Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How Not to Come in After Missing the Blinds

Saturday I was at PC Ventura and saw a player do something so dumb I couldn't believe it.  Maybe there's an angle here I'm missing, but I don't get it.

This guy had been table for awhile, at least an hour that I had seen.  I know I have seen this guy before so he was no novice. He certainly understood the basic rules of the game. He wasn't a particularly noticeable player.  He was neither a maniac nor a nit.  H didn't seem like the type of player who couldn't wait to get his gamble on, just your pretty average 2/3 player there to for an afternoon of poker, hoping to hit a big hand or two and walk away with some profit.

Anyway, he left the table for awhile and missed his blinds.  By the time he got back, he would have naturally been under-the-gun. As the dealer readied the shuffle, he put a $5 chip in front of his stack.  The dealer started to say something, then stopped himself for a second.  I could tell the dealer was wondering if he should say something.  I actually heard him mutter to himself that he shouldn't speak up, but then realized there was no harm in saying something, this wasn't giving him advice.  Note: I didn't recognize the dealer and I tend to think he was a new dealer, that's why he hesitated.

But speak up he did and he told the guy, "You can wait one hand and just post the big blind then."  That's exactly what I was thinking, of course.  Then the dealer added, "Or you could straddle for $6 if you want to come in now."  Again, that's what I was thinking.  I've seen many players come in after missing their blinds by straddling in that exact same situation.  The player looked at him like he was nuts, as if to say, "Is there anything wrong with coming now, and not straddling?"  I guess he didn't see the problem.

The guy actually said, "No, this is fine. I can come in now for $5, right?"  The dealer acknowledged he could do that so he broke his $5 chip into ones and put three in front of him and put two in the pot as dead money.

Of course it's not a lot of money but how does this make sense?  Why not wait one hand and just come in on your natural big blind and save the five bucks?  The way they do comps at this place, he wasn't losing anything (they come around once an hour to scan your card, he wouldn't be losing a few cents of comps).  And two of those five bucks is just dead money you're giving to whoever wins the pot, it's not even a bet anyone has to cover.

Conversely, if he was so eager to get back into the game that he couldn't wait one more hand to see some cards, might as well toss another buck on the $5 chip and straddle, that way you have last action preflop.   Now I'm not a fan of straddling, but in this situation, if you want a hand that badly, this makes more sense than posting $5 just for an UTG hand, right?  You know, I think one time at MGM I straddled in that type of situation so that I would be eligible for a drawing that was about to take place, I didn't want to be disqualified by having a missed blind button.  But again, there was no penalty for this here.

It's hard for me to believe the guy didn't understand what he was doing was making no sense, he surely had played enough casino poker to get it, I would have thought.  I suppose he may possibly have been trying to make sure he was eligible for the bad beat jackpot if it hit that hand.  It was up to $35K. 

But that too would have been stupid.  Say he sat out that one hand, and that was the hand where the jackpot hit at our table.  And he'd be beating himself up something silly for not getting a table share.  Except that simple logic dictates that if he had decided to play that hand instead of sitting it out, everyone at the table would have gotten different cards and the jackpot wouldn't have hit then.  Right?  In fact if he had made the choice to sit out the hand and that's when the jackpot hit, I'm sure the other players would have given him some money, especially since someone would have pointed that if he taken a hand there it wouldn't have hit and he was actually responsible for the rest of us getting some nice jackpot money.

I have no idea if he was thinking about the jackpot when he decided to come in for $5 or not.  I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility.

As for the poker for me, it wasn't anything to write home about.  I didn't win a pot for about 1-1/2 hours.  No, I take that back.  There was one pot where I had limped in with a suited Ace and there was no raise and it was five-handed and no one bet any street and by the river there was a straight on the board. All five of us played the board and got $2 back, so a net loss of a buck.  Actually, the player in earliest position got an extra buck and it must have been that the small blind folded because that's the only way the math adds up.

Finally I won a hand, completing from the small blind with Queen-9 off.  It was mult-way and the flop was Queen-5-4.  I bet $6 and had one caller. The turn was a Jack and my $10 bet was not called.  Monster pot there.

I limped with Ace-6 of clubs and it was five ways.  The flop was Ace-6-3, two spades.  I bet $10 and it was 4 ways.  The turn was the third spade and it checked around.  The river paired the 3 and this time I went against my nitty nature and put out a $20 value bet.  One player called but she didn't show after I flipped my cards over.

I called $17 with 8-7 of hearts.  I expected other callers but it was heads up.  The flop was 9-7-2, one heart (the 9).  I called $15.  The turn was another heart and it checked around.  The river was another heart.  This time I bet $25 but he mucked right away.

I had been down about $150 and ended up losing only around $30, so it was a decent comeback.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

He Had a Horseshoe Implanted Up His...

This was a fun session from the beginning of my second week in Vegas in June.  And by "fun" I mean I had a profitable session (even if ever so slightly).  But it was also fun because Lightning was there.  This was the early part of his week long Vegas visit and the first time I'd seen him during it.  You can read about this session and his entire trip beginning here.  At least, that's his version.  Wherever our stories overlap and possibly conflict, you can always count on my version to be the accurate one.  Also making an appearance was Lightning's pal Mike an old-time poker blogger.  I ran into Mike a number of times during that week but I think we only played one hand against each other the entire time.

Now Lightning had been tweeting and texting about his good fortune ever since he had arrived in town. He seemed to dragging monster pots every few minutes. I heard a rumor that Bally's had to send out for more bills when he cashed out after his last session. One of his stories was that he had flopped a set of Aces and had two aggros push all-in against him.

Now I had gotten to the Mirage before him and he was sent to a different table but transferred over to mine before he had played much at the other one.  In fact I'm not sure if he had even taken a hand.  So on his first hand at the table, after the guy on my left opened to $15 and another player called, Lightning three-bet.  In his blog post he said he made it $40 but my voice notes say $60, so not sure how much but the guy called.  The flop was 10-high, he checked, Lightning bet $60, the guy check-shoved, Lightning confidently called and flipped over pocket Aces, only to see the guy flip over pocket 10's for top set.  Lightning said, "That's not good."

But of course, the turn was an Ace!  And the river was a blank and Lightning had a double up on his very first hand.

Seriously, who gets Aces on his very first hand of a session?  And then, who turns a set of Aces after getting all the money when he's behind on the flop?  And who gets a double-up on his very first hand?

As he was stacking his chips, I tweeted, "Playing @MiragePoker with @Lightning36. Since I last saw him, he's had a horseshoe implanted up his ass."

It was kind of a wild table, especially at the beginning.  There were these two guys  who I think were from England, both extremely aggro.  They appeared to be buddies and they liked to play at each other.  If they were both in a hand the pot would get huge.  Also the guy who hit the set of 10's against Lighting was aggro.  As such there were a lot of big pots and all lot of all-in pots.  I was mostly a spectator for this as I was card-dead.  And the big raises and re-raises kept me from playing more marginal hands that maybe I would have played at a different table. 

One hand that got my attention before Lightning joined me was a hand where the two Brits got it all in on the flop (maybe it was the turn) and all they each had was top pair, which was an Ace.  One guy had a King kicker to win it, the other guy showed an Ace but didn't show his other card.  There were no good draws and the two stacks were both $200 or more.

I had pocket Jacks and one of the aggros made it $10, I called and four of us saw the flop. It was Ace-Queen-x and it checked around.  The turn was a blank and this time I bet $20, only the aggro who raised preflop called.  The river was another blank, I checked and he checked.  My Jacks were good and he said he missed his draw.

I limped with pocket 6's, there was no raise and four of us saw the flop, which was 6-4-2.  I bet $8 and someone made it $16.  I just called not wanting to scare him off. It was now heads up.  The turn was a deuce giving me a boat.  I checked, expecting him to bet so I could check-raise but he checked behind.  I bet $25 on a blank river but he folded.

I called $12 with pocket 7's and it was heads up.  The flop was Jack-7-x, two clubs.  He c-bet $15 and I made it $40.  He folded pocket 9's face up.

By the way, although these last two hands were one right after the other in my notes, I'm pretty sure there was a fairly long time between them.  I didn't flop sets that close together..

I limped in from late position with 7-6 clubs.  The flop was 10-7-6.  Lightning led out for $5 and Mike called.  I made it $20 and they both folded.

I raised to $8 with Ace-Queen and saw a pretty favorable but scary flop, Ace-Queen-Jack.  I bet $20 and nobody called.

There was one good hand—probably my favorite hand of the night—that got lost in my notes.  When I was recording my voice notes the next day, I realized most of the details were missing.  Haven't had that happen in awhile, I am thinking that somehow I highlighted my notes for it and wrote over them. This was one of the early hands at the table. So I don't have the details but I called a raise from one of the aggros with pocket Jacks, it was multi-way (including Lightning).  The flop was Queen-Queen-x and there was no betting.  No betting on a King turn either.  On the river I think there were three spades or three clubs in addition to the overcards.  This time the aggro bet $27 and my inclination was to fold since there were so many ways I could be beat.  Lightning folded and I started thinking more and more about it.  I realized he didn't have a Queen, he would have bet earlier streets. I decided there was a decent chance my Jacks were good and I called.  He said, "I hope you have nothing, Ace-high."  He showed an Ace.  I showed my Jacks to take the pot and got a few "nice calls" from various players.  I wish I had complete details because as I am recreating it now it doesn't seem like such a tough call.

Anyway, I had to take off and call it a night.  I ended up booking a $50 win, not much but it broke a losing streak.  It was only $50 because the aggros made it expensive to play drawing cards. So I was happy grinding out the small win, unlike Lightning who had the horseshoe right where he needed it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

It Makes You Wonder, Doesn't It?

My friend Don texted me this tale the other night, something he had just witnessed while attending a Stevie Wonder concert at Park MGM (yes, he doesn't spend all of his free time playing poker).  He thought my readers, particularly those of you who are fans of a particular kind of popular post, would find it of interest.  So thank you Don, and I'll let Don tell you what he saw at the concert.

Directly in front of me are two "older" Indian gentlemen (late 40s-early 50s) and two attractive, twenty-something ladies, one African-American, one Asian.  I'm sure the show cost the Indian gentlemen quite a bit since they weren't just paying for the tickets but also for their companions' time.  So, all show the guys are clearly into the music and the ladies are sitting there bored, posting on Instagram, not clapping, not singing, not dancing, nothing.  Then the last song starts and they both start rocking out.  What song did Stevie Wonder play to elicit that reaction from two "escorts" you ask???

I can't make this shit up.

Monday, August 6, 2018

I'm Not Gus Hansen

Saturday I had a session out in Ventura.  The game was 2/3 NL, the buy-in was $300 and of course I got accused of being Gus Hansen.

Yes, Gus Hansen, the famous poker pro from Denmark.

It was a bit of a shock because I don't usually get confused with a Danish person.  Or for that matter, a professional poker player.  Or even a good poker player.

Well, technically, that's not quite true. I have been told on multiple occasions I look like Gabe Kaplan. I think Gabe was once considered a professional poker player, but I'm not sure he is any more.

But it's kind of irrelevant because the person who asked me if I was Gus Hansen was not referring to my physical appearance but to my poker skills.

Let me know when you stop laughing. The guy was just messing around because I won a pot from him.  I think.

He was a bit of maniac as a player and a bit eccentric as a person.  A middle-aged European (perhaps on the high side of middle age), I'd definitely seen him before but it had been a good long time since I'd played with him and my memory of him was vague.

But when I got to the table he was playing quite aggressively, with frequent and large preflop raises and some big bets on the later streets and, at least initially, a reluctance to fold.

When he lost all his chips (calling off his stack on a draw that he missed), he quieted down a bit.  And since he had been there for awhile before I got there, I have no idea if he had perhaps rebought more than once before I showed up.

But the good news is that I won some pots and after the second or third he said to me, "Who are you?  Gus Hansen?"  I just laughed.  Then he asked, "Do you know who Gus Hansen is?"  I said of course I did.  I have no idea why he picked Gus Hansen.  I'm sure nothing I did resembled his game, and I certainly don't look like him.  It was strange but mildly amusing.

The picture below is not Gus Hansen.  I thought of including a pic of Gus with this post, but then I thought my readers are sophisticated poker fans who know what Gus Hansen looks like (in case you don't, you can click on the link to Gus's Wikipedia page that I provided).  I'm sure there must be a Danish person my readers would rather look at than Gus, handsome as is.  I chose Danish swimsuit model Nina Agdal.  Hey, when you do your own poker blog and write a post about Gus Hansen, you can use a picture of Gus Hansen. I do things my way.

I won a small pot with top pair, top kicker, then I was dealt Ace-9 on the button.  A few players had called $7 and since I had position I called too.  Then the small blind made it $23.  Two others called before it got back to me.  I decided to come along.

The flop was Jack-10-8, rainbow.  The small blind bet $25 and it folded to me.  Pretty easy call with the open-ender.  The turn was a beautiful 7.  This time the small blind checked and I bet $60.  He tanked and folded          

I opened to $15 under-the-gun with two Queens. I got two callers, including my European friend.  The flop was Jack-high and I bet $40.  Both players called.  Another Jack hit the turn.  This time I checked.  It checked through.  The river was yet another Jack.  There was no way either of them had the case Jack, I thought.  I would have heard from them when I checked the turn.  So I led out for $55.  Next to act, my European friend counted out chips.  At first I wasn't sure if he was going to call or raise, because the way he stacked out his chips it looked like he might have wanted to match it and put out a bigger bet.  But he didn't act and then he tanked forever.  I didn't think this guy was the Hollywooding type so I was not really worried he was putting on act trying to induce me to call a raise with him sitting on quad Jacks.  I could sense the fellow next to him was eager to fold.

Finally European man did fold, and the fellow next to me instantly mucked.  As I started stacking my chips, he said, "Did you have an Ace or better?"  I just smiled.  "I almost called.  I had a 4." (There was a 4 on the board).  I just nodded. I believe this was the moment he asked me if I was Gus Hansen.

I suppose after this next hand I should have asked him if he was Phil Ivey.  In the big blind with King-Queen off there was no raise and I just checked.  The flop was King-5-3, and I led out for $10, two calls including the European.  The turn was a 6 and I bet $20, both called.  The river was a 4. Four to a straight out there, I checked.  He counted out $75 and bet.  Back to me.  I convinced myself that he was betting that much because I checked the river and he was trying to steal it. But I also knew that this guy plays a wide range and could show up with anything.  I just couldn't find the fold, and actually, I really thought I was making a good call.  But he flipped over pocket 4's, for a rivered set. Jeez.  He pointed out that he was open ended on the turn. I'm sure Gus Hansen wouldn't have made that mistake.

Then I got pocket Aces in the big blind.  There were a bunch of limpers, nobody raised.  So I added $20 to my $3 blind. I got two callers  The flop was Ace-3-3.  Yahtzee!  I figured when you flop a boat, especially with pocket Aces, you have to slow play it, so I checked. No one else bet.  By the way, the European wasn't in this hand. The turn was the third club and I was of course hoping someone had a flush.  The small blind led out for $25, fortunately.  Did he make his flush?  I wasn't sure whether to call or raise.  I decided to just call hoping the third player would come along.  Fortunately he did.  The river was a blank but this time the player on my right checked.  Damn.  I obviously had to bet, so I put out $50.  The first guy folded instantly, the other folded after a few seconds.  Bummer.  I guess he didn't have a flush.  Maybe he was just trying to steal it because I checked the flop?  It was still a nice pot but of course I was hoping for more.

I'd had a long day before I even got to the poker room so I was ready to wrap it up.  I opened to $15 with Ace-Queen suited and got just one call.  The flop missed me but I took it with a $25 c-bet.

Soon thereafter I racked up and the European asked me why I was living so soon.  I just shrugged and said to him, "When I see Gus Hansen I'll say hello to him for you."  He laughed.

I booked a $125 win, which was cool, but not nearly as good as Gus would have done.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- August 2018

Below is my August column for Ante Up.  It's pretty cool because I got to mention fellow blogger Memphis MOJO (aka Dave Smith) because he scored in the seniors event at Orleans.  Be sure to check it out.
I also mentioned famed Hollywood actor and poker player James Woods. 
And finally, be sure to check out the profile I did on vlogger Brad Owen at the bottom of the column.
The link for the column on Ante Up is here.  Remember, I only write the Vegas portion.  Magazine should be in your local poker rooms by now.
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The Senior Extravaganza, a new event, runs Aug. 20-26 at the Venetian Las Vegas. Each day features an 11 a.m. event for seniors, starting with a $200 superstack event with a $10K guarantee. Next up is a $250 event with two starting flights and a $30K guarantee. A $400 Monster Stack with a $60K guarantee has two starting flights beginning Aug. 24.
During this series, the room will run two events daily that are open to players of all ages. These tournaments are one-day affairs, with $150-$300 buy-ins and guarantees between $4,500 and $20K.
The Ante Up Poker Tour returns to Vegas as part of Venetian’s DeepStack Extravaganza III, which runs Sept. 3-23. The first of its three starting flights runs Sept, 13. The event is a $600 tournament with a $200K guarantee. Players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels.
Other events in the series include a $1,100 MSPT tournament starting Sept. 7 with a $250K guarantee. There are also two of the popular $340 doublestack events, each with two starting flights and $100K guarantees. All told, more than $1.2M in prize money is guaranteed.
ARIA: The WPT 500 completed July 3 as the winner was Greece’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos, earning $208K. Bobby Poe from Southern California took home $140K as runner-up and Hoan Nguyen of Texas scored $103K for third. The $570 tournament had nearly 3K entries and a $1.5M prize pool. There were nine starting flights, including three turbo flights.
BINIONS: The $1K championship event completed June 14 and had 241 entrants. Sean Small of Georgia and Aleksandras Rusinovas of Lithuania agreed to a deal when heads-up, with each player getting $44,850. Small got a few dollars more and the title. Erkut Yilmaz of Pennsylvania earned $23K for third. The prize pool was $219K.
Jeffrey Higgins of Massachusetts won the $1K PLO championship June 23, claiming $23K. Japan’s Masato Okude took second for $22K and Matt Mueller of Illinois placed third for $10K. The event had 104 entries and a $94K prize pool.
Actor James Woods won the HORSE championship June 30 ($14,570) as Mihails Morozovs of Latvia was second ($13,890) and Las Vegans Ron Ware and Daniel DiPasquale each took home $12,500 for third and fourth, respectively.
GOLDEN NUGGET: Guilherme Ksyvickisbordao of Brazil won the championship event July 1, earning $132K. North Carolina’s Juan Garivaldi finished second for $82K and California’s Daniel Placencia was third for $61K. The $570 event had nearly 1,600 entrants, creating a prize pool of $788K.
GREEN VALLEY RANCH: Poker Room in Henderson has updated its tournament schedule. The new 10:15 a.m. rebuy tournament Monday-Friday has a $75 buy-in. Players start with 7K chips and play 20-minute levels. Through the first six levels, players can rebuy 7K chips for $50 any time they are at or less than 7K chips. There’s a $2K guarantee.
On Saturdays at 10:15 a.m., it’s a $50 tournament with a $1K guarantee, 5K chips and 20-minute levels. Players can enter and re-enter for the three levels.
Friday evenings at 6:45, a $100 Survivor tournament runs. The starting stack is 10K and blinds are 30 minutes. Players may take $100 rebuys for 10K chips for the first four levels any time they are at 10K or less. The tournament plays down to 10 percent of the starting field, when each remaining player gets about
10 percent of the prize pool.
Sundays at 1, the room offers a $125 tourney called the Sizzler. The starting stack is 10K and the levels are 30 minutes. There’s a $20 add-on for 2K chips, half of which goes to the staff and half goes to the prize pool. The guarantee is $5K and there’s re-entry for the first four levels.
Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:45, it’s a $75 bounty event. Players start with 6K and play 20-minute levels. Through the first five levels, $50 rebuys are available for 5K chips whenever a player has 6K or less. The bounty is $25 and the guarantee is $2,500.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The $2,200 main event of the Goliath Series ended June 30. Krasimir Yankov of Bulgaria took the $272K first-place prize. Raul Manzanares of Spain received $266K for second and Daniel Wilson of Ireland scored $250K for third. There were 924 entrants and a prize pool of $2M.
ORLEANS: The Seniors Poker Tour Championship saw the final three players made a deal as Peter Splettstober of Germany took home the biggest prize ($16,500). Florida’s Dave Smith claimed $14K for second and Paul Niemala of Las Vegas received $11K for third.
The $400 event attracted almost 300 players and the prize pool was $104K.
The final five women in the LIPS National Championship, a $250 event, agreed to a chop. They were Sandra Kasinowitz of Texas, Candyce Samples of Texas, Maria Hagood of Hawaii, Elizabeth Oueliette of California and Eleanor Wheeler of the UK and they each took home $10,500. There were 500 entries and a prize pool of $100K.

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Meet Brad Owen:
A pro and vlogger, Brad Owen moved to Vegas twice, first from Northern California and then from Los Angeles.
How did you get started in poker and vlogging? I started playing poker with my older brother and his friends when I was around 14. We’d mainly play tournaments for $1-$5 at our house. I really enjoyed it because for the first time I felt like my brother and I were competing against each other on an equal playing field.
I got started vlogging after seeing the first few episodes that Andrew Neeme put out. I thought it was so cool to see someone honestly depict what it’s like to play low-to-mid-stakes poker for a living.
I felt I had a unique perspective and I wanted my friends and family, who didn’t understand what I was doing for a living, to see what my life is actually like as a professional poker player. I didn’t anticipate that many people would watch it.
What is your greatest highlight in poker? There have been a lot of highlights in the past year. Phil Hellmuth and Doug Polk appeared in different episodes of the vlog. It was a blast hanging out with them. What I’m most proud of is developing different communities within poker.
My brother and I launched a website called It’s a forum site with 1,000-plus members in which people talk about hand histories or anything else poker related. It’s been great to see people share insight, connect with others, and improve together.
What are your poker goals? I don’t have many poker-related goals other than to last as long as I can. I’ve realized that I’m either not very good at or don’t enjoy other (non-poker) activities that make money. I love playing poker and hope to be involved in it at some level for the rest of my life.