Friday, July 20, 2018

Like a Boss!

This story took place my second week in Vegas last month.  For reasons that will become clear shortly, I really wanted to get this posted while the WSOP was still going on, but it didn't work out that way.  You know how it goes—you can't always get what you want.  I also wanted to marry Kate Upton, but somehow Justin Verlander beat me to her, the bastard.

Back then, Lightning was in town.  He had been playing poker all day while I was working.  He had arranged to meet up with VegasDWP that evening and play at the Wynn.  So after I finished working, I headed over to the Wynn to join them.

This being the middle of the series (and of course, Wynn had their series going on, the Wynn Classic), the place was really busy.  Lightning and DWP were already playing, but they couldn't get the same table.  So DWP was already on the list to transfer to Lightning's game.  When I finally got called to a game, I told them to put me on the transfer list to Lightning's game as well.

At this point in my trip, I had been pretty much card dead the entire time.  Things didn't change this night at the Wynn.  I was hoping that maybe transferring to Lightning's table would bring me some decent cards finally, but no one was leaving his table, and for a long time the three of us were all stuck at separate tables.

The only table between us that ever had empty seats was my table.  At one point, seat 9 opened up, and I saw a player heading for it.  As he approached, I noticed he looked familiar.  Very familiar.  By the time he took his seat at the game, I realized that this guy was the spitting image of notorious "speech-play" expert William Kassouf. 

You remember Kassouf, right?  The guy who became infamous because of one particular poker hand that was shown endlessly from the WSOP in 2016.  The "show" he put on was so noteworthy that I actually did a post discussing it, which you can find here.  If you just want to see the hand that caused all the fuss, you can find it here.

I was sitting in seat 2, far away from him, but man it sure looked like him.  I wanted to get a second and third opinion, so I texted both Lightning and DWP  that I suspected Kassouf was at my table and for them to see for themselves.  The both did and agreed it did look like Kassouf.

Well initially, I couldn't hear anything he was saying over the noise in the room, but eventually I heard his voice, that distinctive British accent, and I realized that there was a good reason it looked like Kassouf. It was Kassouf!

Now my earlier post about him was quite critical of his schtick.  And I've mentioned in other posts that I rather hate playing against guys who like to talk to me when the action is on me—when players engage in just the type of speech-play that Kassouf is famous for.  You can find a post about that here.  So my initial reaction to having Kassouf at my table was "Ugh.  Can I get that table change expedited, please?"

But I was a bit ambivalent because I'm always on the hunt for good blogging material and it did occur to me that this character could very easily supply me with something to write about.

I had hardly played a hand before he arrived and not much changed after he got there.  I was just so card dead.

Kassouf made his presence felt pretty much immediately.  He opened pots and was betting bigger than what had been the standard opening for this table.  Usually when I play 1/3 at the Wynn, players open to $12 or maybe $15.  It's not unusual though to see smaller openings.  But when there are aggros at the table, suddenly you see openings for $20 or $25.  Kassouf opened for $15 or $20, if not $25.  And until he had gotten there, a lot of the times the pot had been opened for $10 or less.

As soon as he put out his first $20 open, the guy to my left, an older gentleman with a big stack, said to him, "Why are you betting so big?"  Kassouf said, "What?  It's not so big."  I am quite sure that the guy had no idea who Kassouf was.

These two developed a running dialog, mostly with the guy next to me complaining about the size of Kassouf's bets.  But of course that did not nothing to affect Kassouf's bet sizing.  I will say though, that after awhile, when many of his opening raises went uncalled, he pulled back a little and started opening for normal amounts.  To be fair, he sometimes limped and yes, there were times he even folded preflop.

Early on, when he made a big raise after the flop and everyone folded, the lady on my right said, "Oh wow, he must have had a big hand."  The guy on my left said, "No, he had absolutely nothing."  I suspect he was right.  Oh yeah, he was also pretty aggro after the flop, of course.

When the seat to his right opened up, the new player in it raised his first hand.  This really pleased Kassouf.  "Oh first hand, you're already into it?  Yeah, yeah.  Like a boss!"  I of course cracked up but no one else reacted.

There was one time where he really acted like the Kassouf from that WSOP hand.  It was post-flop, perhaps on the river, not sure, and the guy on his right made a fairly small bet.  Kassouf shoved.  It was quite the overbet although the guy who bet originally didn't have anywhere near the chipstack Kassouf had and they were heads up.

The guy went into the tank.  "I don't know….I don't know."  So Kassouf said, "Well, tell me what you have and I'll tell you if you should call…..You can tell me what you have."  Yeah, he really said that.  I don't remember the board, but he said, "Do you have a 10?  If you have a 10 you should definitely call."  Of course this left the guy totally befuddled.  Kassouf kept it up, asking what the guy had, and making suggestions.  "Well if you have a 10 you should call for sure."  He probably mentioned some other cards too, I can't recall.  I believe he also suggested some scenarios where he recommended folding.

But of course it left the poor guy hopelessly confused.  And so he folded.  And then Kassouf asked him what he folded.  He told him, but I didn't hear what he said.  And then Kassouf said, "It was a good fold, it was a really good fold."  Somehow I suspect it was probably the worse fold in the history of poker.

When he got folds he would frequently asked what they folded and always tell them they made good laydowns.  One time a guy told him he folded top pair, top kicker.  Kassouf seemed a little shocked.  "Man, if you laid that down, that's a really good fold!"  Again, I suspect that it was a really bad fold.

Naturally, whenever his bets did get called, he managed to have the goods.  One hand he opened big, was three-bet, he shoved, the guy snap-called and Kassouf flipped over two Kings.  The other guy didn't show and eventually lost the pot.

One of the dealers was telling him about the wild action at the PLO game so he got put on the list for that.  And he was called to it before I was called to Lightning's game.  So that was the end of my evening with Mr. Kassouf.

I had fun when I finally joined Lightning and DWP, but I remained card dead the entire time, so really no hands of mine worth writing about.

As for Kassouf, I have to admit that he's really not a bad guy.  I don't like his poker tactics but he seemed like a decent fellow and was just out to have some fun (and win some money).  Probably a fun guy to have a beer with.  But a tough player to play against and I do think he pushes his verbal tactics a bit too far.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Last Straw—Literally

Well, not literally literally.  But almost literally.  I mean, literally closer to literally than 95% of the time you see people misuse the word "literally."

What the hell am I babbling about?  Well, I'll get to it, but first I gotta do some lead up to it.  Sorry about that, but I figure if you were the type of person that enjoyed poker blogs where the blogger got immediately to the point in a concise fashion, you'd be reading some other blog, not this one.

Anyway, before I get to the point, I have to warn you that I'm breaking my firm policy about never discussing politics on the blog.  I'm afraid I have to get a bit political with this post.  It seems that the forces of the left and the forces of the right are combining to make Vegas less and less desirable all the time.

This time, there may be no saving the Vegas experience for me.

You will no doubt recall numerous posts where I've complained about how they are ruining Vegas.  Almost everything I loved about Vegas has disappeared.  Gone are the cheap rooms, cheap, quality food, inexpensive shows, low limits (at the pit games),  Now there's ever increasing resort fees, ever increasing parking fees (in the good ol' days you could park everywhere for free), a stunning lack of cheap food and the drinks (unless you're playing a live game) are outrageously priced.  My pal Pete Peters  just returned from Vegas and was reporting they were charging $89 for a Bud Light.  I may have that wrong, perhaps it was a bit less than that.  But it was still expensive.

Vegas had done such a good job of souring me on the whole Vegas experience that my visit there that began in early June was my first time back since my Christmas trip. Yeah, I stayed away for almost half a year.

Returning after such a long time (for me—usually I never go longer than two months without a Vegas visit), I admit it was excited to be back at first, especially with the promise of all that great poker.  But it didn't take long for me to be reminded of all the things that have changed Vegas for the worse.

By the time I sat down to play some poker at the MGM on this particular night, I was already feeling mostly negative towards Vegas.  It didn't help that the poker hadn't exactly been going my way since I'd gotten to town.  And so, as I was playing, I ordered a Diet Coke from the cocktail waitress.  Now, I had played at MGM a number of times on this trip previously, but this was the first time I'd order a Diet Coke.  You see I'm trying to cut out caffeine from my diet, and you can't get a caffeine-free, sugar-free soda in a casino.  So I'm ordering water more and more often.  But this particular time, I really felt like a Diet Coke.  So I ordered one.

When the waitress returned with my drink and handed it to me, I saw that there was no straw in it.  So I asked, "Can I get a straw?"  The waitress surprised me with her response.  "We  don't have straws any more.  We're going green."


I was shocked but I still gave the girl her $1 tip.

While I was thinking about that,  my poker playing neighbor in seat 1 (I was in seat 9 on the other side of the dealer) kind of reached around and offered me a straw!  It was Jan, an MGM reg I've mentioned a few times, the first time was here.  It was a plastic flex straw.  I was almost as surprised by this as I was by being told MGM didn't serve straws any more. "You bring your own straws?" I asked her?  She nodded yes, she has to now that they don't serve them anymore.  I said to her, "Pretty soon they are going to arrest you for that."

Anyway, I hesitated for a second because I didn't see where Jan had pulled the straw from.  Did she just have it lying loose at the bottom of her purse?  I wouldn't want to put that in my drink.  I had to hope she had some kind of plastic baggy she carried them around in.  I mean, Jan always struck me as a hygienic person.  I took the straw, thanked her for it, and stuck it in my Diet Coke.

But I was left to contemplate the significance of this.  A no straw policy?  How is this acceptable?  As it happens, I remembered hearing earlier in the year that the California legislature was considering passing a law that would make it a crime (punishable with imprisonment!) for a waiter in a restaurant to offer customers straws for the drinks if the customer hadn't asked for one.  I never heard if that law passed.  It seems a bit extreme.

But at least you could still get a straw!  This MGM waitress was telling me that I couldn't get a straw no matter what (unless I brought my own, like Jan did!).  Can you believe it?  And this is supposed to be "going green."  Plastic straws are destroying the environment, don't you know.

Those damn liberal tree-huggers!  Environmentalist extremists! They are ruining everything.

(EDITED TO ADD:  When I first posted this, I left out one of the great benefits of straws at the poker table.  Most tables have cup holders right in front of you.  So I can lean over and sip my soda without touching the glass.  This is good because usually the outside of the glass is wet from condensation (or from other drinks on the waitress's tray that spilled on them).  Then you have wet hands and are about to touch the cards and the chips).

But wait.  As I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that MGM Resorts (parent company of MGM Grand Casino) was the entity that started the whole "pay to park on the Strip" thing you've heard me rail about at least a billion times.

They are evil, greedy, bastards, right?  Well, they must be evil, greedy Republicans to be so concerned with profit, right?

But it's the same company!  Are they evil greedy Republicans just trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the poor working schlub, or are they liberal Democrat tree-huggers trying to cripple corporate America with their radical environmentalist policies?

I'm so confused.

All I know is this:  It seems that now the left and the right are teaming up to completely ruin my Vegas experience. 

A pox on all their houses!

My assumption at the time was that this policy applied to all MGM properties (ie, Aria, Mirage, Excalibur, etc).  However, I subsequently played at both Aria and Mirage, and they were both offering straws (without asking) in their soft drinks.  Hmm… is it just some renegade tree-hugger at MGM Grand that instituted this?  Do his or her greedy Republican bosses know about this?

Well…..I dunno.  But I can see which way the wind is blowing and I am expecting this policy will spread to the other corporate properties sooner rather than later.  And remember, MGM was the one that started the pay for parking thing, and that spread to almost all the other casinos on the Strip, including CET properties, Wynn and Cosmo.  So it's only a matter of time before the rarest thing in Vegas is no longer a free parking spot, but a damn straw.

Sooner or later, without ceremony, there will be the last straw on the Strip!

Anyway, a few days later, back at the MGM. I saw the full consequences of this new, horrific policy.  Temporarily forgetting about the no-straw policy, I innocently ordered a Diet Coke. When my drink was delivered, I remembered the policy as soon as I saw it did not contain a straw.  And Jan was nowhere to be found.  Oh well.

But there was something in my drink other than the Diet Coke and the ice.  It was a lemon wedge.  I hadn't asked for a lemon wedge in my Diet Coke.  But I made an assumption as to why it was in there.  You see, I know that waitresses will use straws to help them identify the Diet Cokes from the regular Cokes.  Each has her own system but let's say they will put one straw in a drink if it's regular and two straws in if it's Diet.

Of course, now they can no longer do that.  So I also know that some waitresses will use a lemon wedge for this purpose.  No lemon wedge means a regular Coke. A lemon wedge means Diet.  BTW, this was a different waitress from the one who told me about the new policy a few days earlier.

I am not a normally fussy about the lemon wedge in the Diet Coke thing.  It usually doesn’t make a difference to me.  I can notice the ever so faint taste/scent of lemon and it's no big deal.

Now my pal Norm, the one I used to go to Vegas with multiple times a year back in the day, is a different story.  He hates lemons and especially hates them in his Diet Cokes (although he prefers Diet Pepsi).  If he was ever served a Diet Coke with a lemon wedge (or a lime wedge, or an orange wedge, whatever), he'd immediately hand the drink back to the waitress and insist on a "pure" Diet Coke, no fruit.  Sometimes the waitress would offer to take the lemon out of the drink (presumably with a spoon, not her fingers).  Not good enough.  Once that lemon had been in the glass of soda it was polluted beyond all redemption to Norm's taste buds.

We had a third friend who would say to Norm, "You have to tell them when you order you don't want any fruit in it." Norm's response was that he shouldn't have to.  "I don't want an onion in my drink either, I don't have to tell them that!"  But eventually, in self-defense, he started asking for nothing in the drink but the soda he ordered. 

Again, that's not me.  I was never bothered by the lemon.  Until this night at the MGM.  Because you see the lemon was floating at the top of my soda.  And there was no friggin' straw to drink the soda out of.  So every time I sipped the drink, my lips hit that demon lemon wedge.  And worse, the taste of the lemon was also floating at the top of the drink.  So this time I really, really tasted the lemon!  When you have a straw, you're drinking from the bottom of the glass, and the lemon taste hasn't really reached there yet.  Instead of tasting my Diet Coke, it was like I was sucking on a damn lemon!

When the waitress took my next order, I specifically said to her, "….and please don't put any lemon slice in it."

But when it came back, there was a lemon wedge in it!  This is one of the best waitresses they have, so I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that because the room was so noisy she just didn't hear me.

Whatever, I was pissed.  Now the lemon wedge was floating at the very top, and I could have easily just grabbed it out of there.  As I started to do that, I realized then I'd be stuck there at the poker table with a wet lemon wedge in my hand—what was I supposed to do with that?

So I didn't grab it.  As soon as I could, I walked over to the nearest trash can with drink in hand to dump the lemon wedge (which was still in my drink).  But in carrying my glass over there, the wedge had settled down a bit into my drink.  And without thinking, I stuck my fingers into the drink, got them wet with Diet Coke, and then really had to dig deep to get that damn lemon wedge and fish it out of there.  It was actually a bit of a challenge.

Finally rid of the damn lemon, I rewarded myself with a big gulp of my Diet Coke.  Fortunately I tasted only the faintest taint of lemon, I had saved my drink!

But then I realized that I had stuck my fingers, which had been touching both cards and extremely dirty, disease-ridden poker chips, directly into my drink!

"I'm going to die," I thought to myself.

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since this happened, and I am relieved to report that I haven't contracted any disease as of yet.  I may be ok.

But maybe I've been infected with some kind of rare disease with a really long incubation period.  If this is the last post I ever do, you'll know why.  Death by lemon wedge due to MGM's "going green" policy.

Anyway, the new "no straw" policy may just be the last straw for me.  I'm afraid to go back to Vegas now to see the next latest thing they will have done to make the place worse—and less like the place I fell in love with many years ago.

Damn those evil liberal greedy tree-hugging environmental extremist Republicans!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Dreaded Pocket Kings, As Heard on TV

Did you watch ESPN's WSOP coverage Friday night???  Did you miss this?  

Lon McEarhern, long time ESPN poker play-by-play man, the voice of the WSOP, used a phrase that should be familiar to all readers of this blog.  Check it out:

That's right, he said, "The Dreaded Pocket Kings"!!!  This was the night after that infamous hand that I discussed last time (here), which was Aces vs Kings vs Kings.

(I apologize for the poor quality of the video, cell phone video taken directly off the screen of a dated TV is not ideal.  Still, you can hear it, right?)

I was involved in something else when this aired live, but my pal Lightning36 heard it and immediately texted me to see if I had caught it too. Fortunately my DVR was recording the coverage and I was able to find the reference in my recording.

Lightning immediately tweeted out the following tweet:

Hey and - please credit with the term you used tonight - The Dreaded Pocket Kings.

I retweeted that myself but to the best of my knowledge they never commented on this, either on the air or on Twitter.

Now even though I never actually copyrighted the phrase, my blog is proof that I originated it, and I will be contacting my attorney, Pete P. Peters, for legal advice in protecting my rights.  At the very least, if no monetary compensation is offered, I should get to do the "Shuffle Up and Deal" at the next main event, right?  Right?

Of course, I'm kidding.  It was an honor to hear my coined term for the dreaded hand on national TV.  Very cool.

In the meantime, how'd you like the main event this year?  I must admit I didn't stay up for the entire heads up final table.  I did have it recorded and watched the last few hands in the morning, after learning the result.  Both of the final two guys played great and it was very entertaining to be sure.  Congrats to Tony Miles and especially John Cynn, a very worthy champion.

All the guys at the end were solid.  Still it would be nice to see a woman make the final table next year.

I'm sure Kate Hoang (below) would agree.  

And whoever makes it, watch out for those dreaded Pocket Kings.....right Lon?

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Dreaded Pocket Kings (Squared)

You saw it, right?  If not "live" then you surely saw it on poker media the next day, right?  The hand everyone's talking about, one of the most incredible hands of poker ever seen at the Main Event of the WSOP.  It happened Wednesday night.

Just to recap, the situation was that there 10 players left in the main.  Play would stop as soon as one more player busted out, creating the "official" final table of nine.  Each of those nine would be guaranteed at least $1MM (now that's a min-cash I can deal with!).  The bubble (well, the final table bubble) would have to settle for a measly $850K and perhaps more importantly, an opportunity to continue playing for the $8.8MM top prize and the coveted bracelet.   

And then this happened.  Watch it yourself (mostly likely for the fourth or fifth time, right?)

Wow, some hand, huh?  Never have the dreaded pocket Kings been so damn dreaded.  Dreaded times two.  Or dreaded squared, right?

Also…this isn't just Aces vs Kings (another theme I've addressed a lot on the blog).  It's Aces vs Kings vs Kings.  Wow.

Is that crazy or what? 

The hand played out as expected.  No four card flush for one of the players (or worse, for two of the players).  No straight (wheel) for the guy with Aces.  No King-high strait for a chop for the two guys with Kings.Nothing totally bizarre like four Queens and a deuce on the board so the Aces would win that way.  And nothing like a 9-8-7-6-5 board so that everyone chops.

The Aces held.

What was interesting was the discussion afterwards of the preflop play.  The question was, should Antoine Labat, who initially just called Nicolas Manion's raise, have folded the dreaded hand when it came back to him after two all-ins?

Fold pocket Kings preflop?  Even I don't do that (though of course I should….every damn time).  A lot of top players insisted there was enough info for Labat to fold.  Do you agree?  Can you really be sure one of the other players has to have Aces there?  You're sure not putting either of them on Kings.

Of course the situation is critical here.  They are one player away from the final table.  But they are well into the money of course.  Do you tighten up there?  Do you think there's no chance one of the other two players has Queens or Jacks and maybe the other has Ace-King?

All I can say for sure is that whenever I watch TV poker and hear the commentary, I realize that these pros are playing a totally different game from the one I play.  I realize how out of my league I am.  So I can't really say.  All I know is that I can't really imagine myself folding Kings at that point.  And I'm the all-time leading Kings hater, right?

The play I find most unusual is that Labat flatted the initial raise, he didn't three-bet.  That makes Yueqi Zhu's three-bet look less like a really big hand.  He was short-stacked and would have shoved with a wide variety of hands.  If Labat had three-bet and then Zhu shoves, you know he's very likely got Kings or Aces. 

But then what to make of Manion's shove?  Of course, with Aces he's going to do that no matter what.  But if Labat had three-bet and then Zhu shoved and then Manion shoved, then Labat has to know he's behind one if not both hands (hey, if two players had KK, it's possible instead that two players had AA, right?)

The question then, however, if Labat had three-bet, would he be pot committed to calling no matter what?  I guess it would depend somewhat on the size of Labat's three-bet.  But since he didn't three-bet, his call there makes sense to me. 

What do you all think?

Here's the punchline of the story.  The next night, at the final table, Labat, the short stack, got pocket Kings again and of course shoved.  He got called by pocket Queens.  And wouldn't you know, there was a Queen on the flop and Labat was the first bust-out from the final table.

Dreaded Pocket Kings.

Well, I guess it's safe to say that if there's one person on the planet who hates pocket Kings more than I do, it's Antoine Labat.

Oh and by the way, check out this tweet from Poker News.  "The Dreaded Kings."  Hmmmm….I really should have copyrighted the phrase "Dreaded Pocket Kings."  You don't suppose they left the word "pocket" out because they were afraid I'd sue them, do you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- July 2018

Below is my latest column for Ante Up.  Unfortunately, it is still not posted at the Ante Up website, so I can't give you the link for it there.  This is the column as I submitted it.  The actual in print version is likely a little different (amazingly enough, it usually gets edited down by a few words before they run it).  I'll add the link and replace my original draft with the actual printed version when it finally gets posted.  I know the issue is in poker rooms because I saw it before leaving Vegas.

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =

The Venetian will be hosting August Extravaganza, August 9 – 19.  The series will offer over $400K in guaranteed prize pools.  This will be the first series held at the Venetian that will feature the Big Blind Ante in all of its events.

The biggest guarantee, $200K, is offered in a five-starting flight, $250 No Limit Hold'em event that begins August 14. The top 10% of each flight will be in the money, with the top 5% advancing to day 2.  Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels on day 1, which increase to 40-minutes on day 2.

A two-starting flight $340 DoubleStack event starts on August 10.  It has a $100K guarantee.  Players start with 25K chips and play 40-minute levels.

There are several $200 Rebuy tournaments during the series.  The starting stack is 12K and $100 rebuys are available for 12K chips whenever a player's stack is at or below 12K for the first six levels. The guarantees are $9K or $12K depending on the date.  These events run in the evening.  There are also two Noon $300 Rebuy tournaments with $25K guarantees, with the same rebuy rules.  All of these tournaments have 30-minute levels.

During the month of August, the room is offering a Splash Pot Promotion.  Every 15 minutes between 12:15 p.m. and Midnight, a random table will be splashed with $300.  If the table is a $1-$2 NLH or a $4-$8 limit game, the selected table will get three consecutive $100 splash pots.  If the table is playing $2-$5 NLH or $8-$16 limit, the table will get one $300 splash pot.  Over $446K will be awarded for this promo.

Then in September, players will earn drawing tickets to win a custom Orange County Chopper Motorcycle.  Players earn one drawing ticket for every 20 hours of live play they record during the month.  For every 100 hours of live play, players get five additional tickets.  The drawing will be held October 10.

In May, Etienne Luduc of Canada took the $36K first place prize in the $340 DoubleStack at the May Extravaganza.  Esther Fedorkevich from Austin, TX claimed $22K for second place and Klein Bach, a Vegas resident, grabbed $16K for third.  The event drew 612 entrants, creating a prize pool of $171K, easily surpassing the $100K guarantee.

ARIA:  The room hosted two big WPT events in May.  Darren Elias won the inaugural $10K Bobby Baldwin Classic, taking home $387K.  It was the fourth WPT title for Elias, a record.  Kitty Kuo earned $248K for second place and 2015 WSOP main event champion Joe McKeehen received $179K for third.  There were 162 entries and the total prize pool was $1.5M.

A few days later, Matthew Waxman won the WPT Tournament of Champions, earning $463K.  Matas Cimbolas took second place for $266K.  Darren Elias, fresh off his win at the Bobby Baldwin Classic, placed third for $177K, wrapping up an incredible week of poker.  The event had a $15K buy-in and was open only to previous WPT winners. Eighty players entered and the prize pool was $1.3M.

Aria was also the scene of the fourth annual Super High Roller Bowl.  The $300K buy-in event, was limited to 48 players and had a $14.4M prize pool.  Justin Bonomo outlasted the field, finally eliminating runner-up Daniel Negreanu to take home the $5M first place prize.  Negreanu received $3M.  Jason Koon finished third for $2.1M

BELLAGIO: The first WPT Elite Poker Championship was held in May.  The $379K first place prize was taken by Lawrence Greenberg, with Danny Qutami taking second for $224K and Jim Collopy finishing third for $147K.  The $10,400 event drew 126 players and the prize pool was $1.2M.

The 14th Bellagio Cup takes place July 10 – 17.  $10,400 main event plays out over five days, beginning the 13th.  There are several $1,100 satellites for it beginning July 12.  A $1,100 Seniors event will be held July 11.

RED ROCK:  The room has picked up most of the regular games that were spread at the Suncoast poker room.  That includes the stud games that were regularly spread there.  The famous, long-running "Hoggie" spread limit $2-$10 Stud 8 now runs regularly on Mondays during the day shift.  The betting becomes $2-$20 on 7th street. The minimum buy-in is $100. There's also a regular $4-$8 Stud game that runs Wednesdays and Saturdays with a minimum $40 buy-in.  Sundays you can usually find a $4-$8 Omaha 8 game with a $40 minimum buy-in.

Hold'em fans will always find plenty of $2-$4 limit action there, in addition to $4-$8 limit. The minimum buy-ins are $20 and $40 respectively.  The busy $1-$2 NLH game has a $100-$300 buy-in.  For the $2-$5 game, it's $300-$1,000.  A $5-$10 NLH game runs fairly often with a buy-in of $500-$3,000.

Promos include "Quad Floppers":  Flopping quads on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday wins $500.  A High Hand of the hour promo runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The top hand wins $200, a full house or better is needed to qualify. A Progressive Straight Flush promo runs 24/7. The payout progresses each day a specific straight flush (Jack-high, Queen-high, King-high, for example) fails to hit.  Each straight flush starts at $75.

TREASURE ISLAND:  The room has revamped their tournament schedule.  The popular "Magnum T.I." tournament is now running every Thursday night at 7 p.m.    The $125 buy-in gets players a 30K starting stack and there is a $15 add-on for 15K chips at the end of registration (level 10).  The levels are 20-minutes and the house adds $250 to the prize pool. 

The room has three daily tournaments at 12:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., except on Thursdays when the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. tournaments are replaced by the Magnum T.I.  All the dailies have an $80 buy-in for 12K chips with an optional $8 staff bonus for 8K chips. The levels are 20-minutes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th!

Hope it's not too late to wish everyone a happy 4th of July.  I just got back from a month in Vegas and it is taking me awhile to get back in the groove.  Obviously I'll have more to say about the trip in the coming weeks, if not months.  Hint:  Things didn't go exactly the way I had planned. I actually left Vegas a couple of days earlier than I planned.

In the meantime, I have an Ante Up column to write so not sure when you'll see a "real" post.  So for now, enjoy the rest of your day, celebrate the USA and maybe you might like the pic below.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bad Beat Story

Well my most recent cash session (as I write this) had an ugly finish.  My previous two cash sessions here in Vegas were both slightly profitable (after a rough start), and it appeared I might have a chance to make it three in a row after I started running well at Caesars Tuesday night.

With Ace-2 off in one of the blinds, I won a small pot when the flop came Queen-Jack-Ten and the turn was a King.

I limped with Queen-9, flopped a Queen, turned a Queen, rivered a 9 but didn't get my river bet called.

Limped with 5-6 of hearts and flopped an open-ender and rivered a straight (again, no call on the river).  

I didn't bet the river when I hit my flush with 8-7 of hearts.  The turn had paired the board (Jacks) and with a baby flush I wasn't sure I was good.  But I was.  

Then I got pocket Aces, and I was thinking man, I'm really running good tonite.  But when I raised to $12 after one limper, I wasn't thrilled to get called by five players.  But I sure did like the flop, Ace-6-5, two clubs.  I bet $45 and it looked like it was going to go uncalled, until the fellow on my right, the original limper, called.

This guy was away from the table when I arrived, and in fact had just returned.  He'd only been there for one or two hands before this one, so I had no idea what kind of player he was.

The 4 on the turn was not a club, and sure, I thought a straight was possible, but it seemed unlikely.  He checked again and this time I put out $80.  He didn't take too long to say "all-in."  He had me covered, and I had a bit more than my original $200 buy-in for this 1/2 game.  

At that point I felt a little ill but even if he did have the straight, I still had 10 outs to improve.  I wasn't going to fold a set of Aces.  I snap called and he turned over 8-7 of clubs for the straight.  I needed help and the Queen of hearts on the river wasn't it.

So much for my mini run-good.  I took it as a sign and called it an early night.

PS--Google has changed something with Blogger and I'm no longer getting email notifications when I receive a comment to approve.  Therefore it may take me a while to check to see if I have comments to approve.  Please don't take it personally if I don't approve your comment as fast as I used to.  And if you have any idea how to fix this problem, please let me know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Was Planning to Write a Post on Sunday, Honest

Yes that was the plan.  But things seldom go as planned when I'm in Vegas, and I've been here for a bit more than two weeks.  I didn't drag my ass out of bed until 10:30AM on Sunday, and that pretty much prevented me from writing up any of the stories I've collected this trip so far.  Sorry.

Will I get around to doing any serious blogging before I return home?  You're guess is as good as mine, but the local sports books are heavily favoring the "No."

But I didn't want it to appear that I've abandoned the blog.  So I'm posting this little nothing of a blog post so you won't think I drove my car off the roof the Golden Nugget parking garage yet (tempting as that sounds).

In the meantime, you can get a taste of my trip so far by checking out my pal Lightning's latest blog post here. Since we got together numerous times during his visit last week, you'll be able to see some of the stuff I've been up to before I am able to tell you the whole story.

As for the pictures below, they have nothing to do with this post or anything else, but I figure if I can't give you some of my brilliant prose, at least I can give you what you all really come for.  

Enjoy and stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene - June 2018 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up. The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report. 

The magazine should be in your local poker room by now. 

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The South Point Poker Room, in conjunction with Helix Poker, is hosting some women’s events in late June. A $300 event with a $20K guarantee is June 27. Players get 20K chips and play 30-minute levels. There also are $130 satellites for the WSOP Ladies Championship on June 26. Pro Jamie Kerstetter hosts Helix Poker University on June 26. Admission is $100 but there’s a $10 discount for registering for the $300 event the next day.
South Point has added some variety to its 2 p.m. tournaments. Mondays and Wednesdays offer a micro-tournament, with a $20 buy-in for 2K chips and $20 add-ons of $2K chips available for the first six 15-minute levels. 
Tuesdays and Thursdays offer a $50 tournament with $30 bounties. Players start with 7,500 chips and play 15-minute levels. A double-stack event runs Fridays. Players start with 5K chips but can take 5K more at any time during the first six levels at no more cost. The levels are 15 minutes.
A $125 Stamina tournament runs Saturdays. Players start with 20K chips and play 30-minute levels. The breaks are every four levels but they are only five minutes; that’s where the stamina comes in. A $50 Survivor runs on Sunday, with the final 10 percent of the field splitting the prize pool. The starting stack is 7,500 and the levels are 15 minutes.
High hands hit in tournaments receive cash. Quads are worth $25, straight flushes earn $50 and royals win three times the tournament buy-in.
VENETIAN LAS VEGAS: David Ormsby of Canada took home $62K in the $1,100 doublestack in the DeepStack Extravaganza. Robert Elliott of Trussville, Ala., earned $38K for second and Kathryn Lindsay from West Hollywood, Calif., claimed $28K for third. The event attracted 278 players, creating a $271K prize pool, easily surpassing the $200K guarantee.
The series had another $200K guarantee, a $600 doublestack, as local Dustin Goff took first, winning $46K. Colorado’s Don Patrick received $29K for second and Tamas Lendvai of Vegas won $21K for third. There were 413 entrants and the prize pool was $210K.
The room is running a Quad Royal promotion for royal flushes. Initially, all four suits are eligible. Once a suit is hit, it’s no longer available for the promo. First suit to hit wins $1,250. The second suit wins $2,500. The third wins $5K and the last suit is worth $10K. After all four suits are hit, the promo restarts. Players must use both cards in their hand to qualify.
This is in addition to the $20K static bad-beat jackpot (quad deuces). The losing hand gets $10K, winning hand gets $5K and the rest of the table shares $5K. Again, both cards must play.
WYNN: Viacheslav Fentisov took first in the Signature Weekend $600 main event in April, earning $58K. Ryan LaPlante earned $38K for second and Faye Sonntag took third for $26K. All three hail from Las Vegas. The prize pool was $293K for the $250K guaranteed event. There were 560 entrants.
WESTGATE: The Heartland Poker Tour visited in early April. The $1,650 main event drew 329 entrants. Terry Fleisher was the winner, taking home $114K.  Jeremy Joseph received $72K for second and Kainalu McCue-Unciano claimed $48K for third. The prize pool was $500K.
CLUB FORTUNE: The small but friendly locals room in Henderson offers fine, affordable buy-in tournament action. Every Saturday at 2 p.m., a $40 tourney runs. Players get a 5K stack and can get another 3K for a $5 dealer bonus.  The levels start at 20 minutes and switch to 15 minutes starting with Level 4.
Every other Wednesday, a $65 deepstack is offered. Players get 15K chips, with a $5 add-on for another 4K. The levels are 20 minutes.
Every other Monday, there’s a $45 bounty event. Players get 7K chips with a $5 dealer add-on for 3K more and play 15-minute levels. The bounty is $10 and there’s also one $15 mystery bounty per table, which is funded by the house.
Players can get 1K in chips for all tournaments for bringing a canned-food donation. All tournaments have high-hand bonuses and tournament chips are awarded for quads or better. 
The cash games include a 50-cent-$1 NLHE game with a buy-in of $20-$200. There’s also a $1-$6 spread-limit game with a $20 minimum buy-in and no max. A $1-$2 NLHE game runs less often with a $100-$300 buy-in.
Promos include a progressive bad-beat jackpot. The losing hands must be quads or better and the losing hand gets 50 percent, the winning hand gets 25 percent and the table shares 25 percent. The high-hand payouts also are progressive. Quads start at $50, straight flushes at $75 and royals at $100. All high hands are worth $222 on Tuesdays.
Players get a $100 bonus for making all four flushes on Thursdays and Fridays. A $1K biweekly freeroll is available to the first 30 players to play 20 hours in the two-week period before the freeroll.
Players get $1 an hour in comps and from noon to 2 p.m., the comps are $5 an hour.
MANDALAY BAY: Kay White has retired. The new poker room manager is Joe Mignano, who has been at Mandalay Bay for five years, most recently as the swing-shift manager.
GREEN VALLEY RANCH: Longtime poker legend Kathy Raymond has come out of retirement to take over the reins of the Henderson poker room, which is part of the Stations chain. Raymond had a long career at Foxwoods before coming west to open The Venetian Poker Room in 2006. She retired from there in 2015. 
SUNCOAST: The poker room closed in April.