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.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Vegas Poker Room Football Promos -- Oct Ante Up Column

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  This is my annual look at all the Vegas poker room football promos the rooms have. 

Once again, the Ante Up website has not yet posted my column in linkable format, so this is the version that I submitted about a month ago.  When the column goes live on the Ante Up site, I'll update this with the link.

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

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Poker and pigskins go together, so let's take a look at the football promos the Vegas poker rooms are offering this fall.

MGM: On Sunday, players earn drawing tickets starting at 11a.m. for a flush or better. During the evening game, after a turnover via fumble or an interception, one ticket is drawn and the winner gets $50. After a field goal, three tickets are drawn and each winner receives $50. After a touchdown, two tickets are drawn, each worth $100.  After a  safety, five tickets are drawn, each worth $100.  For the Monday night game, football squares are awarded beginning 11a.m. for a flush or better. The winning first and third quarter squares win $200 and the adjacent squares win $50. The second quarter square wins $200 and adjacent squares win $100. The fourth quarter winner gets $400 and adjacent squares win $100. During the Thursday night game, a random player is chosen after every score (two chosen for a safety).The winner picks an envelope worth between $100-$400.

STRATOSPHERE:  The promo is for three games on Sunday, plus Monday and Thursday night games.  The high hand each quarter wins $50.

SANTA FE STATION: Pots will be splashed with drawing tickets during Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games as well as the Sunday morning game. After a touchdown, two pots at all tables will be splashed with a drawing ticket. After a field goal, one pot will be splashed with a drawing ticket. For safeties, each table will get five pots splashed with drawing tickets. At the end of the game, four tickets will be drawn worth $50 each and the final ticket drawn pays $200.

BOULDER STATION:  Anticipating the Oakland Raiders eventual move to Vegas, during their games there will be two random players drawn every time the Raiders score a touchdown.  One hold'em player and one Omaha player will receive $100 each. 

When the NHL season starts, the same promo will run during Golden Knights games for every goal they score.

SAM’S TOWN: There are football squares for Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Thursday night games. Each quarter pays $100. Squares are earned for getting a full house or better in a cash game

CLUB FORTUNE: Football squares for Sunday night game, full house or better during the previous week to get a square. Payouts are $50 for the first quarter, $75 for the second quarter, $100 for the third quarter, and $200 for the fourth quarter.

EXCALIBUR: During the Sunday morning, Monday evening and Thursday evening games, both a high hand and a random seat drawing are featured.  The high hand of the hour will earn $50 starting two hours before kick-off and continue until 11 p.m. for the evening games.  For the Sunday morning game, the payouts continue until 3 p.m. The final payout will be $100.

For those same games, a random player will be selected for a cash prize after every score. Field goals pay $50, touchdowns $100 and safeties $200.

WESTGATE:  The room is located adjacent to the largest sports book in Vegas, so football fans will be around the whole weekend.  The weekly football loyalty program will award cash to the three players with the most hours of live poker between 4 p.m. Thursday and 11 p.m. Monday. Top prize is $200, followed by $100 and $50. 

GREEN VALLEY RANCH: Every team in the Monday and Thursday night games, as well as in the morning, afternoon and evening games on Sunday, will have a drum for drawing tickets.  Players who get a full house a better get a ticket which they can place in the drum of the team of their choosing.  When a team kicks a field goal, a ticket from that team's drum will be drawn and the winner gets $100.  At the end of each game, a ticket will be drawn from the winning team's drum and the winner receives $250. 

ORLEANS: For Sunday, Monday and Thursday night football games, as well as the Sunday morning game, seat drawings are held after every score. Field goals and two-point conversions are worth $25, touchdowns by the offense are worth $50 and touchdowns by the defense or special teams pay $75.  Safeties are also worth $75.  There will also be a $25 splash pot after any score.

MIRAGE:  Drawings will be held during Sunday morning, afternoon and evening games as well as the Monday and Thursday night games.  Players earn a ticket for making a straight or better (two tickets between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.).  One ticket is drawn at the end of each quarter.  The first and third quarters are worth $125, the second quarter is worth $250 and the fourth quarter is worth $500.

SOUTHPOINT: Football squares for Sunday morning, afternoon and evening games and Monday and Thursday night games.  Each quarter is worth $100 and the final score is $200.  Players earn squares by making Aces full or better.  Random seat drawings after scores will be held during Thursday night, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon games. Winner receives $50 for a field goal, $100 for a touchdown and $200 after a safety.  An NFL Fleece Blanket will be awarded during the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games to the highest hand during the game. A second blanket will be given out in a random seat drawing at 11 p.m.

Players are now qualifying for the $200K holiday freeroll, 120 hours of live play needed by November 30.

MANDALAY BAY: High Hand of the hour, starting at $150, runs Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays and Thursdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

FLAMINGO: High Hand of the hour Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Winner gets $250, second highest hand wins $100.

WYNN: The fall classic runs September 26 – October 14. The $1,600 championship event starts October 12 and features a $500K guarantee.

VENETIAN: The DeepStack Extravaganza runs October 29 – November 25. The $1,600 main event starts November 15 and has a $400K guarantee.

CLOSURES: The poker rooms at Treasure Island and Arizona Charlie's have closed.