Sunday, December 25, 2011

Men are All Alike—Even When They're Dogs!

My friends took their annual Xmas trip to Vegas this year and tried something new; they brought their dogs with them.  They have two absolutely adorable, male, Maltese dogs, and when they heard that the Rio offers pet friendly accommodations, they decided to try that out.

In order to get from their room to the "dog relief" area, it is necessary to walk the dogs through the actual Rio casino.  The gamblers and tourists all fell in love with the cute pups, and the scantily clad cocktail waitresses did as well.  The waitresses are used to seeing pooches walk through the casino on the way to the doggie restroom.  Most of them who saw my friends' dogs asked if they could say hello, and the dogs loved greeting the sexy cocktail servers.

One time a comely waitress stopped them to say hello.  She asked if she could greet the doggies, and my friends said of course.  She was a well-built blonde with a thick accent; they asked and she hails from Peru (it probably helps this story to imagine her accent saying what I am about to report).

She bent down to meet the dogs.  The friendlier of the two dogs was eager to make a new friend and immediately rushed toward the lovely waitress.  Now, the Maltese breed is known for excessive licking; they love to lick people.  The dog greeted the waitress with his tongue.  And the juiciest, biggest, and most accessible part of the waitress's anatomy to lick was, well, the girl's more than ample cleavage, so that is indeed what he licked as soon as he reached the girl.   

The girl had no problem with this but did ask my friends, "Are these boy dogs or girl dogs?"

My friends told them that they were boy dogs.

"Oh," said the girl, "No wonder they wanted to lick my ta-ta's."

Here's a pic of the dog behing held by the waitress.  You will note that he is looking down the girl's top, just like any guy would!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Aria--not this time

Just a quick update to let you know that I am now back in Vegas and hope to blog some from here. 

Yesterday I returned to the Aria tournament and did not repeat the success I had last time.  But I hope to post a detailed account soon. 

Will try to hit the Binion's 2PM tournament this weekend.

P.S.  Poker is hard!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Aria Poker Tournament—Another Successful Run

I blogged about my first “big” score at a Vegas tournament here.  Four days later I scored again.

In telling the story of the six-way chop at the Binion’s tournament, I inadvertently left out one other tournament experience I had prior to that success.  On the day before Thanksgiving, I played in the 1PM Aria tournament for the first time.  This was a day after I tried the 2PM tournament at Binion’s, which as I mentioned, is very poorly attended mid-week.  I wanted to try a “deep-stack” tournament again, but didn’t want to play in such a small event.  So I made it over to the Aria for their big 1PM tournament.  I had heard this particular tournament “talked up” while playing in the LC2 evening tournament a few nights before.  A player there was raving about it, saying it was probably the best tournament in town.  He mentioned that one night he played in the 7PM tournament at Aria, which has the exact same entry fee and structure as the 1PM one, and won it, and didn’t realize that until he left the Aria with his winnings and noticed it was daylight out that it was almost 7 AM!  Well, I figured if I was going to play for 12 hours (yeah, right), I better start at 1PM and not 7PM.

So I played there that Wednesday before Turkey-day.  I was totally card dead the whole time, but stayed afloat for a few hours by making some moves and stealing blinds and such.  I was starting to master the art of bluffing!  After a few hours, my being card dead was taking its toll on my stack and I was near the point of desperation.  But not there yet.  In middle position I find pocket 10’s.  I wasn’t at the point where I had to go all-in or fold, so I raised 4X the big blind.  There had been a couple of limpers before me but I was the first raise.

A guy in late position who had been playing fairly tight and had at least twice as big a stack as I had surprised me by going all-in.  It folded back to me and I had a tough decision to make.  This was his first all-in move and with his stack, he certainly wasn’t in a desperate situation.  He hadn’t played many more  hands that I had, he was not playing aggressively as far as I could tell. 

I had to respect his move.  He hadn’t shown himself to be the kind of player who would make that move without a pretty decent hand.  If I called and won, his stack would take a severe beating.  If I folded right there, I would still have enough chips left so that I wouldn’t be forced to make an all-in bet as my next move (I would be kind of close to that, though).  The old me would have certainly insta-folded there, but I thought long and hard and decided it was time to take a shot.  Those 10’s were the first good hand I’d seen in over an hour and who knew when I would get a better hand?  If I stayed card-dead for a couple more orbits I would then be forced to go all-in, likely with a lot worse than the 10’s. 

So even though I thought he might have a bigger pocket pair than me, I called.  Now I was hoping he had AK or maybe AQ and I’d win the “race.”  If he had two ace’s or two paired face cards, I would need a real miracle to stay alive.  But I thought there was a decently enough chance he had only a big Ace so that’s what I hoped for.

Imagine my surprise when he flipped over KJ offsuit!  I was happy about that.  He had two “live cards” but I was ahead and he had basically 6 outs.  It was as good as I could have hoped for.  The flop and the turn were blanks, but the damn river card was a Jack and he busted me out.

To this day I can’t figure out why he went all-in there.  He didn’t need to.  KJ is hardly a hand you stake your tournament life on when you don’t have to and he surely didn’t have to.  I guess he figured I would fold and he’d take down the pot uncontested.  He sure hadn’t played that way up until then.  I was baffled and a little pissed, to be sure.

Anyway, a week later I returned to the Aria for another shot at their 1PM tournament.  Before that but after my score at Binion’s, I played two more tournaments.  I returned to Binion’s the day after my win (Sunday) and did ok, but didn’t come that close to cashing out.  Lightning didn’t strike twice.  And the night before returning to the Aria tournament, I again played at LC2’s evening tournament where I was beyond card dead and didn’t last long at all.

Since I was planning on returning home from Vegas on Friday, Wednesday was likely my last chance to give Aria another shot.  I had to force myself to get there in time for 1PM.  When I’m in Vegas, it is very difficult for me to get anywhere that early!  I know, that’s not early, but you know, for me it is.  I sometimes don’t leave my room until 2PM or later.  The 2PM at Binion’s works for me, even tho it’s a bit of a drive downtown, but noon tournaments on the Strip are almost impossible for me.

Especially if I want to eat lunch first, which I do.  I have a little breakfast in my room that I bring from home, but lunch is usually my big meal when I’m in Vegas and it is tough to have a big lunch and still be someplace by 1PM.  On this day, I rushed to Aria, figured out the back way to get to the Aria valet parking without actually driving on the Strip (something I avoid at all costs) and got there in time to eat something at the Aria before the tournament began.

But what?  I knew the Aria would not have any cheap places to eat, but they bring the word “over-priced” to a whole new level.  The options were a $10 hot dog or a $15 burger, with no place to sit down to eat!  But for some odd reason, my stomach wasn’t feeling quite right.  I didn’t think I was ill, I just felt extremely not hungry.  So rather than buy a ridiculously overpriced meal, I bought a can of peanuts and a diet soda from the gift shop (still way overpriced!) and didn’t even start eating the nuts until the first break.  The breakfast I had in the room and my own lack of hunger would hold me until then.

So again, I did well.  I got some cards and won a few big pots, but mostly I was chipping up by making some moves, using position to steal blinds and limper’s calls.  Early on I had AK, raised, got called.  Ace on the board but the caller had Ace-rag and hit his rag for two pair.  He shoved, I called (had him covered) and busted him out when I rivered a King.

The hand that really made me was when I shoved with pocket Jacks.  I didn’t need to shove, but it was close to that point.  I shoved in early position to try to take down the blinds and antes.  I got two callers, both had me covered!  Actually one of them shoved too and the third guy called.  Turns out they both had AK!  Since they had each other outs, I had a big edge and neither a King or a Ace showed up.  I tripled up and then went on a nice little streak where I took down some decent sized pots. 

After the first and second breaks I ate my can of peanuts, then had nothing more to eat the rest of tournament.  I couldn’t even order diet cokes because they tasted funny.  Somebody said it was real coke but it didn’t taste like that either.  I had a couple of bottles of room temperature water (I hate water if it isn’t ice cold) and nothing else.  But I hung in as people kept busting out.  There were 87 entrants and they were paying nine places. 

When it got to two tables I refused to play it safe to just make a little money.  I was going for it.  At that point I was in the middle of the pack, chip-wise.  I kept making moves and taking chances, but unfortunately a young guy at the table (who I hadn’t played with before we were down to the last two tables) went on a nice run.  When I first saw him he was short-stacked, hit on a couple of shoves, and was off to the races.  He started raising quite a bit, and didn’t get called for awhile.  He did us the favor of showing us his hands even though he didn’t have to.

That was damn nice of him.  Turns out he wasn’t just making moves, he was getting cards like you wouldn’t believe.  He had pocket Jacks three times when it was 6 handed at the table.   Had AK a couple of times. AQ once, KQ suited twice. He was just on a great run.  Suddenly he became the chip leader at the table.  I tried a few plays that worked sometimes but I ran into this guy with the hot hand a few times and had to back down when I raised with garbage.  That cost me and it put me in “looking for a chance to go all-in position”—that was the only move I had.  But every time I did—I went all in with some really marginal hands—I didn’t get any callers and just chipped up a bit.  I swear I wasn’t playing it safe but I couldn’t double up when I needed to. 

So without playing it safe, the cards and the play dictated that I didn’t bust out until we were down to 10 players.  As they made the final table of the 10 of us, we voted on and agreed to pay the bubble player.  So I was in the money.  What was strange was the way we did it.  I’d never seen this before.  We all agreed that each of us would chip in $15 for the 10th place finisher.  And we each came up with $15 cash out of our pockets and put it in an envelope for the next person to bust out.  So 10th place got $150 cash, $15 of which was his.  So, he made ten bucks!  But at least he didn’t play all that time and lose money.

It was now well into the evening, 8PM or so.  I was starving but I was happy I was going to make some money.  And I wasn’t avoiding making plays to survive, it was just whenever I shoved (and that was still really my only move left), I didn’t get called!  Others were not so lucky.  We played one hand after assembling the final table and agreeing to pay the bubble (and each coming up with $15 out of our pockets) before the next break. As soon as I saw the garbage I had I left the table and headed to the Mens Room.  Upon returning, I found out I missed the 10th guy busting out on that last hand before break.  He had taken the envelope and was gone.  I couldn’t even remember who he was.

Ninth place was I think $190 and I had no problem if I had a hand to shove with, busted out, and took down that money.  There was one guy who had a smaller stack than me, and he shoved a couple of times and won, but even with that, he didn’t catch up to me in chips.  But I was willing to shove when I had a hand that warranted it, and the few times I did, I didn’t get called.

One by one they fell, and soon I looked up and saw that I was in line to take down over $500, which was great.  But they kept falling.  With five left, I made a shove with a not great hand but I was UTG and didn’t want to have to shove on the BB.  I think it was like Q-8 suited.  Figured that was going to be better than my next hand, where I would really have no choice.  But no one called.  This kept me going until another guy busted out, so down to four players.  Two players (including the kid who had gotten real hot that I mentioned earlier) were about equal with huge stacks.  Suddenly as I was UTG again, I was no longer the short stack.  The BB, who had me way covered when we first formed the final table, had only a few chips left after posting his BB and ante.  I knew I would thus throw away anything but a premium hand, knowing he would have to shove.  I got garbage and small blind (the chip leader) put the BB all in, and sent him packing. 

My stack was now miniscule compared to the huge two stacks I was looking at.  It would take a miracle to get me in contention for 1st or 2nd place, but I didn’t care, because the board said I would take home over $1200 for being the next person to bust out!  I was ready to shove with any face card.  Sure enough, next hand I got J/6 off suit.  I was BB but the button raised forcing me to fold or shove.  I would have shoved anyway (although if they both folded to me and conceded the hand, I wouldn’t have complained, there was no small blind this hand).  The button actually had an Ace, and I believe he hit that not that it mattered.  I was gone, the remaining two players agreed to chop but I was thrilled with my $1200 third place prize.  Of course I had gotten lucky a few times but I knew I played well and deserved it.

It was 9:30PM, I was exhausted and extremely hungry.  Even with my nice winnings, I wasn’t about to eat at Aria prizes so I was able to hang on until I made it to NYNY and had my traditional Nathan’s dinner (hot dog and a slice of pizza).

It never tasted so good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Playing Good Poker at the Bike Tournament

Before I post the long version of my success at the Aria tournament mentioned here and here, I want to blog a bit about what happened yesterday at The Bike while it is still fresh in my mind.

I played good poker.

I base this on the fact that there were over 115 entrants in the Noon tournament ($40 buy-in) and I cashed out in 9th place while not getting any cards.  Since the buy-in was small, all I got for that was $75.  But the important thing is, I did that getting mostly garbage.  I wouldn’t say I was totally card dead, but I sure didn’t get a lot of good cards.

I played poker for almost 5 ½ hours.  In that time, the highest pocket pair I was dealt was 9/9.

Yes, five hours of poker and not one pair of rockets, not one pair of face cards, not even 10’s. 

So….I got 9’s once, raised pre-flop, it was folded to me without contest.

I got 7’s once.  I limped in under the gun, got raised by the big blind and then shoved.  BB called me and when he saw my 7’s he said, “Oh, you got me.”  He had pocket 5’s, didn’t hit anything and I doubled up (he had three times the chips I had, so he survived).

I had 2’s, 3’s, 4’s once each, limped in, hit nothing, folded on the flop each time.

That was it for my pocket pairs for 5 ½ hours!

I got AK (offsuit) once, raised, got no callers, won the blinds and one limper.

I got AQ once, shoved (this was late in the tournament), got no callers.

I got AJ twice, once suited.  Shoved both times.  Once no callers, once got called by Ace –rag with less chips than me, he didn’t hit, I busted him out.

I got KQ twice.  Once offsuit, I limped, folded on the flop.  Once suited (hearts), I raised, got one caller, flopped the 2nd nut flush.  Made a big bet on the flop, got called.  When a blank hit the turn, I shoved and got called by a smaller stack than mine.  He had middle pair and the Ace of hearts (exactly what I suspected he had).  I shoved to discourage him from calling and sucking out with a fourth heart on the board.  He called anyway and missed.  Bye bye.

That was it for my good cards, pre-flop.  I got a lot of garbage and survived.  How?  I stole a lot of pots, making strong bets in position when I had little or nothing.  I got lucky a few times, as one has to do.  I shoved with Q-10 offsuit when I was kind of desperate and got called by pocket Jacks.  A Jack even hit on the turn.  Which I needed to make my straight. 

I shoved with Ace-deuce suited, got called by A-9 (he had me covered) but chopped the pot when the board paired 10’s on the river.  He had flopped two pair!  But it was Aces and 10’s for both of us and the Jack on the board played.

When we got down to getting close to the bubble, I had no intention of playing it safe and trying to finish at the bottom of the money.  The bottom four places only got $60, a $20 profit for their trouble.  I wasn’t interested in that.  But even so, my aggression didn’t get me a lot of chips.  It seemed every time I shoved when we were 10 or less players from the bubble, I never got called.  Not once.

So I didn’t double up.  I guess the next thing I have to learn is how to shove under the gun with 7-2 offsuit and get lucky and double up!

All the time, I realized I was playing well.  I made a couple of mistakes, and my attempted steals didn’t work every time, but overall, I am very satisfied with my play.

Finally when we were down to 9 players, and despite my best efforts to be aggressive I was still the short stack at the final table, I got K-J suited.  I shoved.  It folded to the button who was the chip leader, who called.  He happened to have two Kings!  My luck was over.  I needed a flush, a straight or a couple of Jacks and got nothing.  Time to collect my little prize and go home.

The money didn’t mean much, but as I reflected on how I made it to the money without getting very many good cards, and not a single high pocket pair, it felt good.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Maybe I am Getting the Hang of this Tournament Thing

As I mentioned here and here, I had some success recently playing tournaments in Vegas on my most recent visit there.  This despite the comment here that I seldom play tournaments.

Actually I’ve played them for some time, various size tournaments, various entry fees.  And I’ve cashed before.  In “big” tournaments (more than 50 players), I’ve cashed twice—in The Bike’s $40 noon tournament, but cashed out low, toward the bottom of those who got paid, never getting back even $100.  I cashed a few times in very small Vegas tournaments, where there were less than 25 players, at Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood.  Best result, chopping first place at HR where there were 11 players and getting back around $225 for a $60 buy-in.

But I want to do better and I find that mixing in tournament play (and even some No Limit cash play) makes things more interesting on my poker trips.  Just playing 2/4 or even 4/8 limit can get to be a little tedious after awhile.
I knew I had to improve my game if I wanted to cash out in bigger tournaments.  So I’ve been reading Dan Harrington’s first two volumes on NL tournament poker.  It’s amazing how much there is to being a good poker player.  I think it would be easier to become a nuclear physicist.  But I’ve delved into these books and have tried to absorb as much as possible.  I still have plenty to learn.
So on this trip, I tried a couple of tournaments with poor results.  First time was LC2 where I did horribly played horribly, knew I was playing horribly as I was doing so.  It was like I had never read a poker book in my life.  I deservedly busted out early and was furious with myself for not remembering anything I had read about tournament play. Back to my room to re-read the parts of the Harrington book I needed to emphasize! Next I tried Bininon's 2PM tournament during the week, when they only had around 12 players, and busted out fairly early as well.  Won a few early pots, went card dead and my “moves” weren’t successful.  But at least I knew I was playing better, I was remembering what to do and making some smart plays that usually didn’t pay off, but that’s poker.  I was feeling a lot better about myself.  But I got crippled when I needed to move all-in with A-J and a Jack on the board, only to be called by a guy with pocket Jack’s!  Ouch. 
Since I felt I had played a lot better this time, despite not getting a better result, I wanted to try to again.  I had heard that on weekends, Binion's 2PM tournament gets closer to 100 players so I headed downtown once again on Saturday.  Wow, what a difference a weekend makes.  Instead of two tables of 6 each, there were 10 tables full!  They ended up having 110 players for the Saturday event.  During the week they have the tournament in their regular poker room, but on the weekends they have a special room set up because the regular room couldn’t hold this turnout. 
The players seem mostly locals and regulars, which was unsurprising for the downtown location. They were mostly nice people, a lot of older folks.  I wouldn’t say I was one of the younger people there but I don’t usually find myself in a room with such a large percentage of folks my age or older!
I did ok at first.  The format is a real “deep-stack” which I like.  For $105 entry fee you get $20,000 in chips and after the first three 20 minute levels, the levels are 30 minutes.  You get some play for your money, to be sure.  I was adding to my stack consistently.  I never was one of the larger stacks but I stayed out of trouble for quite a few hours.  I had eaten lunch at the little deli at Binion's but suddenly it was 7, 8, pm and I was still there.  I really wasn’t anticipating being there so late!  I had to gobble down a hot dog from the deli during one of the breaks.  You could have taken in more food than that and eaten it while playing, but I don’t like eating while playing in a tournament, that’s too much multi-tasking for me.
I looked at the clock and watched as the number of players still alive kept going down.  They were paying the top 12, and once they got down under 20 and it was well into the evening, I did exactly what you are not supposed to do and started playing extremely conservatively.  The smart move is to take advantage of everyone playing tightly, trying to hang on long enough to finish in the money, by being aggressive against all those tight players.  That’s what you do if you want to win the tournament.  But sorry, I was there so damn long that just like everyone else, I wanted to hang on if I could to make even a little bit of money.  If I finished 12th, I would have gotten a little more than my money back but that seemed reasonable for the time I’d spent; playing 7 hours and leaving empty-handed would have been a major pisser.  Besides, I was well down from all the chip leaders and frankly, didn’t have the confidence that I could really finish in the top three or four (or even six or eight).
So I played ultra tight and stayed alive as players busted out.  Suddenly we had 13 players and someone suggested that we pay the bubble (meaning the first person to bust out out of the money would get something).  All the players left would have to agree and then agree on where the bubble money would come from.  The suggestion was it come from 1st place which was nearly $3,000.  But one kid, who was the chip leader at the table I was at (but not at the tournament as it turned out) objected.  Apparently he was confident he was going to win and didn’t want to lose any of his prize money.  So we pressed on and soon lost player #13, guaranteeing me that I’d take home some money….although I think the bottom prize was only $150, so it would only be a $45 profit….less if I tipped the dealers.  But though my stack was dwindling, I kept surviving as others kept busting out while I played excessively tight.  Yeah I kept playing tight for awhile right after I finished in the money as I wanted to get a few places up the ladder, prize-wise.
Finally we were down to the final ten, which meant the final table.  We redrew for seats and I ended up in the same seat. I looked at the new players that had joined us, I was clearly the short stack when the table was set.  So I was fine with that and taking home 10th place money if I busted out next (I think somewhere around $250).  But other players kept doing me the favor of busting out first!  Now I had stopped being so tight and with my small stack I was just looking for a hand to go all-in on and either double up or call it a day and take home some money.  But a few times I went all in and didn’t get a call, so instead of a double up I chipped up a little instead.  Still a long way from the chip leaders, though.
Key hand:  I guess we were around 8 handed and I was still the short stack when I got J-9 suited.  Perfect hand to go all in on as I was close to being blinded out.  The woman to my right was a regular (and a very nice lady) and she had been in bad shape until recently hitting a couple of double ups herself.  She called me with AQ offsuit.  When a Queen hit I looked dead, but I rivered a miracle straight to double up and stay alive.  From then on I was never the absolute shortest stack, just second or third shortest. 
Meanwhile, the kid who refused to pay the bubble had gone cold and ended up busting out 7th or 8th.  So he didn’t make any money by stiffing the bubble guy.  When it got down to 7 of us, a buddy of the guy next to me, who had played in the tournament but was now just watching his friend. observed that if we took a 7 way chop of the first 7 prizes, we’d each take home more than 3rd place money.  I was the short stack so I didn’t say anything, of course that would be great for me but I didn’t think the chip leaders would even consider it.  Another guy who had slightly more than me did speak up.  He was friendly young fellow with a British accent who had mentioned that he had and his wife had a nice dinner planned and that was now out the window  since it was around 10PM.  At least he had a big breakfast at the Golden Nugget buffet.  Anyway he said he would surely go for the chop but that he realized it wasn’t his place to even suggest it since he was so short stacked.  The chip leader, an elderly gentlemen, immediately nixed the idea, he was not interested in a chop.
We pressed on, and the fellow who’s friend had suggested the chop was next to go.  Now it was down to 6.  As the blinds and antes kept going up, we played a long time; two (maybe three?) levels six-handed and no one busted out.  Close to midnight, the elderly chip leader had had some reversals and lost a few big pots to players going all in.  He still had a good number of chips but his lead was no longer overwhelming.  An older woman who had been the chip leader when we formed the final table had also had some reversals and was no longer swimming in chips.  The British guy was no longer starving for chips but not the chip leader either.  But when we took a break around midnight, he did some calculations on how much we’d all get if it was chopped among the six of us.  It would be a tick under $1200, almost $200 better than 3rd place money.  The former chip leader was now in agreement with the chop saying he was tired.  The fact that he was no longer in such a dominant chip position and we’d gone a long time without anyone busting out was no doubt a huge factor in his change of heart.  We had to find the woman who had earlier been the chip leader….she was out of the room, smoking.  The dealer knew her well and said he didn’t think she’d go for it, “she’s stubborn.”  But when the British fellow found her outside the poker room puffing away and she agreed to the chop without any hesitation.  It was a done deal, we were all taking home nearly $1200!
This was a sensational result for me personally.  I was close to busting out many times, and I think there may have been one person with less chips than me at the time, but it was close.  I had been looking for an all in move for some time and would have been delighted with sixth place money (can’t recall the exact amount, but I think it was around $500).  So I was very happy.
While management was drawing up the paperwork, I chatted a bit with the British bloke. Turns out he and I both post on the forum and in fact, we had exchanged posts about the very tournament we had just competed in before he had left England for his Vegas vacation. Talk about a small world!
That was enough for me.  Ten hours of poker and a nice cash prize, I was ready to call it a night.  But I wasn’t done playing in tournaments.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

3rd Place in Aria tournament!!!

More later but yesterday I played in the 1 PM tournament at Aria and hung on until I busted out in third place.  There were 87 players to start, it was past 9 PM when I finally went out.  Third place was a little over $1200 for a $125 buy in. 

All I ate all day was a can of over-priced peanuts from the Aria gift shop.  And their diet coke tasted like regular coke (sorta) so I could only drink lukewarm bottled water. 

But obviously it was worth it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

6 Way Chop in Binions Tournament!

Will have to blog more about this when I get home, but yesterday I played 10 hours in the 2PM tournament at Binions and cashed.  The final six of us chopped and I took home nearly $1200.  I was the short stack as we approached the bubble and also when we assembled the final table so it was a great showing for me.  There were 110 players; that's why it took so long (also starting stacks of $20K and 30 minute levels after the first three levels).

Didn't expect my dinner to be a quickly gobbled hot dog during one of the breaks!

Read the whole story of the Binion's tournament success here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Vegas Now

Been in town for a few days, so I'm too busy getting stories to post any!  Will have a few when I get back.

I will have to elaborate on this, but two nights ago I saw a guy at my table flop a Royal Flush.  No bonuses at this casino however.  Still, a heckuva hand to say the least.

Perhaps even more amazing, about five hands later, the same dealer sends me pocket Kings, and then flops me quad Kings.  Poor dealer definitely should have been working at a place with bonuses on that night!  Imagine, flopping two monsters like that in the same down.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Losing to a Royal Flush (Ouch!)

I guess this story took place during this past summer.  I was at BSC and one of my pals, Dennis, was dealing.  I had been doing ok, was down a bit but had started to make a comeback.

So I look at my cards and see Ace/Jack of hearts.  I was in late position, and someone else raised, so I just called.  The flop is AA10, 2 clubs.  Someone else bet the flop, I raised, still had two opponents to see the turn.  Trip Ace's is nice but I did have to be concerned about either a straight or a flush. Turn is 8 diamonds, it’s checked to me, so I bet and both call. River is Jack of clubs.  I liked that card.  Now I had a full house, and the fact that there were now three clubs on the board (making a flush possible) didn’t concern me.  First action was on a young kid from Australia.  This time instead of checking, he bet. I thought, “oh, nice, he made his flush, heh heh.”  Next guy actually calls.  Oh wow, how lucky can I be?

So of course I raise.  Aussie re-raises!  Hmm…..He had come to the table very recently and so I didn’t have a good read on him.  I assumed he was just oblivious to the Full House possibility—or even Quads—and was going to give me more of his money.  Next guy called two more bets!  Wow, I was gonna be paid handsomely for my boat!

I re-raised.  It wasn’t until the Aussie raised back at me that I looked at the board more closely.  Let’s see, Ace, Ten, Jack, all clubs.  If he was playing K-Q clubs, he hit a Royal Flush.  But what were the odds of that?  I should have remembered Olivia. Third guy once again calls two more bets.  All I could do is call.  With three players in the betting round, the limit is five bets.  My call is the fifth bet.

If I had had an option of re-raising again, I would have stopped and studied the board, and convinced myself that the Royal was at least a possibility and probably just called anyway.  At least that’s what I tell myself now.  But I think the Royal was so unlikely it wasn’t really a bad play to put five bets in against the long-shot of his having the Royal.  Right? 

Anyway, I could do nothing but call.  Even if I was sure he had the Royal, the pot was too big to lay down for another measly four bucks.  I called and Aussie loudly proclaims, “I have the absolute nuts!” and does indeed show King & Queen of clubs.  The other guy had a low flush, I can’t believe he kept calling our raises, he had to figure one of us had a better flush and one of us had a boat.  But that’s his problem.  My problem was that my Aces full of Jacks was beaten by a friggin’ Royal Flush!  I lost a very big pot, and this was the worst bad beat I’d ever had.  Aces full losing to a Royal Flush!!!! Aussie made me feel even worse by saying that he couldn’t believe I put in five bets.  Thanks, mate. 

And then…..Aussie couldn’t stop talking about his Royal while I was rather unhappy, to say the least.  I guess I can’t say I blame him.  It’s not every day you get a Royal Flush.  Not every day you get paid off by two guys five-betting against you on the river when you have a Royal Flush!  But he did manage to find something to complain about.  He wanted some kind of bonus from the house for the Royal.  He was told by Dennis that no such bonus existed at the BSC.  And that made me think that if they exact same hand had happened at some of the locals casinos, we might have even qualified for a “bad beat” jackpot, although frequently the losing hand must be some kind of quads, not just Aces full.

Of course, I had to get something out of this, so I made sure I told pretty much all of my dealer buddies (and a lot of players) my tale of woe for the rest of the trip.  Brent made me feel a little better when he said, “Well, at least it wasn’t heads up, so you only lost five bets on the river.  You could have lost a lot more.”  So I wasn’t wrong to raise a few times against a possible Royal? Thanks for that confirmation.

Once person I had to tell was George.  He no longer had the honor of dealing the worst bad beat of my life.  But for some reason, for the rest of my visit, he never dealt at a table I was at.  But on my last night in town, I caught him just coming off break, waiting to take his next down.  I told him the story.  He was genuinely upset for me.  And he said that there was no doubt Dennis felt awful about it…because of the bad beat jackpot possibility if it had happened somewhere else. 

It’s possible that someday I’ll have a worse bad beat, either in terms of money lost or odds against it being longer, but for sure I’ll never take a bad beat against a better hand.

Full Service

As a man who frequently visits Vegas solo, I have of course frequently encountered representatives of the world’s oldest profession.  Walking around casinos on (and off) the Strip late in the evening or early in the morning, it is impossible not to notice women who are trying to earn a leaving renting out their bodies for an hour or so.

Many of these hookers have approached me to make their pitch, and I’ve observed many of them approaching other men.  I’ve even watched from afar as a deal seemingly was made and two total strangers went off together in the direction of the room elevators.

Even though I have no interest in partaking in any of the services these girls offer, I have had an occasional conversation with them.  You can read about one such encounter I had with a working girl here.  As an observer of human behavior, a brief conversation with one of them is sometimes interesting.  But I generally prefer to avoid them and just watch them from afar; frankly, since I have no intention of ever “paying for it” I don’t want to waste their time on me.  It would be more profitable for them to go on to the next potential customer.

As it happens, a happily married friend of mine back in L.A. loves stories of any encounters with or sightings of these ladies of the evening.  He has encouraged me to pursue them (the stories, I mean).  He loves hearing about dialog I have with them and what he really wants to know is exactly how much it would cost to obtain the services these girls offer.  It actually frustrated him that I had never had a conversation with any of these women that resulted in me obtaining the answer to the immortal question, “How much?”  Until this story.

This tale took place some time ago.  I happened to be parked in the parking structure at New York New York, which is very convenient as there are so many casinos within walking distance, and you can enter and exit it without driving on the Strip, something that is always my goal whenever I’m in town.

Ready to retire for the night, it was very late, probably around 2:30 AM.  Entering NYNY from the Strip, I took the escalator that takes you right to the Nathan's that was now long closed for the nite, the one next to the Arcade and the Roller Coaster.   I walked past the arcade, and was now in the long walkway that takes you to the parking structure. Because of the hour, the walkway was completely empty, save for one lone female walking at a normal pace about 20-30 feet ahead of me.

There was nothing particularly hookerish about her, but my Spidey sense immediately went ballistic.  She was quite skinny and was wearing very tight jeans.  But a million non-hookers in Vegas wear those.  There was just something about her.  Maybe it was the fact that she was all by herself.  You don't see a lot of unescorted gals at that hour.  They are usually with a gaggle of girlfriends or a guy.  So it was probably that.

I had been walking at a brisk pace but when I saw her and guessed she was a hooker, I immediately slowed my walk.  There would be no place to "escape" to if I was right and she started soliciting me.  I might have turned around if it was so damn late and I wasn't so tired and anxious to crawl into bed....alone.  I had just started adjusting my pace when she sensed me and turned around to look at me.  I thought maybe she was just concerned with her safety, but it soon became clear that she was exactly what I suspected.  

She slowed her walk to a crawl so I would catch up with her.  As I got closer I noticed that she was cute, not bad looking at all.  She was wearing a jacket (it was quite chilly and extremely windy) covering up whatever she had going on top.

"Are you just getting off work?" was the first thing she said to me.  I said no.  I have no idea why she thought I worked in the casino and was not a tourist. “Where am I going,” she asked.  I said to my hotel.  “Where am I staying?”  I told her the truth (probably a dumb thing to do).  She asked where the Gold Coast was, apparently not knowing (must be new in town....not surprising.  I’m sure the lure of Vegas brings new hookers into town by the bushel full)  I told her it was on Flamingo.

There was a long pause.  We were now walking side by side, she was keeping up exactly with my pace. But to her credit she didn't get that close to me.  Then after the pause she asked, "You wanna party?"

I wasn't surprised and I don't think I acted like I was, but she must of thought I was.  "You didn't know that was coming?"

I said no thanks.  Remembering a line I had in my head ready for the next time a gal approached me, I told her I had just lost all my money playing poker. (Fortunately, that was not true).

She was sympathetic.  "Oh that's too bad."

But she wasn't ready to give up.  "So, how long you staying in town for?"

What the hell.  I told her a few more days.

"Why don't you give me your phone number?"

I replied, "I don't think so.....I don't have that kind of money."

This made her chuckle but I was hoping it might get her to introduce the discussion of exactly how much, but she didn't bite.  She didn't say anything but kept walking right along side of me.

So after a couple of seconds, I decided this was as good a time as any to find out the answer that had my friend back in L.A. and I had pondered for so long. "So.....hypothetically speaking, how much would I need for something like that?"

"It's five hundred."

I was a bit stunned.  "$500?"  She could hear the shock in my voice.

"Five hundred for full service.  If, you know, for just oral, it'd be three."

I assumed by full service she didn't mean an oil change, lube and tune-up.  

I said, “Well, that's interesting, but like I said, I'm out of money.  I can't afford that.”

"Well, maybe you're luck will change.  Why don't you take my number in case it does."

"Thank you, but sorry, no."

"You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

A long pause as she kept walking with me.....then finally she said, "Well, have a good night" and stopped walking and started looking at her cell phone.  And that was that.

Five hundred huh?  I suspect that figure was negotiable, but since I wasn’t interested in what she was selling at any price, I’ll just have to assume that as the going rate.  Interesting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Great "Woman Said" Stories I Read on The Web

Here’s a couple of stories I found at the poker forum of Two Plus Two Publishing.  I don’t plan on telling “other people’s stories” here and certainly not copy from other websites, but these two stories are just too good not to share.  And they fit into one of this blog’s favorite category, the “woman said” story.  Also, another favorite topic of mine….”the Jennifer Tilly Effect.”  That’s where a female poker player takes advantage of the gifts Mother Nature—or a plastic surgeon—gave her to display significant cleavage at the poker table in order to distract her male opponents and thus have an edge at the table. 

The forum I got these tales from publishes books on poker.  A lady poker player who had only played online wanted other women to tell her what it might be like if she played live poker and was one of the only—if not the only—female at the table.  The entire thread is worth reading, you can see it here:

Both of these stories were posted by female poker players.

The first story can be found at:

Most of the people at the lower stakes tables are not pro's but your average joe just looking for some fun. If you can get them thinking about your tits instead of thinking about your cards, that's a HUGE advantage. Once you move up you will find this works less and less, but still - Guys (and some girls!) are gonna stare and the more they do, the less information they are getting.

Perhaps relevant - Below is a convo I had with my bro Dave a few years ago after a long session in Reno

Dave - "You should have seen this table!"

Me - "Loose as hell? You make - "

Dave - "Naw man, this one girl...her tits were AMAZING dude!!"

Me - "Tits?" (Pause) "How much are you down?"

Dave - "About 1k"

Me - "You've lost half your roll to a girl and we just got here?"

Dave - "Yeah but dude...HER TITS!!! They were.....*gets a PRICELESS blank look on his face*....oh ****. I just got played, didn't I?"

Me (Laughing) - "Yes, yes you did. Hope it was worth it!"

Dave (After a moments pause) - " But man.....those TITS!"

I still enjoy needling him every now and then with "THOSE TITS". So much fun. :-D
Here’s the other story, originally located here: 

Him: Young gun walks up to table.

Me: Sitting behind big stack of chips.

Him: Sits down across from me and says nervously "Nice Stack".

Me: Grab Tits in both hands and push together while saying "Thanks Man!"

Him: Turns red and says "Uuuuhhhhh..."

Me: "Oh STACK?  , I thought you said RACK  . My Bad  .

The rest of the table gets really quiet and nervous. I proceed to stack more chips.

Tampon Girl

This story dates back to when World Cup was going on most recently, whenever the heck that was.

I was at BSC, playing the usual 2/4 limit game.  Two women, late 20’s, maybe a bit older, joined the table, one at a time.  They were together.  They were both rather unattractive and both considerably overweight.  One was blonde; the other brunette.  The brunette was rather quiet, didn’t say much, except occasionally talked to her friend.  The blonde was something else, though.

She was beyond chatty.  She was a non-stop talker, making comments about anything and everything; poker, Vegas, food, current events, you name it.  For a long time she didn’t say anything that was of remotely of interest to me, so I tuned her out.  She was fairly obnoxious, to be sure.  And did I mention unattractive?

But I was paying attention when one of my favorite dealers, Brent, came to deal.  Brent deals fast, probably the second fastest dealer in the room.  The blonde girl took note of this.  After watching him deal a few hands, she said to him, "So Brent, aside from dealing poker, what else can you do with those fast hands?"

Brent laughed, hesitated for a few seconds and finally said, "I wish my girlfriend appreciated fast."

Blonde girl replied, "No, I was just interested in the fast hands and what you can do with them.....I'm not interested in a jackrabbit."

Brent wisely decided to not pursue the conversation any further and thus keep his job.

Not long after that, I pulled a pill case out of my pocket to get some aspirin.  I can’t say the blonde girl was the cause of my headache, but she probably didn’t help.  She hadn’t said anything specific to me up until that point, her wonderful chatter was for everybody to “enjoy”, but she was suddenly interested in my medications.  “Say, what’s that in your pill case over there?”  I told her it was aspirin.  She replied, “Aspirin?  Really?  You sure it’s not Viagra?”

I didn’t miss a beat.  I said what any man would say in that situation.  “No, it’s aspirin.  I don’t need Viagra, thank you.”  Of course, I had to bite my tongue, because I so wanted to add, “Unless I had to schtup you, that is. But in that case, I’m not sure there’s enough Viagra in the world!”  I wanted to say that, but being a gentlemen, I did not. Despite the fact that she certainly deserved it.  I just shook my head in disbelief. 

Anyway, she blathered on.  It so happens, everyone else at the table was male, and there were a bunch of World Cup fans playing.  Something controversial had happened recently in a World Cup game, and the soccer fans there ranted on and on about it.  I have no idea what they were saying—as with the blonde girl’s talk, I was tuning out, having zero interest in soccer. 

The soccer talk got so intense, the blonde girl had no choice but to shut up for awhile, she actually couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  Finally, there was a slight pause in the soccer talk.  I’m not sure if the soccer talk was over or they were thinking of more to add on the discussion, but suddenly the obnoxious blonde blurted out, quite loudly so everyone at the table could hear, “So…..what do we all think of the new tampons?”

Reaction was mixed.  Some laughs, some stunned silence, some head-shaking.  In all my years of playing poker, this was I was sure the first time I’d ever heard the word “tampon” used at poker table.  But then, I had just had my manhood questioned for the first time at a poker table too.  After the stunned silence, one of the guys at the table said meekly, “Well, I hear they’re really absorbent.”

“Tampon Girl” kept blabbing on and on until she finally ran out of chips.  Didn’t see her or her friend again the rest of my trip, which I was not at all unhappy about, even if she did give me a rather unusual tale to tell.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Further Adventures in No Limit

Attempting to gain more experience in No Limit Hold Em, I returned to The Bike today and once again played in their 1/3 No Limit game.  Bought in for $80 as last time. 

Scored big time with the third hand I was dealt.  UTG first hand, folded.  Big Blind second hand, no one bet, we chopped.  Now Small Blind, I am dealt 8-4 offsuit.  Ugh.  Before it was my turn to act, there were two limpers, no raise.  Now I'm thinking, I get a 33% discount to call, why not risk two bucks to try and win an early pot.  So I called.  Plan was foiled when the Big Blind raised to $9.  Both limpers called.  Now I knew I should fold here, but remembering the wild action at this room from last time, I figured I might have pretty good implied odds even if I didn't have good actual odds.  In otherwords, if I got lucky on the flop, I might get lots of action and have one or two players put a lot of chips in for me.  No one could put me on 8-4, especially since it was the first hand I'd played at that table.  So what the heck, I'll risk $6 more dollars.  Unless the flop hits me big, I'm out nine bucks but that won't kill me.

The flop indeed hit me big.  It was 8-4-3, rainbow.  I flopped two pair.  I was about to bet when I realized a check-raise was a much better idea.  I checked.  The pre-flop raiser bet $25.  Wow, that's a big bet, I thought.  Next guy folds but the other player called.  Now we are looking at a big pot where I'm pretty sure I've got the best hand.  There's no reason to call here, the play is to raise.  But as the pre-flop raiser bet $25, if I raise the minimum I can raise to is $50.  I only have $71 left.  As I learned two weeks ago, it makes no sense to raise more than half your stack.  You're pot committed, so you have to go all in.  Which I did.

The big blind who had bet out the $25 folded.  But the other guy called. I had him covered, so he only put in around $55-$60 more. The turn was a blank and just because I'm a great guy (or actually, because I was extremely lucky) the river was another 8, giving me a full house.  Even before I flipped my cards, the other player said, "You win."  Obviously he must have been on a draw or had high cards that never hit, I didn't need to fill up on the river.  But I took down a very nice pot. 

Played a few hours and was pretty much card dead.  My stack shrunk, and I only added to it minimally when I got no action on my bets and raises.  I guess I had around $110 or a bit more when this next hand came up.  I was again the small blind.  Big Blind was a new player who had only played a few hands and had most of his $100 buy-in left.  I was dealt pocket 6's, only the second time at this game I had a pocket pair.  The first was pocket 10's which only cost me money when someone with pocket Jacks flopped a boat.  Only one limper before the action was to me.  In low limit, that's an automatic fold, you're not getting the right pot odds to call.  But again, with two players able to put in a lot of chips if they make a hand and I make a better one, I thought it was easily worth two extra bucks to see the flop. 

Again, the Big Blind foiled my plan by raising, this time to $12.  The limper called.  It was an iffy call for me but I figured I could make a big score if I hit my set (ie, a 6 on the flop for trip 6's).  So I called.

Flop is K-8-6--I hit my set!  Again I check, planning to check raise.  Big Blind bets $12 again.  Other player folds.  Now I considered the possibility that he had raised pre-flopped with pocket Kings, and I had no read on this player, but I really thought that was unlikely.  And almost any other hand he would have raised with would put him behind me.  I thought about my raise and decided $25 wasn't enough.  I made it $40. 

I thought a call was likely, a fold was possible, but I wasn't expecting him to go all-in.  But that's exactly what he did.  I insta-called.  If I lost, I would have less than $20 left (I had him covered).  As I called he said, "You've got a set?" in horror.  Indeed I did.  Nothing mattered on the next two cards.  He didn't show, I assume he had a King, very possibly with an Ace.  It was a huge pot.

Never played another hand after this, but I left the table having won $205.  And no one called me asshole this time.  Very nice.