Friday, November 9, 2018

"She Doesn't Know Where Those Bills Have Been"


Seems like I keep getting distracted whenever want to write a blog post.  I was just about ready to start a new post for you, but it will be rather complex and time-consuming to write (might even be a two-parter), so I don't know how soon I'll be able to get that written and posted.  That means it will be too long between posts.  So I thought I'd do something I haven't done in awhile--a repost.

The story below was one of my earliest blog posts, published late 2011, when the blog was barely a month old.  As such, you will see that my game of choice back then was 2/4 limit hold'em, and I reference a casino I referred to as "BSC."  I trust you all can remember what that referred to. Yes, this story was written and took place before I started playing no limit poker!  

You will note that there's no actual poker content in this post, even though the story took place at a poker table.  This was actually the kind of story (i.e,, "provocative" or as I like to say, "salacious") I started the blog to tell, and my favorite type of post, and honestly, stories like this have been few and far between the past few years.  i miss them.

This particular story actually has one of the highest number of page views of any of my posts.  So why am I reposting it now?  Well, because I don't think most of those pageviews came from my regular readers.  You see, sometime after the original post ran, a certain website that had nothing to do with poker posted a link to it, and that got the post a whole lot of traffic.

What was the topic of the website that linked to it?  Well, it was an site devoted to interracial dating.  There was a forum there and one of the topics had to do with a white guy who was into watching his girlfriend (or wife) having sex with a black man.  Somehow this guy found my post through an web search and it got him real exited at the thought of taking his lady to the strip club I mentioned and watch her get serviced by a black male stripper.  He posted the link and asked if any of the members of the site knew if that was possibly at this club!

The odd thing about this is that, nowhere in my post did I ever say that "Freddy" was African-American.  As it happens he is.  But I didn't mention in the post, yet somehow this guy assumed he was--or perhaps he was just hoping he was.

The other thing I once noticed was that at least one (or perhaps more than one) person found the original post by searching for "do the black male nude dancers have big dicks at the Palomino Club?"  Again, how did Google search assume I was talking about a black stripper?  Of course, my post doesn't answer this pressing question.

By the way, I guess I should point out that since this was originally reported seven years ago, it's possible that the "facts" I presented have somewhat changed.  Who knows?

Anyway, hopefully you enjoy this trip back in time!


About two weeks ago I got involved in one of the most unusual conversations I’ve ever had at poker table or in Vegas generally.  It started at my normal 2/4 game at BSC.  Sitting immediately to my right was Cindy, a forty-ish Midwest housewife and mother of two grown kids (that’s how I figured her to be forty-ish; she looked younger). 

Cindy and her husband came to Vegas for one of their regular visits to, among other things, play poker, both of them.  And Cindy didn’t come to play poker to sit quietly at the table, no sir.  She was one of the chattiest people I’ve ever encountered at a poker table.  So I learned about her kids and how she can drive around 45 minutes from her hometown and go to a poker room and that she also plays a lot of home games with friends.  She talked pretty much non-stop. It got close to being too much talk, but she was such a pleasant, nice lady it was ok.  Despite all these facts I learned about her, what she mostly talked about was poker....she commented on every hand, every hand she had, the play of every hand of the table.  She was real friendly and talked with everyone nearby, and basically spoke a book about poker during the evening.  

After an hour or so, a young, athletic-looking fellow came to the table that I vaguely recognized.  I saw the name “Freddy” as first on the list when he took his seat.  I started to remember Freddy….played with him a few times before at BSC.  My memory was that he is now a local, came to live in Vegas a while ago, perhaps a year back to train for his athletic career.  I’m pretty sure he I remember him saying he had gotten a job shining shoes at the Airport to make ends meet while he trained and waited for his athletic career to blossom.

After Freddy had been at the table for some time—and hadn’t been doing well, pokerwise—I started notice something unusual.  Twice I noticed the dealer asking a chip-runner for more chips and then counting out a boatload of singles to buy them with.  At one point I even commented, 'What, did someone break into their piggy bank?"  Not long later, Freddy ran out of chips once again (he was having as bad a night as I was) and this time I noticed he was buying $40 in chips in forty one dollar bills.  Yeah, he gave the dealer forty singles and was clearly the source of all the singles the dealers kept getting rid of.

This helped me remember Freddy.  I assumed he had all those one dollar bills from getting tips at the airport, shining shoes. Made sense to me.

Boy was I wrong.  The next time he bought more chips (like I said, he was having a tough nite of poker), the dealer—who clearly knew Freddy—said to him, "I guess you worked last night?"  I was still thinking shoe-shine so I didn't pay much attention but I guess he said yes. Cindy heard this, noticed the one dollar bills and said to Freddy, who she had been chatting with like all of us on this side of the table, "Oh, are you a stripper?"  I actually didn't hear her say this, I wasn't paying attention. Cindy told me this a few days later when we were laughing over this incident. She was just joking, or so she thought.  But Freddy looked kind of sheepish, kind of uncomfortable, and then reluctantly said, " a matter of fact.......yes, I am."  Freddy started filling in a few details before I started tuning in.  I think I first noticed when I heard the words "Palomino Club."  So Cindy got some details I hadn't heard.  But all of a sudden I noticed Cindy was pumping Freddy (so-to-speak) for info on his nude dancing career.  Once I figured out what Freddy was talking about, I knew I was gonna have a story worth re-telling and got involved in the conversation.

I asked Freddy directly....."You're a nude dancer?"  Yes.  "At Palomino Club?" Yes. It's in North Las Vegas.  "I know, I've heard of it.  But I didn't know they had male dancers there." They do. They have males dancing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  The rest of the time is just girls, but on those nights it's both.

I was shocked to say the least.  Of course, it had been well over 20 years since the last time I was there. And I can assure you the only people taking off their clothes at that time were women.  So I said, "What is it, like a Chippendale's show?"  Freddy laughed, said, "not exactly" and then Cindy said, "Oh no, this is a lot more than Chippendales.  There's full male nudity." Now I have to assume that Cindy had already gotten this info from Freddy before I tuned in, although I suppose it is possible that Cindy had more firsthand knowledge of this show! But I doubt that.  I said, "full male get totally nude?"  Freddy said yes, there's full frontal male nudity on these shows, and yes, he get's completely naked on stage.  He went to explain that the Palomino Club was the only place in town that had both alcohol and full frontal nudity.  I said I knew that but I thought that was only women, I didn't know they had guys dancing naked. He repeated that they have the shows on the weekend for women to enjoy the nude male dancers. 

Wow. I don't remember if it was Cindy or me who asked if he does lap dances.  But the answer is yes, he does.  They have private booths for that. Cindy knew what that could possibly lead to, so she asked him if any actual "sex" was ever involved. He explained that there are rules and that of course it is not allowed, but if "some of the dancers want to break the rules and they get away with it....."  He was totally third person discussing this but if I had to guess, he's schtuped his share of gals in the private booths.  He said they have to be careful because you can see the booths’ motion and figure out what is going on.

Cindy asked, "If you're totally naked, where do they put the tips?"  He laughed.  Most of the tips come when they are dancing before they get totally naked.  But.....when they dance they sweat and the dollar bills stick to their sweaty skin.  Also there are girls who are basically "tip runners" who pick up the tips for them.  She asked if the dancers are on as a group or individually.  He said some of the guys work in two man teams but he always is a solo act.

I asked if only women were allowed into the show or if guys were allowed to watch them too. Cindy agreed that it was an excellent question.  The answer is that guys are allowed only as part of a couple (and the other member of the couple has to be female, it can't be two guys). And then sometimes the couple will want a private or lap dance.  He says a lot of the guys who come in are turned on watching their girlfriend or wife interact with the nude male dancer in the booth.  And if the dancer wants to interact with the guy too....well that's up to him.  Freddy indicated that he wouldn't do that.

I had to ask....what is the age group of the women who come to see this show?  He said it is mostly women in their 30's, but it is really all ages, some gals in their twenties, middle-aged women and some are grandmothers or older......Of course he said there were a lot of bachelorette parties, divorce parties, things like that.  He also said something that really surprised me....a lot of the female strippers who work there come in to see the guys.  They are the best tippers!  Then I asked if these women customers were usually attractive or usually not so attractive.  He said there are all types but there are plenty of good looking women who enjoy the show.  

If Freddy seemed sheepish at first, by this time he was totally uninhibited talking about this. Cindy was saying that she felt there was nothing wrong with what Freddy was doing.  "You're young, you’re athletic, You're good looking.  Why not?"  Then she went to say, "You know, would a parent approve of this for their child?  I guess not but there are worse things you could be doing.  I mean, my daughter is gorgeous.  She could easily be a stripper. Would that be my first choice?  I guess not....but it wouldn't be so terrible.  It’s honest work."

Cindy went on to mention some Showtime reality show I'd never heard of, "Gigolos" which supposedly features real Las Vegas gigolos and has full frontal male nudity (Cindy was quite adamant to point that out....I guess she is a fan of the show).  She said it shows the guys and the “agents” who are really pimps who set up their "dates" and such.  She said most of the guys were not very good looking and that was surprising to her.  Now at that point I wanted to say something like, "Well if the show has full frontal nudity they must show you what the women are really paying for...."  but I held my tongue.  Freddy said that some guys do make "dates" with the gals (and the couples) and he was very clear to only talk in third to what they charge for in-call service, well they have to be careful because at Palomino Club it is a lot of locals.  If the guy accepts a low rate, word gets around (that they can be rented “cheap”) and it ruins their reputation.  The guys who work some of the clubs closer to the strip, which he has also worked in the past, have an easier time accepting a low rate from some tourist gal because the word won't get around.  He mentioned Treasures and Sapphire Club as places he's worked as a male nude dancer.   

This discussion of the show “Gigolos” led to a brief detour about “swingers.”  Cindy said, almost disappointedly, that you never really know anything about your neighbor’s sex lives.  She said, "I mean you never really know who's having sex.  I don't think anybody in my Midwest neighborhood is having sex, but who knows, maybe they are!"  By “having sex” she clearly meant outside of marriage (wife-swapping, hookers, gigolo's, illicit affairs).  I had to bite my tongue to avoid saying something like, "You mean, you're not having sex with your husband in back home?" but I thought better of it. I knew what she meant.

During this discussion a regular dealer was replaced by a fill-in I’d never seen before. He was mum during all this but at one point Cindy said to him, "Quite a conversation you are listening to, isn't it?"  He just smiled.  "How are you able to keep up on the game with all this unusual discussion going on?"  He said he has the ability to multi-task.

By the time the next dealer had come in, the topic had been pretty much exhausted. One of the regular female dealers took over and she had heard none of this discussion. But then Freddy need to buy in for more chips, which meant he counted out more single dollar bills.  As the attractive female dealer picked them up off the table to count them, I leaned over to Cindy and said, "She doesn't know where those dollar bills have been."  Cindy laughed and said she was thinking the exact same thing.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- November 2018

Here's my latest column for Ante UpOnce again, the individual column has not appeared on the Ante Up website yet.  In fact, they still haven't posted last month's column over there.  No idea what's going on.  Anyway, below is my column as it was submitted, when you pick up the mag in your local poker room (should be there now), it may be a bit different.

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The Green Valley Ranch Poker Room has revised its tournament schedule.  A new feature of the schedule is The Leaderboard.  Points are awarded for cashing in most of the tournaments.  The top 10 point earners from October 1 through December 31 will be awarded a share of $20K in prize money, with the top prize being $8K. Players will also be awarded "frequency points" for just entering (based on the amount of the buy-in).  Players who accumulate 250 or more frequency points will be able to participate in a $50 buy-in tournament in January that will have $20K in added prize money.  Additionally, players who flop quads or better in a tournament will get a voucher for a free buy-in for a tournament of equal value.

As for the schedule itself, it's not just hold'em.  A $120 PLO event takes place on Sundays at 5 p.m. On Tuesdays at noon there's a $60 Omaha 8/B tourney. And Fridays at 4 p.m. a $120 HORSE tournament is offered.

A $60 Ladies NLH event takes place Thursdays at 11:15 a.m.  Seniors get their chance Wednesdays at 11:15 a.m.  A "casino industry night" re-buy tournament is offered for anyone with a casino employee badge Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. Mondays and Fridays at 10:15 a.m., an $80 NLH tourney is offered. A $50 NLH tournament runs Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.  There's a $120 NLH offering Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m.  No Limit turbos take place at noon on Sundays and 6:15 p.m. Thursdays. An $80 bounty tournament is available Mondays at 6:15 p.m.  A $120 "Steep Stack" takes place Saturdays at 3 p.m.

The Steep Stack features a 25K starting stack.  Most of the other tournaments start at 10K in chips.  The levels for all tournaments are 20-minutes, except for the turbos, which are 15-minutes.

Among the room's promos is a "Good Beat Jackpot."  To qualify, Aces full of 10's or better must be beaten by quads or better.  Both cards must play. A unique feature is that the winner of the pot gets the biggest portion of the jackpot: 40%. The loser of the hand gets 20%.  The rest of the players at the table share the remaining 40%.  The jackpot fund starts at $5K and $500 is added every week until it hits.

VENETIAN: Sam Vizza of Chicago won the $1,100 MSPT event at Deep Stack Extravaganza III in September, taking home a prize of $52K.  California's Eyal Al Revah claimed $38K for second and Minnesota's Alex Winter received $36K for third. The event drew 315 players, resulting in a $307K prize pool, easily surpassing the $250K guarantee. 
Deepstack Showdown runs December 5-16.  An $1,100 DoubleStack tournament with two starting flights begins on December 7. The starting stack is 30K, the levels are 40-minutes and it has a $150K guarantee.  There's a $3,500 event beginning December 14.  It plays out over three days and has only one starting flight, but players can enter through the first two levels of day 2.  The starting stack is 40K, players get 60-minute levels and the guarantee is $500K. 

A $400 Seniors event runs December 6.  There's a $400 limit Omaha 8/B beginning December 7 and a $250 PLO8 event December 15.  The other afternoon NLH events are in the $400-$600 range.  The evening events are all $200 buy-ins.

WYNN: The daily tournaments all have increased their starting stacks to 15K.  Also, all of the tournaments feature the big blind ante. Guarantees have been added to all dailies. Monday through Thursday the $140 buy-in has a $5K guarantee.  The Friday and Sunday $200 buy-in has a $10K guarantee. Each of those offers 30-minute levels. The Saturday $230 buy-in has a $30K guarantee and 40-minute levels.  That one has unlimited $200 rebuys for 15K any time a player is at or below 10K in chips.  There is a single optional $100 add-on for 7,500 chips until the start of the seventh level. 

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The WSOP circuit arrives here November 14-27. The first of two starting flights for the $1,700 main event runs November 24.  The tournament offers a $500K guarantee and one re-entry is allowed. 

November 15 is the kick-off date for a six-starting flight $400 event with a $200K guarantee.  This tournament offers unlimited re-entry. A $2,200 high roller event is on November 26.  A $250 Seniors event runs November 24. There's a $400 PLO event on November 20. 

MGM: The room has revised their daily tournaments.  At 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., the buy-in is now $100 and the starting stack is 25K.  The levels are 20-minutes and these tournaments now have the big blind ante.  The daytime tournament has a $2K guarantee and the evening version has a $1K guarantee. 

The 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. tournaments are $65 buy-ins for a 15K starting stack and 15-minute levels. This tournament has no antes.  They both have a $500 guarantee.

BELLAGIO: The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic runs November 29 – December 15.  The $10,400 main event begins December 11 and runs five days.  There are three $25K high roller events, December 8, 10 and 14.  A $100K high roller runs December 15. Two $10K PLO events run December 5 and 6. Two $1K Seniors events run November 29 and December 4.  There are a few $1K and $1,500 events as well.

GOLDEN NUGGET:  Golden Weekend is November 23-25. The highlight is $200 buy-in event on Saturday, November 24 with 30-minute levels, a 15K starting stack and offering a  $100K guarantee. Friday and Sunday the 11 a.m. tournaments are $150 buy-ins with 15K starting stacks and 30-minute levels.  The guarantee is $10K on Friday and $15K on Sunday.  Each evening of the weekend offers a $110 buy-in event with 20-minute levels, 10K starting stacks and $5K guarantees.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hurry Up and Wait

This took place the day after I dropped Lightning off at the airport, as told in this post.  It was a Saturday and I wanted to play a tournament, but I wasn't sure which one.  It was Seniors weekend in Vegas, so that affected some of my options. The WSOP was running their seniors bracelet events, and most of the places around town were also running seniors events to complement what was going on at the Rio.  So I had really only two options, the 1pm $150 at Golden Nugget or a slightly smaller buy-in tourney at Planet Hollywood.  But by the time I was ready to head out, I had already missed the start of the PH event, and because the buy-in was less, the structure was such that by the time I could make it over there, it'd be so late that I'd likely be coming in with a starting stack that was down to an M level of 10.  That sounded like a bad idea.  But then to me, so does starting a tournament at 11am, which was the case for this PH tourney.

The only reason I was hesitant about the Nugget tourney was that I knew they were also having a big seniors event this day—a $250 NLH event with a $100K guarantee.  The starting time for it was 10am.  And I seemed to recall that this is a big draw for the Nugget and that maybe the space for the 1pm would be limited.  So, worried about the crowd, I rushed like crazy to get there as early as possible.  I made a quick lunch in my room and gobbled it down as fast as I could.  I had to pray that traffic downtown wasn't awful and I lucked out there.  So I arrived at the Nugget at least a half hour before the start time.  Hopefully that was early enough so I could claim a seat at the start and not have to wait around as an alternate, which was a big concern of mine.

When I walked into the ballroom they were using for the Grand Poker Series, I was rather amazed by just how crowded it was.  The room was absolutely packed.  Not only was every table full, it looked like they had managed to jam in a few more tables in there than there were the last time I was there.  And I saw people milling around who I hoped were people waiting for the 1pm tournament to start and not alternates waiting to get into the Seniors event.

But fortunately there wasn't much of a line to buy-in. So I got up to the cashier and told her I wanted buy into the 1pm tourney (I was very specific about that, because they might have still been accepting late entries for the Seniors and sadly, I cannot pass for someone who is too young to play a Seniors event).

And she promptly told me that due to the popularity of the Seniors event, the 1pm tourney had been moved back to 3pm.


So I rushed over there for nothing.

I had to do some ruminating about whether I still wanted to play if it wasn't going to start until three.  For one thing, that would make for a really late night if I made a good run.  For another thing, what the heck would I do for the next couple of hours, waiting around?  And lastly, would they still have a dinner break?  Remember on these (hopefully) long tournaments a dinner break is rather important to me.  She said yes, but because the tournament was starting two hours later, the dinner break would be two hours later also.  I wasn't sure I believed her, so I asked if she was sure there would still be a dinner break and she assured me there would be. 

OK, so I figured I didn't have to decide right away whether to buy into a tournament that wasn't starting for 2-1/2 hours.  So I asked the lady, "Is there someplace I could take a nap for a couple of hours?"  She laughed and said, "Oh, if you can find one, let me know."

Yeah, I was tired—hell, I'm always tired when I'm in Vegas—and if this had been some place near the Strip, I probably would have driven back to my room and tried to take a nap, then see how I felt after that.  But I was already downtown—valet parked, no less—and I wasn't about to leave unless I knew for sure I wouldn't be returning later that day.

So I decided to check out the sights on Fremont Street while I was trying to figure out what to do.  As it happened, there was some kind of classic car show right on Fremont St.  They had brought in a whole bunch of spiffy, cherried up old cars to look at.  I'm not a huge classic car fan, but I have to admit this was pretty cool.  All the cars were in like perfect condition.  Plus, most of them had their hoods open and the engines were all shiny and new.  I mean, this engines were so pristine you could eat off them.  I wondered if these were real engines or just mock-ups. 

Then I went over to Binion's to see how they were doing with their summer series.  Jerry, who runs the room these days, greeted me warmly and told me how busy most of the events were.  They actually didn't have enough tables to accommodate the crowds they were getting for their non-hold-em events (which is what they were mostly offering again this year).  They only had eight tables and he said they could easily fill double that. This day they were running the 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo event, and there were plenty of alternates waiting to get in.  I didn't make this comment to Jerry, but I thought that he was in direct competition with the Seniors event across the street.  Let's face it, virtually everyone who wanted to play 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo was easily eligible to play a seniors event!  I didn't notice any young whippersnappers at the tables at Binion's.

I thought maybe I could play a little 1/2 until the tourney started.  Ha!  I went back to the Nugget and their regular poker room was also completely jammed (needless to say, Binion's didn't have any tables for cash games).  First off, I believe they were actually using some of the tables in the poker room for the tournament (even though there's a pretty good distance between the poker room and the tournament area).  There was not an empty table there and there were 41 names on the list for the 1/2 game.   There were over 20 on the list for the 2/5 game and a similar amount on the list for the 2/4 game.  It was pretty much impossible to play poker downtown right then if you already didn't have a seat!

I managed to kill time until 2:30, so I decided to check back in the ballroom and see how they were doing. I wasn't convinced they were going to be read to run a new tourney at 3.  If every table was still being used, then I would have to think that they might cancel the 1pm altogether or push it back even further.  But 3pm was definitely the limit for me. 

Well when I got back there were some empty tables that they were setting up for a new tournament.  Not a lot, but some.  And I could see they were breaking tables fairly rapidly.  Ok, well I felt pretty good so I decided I would play.  There wasn't a big crowd at registration   So I told her I was buying into the 1pm, I mean 3pm, you know, the $150 tournament.  And she said, "You'll be an alternate, is that ok?"  WTF?  They had at least six tables ready to go for the tournament and it was still a half hour before the new start time.  Damn, I should have bought into it when I first got there.

I asked what alternate number I would be.  She said 72.  72???  Yep.  Oh boy, having just wasted a couple of hours killing time, I'm going to leave now?  Well, as I was talking to her I could hear and see that they busting out of the seniors event really quickly.  I thought that I might not have to wait too long to get it.  I knew if I bought in and didn't get in quickly enough for my comfort, I could get a refund (should have thought of that at 12:30pm).  So I bit the bullet and handed over my $150.  Alternate 72.  I was hoping that I might get in early in level 2 if not before, which wouldn't have been so bad.

The place was still quite crowded and I realized that I could be in for a really long day so maybe I should see about charging my phone a little before the tournament started.  Fortunately I remembered that there was a bank of USB ports over by one of the monitors showing the tournament clock, which happened to be right by the area where the new tournament was going start (see here).

So I went over there and "stuck it in."  I didn't trust that my brand new phone was safe if I just left it there so I stood right by it, unable to sit down. It wasn't a very fast charger so I decided to turn my phone off in order to charge it a bit faster in the limited time I had. I later was informed by my blogging buddy Memphis Mojo that he was playing at the Nugget's senior event right then and he actually saw me standing over there.  He was going to come over to say hi when he was on break but by then I had disappeared.  Too bad.

They started at 3 with six tables….but there were some other empty tables.  Sure enough, almost as soon as they got cards in the air, they called for the first 50 alternates to come and get seats.  Damn, still shut out.  But actually, before all the first fifty alternates got situated, they called the next 10, and soon thereafter, another 10 more, which included me.  So I got my assignment, got my seat, and honestly, I didn't miss more than the first 10 minutes of the first 30-minute level.  Not bad at all.

My luck hadn't been good up until this point of the trip and it didn't get that much better this time.  As I mentioned when I first started writing up these reports from this trip, I didn't cash in any of the tournaments I played, so you already know how this turns out.  But I did have a bit of a better run in this tournament than any of my previous ones.  So much so that I actually made it to the dinner break for the first time all trip.  Of course it was my luck that the first time I made it to the dinner break it was in a tournament that had the start time delayed and thus the dinner break was pushed way back.

So let me explain how the dinner break was supposed to work and how it worked this time.  Tournament was supposed to start at 1pm, there was a regular 15-minute break every 4 levels.  The 40-minute dinner break, however, was an extra break after level 10.  I guess they thought 5:30pm was too early for dinner, and 7:30pm was too late. 

Now, with the later start time, I was absolutely sure that they would just have the dinner break after level 8 this one time, eliminating one of the 15-minute breaks.  This would get the tournament over with a little sooner than otherwise, and would send us on the dinner break at 7:30pm instead of the kind of late 8:30pm.  I mean, there really seemed like no reason at all not to do it that way, right?

In fact, the table started talking about the dinner break and speculating about when it would be and if it would be changed (or cancelled).  One of the ladies at the table said, "They better not cancel the dinner break, I haven't eaten all day and I'm starving."  That sounded like me, but of course, I had medical concerns if I couldn't get a real dinner.  At one point, after the topic had been breached, one of the TD's walked by our table and we asked about the dinner break and if maybe it had been moved up.  He assured that the dinner break was still going to happen, and that it would happen after the 10th level, not the 8th, just as originally scheduled. 

That made no sense to me but I think I eventually figured out why they didn't move the dinner break up.  This is pure speculation on my part, I never asked.  But I assumed the breaks for the tournament were all programmed into the Bravo clock they were using.  Moving that break would have meant reprogramming Bravo.  So my guess is that they didn't have anyone there would knew how to do it, or perhaps just didn't want to bother with the reprogramming.  I have no idea how much is involved in reprogramming the clock, but I suppose it might not be that simple.

Anyway, I guess when I was figuring out whether to play in the tourney, I was just assuming a break at 7:30 but once I knew for sure it was an hour later, I realized that was a problem for me.  I can't go that long without eating, plus one of the medications I must take needs to be taken with food, a decent amount of food at that.  So 8:30 wasn't going to work.  Fortunately, I had remembered to take a few Kind bars with me and at the 15-minute break at 7:30 I gobbled a few of them down and took the pill that would likely make me toss my cookies if taken on an empty stomach.  I had to hope the Kind bars were enough food (apparently they were, I had no stomach issues). 

And then an hour later came and it was the dinner break and now there was another problem with the delayed start.  At 8:30 on a Saturday night, Fremont St. is really crowded.  At least the cool cars had been removed, otherwise there would be no way to move at all.  So it was a real challenge walking in the very crowded street to get up to The Plaza for my Subway dinner (the Kind bars were enough to take the meds with, but not enough sustenance).  So another bit of bad luck because of the delayed start.

Well what about the poker, you ask?  As I said, I didn't make it to the money.  I won't go into many hands, just a few.  In the fourth level I finally hit a really big hand.  In the big blind, I called a smallish raise with 8-7 spades. There was six of us.  The flop was Jack-10-9, so yeah, I flopped the joint. I donked out a bet of $1,500, not sure why I did that—well, I might have been thinking that with so many players the raiser might not have made a c-bet unless he hit something.  The preflop raiser called.  I checked the turn, a harmless 6.  He bet $3K and I shoved and he snapped called and flipped over a set of 10's. Wow.  I dodged the boat on the river and had a real nice double up. 

Later, close to the dinner break, I had to shove Ace-8  I got called by Ace-King.  I would have been gone before the break except I caught a miracle 8 on the turn, and lived to make it to break.

Very next hand a lady opened the pot to $2,100 (which I believe was a reasonable raise) and another lady called.  The first woman was new to the table but the caller had been there the whole time and been playing some unusual hands and hitting them.  She had a big stack.  I looked down at two Aces and figured I had nothing to do but shove.  The original raiser folded but the caller snap called and flipped over the other two Aces!  Now I have seen Aces vs. Aces a few times but this was the first time I'd ever been one of the players with Aces.  My first thought was how the hell could she have just called with her Aces?  I'll never know.  We were both worried about the flush and I actually flopped a back door flush draw but by the turn it was just a guaranteed chopped pot.

I observed that although I had seen that before, I'd never participated in an Aces vs Aces hand myself.  Someone asked me, "Well, how was it?"  I said, "Well… was like kissing your sister."  The lady who folded took exception to that.  "Hey, you got my money—and I would have won!"  Apparently she folded King-Queen and would have hit two pair.  Honestly, except for the suits, I didn't even notice the cards on the board.

By the time I came back from the dinner break to level 11, I was quite desperate and early in that level I had to shove Queen-Jack.  I was snap called by a big stack with pocket Kings and yes, that was dreadful.  A Queen on the flop gave me some hope, but the board bricked out and I was done.  So after rushing to get that overpriced Subway meal at nearly 9pm, I played about 10 minutes more and was done.  Again, more bad luck.

They say better late than never, but it didn't work out that way for this late-starting tournament.

Note, this story took place in summer, but I'm posting it on Halloween, so that explains the pics  below.  Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

I Didn't Miss the Boat

My recent post drew a comment from a reader that all I seem to write about lately is being card dead, and he is looking forward to a post where I talk about "running like god."

Well, this is as close as I've come in awhile.  Not exactly running like god, but I did hit a few hands in between the terrible hands I folded or cost me money by going nowhere on the flop or turn.

This was Saturday in Ventura and I have to say that I was a bit distracted because I hoped to get home in time to watch Game 7 of the NLCS (Dodgers vs Brewers) from the comfort of my living room.  So it was likely going to be a somewhat abbreviated session.

Again, it was 1/2 with the $100 max buy-in. The first decent hand I got was pocket Jacks during my first orbit.  I was the big blind, and of course it folded to the small blind.  So of course I agreed to chop.

With Ace-Queen in middle position I opened to $6 and got three callers.  The flop was Queen high and I bet $8 (this seemed like the right size for this game and this particular collection of players).  I got one call.  I bet $20 on a blank and he called.  Another blank, I made it $30 and he folded.

I called $4 with Jack-10 off from the button.  A lot of the raises were to $4.  This is due to the nature of the rake which is taken off the top.  So people will make it $4 hoping to get enough calls so the rake won't eat the entire pot.  The flop was Jack high and when it checked to me, I bet $8 and no one called.

Then I had 5-2 off in the big blind.  There was no raise, just a whole bunch of limpers.  The flop was 10-5-2.  Nice.  The small blind bet $5 and I made it $13.  Two players called, including the small blind.  The turn was another deuce.  This time the small blind went to grab chips to bet, but then checked.  Hmm….I wasn't sure what to do . But the fact that he reached for chips first made me think if no one bet the turn, he'd likely bet the river. So I decided to check.  Probably a mistake.  The lady behind me also checked.

The river was a blank, and again, the small started to bet but then checked.  This time I bet $20.  The lady, someone I've played with before and someone I've identified as a weak player, called without any hesitation.  The small blind thought about it some but then folded.  I guess he had something but figured that one of us had him beat.  I figure he might have called if the lady had folded.  Anyway, I showed my boat and the lady had just a pair of 10's.

The other woman at the table expressed surprise before she realized I was the big blind.  "I was wondering why anyone would play 5-deuce….but you were the big blind."  Indeed I was.  If she hadn't figured that out, I might have said to her, "Five-deuce is my favorite hand," and let her think I was that kind of player.

A couple of orbits later I had Ace-3 off in the big blind.  I checked behind and it was five of us seeing the flop.  You might say it was a good flop for my hand.  Ace-Ace-3.  Flopping a boat is even better than turning one.  I checked hoping someone would bet, but no one did.  The turn was a brick and this time I put out $6.  I only had one caller.  The river was the case Ace!  Talk about overkill.  It was a useless time to get quads.  I could only get called if he had a pair and even then it was unlikely.  So I put out $10.  Now when the third Ace hit the board, the dealer, as is his orders, announced, "Three on board!"  Whenever the board has three Aces, they announce it because the Bad Beat Jackpot comes into play.  The minimum qualifying hand is quads beating Aces full of Jacks.  So If someone had pocket Jacks, Queens or Kings, and the other guy had the case Ace, the BBJ jackpot could be hit.

But not this time.  Of course, both cards have to play.  The other card in the person with the case Ace's hand would have to beat (or match) the highest non-Ace card on the board to play.  The only way my hand would qualify was if the turn card was a deuce (or another trey). It was not.  It was a 7, I believe.

But no one knew that at the time and some of the other players were starting to get excited, hoping we'd hit the jackpot. The guy hesitated for quite a few beats, leaving them all in suspense. But he said, "Sorry, I don't have it," and just folded to my $10 bet.  I showed my hand because really, don't you always show quads and also to show that the BBJ was never in play.

In the small blind with 7-3 of hearts, I threw in another buck when a whole bunch of players limped and it seemed like the big blind was eager to check behind.  He did.  The flop was Jack-6-3.  The six was a heart, giving me a back door straight flush draw (and bottom pair).  That seemed like enough to call $6 with, so I did.  It was now three way.  The turn was another heart, but messed up my straight draw.  This time there was no betting.   The river was another heart, giving me the baby flush.  I checked.  I recalled the button had made a few river bets and, when called, just mucked instead of showing his bluff.  The circumstances seemed good for this type of play again.  Sure enough, last to act, he put out $20.  I snap called, the other guy folded and he said, "I've got nothing" and just mucked his cards.

I was starting to think about leaving with a small profit, and then I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings.  First time in a few weeks I'd seen them.  My first thought was, here's where a slightly profitable session becomes a losing one!  Yeah, I need to work on my attitude.  There were a couple of limpers so I made it $12.  Only the first limper called.  He had just come to the table and this was his first or second hand.  I'd never seen him before.  The flop was all low cards, 5-4-4, something like that.  He checked.  I put out $20.  He tanked for a bit then folded.

Soon thereafter, I racked up a small profit.  It is the nature of this game, I guess.  I turned a boat, flopped a boat that became quads, rivered a flush, won with pocket Kings and yet I had just a few bucks to show for it.  Oh well, it beats losing.

I timed it perfectly, getting back home just before the first pitch of the game, after listening to the pregame show the whole way home.  So that was also a win, especially since the Dodgers won.  So we have a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series.  Hard to believe it's been 102 years since these two legendary franchises have met in October.  In 1916,when it last happened, the Dodgers were playing in Brooklyn and were called the Robins! 

Go Dodgers!

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Night the Horseshoe Fell Out

As I promised last time, this is a story from my summer Vegas trip.  In fact, it is sort of a sequel to the post here. Wow, that post is two months old already.  It is indeed taking me awhile to get through this.  Anyway, that post was about the first night I played poker with Lightning during his weeklong Vegas visit.  Well, this is the story of his last night in town.

As reported in that post, Lightning had started off his trip hot. Recall that after I saw him win his first pot, I tweeted out that he had had a horseshoe implanted up his ass.  He pretty much continued the run good throughout his trip and was playing his final session at Bally's with our pal VegasDWP. So of course I joined them.

Me?  I had been running the opposite of good for about two weeks, in other words, since I had arrived in Vegas.  And it continued this night.  At one point, after entering the pot preflop and missing it for about the millionth time, I announced to the table as I folded, "You'll know that I connected with a flop when I faint."  Well, the dealer thought it was funny at least.

The three of us were able to sit at the same table immediately and in fact, all right next to each other.  I had position on both, but it didn't help because I was unable to get dealt a decent starting hand, and when I did find something to play, I totally struck out on the flop as I've already indicated. But with the three of us all playing together there was a lot of great conversation and plenty of jocularity.  So at least I was having fun losing my money.

Lightning seemed to be doing well, having built up his stack nicely.  Sorry, I don't recall how DWP was doing.  Lightning managed to win a nice sized pot with 9-3 soooted by catching a flush on the river.  I said to him, "9-3???"  I mean, I honestly thought he was a better player than that, I never would have expected to play a trash hand like that.  But he won, so what do I know?  Maybe I should insta-fold pocket Kings from now on and insta-shove 9-3 sooted?

Well, I had slowly but surely worked my stack down to less than $100 when I finally got one of those so-called premium hands, Ace-King (off suit, I believe).  But before I could raise, Lightning beat me to it by raising to $12.  Now I suppose having seen him win a hand playing the mighty 9-3, I should have three-bet him.  Of course, I don't believe he had raised preflop with the 9-3 (though he might have called a raise with it).  I just called because there was no point in risking more than I had to. You see, the way I was running, I felt I had a better chance of marrying the lady depicted below than I had of actually hitting a flop (note: in that scenario, the wedding would be performed by an Elvis impersonator because….well, if you're going to marry a woman like this in Vegas, it would have to be with an Elvis impersonator officiating, right?).

To my surprise, and no doubt to Lightning's as well, about half the poker players in Vegas called the $12.  I think a few players at Commerce also called.  Seriously, I think there were five or six of us who saw the flop.  The flop was Ace-high, and somehow, I didn't faint.  Probably because all I was thinking of was that this meant there was no super hot chick and no Elvis impersonator in my immediate future.  Then Lightning checked.  With the size of the pot and the size of my stack, I was committed.  I just went ahead and shoved.  One by one, everyone folded, including, somewhat reluctantly, Lightning.  He then whispered to me, "You know what I had."  Umm, could it be the dreaded pocket Kings?  Yes, indeed it was.  See, I'm not the only one who gets screwed with them.

The very next hand I got Ace-King again.  This time I opened to $10 and got one caller—Lightning.  The flop was all hearts.  And the red Ace in my hand was indeed a heart.  After he checked, I bet $15 and he folded.

Now, according to my notes, those two hands were the only pots I dragged all night.  And they came back-to-back.  And they were both Ace-King.

I returned to being a spectator and then saw the most interesting hand of the night.  The guy on my left opened the pot to $6.  Lightning made it $25.  By now it was heads up.  The guy on my left made it $65.  I dunno how much longer it took but before the flop they had both gotten it all-in.  Lightning once again had pocket Kings, and boy did he dread them when the other guy flipped over a pair of Aces.  Oops.  The way Lightning was running, I really expected him to pull a King out of his butt.  But not this time.  He didn't improve and ended up shipping most of his stack to the guy with Aces.  Ugh.  I know he was just shocked that the guy opened so small with his pocket rockets.  I muttered that the horseshoe finally fell out of his ass. It was ugly.  He had started the hand with around $330, up from $200.

He busted what little he had left not long after that and it was time for him to head to the airport to catch his flight home. I volunteered to give him a lift.  I had lost the better part of $200 myself.  It was a fun night, but the poker was ugly. But it was a very successful trip for him and it wouldn't be fair to say he played one session too many.  He actually just played one hand too many.  The ol' Aces vs Kings trick.

Final note:  I actually came up with a better title for this post than one I went with.  Is should be, "They shit horseshoes, don't they?"  But I didn't want to use the profanity in the title, and that's the only way it works.  Oh well.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

It Wasn't a Win But it Kinda Felt Like One

This should be a quick post to both write and read, which should be nice for those of you who kvetch about the length of my posts. 

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as much lately as I used to.  There's a few reasons for that but the main one is that my enthusiasm for writing blog posts has waned a bit lately.  I mean once I start writing I enjoy it, but getting myself off the couch to actually start is the issue.  And there is a lot going on that seems to have diminished the time I have to write.  I dunno where the time goes.  It seems like I used to have the entire evenings to write, but lately I don't seem to get to the PC until about 10 pm.

Even though I haven't been to Vegas since June, I still have plenty of material from that trip for you—in fact, I'm not even half way through my stories.  I'm not dragging it out on purpose, it's just happening naturally.

Anyway, before getting back to a story from that trip, I figured I would tell you about the session I had yesterday in Ventura.  Again it was 1/2 with a $100 max buy-in.  I got stuck early with a hand that went wrong with the dreaded pocket Aces.  No!  Don't worry, I'm not going to start calling pocket Aces "dreaded."  At least not yet.  But I got them twice and…well, you'll see.

Early on, I got them and I think it might have been the first hand I played other than the blinds.  There was a single limper and I made it $8.  At this game, that seemed appropriate.  Sometimes you can bet bigger but from what I was seeing that was the right size.  The limper was the only caller.  He had just swept in a huge pot when I was sitting down and he had me covered.  The flop was Queen-9-8, two spades.  I didn't have the Ace of spades.  He donked out $20 which perplexed me.  Was he betting more than the pot with just a Queen?  I suspected not, but obviously couldn't be sure.  I had never seen this guy before. 

Now from my years of playing poker, I've come to realize that if you see a board where a straight is possible with Jack-10, it's more likely they have that than almost any other combination that makes a straight.  That's my observation anyway.  People just love to play that Jack-10.  So I tend think it's at least 10% more likely that a player has the straight if Jack-10 is needed than any other hole cards.

I decided just to call.  I think in retrospect the play might have been to just shove there since I only had about $85-$86 left.  The turn was a blank and he bet again, but only $20.  Hmm, the first bet was an over bet but now this was an under bet.  It was a small enough bet for me to call again.  The river was a very interesting card.  It was the Ace of spades.  So now a flush was possible and I had a set of Aces.

This time he checked.  Well, well.  My gut told me he would have bet the flush if he had been betting the draw up until then.  He couldn't count on me to bet for him.  Yeah, maybe he had the straight and the flush scared him.  But I also thought he could have two pair and the Ace (and the flush) scared him.  Now my normal play there is to just check behind and play it safe.  But I swear I'm trying to force myself to start value betting more on the river.  So I forced myself to bet my set.  But my nitty nature prevented me from shoving, I just put out $20 matching his last two bets.

He shrugged and said, "Call."  And flipped over Jack-10.  Ugh.

Well, I did play the hand badly but in reality nothing I could have done would have made a difference.  Not that I'm taking any credit for my playing saving me a few bucks.  Actually, I think bad play on the flop and the turn saved me some money, and a bad value bet on the river cost me money there.

I topped off my stack to get back to $100.  Much later, I limped in with pocket 8's.  There was a raise to $5 (very common in this game) and I called, there were a bunch of us in the hand.  The flop was 8-4-2, two spades.  I checked and the raiser bet $10.  Another guy called.  I made it $40 with the check-raise.  The first guy folded and the other guy went all in for $42.  I threw in the two bucks and we didn't show.  A spade on the turn was scary, but the river paired the turn card making the flush worthless.  However, he didn't have the flush.  He flipped over pocket 4's for a set.  Set over set is so nice when you're on the winning end of it.

I won a small pot when I raised with Ace-Queen, hit a Queen and didn't get a call on my flop bet.

Then I limped in with 10-9 of hearts, not sure if limping was the right move there. I think there might have been a subsequent small raise that I called.  The flop was Ace-8-6, rainbow.  The 8 was the 8 of hearts, so in addition to the gut shot I had a back-door straight flush draw. There was a $10 bet and a call.  I thought it was worth seeing one more card.  Good decision.  It was a black 7, filling in my straight but putting a second club or spade out there.  After I checked, the same guy bet $12 and then the other guy called.  Both of them had me covered.  I made it $35.  Not sure if I could have bet any less.  But the first guy folded instantly and the second guy tanked for a bit—but then folded, saying, "nice 10-9."

I got Aces again, under-the-gun.  I opened to $8.  No one called.  Well, that's better than the last time I got them.

It was time to cash out and I had $180—which was exactly what I had bought in for after the rebuy.  I dunno, it felt liked better than a break even session after the bad start with the dreaded pocket Aces.