now I've been in Vegas for Thanksgiving and it's fine. But Vegas is different.  If you're there on the holiday, it's a trip, it's a vacation—it's a destination.  For whatever reason, you've chosen to go to Vegas for the holiday. Maybe it's because it's the only time you can get four days off in a row?  Whatever.  At least the people you run into in the casino will likely be happy to be there.  Sure there will be some locals in all the poker rooms, and maybe they will be missing family, but they figure to be in the minority. 

But a poker room in L.A.?  That's going to be all locals.  All people who left their homes—not their hotel rooms—to visit the poker room.  They don't have a family Thanksgiving to go to, but they couldn't go anywhere else, either. It's gotta be totally different than the Vegas vibe.

Well, I made a last minute decision when I woke up Thursday morning to give the poker room a shot.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Thus, I made the trek out to Ventura.  As soon as I turned into the parking lot, I kind of knew it was a mistake.  The parking lot was deserted.  Seriously, I couldn't believe how few cars there were there. I actually wondered if there were going to be any games going on at all.

Well I walked in and it was depressing as hell.  Yes, there were games going on.  Three, to be exact.  There were two 1/2 games and one 2/3 games.  That was it.  In the other room, there a few people playing table games.  And remember, this is a card room only, there are no slot machines on the premises.  I saw a few dealers in street clothes waiting to be sent home.  I saw another dealer playing at one of the 2/3 games.  And I felt bad for everyone I saw.

I wanted to leave, but I had just driven an hour to get there and that would have been silly.  So I got on the list for the lone 2/3 game—there were actually 4 or 5 names in front of me.  I assumed the list would get longer and they'd start a new game.  That was a bad miscalculation.  I should have opted for the 1/2 game.  Big mistake.

It actually took almost half an hour for me to get called to the game, while the waiting list kept shrinking instead of growing.

Actually, no one I saw really looked sad or miserable, they seemed fine.  But I tell you, it was just sad to see the place so damn empty.  I wondered why they even bothered to open?  I mean dragging a few employees into work on a nice family holiday for such a pathetic turnout seemed cruel.  I always feel bad for folks who have to work holidays, but it was even worse because they were so idle.  At least if they were busy, it might seem like it was worth it to be away from their families.  This was definitely not worth it.

Now, in Vegas, I've played in small rooms where there was only one table going.  It's sometimes sad, but it's not too bad because there's always a busy casino right outside the room, you can hear people walking by, you can hear the slot machines (or at least you could back in the days when they used coins).  But this was just way, way, way too quiet.  Just like I suspected it would be—just sad.

Well, I finally got called to the 2/3 game and bought in.  As soon as I could, I ordered my complimentary turkey dinner.  It was fine, but it couldn't possibly have been worth the drive to get it when you add in how depressing the place was.  Oh, and when the waitress asked if I wanted pumpkin or apple pie, I said neither (the only kind of pie I like is chocolate cream or better yet, chocolate silk).  So the off-duty dealer I had recognized said he would take my pumpkin pie.  I said fine.  "It will be my next tip to you."  Then I said, "in exchange for the pie, you gotta give me one fold when I want it."

Aside from the off-duty dealer, who I had never seen play before, I didn't recognize any of the players.  Actually I think one of the players was a reg who usually plays a bigger game.  I was card dead, but honestly, it was too quiet for me to concentrate—I was distracted by the lack of noise, if that makes any sense.  So I called $15 with 6-5 of spades from the cut-off, mostly because I hadn't played many hands until that point.  It was three-way.  The flop was 7-3-2, the 7 and the deuce were spades.  It checked around.  The turn was the 10 of spades. I called $15 and there were still three of us.  The river was the Ace of clubs.  I called $30, as did the other guy.  They each had an Ace.  The preflop raiser had Ace-10 and his Ace was the spade.  So my baby flush was good.

It was a nice pot, and put me up almost $100.

Now the guy who had raised there was on my immediate right and was a bit of a maniac.  I saw him go through a few buy-ins (never more that $100 at a time after his initial $200 buy-in). So I knew he was a loose player.  A while later I got pocket Queens in the big blind. There were many limpers.  When it came to that guy on my right, he hesitated awhile before finally completing.  I added $20 to my $3 blind.  There were two calls and then that guy on my right shoved—for $91.

Well, I was certain I was ahead of him.  There was just no way this guy was limp/re-raising with Kings or Aces or even Ace-King.  He would have raised initially with hands like those.  And no way would he have hoped to spring the limp/re-raise knowing the only guy left to act was someone who hadn't made an aggressive move all day.  I had his range crushed.

One of the two players who called my initial raise was a short-stack but the other one was the off-duty dealer.  He had almost as big a stack as I had.  So I decided to shove to isolate.  The off-duty dealer tanked for a bit and then folded, telling the actual dealer, "I want to see both hands."  What?  This is the thanks I get for giving him my pie?  And he made it pretty clear why he wanted that, he even said, "I want to see how they play."

Wow.  The fact that he—a dealer at this very establishment—said that, and said it so that the actual dealer could hear it, told me a lot.  I guess they think it's ok for players to ask to see hands just to "see how they play."  That is not what the rule is for.  I've discussed that recently (here). The dealer should know better.  But I guess maybe the whole poker room should know better.

It pissed me off, although I know he really wasn't that concerned with my play.  He's dealt to me enough to know I had a premium hand there.  He really wanted to see what the maniac was doing.  Actually, I wanted to see that too—but it's not a legitimate use of the rule.

Anyway, the short stack called for less, no one showed and the flop was 10-9-8.  The river was a King, which I didn't like.  I didn't think he had Ace-King but King-Jack or King-rag was certainly within his range. The river was a Queen, giving me a set but also putting four to a straight on the board.  Sure enough, the maniac turned over Ace-Jack to take it (the short stack didn't show).  Grrr. 

That put me in the red and the maniac proceeded to lose all my chips and another buy-in to other players.  I never got another hand to play.  Suddenly the table thinned out.  One by one, we were playing more and more short-handed.  There was no list.  When we got down to five players, I'd had enough.  I picked up and left. There were still two 1/2 games going but really, it was too depressing to hang around. It was a rather unpleasant Thanksgiving.  Oh and that "free" turkey dinner?  It ended up costing me $50, not counting the gas I used getting there and back.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chasing The Promo

This is the last of three parts. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and we pick up right where we left off....

Well the football game ended and I still was two stamps short of filling out the card.  And I was somehow down to about $60 in front of me.  At one time, I was up over $150, so it was really annoying that I was down so much.  I knew I was playing badly and I couldn't stop thinking of Kevin's story of losing over $700 chasing the promo.  I decided that wasn't going to be me.

So I committed not to rebuy or add on any chips.  If I couldn't fill out that promo card with just the $60 in front of me, so be it, my stop loss was going to be $200 for this night.  But two things caused me to reconsider—at least somewhat.  One, for some reason I had been thinking all night that the prize for filling out the card after the game but before midnight was only $100.  Suddenly that didn't sound right.  Maybe it was $200?  I went to check.  It was $200. OK, that made it seem a little more worthwhile to pursue.  The other thing was, I realized that ~$50 was enough to either play poker with or get the pots up to $40 (without just shoving every time I had a potential flush or boat and hoping to get a call).  Obviously I needed a little more money to have a fighting chance.  And I figured that for $200 it was worth it (don't tell me that the math proves me wrong). 

I reached for my money clip and was going to buy another $100.  But I happened to notice that I had three twenty dollar bills in there.  I decided topping off my stack with $60 was a decent compromise.  I wouldn't be abusing the stop loss much if I ended up down $260 for the night.  So I bought $60 more chips.  But I was absolutely not going to lose one penny more than that.  Nope.

With Ace-Queen off I opened to $10 and it was three-way.  The flop was Ace-high and I bet $20 and it was heads up.  I checked what I thought was a blank turn. The river was a bad card—I didn't record the board but I saw that there were 4 to a straight out there.  All he needed was an 8 for the straight.  So when the guy led out for $40, I went into the tank and then decided to fold.

With Ace-Queen again, I called $7 and it was heads up.The flop was Ace-high, I called $15. We checked a blank turn.  I called $15 on the river.  He had Ace-5 and I took it.

Very next hand I raised to $10 with Ace-King and it was four-ways.  I bet $20 on a King-4-4 flop and there was one call.  No betting on the turn.  I bet $30 on the river, an Ace, but he didn't call.

I limped in from the button behind a bunch of limpers with pocket deuces.  I flopped a set, it checked to me, I bet $6.  Only got one call.  I bet $10 on the turn and he called. I bet $20 on the river and didn't get the call.  Would have been nice if the board had paired so I could get my stamp for that but no dice.

An orbit or two later, back on the button, I limped in with 9-7 of diamonds behind a bunch of limpers.  The flop was 8-6-2—all diamonds.  Well there was my flush.  But in order to get a stamp for it I had to a) win the pot and b) get the pot over $40.  It was tricky for sure.  I mean, I might have already been losing to a bigger flush—certainly very possible with all those limpers. Another diamond could really kill me.  But I couldn't just bet big to get everyone out because the pot wouldn't be big enough (and because I might be getting it in bad).  And someone ever folding a naked Ace of diamonds there?  Not in the games I play in.

Of course, I had the open ended straight flush draw.  If I hit it, that would be a wild card and I could choose what stamp I wanted—assuming the pot was over $40.  Anyway, I bet $10 and got one call.  The turn was a blank and I bet $20, he called.  The river was not what I wanted, another 6 to pair the board.  Ugh.  And then....he donked out $40, his first aggressive action of the hand. Did he really fill up on the river?  Damn.

I tanked, but it didn't make a lot of sense for him to have a boat there.  Oh, I suppose if he flopped two pair or a set on a monotone board he might have been just calling to go for the boat—maybe. But with the possibility of my getting a stamp on the line, I went ahead and called.  Would I have called if the promo wasn't on the line?  I think so.

Anyway, he had Jack-8! He admitted he was just trying to steal it, thinking the paired 6 was a scare card for me.  I told him that it might have worked if I hadn't need the flush for the the parlay card. So I got the stamp for the flush....just one  stamp to go!

I called $7 from the button with Jack-10.  Four of us saw a flop of King-10-x.  I called $15.  There was no betting on a blank turn.  The river was a Jack and it checked around.  I was a little concerned about the straight so I didn't bet.  But my two pair was good.

For some reason my notes were incomplete on a hand I lost with pocket Queens.  I opened preflop to $10, and a guy called $15 when I bet the flop with an over pair.  I checked/called $25 on both the turn and the river, and the river card completed his gutshot—he had Jack-7.

In late position I limped in behind a bunch of limpers with King-10 off.  The flop was Queen-Jack-x, I called $10 and it was either heads up or three of us.  I'm pretty sure I called a bet on the turn but I didn't make a note of it and it couldn't have been too much.  The river was nice, a 9, giving me the nuts.  Lucky for me, the guy who had been betting put out $30.  I thought for a bit and made it $100. I only had about $50-$60 left after that and the $100 was just slightly less than his stack.  He suddenly was in great pain, agonizing over the decision.   "Oh god....King-10?  Oh man, I don't know....."  he went on like this for more than a little while but finally said, "OK, I call."  Sweet.  He had Queen-9.  That 9 really was a great card for me.  It was the biggest pot I won all night I believe.

This guy was with his buddy, who was sitting between us.  The buddy then went on and on to his friend about what a bad call that was, how he should have known I had the straight, and kind of beat up his pal verbally over the call. Sometimes it's easy to miss a straight like that, but he even said "King-10?" when I raised so he didn't miss it.  But as long as the guy is giving him lessons after the hand, I don't have a problem.  I do think that maybe he should have waited until they were away from the table to berate his friend.

Then I raised to $10 with Ace-King, it was heads up.  The flop was Queen-high and I bet $15 and he called.  The turn was a blank and it went check-check.  The river was another blank—I had Ace high.  But he checked again.  He was an older gentleman.  I decided to take a shot and bet $25.  He folded.  I suppose it was possible I was bluffing with the best hand.

To explain this next hand, I have to explain another promo MGM had going at this time (which I think is still going).  It is the Full House  I think I've explained this before, but every week they randomly pick three pocket pairs and if you make a full house with one of those three pocket pairs you win a progressively bigger prize.  Once a certain full house is made, it is no longer eligible for the prize.  For this period, it was 10's, 5's and 3's.  But all the full houses with 3's had been made already (in other words, every conceivable 3's full hand was made and paid off already).  So there was just a few 10's full and 5's full hands left. Now in the brief time I had waiting for a table earlier, I had written down what hands were still available.  The next boat to hit was worth $599.

Got it? 

Well, I was dealt pocket 10's.  it was the first time all night I had been dealt a "pyramid" hand.  I immediately knew that if I could 10's full I had a chance of winning the promo and also completing my parlay card.  Very much a long shot of course.  Sadly, this was another hand that I made my notes about way later and forgot most of the details.  I think I called a small raise.  I didn't catch my set, but the flop was 8-8-2.  I quickly glanced at my notes and noted that 10's full of 8's was eligible for the pyramid promo. So if I hit a two-outer, I could score on both promos. I called a smallish bet with my overpair.  The turn was a blank, I can't remember if there was betting or not.  So I sat there praying for a miracle 10 on the river.  Nope, no 10.  However, it was another 8.  So I did have full house.  I would complete the parlay card if I won the hand.  I checked the rake it was at least $4 so I was covered there.  I remember thinking that the way the action had been it was extremely unlikely anyone had an 8.  And I'm pretty sure that 10's were still an overcard.  So I made a bet—but only $10.  I guess I was too distracted by the thought of completing my parlay card to reason out a better bet.  I got a call and he said, "I've got a boat," but he showed pocket 6's.  My 8's full of 10's were good, It qualified for the final stamp, and I had scored $200 for the football promo.

I was happy, but I couldn't help thinking how much nicer it would have been if the river was a 10.  I mean, realistically, there was just a good a chance as the river being one of the two remaining 10's as there were of it being one of the two remaining 8's, right? 

As soon as I got paid, I called it a night.  All told, I left up $305--$105 for the poker and $200 for the promo.  Turned out to be a pretty good night.  And a good decision to invest another $60 when I did.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"If I Call and Lose, Will You Put Me in Your Next Vlog?"

Well, it turns out that this is going to take three parts after all.  So here's part 2.  You can find part 1 here.

We pick up right after my lousy (but fast) dinner at the new Sports Deli, as I returned to the table in my quest to get a flush and a full house and complete the football promo.

As it happens, there was a celebrity at my table.  I recognized the famous poker vlogger Pokerkraut soon after I originally sat down. We had never met or interacted, but back in September, he was playing at Lightning's table when he was in town and he pointed him out to me.  I never wrote about that session—I never played at the same table with Lightning that night.  For that matter, I don't think Lightning blogged at all about his entire trip.  Anyway, when I went to say good-night to him that night, he pointed out Kevin (the Pokerkraut) across from him.
I have  a confession to make.  There are a lot of very fine vlogs out there, and I just don't have time to keep up with them.  I watch a few when I can, but I don't watch any of them regularly.  I had seen some of Kevin's vlogs and enjoyed them, but it had been awhile.

Oddly enough, even though I had never met Kevin before, I had actually met his wife, Mariana, in the summer.  It happened when I met up with my former AVP pal (and frequent blog commenter) Zourah at the MGM.  He is a big fan of the Pokerkraut vlogs and recognized Kevin's wife, who appears in many of them. In fact, he told Mariana that he had actually used one of Kevin's videos in one of his lectures (Zourah is a Economics professor).  So I felt like I knew Kevin even though I really didn't.

But to this point in the game, I hadn't said hello to Kevin, or introduced myself, or in any way acknowledged that I knew who he was. He wasn't interacting with anyone very much anyway.  He was mostly watching something on his celphone when he wasn't in a hand.  But I figured eventually there would be the proper moment to say hi to him and let him know I knew who he was.  And that moment happened soon after I returned from my dinner break.

After a limper (or maybe 2?) I made it $10 with Ace-Jack off.  Only Kevin called.  The flop was Ace-high, two spades.  Kevin checked, I bet $15 and then Kevin went all-in for $61.  Hmmm.  I tanked.  He could have had a set, two pair, or maybe he was shoving with the flush draw?  I assumed I was behind, but it was really a stack-to-pot-ratio calculation.  It was so low I just couldn't fold top pair, decent kicker.  But before I called, I figured this was the time to I.D. him.  I said, "If I call and lose, will you put me in your next vlog?" He laughed and said, "Sure, if you want.  I want you to call."  So I said, "Well, ok," and called.  I don't remember if we showed right away or not, but neither one of us improved, and he had Ace-Queen to take it.  At first I was a little surprised that he hadn't raised preflop with that, but he was playing extremely tight and rarely made a preflop raise.

Anyway, after he stacked my chips, he took out his camera and said, "You want to do the opening?"  I didn't really know what he meant (remember, I hadn't seen one of his vlogs recently) and said, "No, I was just kidding."  I guess I was.  But as the evening wore on, sitting there, thinking about it, I figured it would be fun to be in his vlog and maybe even get a little publicity for the blog. 

So, sometime later, when we were both out of the hand, I walked around to him and introduced myself.  I told him I had a blog (not a vlog)—but he had never heard of me or my blog.  He says he only watches vlogs, doesn't read blogs.  So sorta the opposite of me. I gave him a card with the blog's URL.  Anyway, I said I would actually like to do something on his vlog, whatever he wanted.  He said ok, we'd do it later when it was convenient.

In the meantime, the guy next to him asked Pokerkraut what a "vlog" was and he explained.  That got him talking more in general, and he told the story of how, the last time he played this promo, the previous Sunday, he hit all the hands early except one—two pair, which of course, is the easiest to hit.  He said he got so frustrated going for that last stamp he ended up losing over $700 chasing it!  This is what I've always feared myself.  Anyway, if you want to see the vlog where he talks about blowing all that money chasing the promo (and I recommend you do), you can find it here.

The football game was still going on when he decided to call it a night. He wasn't close to hitting the promo and didn't want to make the mistake of throwing money at it like last time.  So I got up from the table and asked him what he wanted me to do for his vlog.  It wasn't the best timing since I was still short two stamps and there was time left in the game to conceivably qualify for the $400.  But I really wanted to see what he had in store for me in his vlog.

Well, we went over to the slot area and he took out his camera and said, "You know what to say for the opening, right?"  I was embarrassed but I had to admit I did not.  So he told me, "Say your name and then say 'Welcome to the Pokerkraut vlog, Have fun.'"  And he said I could mention my blog's URL in there.  Ok, so with no rehearsal, he pointed the camera at me and told me to go.  Well as you can see from the finished product (the vlog with my opening can be found here), I butchered it pretty badly.  Call it stage fright, I guess. I think I was too busy concentrating on remembering to give the URL for the blog to remember what else I was suppose to say! I knew I was bad and I expected him to give me a second take, but he said it was fine.  And he didn't clean it up in editing either, obviously.  Heh heh.  Yeah, I know I'm pretty bad.  It's ok though.  People are always asking me if I ever think about doing a vlog in addition to (or instead of) the written blog.  Next time they do, I'll just show them this video as the reason why my answer is "No effing way."

By the way, if you want to see me in a non-speaking cameo role, with footage taken of me at the table (very brief) from the very night I'm now writing about, you can find that here (about 1:15 in, seat 5, green shirt).

Anyway, it was great to meet Kevin and appear on his vlog, and I want to thank him for giving my blog such a nice plug, including the graphics of the URL right on the screen.  And be advised, this is not the last you'll hear of Pokerkraut from me.  He will be featured prominently in a write up I do about another night of poker at MGM.  I'll get to that eventually.

But back to the current session.  Unfortunately, I wasn't properly chastened but Kevin's story of losing all that money chasing the promo.  I stopped playing poker and began playing "promo poker."  Virtually every move I made was calculated  with the thought of catching a flush or a full house.

The problem do you play for a full house?  Playing for the flush was obvious—just play every suited hand you get.  But a boat?  Yeah, it's more likely to come when you start with a pocket pair, but you're pretty much going to play those anyway.  Do you not bet a set, afraid that everyone will fold before you get a chance to boat up?  What about two-pair hands—do you slow play those hoping to boat up?  Do you just play every starting hand you get, since even 7-2 could turn into deuces full of 7's by the river?

Well no, I wasn't that bad.  I also didn't play every suited hand I got.  I was discriminating but maybe not as much as I usually am.  King-x and even Queen-x was playable if suited.  Suited connectors I would play anyway but now I was more likely to play the gappers.  And as for going for the boat....well, I didn't play any two cards, but I was more likely to play two higher cards that I might otherwise throw away on the theory that If I made something with them but was short of a boat I might still win with them.

It was a dumb way to play, but I tried to keep it within some semblance of reason.  And the good thing was, at this table, there wasn't all that much aggression, there were a lot of limped pots and when there were raises they were almost always small.  So playing this way wasn't costing me nearly as much as it could have.

So with Ace-10 of diamonds, I limped instead of raising. I generally limped because I didn't want everyone to fold.  Also I limped a lot more because I didn't want to risk a lot of chips since I was playing more hands.  It was 4-way and the flop was 10-high (no diamonds).  I bet $5 and everyone called.  The turn was an Ace and I bet $15 and no one called.  I immediately thought that maybe I should have bet smaller—or even checked—to see if an Ace or a 10 would show up on the river and give me a boat.

I called $7 with Ace-King off.  The flop was King-high and I called $15.  A Jack hit the turn and I called $25.  I even called $50 on a blank river. He showed Jack-10.  Ugly.

And I'm gonna leave it there.  The conclusion is now posted and you can find it here.  And remember...have fun!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Promos & Pastrami

This is gonna be another multi-part post.  Because I haven't finished writing the whole thing, I'm not completely sure if it will be two or three parts—I'm thinking I can do it in two but on rare occasions I find myself getting a bit wordy so who knows?  But anyway, you will be rewarded for coming back to read part 2 as it will feature a famous Vegas & Poker celebrity!  In the meantime, enjoy part 1....

And I'm finally getting to some of the stuff from my late October visit to Vegas.  This one revolves around the MGM football promo.  I should mention that immediately upon my return to L.A., I learned that MGM discontinued the promo I'm about to describe.  The current promo is more or less the one they first introduced a few years back—random cash drawings each time a team scores during one of the evening NFL games.

But when I was there on this particular Sunday in late October, the promo was the one they had going last year, the poker parlay card.  Basically you have to fill out a "parlay card" which consists of five poker hands you have to get (and win with) in order to hit the promo.  And there has to be $40 in the pot.  And both cards have to play.  If you complete the card before the football game ends, you get $400.  After the game is over, you have until midnight to complete it and get $200.  At midnight, there's a drawing of all the incomplete cards (but they must have one stamp on it for making one of the hands) and two people get money.  I can't remember how much they get, but it's not as much as last year (I'm guessing $300 and $200).  The five hands you have to make are two pair, three-of-a kind, straight, flush and full house.  If you get quads or a straight flush, you can use it as a wild card and choose what hand to stamp.

Like most promos, I have a love/hate relationship with this one.  I love it when I hit it, and hate it when I don't.  In the story I linked to in the first paragraph, I hit the promo and decided that I liked it so much I suggested they could even run it when there wasn't a football game to go with it.  But then, on my last night in town in September, I tried it again.  I didn't hit it and I found myself playing stupidly trying to get there (I haven't written about that night and probably never will). 

But I was giving it another chance the first Sunday I was back in town in October.  Even though the game doesn't start until around 5:30pm pacific time, they start handing out the cards at 3:30, so you could conceivably fill out a card even before the game started.  In fact, one of the regs at my table in September was running good and completed a card during the first quarter of the game.

This night I got to the room around 4pm and had to wait about 10 minutes before getting a seat. On the second hand I was dealt, I raised to $10 with Ace-King and got two callers.  I bet $20 on the Ace-high flop and didn't get a call.

Not long after, I was in the big blind with 9-7 of hearts and no one raised and a lot of folks limped.  The flop was pretty good: 8-6-5, rainbow.  I led out for $6 and got a couple of calls.  The turn was a 10 and I bet something (couldn't remember when I made my notes) and it was heads up.  I looked at the rake, there was a red chip waiting to be dropped so that meant the pot was at least $50.  I didn't have to worry about the pot being big enough, just about winning the pot.  The river was a harmless low card and I bet $40.  He called but mucked when I showed and I got a stamp for making the straight.  That was a great start because as I've mentioned before, it's usually harder for me to make a straight than any other hand on the card—even a full house.

Not long after, the next dealer dealt me Queen-Jack of diamonds and I limped in after a few others had done the same.  The flop was Ace-Queen-4 and no one bet.  So when the turn was another low blank I bet something....but I'm not sure what.  I'm also not sure how many callers there were.  But there must have been a few.  The river was another Ace and this time I checked.  I could see that the rake had somehow gotten to $4—meaning a $40 pot.  If my two pair was good (Aces and Queens), I could get a stamp for it.  I figured I'd check in case someone was playing a weak Ace and had been afraid to bet it.  No one bet and my Queens were good, and I had my second stamp of the evening and it was still early.

I opened to $10 with pocket Queens and had one caller.  The flop was Ace-high and I tried a $15 c-bet, but he check-raised to $30.  I called.  The turn was a third diamond and we both checked.  The river was a blank and he bet $40. I let it go.

I opened to $10 with two Aces and got a call.  Medium flop and I bet $15 and he called.  I bet $30 on the turn, he called.  I checked the river when the board paired.  There was also a possible straight out there.  He mucked when he saw my Aces.

I had 10-6 off in the big blind and there was no raise.  A few of us saw a King-10-x flop and I called $10 with middle pair.  There was no more betting.  The river paired the King and my pair of 10's were good.

Next dealer gave me 9-6 in the small blind.  I called $6 because a few other folks already had.  The flop was 9-9-2.  I donked out $5 and got a call.  I bet $10 on the turn and $15 on the river, both blanks, and he called each time.  He didn't show when I opened my hand.  But the pot was over $40 so I got a stamp for three-of-a-kind.  Three stamps and there was still plenty of time in the game left to get those last two stamps.

But I had a bit of dilemma.  I needed to eat.  I really couldn't wait for the game to finish. Yeah, even though I was running so well, was up at least $100 and was 3/5's of the way to the promo money, I had to take a quick dinner break. Medical conditions demanded it. Fortunately, I'm a fast eater.  However, I had learned on my last day in town in September that the Stage Deli at MGM, located next to the sports book, was about to close down for good.  I think I ate there on the last night it was open!  That was pretty bad news. The Stage Deli wasn't great, but it was a very decent place to use one's poker comps and not get completely hosed.  I'd say it was almost reasonably priced (especially when you consider how expensive everything else is at the MGM).  They had a couple of things I liked, particularly the roast beef sandwich if you put BBQ sauce on it.  Over the past 10-12 years, I must have consumed a few hundred sandwiches from there—almost all of them paid for with poker comps. And it was about to be gone.  That night, I asked some of the poker room staff, but they all were shocked to hear from me that the place was closing.  So they couldn't answer the most obvious question:  What, if anything, was going to replace to it?

Well, while I was back in L.A., I heard from one of my spies that a new deli opened up in the same location.  This one was called the "Sports Deli."  I had looked it over a few times since getting back to town but this Sunday night would be my first chance to give it a try.  Even before I ate there I noticed a few things about it that were problematic.  For one thing, the menu offered a much smaller selection of items than the Stage Deli.  They didn't even have a roast beef sandwich—at least not like the one I used to get.  And they don't even have any kind of rolls you could put your sandwich on, just white, wheat or rye bread.  The other issue was the price.  The sandwiches were all at a buck or two more expensive than they were at the Stage Deli.  A pastrami or a corned beef sandwich was now $14.99 (if memory serves the last price they had for that at Stage Deli was like $13.25).

This was my actual sandwich
So I got my comp printed out and rushed over to the new deli to give it a try.  Well I can honestly say that they make up for the new higher prices and worse selection by having lousier food.  The pastrami sandwich was—how should I put this—disappointing?  Too mild.  It was awful. It kinda/sorta looked like pastrami but it really didn't taste much like pastrami. I guess you could call it a pastrami-like substance. I actually couldn't finish it, it was so bad.  And the bread was bad too.  It was not bakery or deli rye bread, it was more like super-market rye bread.  All-in-all, a pretty unpleasant experience.  And for $16 in hard-earned poker comps (I added on a tiny serving of coleslaw for a buck)!  I really don't see myself going back there again, except maybe for a Nathan's hot dog, don't see how they could mess that up. But I guess Tap will be getting the bulk of my future poker comp expenditures from now on.

And with that, I'll stop and get back to writing part 2, which is now posted here.  Check it out and read about my meeting with the famous poker celebrity.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene--November 2017 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.   You can find it as part of the West Coast report online here.  


MGM is making a big push to bring back limit and spread-limit to its room by introducing many promos specific to $2-$4, $3-$6 and $4-$8 limit games as well as the $2-$6 spread-limit game. All of these games have a $40 minimum buy-in.
Promos include: 60 for $40: The first 20 players who buy in to a limit game for $40 or more between 9-11 a.m. and play at least two hours receive $20.
Free $50: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, all players who log a minimum of six hours of limit receive $50. Players may qualify twice a day.
Aces Cracked: Lose with red aces between noon and 2 p.m. and receive $500. Lose with black aces between 4-6 p.m. and receive $500.
Paid parking: Play six hours of limit in a day and receive $12 toward parking.
Kings of the Hill: Hit quads in order (from aces to kings) and receive progressive jackpot that starts at $200. Each week $2,600 is added to the prize pool, spread out over the quads that have not been hit yet. This promo runs daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Cash back: The top 10 players with the most hours in limit games during the month receive cash back, first place is $1K and the minimum prize is $200.
Players receive $2 per hour in comps while playing limit or spread-limit.
Additionally, all limit games are eligible for the room’s other promotions.
ARIA: The $240 tournaments at 11 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays feature the Big Blind Ante format, which was introduced in its high-roller events. The big blind posts an ante for the table, allowing the dealer to get out more hands each level.
“It leads to a higher percentage of hands dealt, which is a better product and value for the players,” tournament director Paul Campbell said. “The response has been overwhelmingly favorable to the point where players are requesting it implemented in all Aria poker tournaments.
Once more poker players experience the benefits of this structure, we believe there will be a push to make this (or something similar) industry standard.”
The purple jacket for winning Aria’s Poker Masters series in September went to Germany’s Steffen Sontheimer, who won two of the five events and final-tabled two others. He won the final $100K event and took home $2.73M. New York’s Bryn Kenney finished second in the series and earned $1.08M while Germany’s Fedor Holz claimed $1.05M for third.
SOUTH POINT: The room is adding progressive guarantees to its tournaments. The 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. $75 tournaments feature a $900 guarantee. For each day the guarantee is met, the guarantee increases by $50. If the guarantee is not met, the next day the guarantee reverts to $900. The $100 6 p.m. Wednesday tourney starts with a $3K guarantee that increases $100 each time the guarantee is met, and resets to $3K after it misses. The $100 6 p.m. Sunday event starts with a $5K guarantee and increases $100 each time it hits.
STRATOSPHERE: The football promo is for three games on Sunday, plus Monday and Thursday night games. The high hand each quarter wins $50.
ORLEANS: For Sunday, Monday and Thursday night football games, as well as the Sunday morning game, seat drawings are held after every score.
Field goals are worth $50, touchdowns by the offense are worth $100 and touchdowns by the defense or special teams are $150. Safeties are worth $150. The table of the drawing winner also gets a $50 splash pot.
For the Monday and Thursday night games, drawings are every 15 minutes for two hours before and two hours after the game to select a random table for a $25 splash pot.
MIRAGE: Random seat drawings are four times per game during Monday, Thursday, Sunday night football games and Sunday morning and afternoon games. The first drawing is $50, second is $75, third is $125 and fourth is $150. The player to the left and to the right to the winner also receives a cash prize.
BELLAGIO: The Five Diamond World Poker Classic is Nov. 24-Dec. 10. The $11,400 main event, which has six playing days, starts Dec. 5. There are four $25K high rollers throughout the series. A $1,100 seniors tournament is Nov. 27, followed by a $1,100 tag-team event Nov. 28.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The WSOP Circuit visits Nov. 9-20. The $1,675 main event begins Nov. 16 and has a $1M guarantee. The $2,200 high roller is Nov. 19.
VENETIAN: The next Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Dec. 4-11. A $3,500 event with a $500K guarantee begins Dec. 8.
New Year’s Extravaganza runs Dec. 21-Jan. 7. The biggest event is a $400 Monster Stack with a $250K guarantee. The first of its three starting flights is Dec. 27.The starting stack is 30K and the levels start at 30 minutes and then go to 40 minutes on Day 2.
The main event for DSE 3.5 completed in September with Melvin Wiener of Los Angeles taking home $52K for first. Karel Kratochvil from the Czech Republic earned $32K for second and Oluwashola Akindele from Las Vegas received $23K for third.The event had 188 players and a prize pool of $200K with the Venetian adding $16,700 to meet the guarantee.
SANTA FE STATION: A new weekly $50 Omaha/8 tourney runs Thursdays at 10 a.m.Players start with 6K chips and there’s a single $40 rebuy for 4K chips. The levels are 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Queens of Ventura

My most recent session at Player's Casino in Ventura was short and successful.  Timing is everything in life and in poker and my timing was excellent on this day.

I arrived before 1PM and had to wait for a seat in the 2/3 game to open up.  Just as my name reached  #1 on the waiting list, they called a new game.  My preferred seat was already taken so I had to settle for seat 7 from where it's a little hard for me to see everything, but it worked out just fine.  I bought in for $300 as usual.

I didn't recognize anyone at the table except for Pete Peters. Well, it wasn't really him, just someone who looked (to me, anyway) a lot like him—or actually an older version of PPP, hair a little grayer.  He looked enough like him that I surreptitiously took a pic of him and sent it to PPP for confirmation.  But he failed to see the resemblance.  I could post the pic here but I don't want to get in trouble. Besides, the dude was showing zero cleavage so why would I post a pic like that?

Anyway, even though I couldn't recall seeing any of the other players before, it was obvious from the fact that a lot of them knew each other and the dealers knew their names that there were a lot of regulars at the table.  I've been playing in this room fairly regularly for a few years now, and it always surprises me that there are so many regs I've never seen before—it is, after all, a small room.  But these new-to-me regs keep coming out of the woodwork.

The first twenty-minutes or so of the game I played exactly zero hands and was the very definition of "card-dead."  Finally I got Ace-Queen off in the hijack seat.  It folded to me so I made it $12 and was called by the button and one of the blinds.  The flop was low and I tried a c-bet of $20.  But the button called.  There were two more blanks (the river put a pair of 4's out there) and I checked and he checked behind.  He showed Ace-King to out-kick me.

A good while later I had pocket Aces.  There were a number of limps so I made it $20 and got one taker.  The flop was King-high and I bet $30 and didn't get a call.

The seat on my immediate right opened up and we could hear them calling "Alan" to the 2/3 game.  Of course, Alan wasn't the name them called, they called him by his real name, presumably.  But I need a name for him and I'm using "Alan" because, among other reasons, I've never use Alan as a pseudonym before, which is surprising since it is such a common name.  Anyway, one or two of the players in the game reacted to the likelihood of Alan joining our table. I don't remember the exact words but it was something like, "This game is about to change," and it was clear they meant it was going to get wilder.  I should point out that Alan's real name is not a particularly common name so it was easy for the players to assume the Alan that was coming to the table was very likely to be the Alan that was going to make the game a little crazy.  So I was glad that Alan would be sitting on my immediate right and not my left.

Alan said hello to the players who recognized his name and did indeed immediately change the entire dynamic of the table.  He proceeded to play extremely aggressively, shove quite a bit, raise and three-bet big—and bleed chips.  He was stuck like $500-$600 before you knew it.   This didn't affect me too much because I was still card-dead and folding one garbage hand after another.  Before Alan showed up, I was able to play a few speculative hands and was down about $80, I guess.  But I never got anything close to playable once Alan sat down and made it expensive to see a flop.

I guess I should mention that sometime after this big hand I'm about to get to, Alan won a few pots, built up his stack and commented that once he was back to even he was going to play "normal"—or at least differently than he was playing.  In other words, he was playing crazy in order to become unstuck.  Gee, do we know anyone else who plays like that?

Anyway, finally, under-the-gun, I got a hand to play.  It was pocket Queens.  Only my second pocket pair of the day.  I opened to $15.  I had played so few hands I was half-expecting everyone (even Alan) to fold.  But the guy on my immediate left called, and then two more players called before it even got to Alan.  Yikes!  Then Alan announced "raise" and made it $60.

What to do?  If it was just heads up vs Alan, I would have had no problem getting it all in preflop with my Queens.  I was most likely ahead of him.  But the three players who called my $15?  That was scary.  I mean, they had all witnessed Alan's play and it was certainly possible—even probable?—that one of them was sitting on a really big hand and just waiting for Alan to raise so they could shove.  I figured that with three callers to my $15, there was a decent chance my Queens weren't the best hand.

I called and wondered if anyone was going to re-raise.  But no one did.  But everyone who called the $15 called the $60 except one guy who could only go all-in for $49.  So we were looking at a huge pot preflop.

The flop was low, 10-high, two clubs.  I did have the Queen of clubs, for what that was worth.  Alan checked, somewhat surprisingly so.  I checked too because I assumed it was likely that flop hit someone (a set, or two pair, or a club draw).  But no one bet.  The turn was a third club and I thought surely someone had two clubs in their hand.  But Alan checked, as did I—as did everyone (except for the guy who was all-in, he didn't have to check).  The river was another blank, and not a club. Not sure how happy I'd be with a Queen-high flush anyway. 

This time Alan did not check.  He bet $70.  That was certainly an odd bet. Very small for the size of the pot. Based on how he had played until this hand, I had to assume my Queens were beating him—or he would have bet more.  And sooner.  Unless the river card (a Jack, I think) was the one he was waiting for.  But then he would have bet more. 

But I was thinking about the players behind me and it seemed very possible that one of them had caught something good by now.  After all, they all had hands that were worth $60 preflop, right?

So I just called and waited to see what happened.  One by one, they folded—except for the guy who was all-in, of course.  Alan and I had showed for the side pot. He had pocket 9's...unimproved pocket 9's.  My unimproved Queens were better.  And the all-in guy just mucked without showing.

Wow.  It was like a $420 pot.  Won with pocket Queens—unimproved.  I'm not sure I liked the way I played it, but with so many players in, I dunno what  else I should have done.  Do you?

Alan congratulated me on the hand.  He wasn't upset, at least he wasn't upset with me.  He said "nice hand," "good hand," to me a few times, and at least once or twice it didn't even sound sarcastic.  He did wonder aloud if maybe he should have bet bigger—or shoved (he had me covered at this point)—or just saved his money and checked.  He even asked me if I would have called a shoved.  I just laughed and said, "I don't know."

I counted my chips and had in excess of $550.  Then I resumed my card-deadedness.  Meanwhile, the dynamic of the table changed again.  To some degree, Alan had been making good on his promise to play "normal."  But I should point out that his definition of normal is not what you or I would consider normal.  But then the player two to his right won some chips from him, and Alan took it personally.  The player who won those chips was, according to Alan, a doctor.  At least he was referring to him as a doctor, I can't actually say for a fact that he was doctor.  I never saw him take a stethoscope to anyone.  But Alan began playing back against the Doc and the Doc returned the favor.  Almost anytime Doc entered a pot, Alan would raise.  Doc might raise back but if not, would always call.  For awhile the action was so crazy I wondered if I should just sit back, watch the carnage and wait for Aces.

But I didn't really have to worry because I never got another decent starting hand. Not even close.  After a few orbits, I was the big blind with 9-6 offsuit.  Doc folded so Alan just completed from the small blind.  I checked behind.  I think it was 4 or 5 of us seeing the flop, which came Queen-8-7, two spades.  It checked around.  The river was the 5 of clubs, giving me the nut straight.  I led out for $10, got a call, then a lady who had just come to that table made it $20.  That got a call and Alan folded.  I actually recognized this woman as someone I'd played with there before, but couldn't really remember anything about how she played.  I made it $65, the person who called my $10 folded, she called, the other player folded.

The river was the Ace of spades, which I didn't much like.  Now there were three spades on the board.  I played it safe and checked, and she checked behind.  She had Jack-9 (the Jack was a spade).  Well, I didn't like the Ace of spades but it was a helluva lot better than a 10!

This Many Chips

When I finished stacking I was now sitting behind about $635.  And so after a few more orbits, again totally card-dead, I racked up and called it a day.  The guy on my left said something about just playing that one hand.  Guess he forgot about my straight.  Alan said, "Good hand with the Queens, well played."  I just said, "Yeah, the ladies were good to me today.  Usually they aren't—either in poker or in life."

But what was really good was being in the right place at the right time when a maniac came to the table.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Last Binion's Tournament (Part 3)

This is the third of three parts.  Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.  And again, we pick up right where we left off.

Level 14 (1K/3K/6K) $239K.  And then....I went card dead, at least for the early part of the (40-minute) level.  That last level had obviously been a good one for me and now the poker gods were balancing things out.  I got almost nothing to play.  When I tried to make a move, either Mike (short stacked but still tough) or especially Cliff would make my life hell.  One of them would always call me—unless they three-bet me.  Usually it was Cliff.  I swear, there was a long stretch where he called every single time I made a raise. If I checked the flop, he bet.  If I checked the turn, he bet.  If I bet, he'd call or raise.  And I had too many chips to just shove with—I had to play poker!  At one point, I shouted across the table, after Cliff called me again, "You know, you're allowed to fold if I bet."  He was a really tough player.

But I did finally get pocket Aces in my small blind.  There was a raise or maybe just a limp and I added $18K to my small blind.  Of course Cliff called.  There was a Jack-high flop and I put out a pot-sized pot.  Cliff folded. 

Later I got Aces again.  I opened to $15K and Mike called.  The flop was Ace-Queen-x, two diamonds.  I bet $25K and he folded.

I opened to $15K with Ace-9 of spades. Cliff called.  I totally whiffed.  I checked, he bet $25K and I had to fold.  Typical hand against Cliff.  If I had c-bet he would have called and I'd have lost more chips.

After one limp, I made it $18K from the small blind with pocket 10's and didn't get a call. 

Last hand of the level I had Queen-Jack off in early position and opened to $15K and took it. 

Level 15 (1K/4K/8K) $280K.  We were now playing 60-minute levels. 

I opened to $20K with Ace-Jack of diamonds and Mike called.  I totally whiffed the flop and tried a $30K c-bet.  But Mike shoved and I had to fold.  He showed pocket 8's (and also an open-ender, as it happened).

Now, I didn't keep good track of the bust outs.  When we first made the final table, no one busted for a long time.  Whenever ever anyone was all-in at risk, they survived.  But eventually, a couple of players busted out and we were down to eight, and remember they were paying seven. We played a few orbits with eight and then Mike popped up with, "Should we consider paying the bubble?  I mean, we've all played so long, I'd hate to think one of us would leave with nothing." And he admitted it was somewhat self-serving since he was one of the shorter stacks—after being one of the chip leaders for so long.

Mike suggested that everyone chip in $25 so that the bubble would get $200.  Someone objected saying that the bubble would be paying himself $25. So what?  That's kind of always the way it was with these bubble deals.  He'd end up with $175—at least he'd have his buy-in back.  But then, to my surprise, Cliff spoke up and said, "Look at the top payouts. How about we take $100 each from first and second place?"  Considering that Cliff was definitely back to being the chip leader at this point, it was surprising and generous of him.

Well, here's the thing.  At this point, I was pretty sure I had the second biggest stack.  I could have objected. But there's no way I would have. I've been saying on this blog for years that the pay scales for these tournaments are out of whack, that they're way too top heavy.  I'd be a total hypocrite if I objected to taking a couple of hundred bucks off the top two spots for the bubble.  I guess if I wanted to say I just didn't want to pay the bubble I could object on those grounds.  But I always agree to pay the bubble (usually because I'm a strong candidate for being the bubble) and again, I'd be a hypocrite if I objected.  Actually, I was totally fine with it.  I think it was the right thing to do.  We all agreed and they adjusted the payouts and we were all in the money.  I was assured of a $25 profit, but I was surely in position to do a helluva lot better than that.

I raised with Ace-Queen after one limp and took the pot.  I opened to $20K with Ace-4 and took it. 

And we lost a couple of players and were down to the final six.  I was assured of at least $555.

There were several limpers and I looked down at Ace-King.  Cliff had already folded so I decided to just shove.  Mike said, "What the hell....I had fun and I'm going to get some money," and called with his short stack and flipped over A-4.  There were two Aces on the board but no 4 and Mike was gone. 

At this point I was not really keeping up with my notes. One of the remaining short stacks busted to the next shortest stack.  Cliff eliminated the next short stack, a nice guy who had commented to me during one of the breaks (in the Men's Room, of all places) that he admired my game.  So in a way, I was sorry to see him go—but not that much.  Now we were three and if we played it out I was assured of at least $1,445.

(Speaking of the Men's Room, I noticed the sign below at the urinals.  There is a much bigger sign with the same message at the front of Binion's, but I'd never seen the smaller, bathroom version of the sign before. The one outside does not have the silhouette of the cowgirl with the arrows pointing out where the poker and liquor are supposed to be.  In other words, this version is raunchier than the one out on Fremont Street.)

This is definitely the part of the tournament where I'm used to someone suggesting a deal. By this point, Cliff was the overwhelming chip leader, I was in second and the Swede was in third. For awhile, the Swede had worked his stack up to almost the same as mine (and I had worked my stack down to his level too).  But he lost some chips to Cliff and now I had at least twice the Swede's chips but I'd guess Cliff had almost three times my stack. In other words, I had a better chance to bust out third than I did to overtake Cliff.  But no one said anything about a deal and we played on.

So the Swede raised and I shoved over him with Ace-Jack of diamonds.  He called and showed pocket 4's.  There were two diamonds on the flop, and the a third diamond on the river to give me the nut flush and sent the Swede back to Stockholm.

Now I was assured of at least a $2K pay day.  We started to play heads up, played a few hands.  I looked over to Cliff's stack.  He had more than twice as many chips as I did.  And I had played enough against him this day to be convinced he was a better player than I was.  Of that I had no doubt.  Furthermore, I have very little experience playing heads up.  I think there have been two live tournaments when I got down to playing heads up.  I did win one (against a really inexperienced player) and we finally agreed to split in the other case as neither one of us had any idea how to play heads up.  Both of those were years ago.  I had to assume (rightly or wrongly), that Cliff had more experience heads up.  In other words, I really didn't like my chances of overtaking Cliff and winning this thing.

Plus, I am just used to getting to the final few players and making a deal, that's always been my experience in any tournament of this many (or more) players that played so long and where I lasted this long.  I actually expected a deal to be proposed when we got down to three.  But it wasn't and now Cliff wasn't apparently going to suggest anything.

It was around 10:30pm (we had started at 1pm).  Not really that late, and I wasn't tired, but still, we had played a lot of poker for the day.  And I didn't really see how I was gonna come from behind and win it except with some kind of fluky cooler hand or a major suckout.  So, after a few heads up hands where we basically just passed the blinds back and forth, I spoke up.  I didn't even consider the possibility of suggesting an even split, he had way too much of an advantage to accept that. What I was used to was the chip-chop.  So after a hand, I said, "You willing to make a deal?"  He asked what I had in mind.  "How about a chip-chop?"

And he surprised me by saying, "I dunno.  What is that?"

Wow.  He didn't know what a chip-chop was?  How could that be?  He was obviously an experienced tournament player.  Anyway, I explained to him what it was—that we'd combine the first and second place money and distribute based on the percentage of the chips we each had.

I'm not sure he actually fully understood, but he said, "As long as I get the bigger payout, I'm fine with it."  I assured him he'd get the most money.  So we called the TD over and told him what we were talking about and then he did a count of chips.  I didn't make a note of the stacks, but basically Cliff had 70% or so of the chips.  And then he did the calculation and it came out that Cliff would get $3,105 (down from something like $3,600, the original 1st place prize) and I'd get $2,535, (up from a bit more than $2K, the original 2nd place prize).  That was certainly ok by me and Cliff was happy with that too.  We shook hands and the deal was done.  I had just agreed to my biggest tournament payout of my "career."  This surpassed my previous high, which was also from the Binion's tournament.  So you can see why I was so bummed that they discontinued this tournament.

While we were waiting for the paperwork to be completed and our payouts to be delivered, I was thinking about Cliff's reaction to my suggestion of a chip-chop, and then his response that he was fine with it as long as he got more money than me.  I realized I very likely could have made a better deal.  I guess I should have suggested we split it and that he get a few hundred more.  Maybe I should have said, "Well let's split it, and how much more than I get would you be happy with?"  I think if I knew he wasn't familiar with a chip-chop, I could have gotten a few hundred more.  It sounded like he was going to be satisfied with anything as long as it more than I got.  So he would have been happy with $5 more than me?  I'm sure that wouldn't cut it.  But as I said, I might have gotten a bit more.

But I didn't mind.  I considered that Cliff had outplayed and deserved every penny he got.  Plus he was a heck of a nice guy, I didn't begrudge him the money. And I had gotten around $500 more than second place money at a time when I was at a huge chip disadvantage.  It was a good deal for me.

When they gave us the money, Cliff surprised me by saying, "What do we tip, $200 each?"  Wow, I thought that was a bit too much—at least for me.  I said something to that effect, "I think that may be high."  He said, "What about $100 each?"  I said ok.  What I wanted to say was that he should tip more than me, he got more money, but I didn't want to say that in front of the guy who would be collecting our tip and also didn't want to piss of Cliff (if that would bother him, I have no idea).  Anyway, they paid me off with some purple $500 chips, which I rarely get my hands on.  I had to hustle over to the main Binion's cashier so I could get cash for it.  Then I got the hell out of downtown. I couldn't wait to get back to my room so I could roll around naked in the money. 

Really turned out to be a great decision to skip the Venetian two-day for this.  But as I said at the outset, a real bummer to know this tournament no longer exists and I don't even have a chance to have another score like this at Binion's.