Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soft-Playing at the No Limit Table

Last week at BSC I saw a hand that reminded me of a great blog post I read sometime back.  I thought it was on Poker Grump's blog and researching it, it turns out I was right.  Grump's post is here.

Two women who were very good friends were playing at the 1/2 game at BSC.  One of the ladies is a terrific dealer there and was playing on the clock, at least to start off.  Her pal was not a dealer. 

I never noticed anything unusual between them, other than the level of chatter between them was both loud and non-stop.  But finally they had a hand when it was only the two of them to see the flop.  The dealer who was playing said to her pal, "Oh, so it's finally just us."

And then the flop, the turn and the river all came and they checked through all three rounds.  I believe the pot was raised to about $10 before the flop, so it was about a twenty buck pot at stake.

The first lady showed 3's full of 4's and assumed she won.  But the off-duty dealer said, "Not good enough!" and showed 4's full of 3's and took it down.

Of course, it was obivous that with two full houses, had either one of them been playing against anyone else at the table, a lot of money would have been bet, raised and called.  No doubt the losing woman would have been stacked (so-to-speak).

Yet neither made a bet with their big hands!  And of course the reason was they were playing against each other....both soft-playing a friend.

But I have to wonder if there was really any harm done since there were no other players in the hand.  As I said, I didn't notice any soft-playing or collusion on any other hand when there were other players involved.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fish Story

My last night in town, playing at BSC.  I look up and see the electronic waiting list and notice the first name for the 2/4 game is "Fish."  I mention this to the table; everyone cracks up.  In case you didn't know, "fish" is a poker term for a very bad player, the kind of player you want in your game, the type of player from whom it is easy to extract money.

This reminded me of another great name I've seen/heard on the wait list at BSC.  One trip, for several nights in a row there was a name "ESP" on the board.  Every time I heard them page "ESP"--always pronounced as three letters, never was it attempted to be prounced as a word--I would comment that I really wouldn't want to play poker with a player who has E.S.P.

So I mentioned this at the table I was at on this night.  Rita was dealing.  She is old enough to be a grandmother.  I know this because she has grandchildren (or at least one).. Rita said, "Well, I'd rather play poker with a player who had E.S.P. than a player who had PMS."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Still in Vegas

Still in Vegas, today is my last day.  I lost a full day of poker staying in my room due to a seriously upset stomach, which I think was just a reaction to trying to increasing the dosage of a certain medication I take.  Never left the hotel, or bet a dime, on Monday.  Despite that, there are many stories to blog about when I get back, too busy having fun getting the stories to write about them now, but here's a hint....pocket kings are involved in some of them.  Also, losing to a straight flush.  So far, despite all the fun adventures, there hasn't been anything on the level of the evening with Prudence, the post about which is by far and away the most popular entry on my blog. (Do you think the fact that I put the word naked in the title has anything to do with that?  Just asking)

And I still have things to report from my December visit, and plenty of older stories to relate, so keep checking back.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nut Flush Draw at Planet Hollywood

Last night I decided to give the Planet Hollywood poker room a try.  Despite what I'd heard, there were a couple of very solid players, mostly ok players and not that many fish.  I did ok.

Bought in for $200.  Got A/K clubs in early position, raised.  Two callers.  The flop is 9/10 Clubs, Queen of hearts.  So I flopped nut flush draw and a nut straight draw. 

Led out with a continuation bet.  New player at table who had bought in for $100 shoves all in.  With all those outs, and having him covered, I called.

Turn is a low club giving me the nuts.  River is another meaningless club.  He had flopped a straight.  Tough going, guy.

One guy at the table claimed to have been a college basketball player back east who tried to make some money by shaving points on one game where his team was a heavy favorite.  It failed because he and the other guy who was in on it--the point guard--were on the bench at the end because he game was such a slaughter, they couldn't make the game closer.  Interesting.  Of course no one ever lies at a poker table, right?

The room is nice, but it is noisy.  I got a bad seat to view the eye-candy that the place is known for, but I still saw some. 

They have a "Pleasure Pit" where supposedly hot girls in lingerie type outfits deal able games, and gals in bikini type outfits dance behind them.  Not a lot of the girls were all that hot, frankly.  Most were just ok.

Actually I've been there during the day and there's a blonde dealing Let it Ride and 3 Card Poker who could pretty much get me to do anything she'd ask of me for one night with her.  Just sayin'

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pocket Kings--A Small Victory

Last nite I had a small victory with pocket Kings.  Got them on the button, four limpers.

I thought about actually folding for a second.

Not really.  But I did seriously consider limping.

But I did the right thing.  Based on table action at the time, a $10 was actually on the small side for a raise, so I made it $10.

Two callers, flop is all low cards, rainbow.  Checked to me.  I bet $20, no callers, and claim the pot.

Small pot, but it sure as hell beats losing a big pot with this hand!  And it proved I can win with pocket Kings!

For a good laugh, poker players should check out this post from the Grump:  http://pokergrump.blogspot.com/2012/01/poker-gems-447.html

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quick Update--Back in Vegas Now

Got back to Vegas yesterday and had a nice run.  First, played in small tournament at LC2, 32 runners, paying 4.  At 5 we agreed $15 each to bubble.  Cashed out 4th for a $50 profit, after tip.  Most memorable hand was when I knocked out two players, and for the life of me, I can't remember what any of us had.  This old age thing sucks.

Then played 1/2 No Limit at BSC.  Prudence was there, so we chatted a bit.  Played at a different table.  About 4 hands in, I get 9/10 spades on the button, 4 limpers so I limp.  Flop is 6-7-8, 2 hearts.  By the turn I had gotten all-in (most of my $200 buy in), two callers, one had me covered, one was only in for about $80.  Low spade on turn, Ace Clubs on river doesn't concern me, I have the nuts, win nearly $300 on the hand.  Left after a couple of hours winning $335.

Just wondering when I will get the time to blog about all my old stories as I get new ones.  Hope to post updates throughout this trip.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Running Naked Out of the Convent Shouting "Do Me!"

(If you enjoy this story, be sure to read about the Return of Prudence here, herehere and here!)

You should read my previous post (here) before reading this one as a way of introduction.  You don’t have to, but it will help put this in context.
This tale took place on my last night in Vegas for the year.  About two days before New Year’s Eve.  It was the last time I played poker in 2011.
I was going to spend my last night playing No Limit, as I had most of the past week.  Bought in to the 1/2 game at BSC for $300, the maximum.  I was really going to focus on the players and learn their habits so I could try to make a nice score on my way out of town.  Since, as we have established in my previous post, there’s no distracting table talk at the No Limit game, this shouldn’t have been a problem.  I could give the game my 100% attention.
Not quite.
A few minutes after I settled in at the table I was sent to, a cute young Asian woman returned and moved from seat 5 to seat 1, right next to the dealer.  I took her old seat as I prefer sitting in the middle when possible (bad eyesight).  There was also a middle aged black guy at the table who we’ll call Horace for the sake of this story. Horace and the girl had obviously been having a conversation long before I arrived at the table.  Horace called the lady “Prudence” so that’s what I’ll call her in this post .  (Note: Just to be clear, no one called her Prudence.  I use pseudonyms in this blog and that is the most ironic name I could think of).
Anyway, it seemed that she and Horace were having quite the conversation before I got to the table, and were now continuing it.  At first I tried to pay attention to the cards and didn't catch a lot of what was now going on between them, but it soon became impossible to ignore.  
The first odd thing I heard her say was, "I'm not some timid concubine.  I know what I want and I go for it."
I have no idea what the context of that was, but from that moment on, I knew I had to start paying more attention to her.  I can't recall the last time I heard the word "concubine" used in general conversation.  It might have been during the Carter administration.
Prudence asked the lady dealer who was "pushing" her, ie, who was the next dealer at the table.  When the dealer told her it was Tom, she got excited.  "Oh, he's cute.  I like him. I could hook up with him."
OK, it was becoming clear to me that Prudence was an BSC regular.  She knew who Tom was. She was acting very comfortable at the BSC and was saying things indicating she knew a lot of the dealers by name.  It was here I think that I asked if she lived here and she told me she's from New York.  She said she was visiting Vegas to see some kind of fight that was taking place in Vegas that weekend.  I must admit this is a sport I don’t follow at all so I didn’t know anything about it.
Someone asked her what she was doing for New Year’s Eve and she said she'd be in her room (at BSC).  "I'm here for the fight, not to party."  She engaged in a lengthy conversation with Horace and another player about the upcoming fight, which was completely lost on me.  But I kept my ears open waiting for the conversation to start getting more salacious.  It didn't take long.
Tom indeed was the next dealer. Of course Tom knows me as a limit player, (almost all the dealers at BSC know me) but he'd seen me now play No Limit for a few nights (and perhaps last month too).  "So, is this your new thing now?"  I knew he meant if I was now a dedicated No Limit player instead of a limit player.  I said something like, "Well, I'm still experimenting, just trying to get a feel for things.  We'll see."  So he asked, "Well how you doing so far?"  I said  I was doing ok.  "At least I haven't lost my shirt yet."
Tom said that was a good thing, it was cold I needed my shirt.  To which Prudence responded, directly to me, "If I asked you to take off your shirt, would you?"
I was rather shocked by this—to say the least— and laughed nervously.  I think I muttered something like, "I don't think anybody would really want that" or some such.  Of course, I was really pissed that I was too flustered to come up with the perfect response in time, which of course would have been something like, "I will if you will" or "I could ask you the same question." Because I would have loved to have heard her response!  I'm sure it would have been memorable (tho definitely not mammarable).  Damn, wasted opportunity.  A hanging curve and I didn't even swing.  Oh well.
Since I didn't answer yes immediately, she said something like, "Oh, you're not easy, huh?"  Then she turned to the gentlemen in Seat 2, who was older than me and had not said one word since I got to the table.  He hadn't played any hands either.  He was pretty much sitting there like a statue!  And so she said to Seat 2, "How about you?  Will you give it up?" He didn't respond, I don't think he heard her, or had no idea she was talking to him, even though she was sitting right next to her.  So she asked him again if he would give it up.  I'm not really sure if he understand the question but he finally said yes.  Prudence said, "Oh, so you are a slut, huh?" Seat 2 just laughed and I have no idea if he really knew what he had said yes to. Meanwhile I spent the next half hour or so looking for an opportunity to revisit her suggestion that I might remove my shirt so I could turn the tables on her but could not find one, dammit.
Anyway, Prudence began turning her attentions to Tom, if she hadn't already. I'm not sure exactly how she phrased it, but she pretty much propositioned Tom right at the table.  But Tom resisted by saying he was saving himself for marriage!  It was certainly the funniest thing I'd ever heard Tom say and he said it perfectly deadpan.  Prudence responded that she had been doing the same up until now but she was ready.  "It's time to break the seal, Tom.  Don't you want to be the one to break the seal?"  Tom just repeated something about waiting for marriage.
It was probably around this time that she gave all of us a little more of her background.  She had had all her schooling in Catholic School.  And she had spent two years in a convent studying to be a Nun.  I thought she was kidding about that so I asked her if that was true, she insisted it was.  She joked--at least I think it was a joke--that she had a Habit up in her room.  Someone, it may have been me, asked her why she gave up the nunnery.  "Because I wanted to have sex. That's why most people give it up, why most people give up the Priesthood....they want to have sex. I have to have sex." I can't say for sure whether or not she followed that up with a comment about wanting to have sex with Tom that night, but I think she did. During all this Tom never cracked a smile and was acting totally uninterested in the conversation, or Prudence, for that matter.  
But at one point she won a pot, a fairly small one, and she tipped Tom three dollars, a very big tip for the pot-size.  And when she slipped Tom the three chips, she aid, "See three bucks....Do you suppose I'm trying to get you to bone me later?"  Again, Tom ignored her, other than to mechanically thank her for the tip.  BTW, I can't count all the times I heard the word "bone" used at this table as a euphemism for sex.  Prudence used it all the time (too many to remember the circumstances) and so did Horace.  
Tom was finally pushed by Mike. There was a whisper or two between Tom and Prudence as he left and I thought that maybe they had arranged something, but I had no idea what.  Anyway, Prudence continued to be outrageous during Mike's down.  In addition to the word "bone", she started to use the word "f***" a lot....both as a expletive and as a euphemism for "bone".  Now Mike is one of the most strict dealers at the BSC at enforcing the "no profanity" rule at the BSC poker room.  I've heard him warn many players...including Shirley, the gal who grabbed her tits and said, "I wish mine were bigger."  He was the one who told Shirley to use George Carlin's "7 Words You Can't say on TV" bit as a guide.  Yet, he never warned Prudence once, never seemed to react one time to Prudence's coarse language. I should have been suspicious of that, but I was not.
Instead, Prudence was going on about her Catholic school experiences, how they had tried to repress her sexuality and how that never works.  And trying that only backfires and makes the person even wilder than they otherwise would be.  She said that in high school, it would be, "One day a girl thinks kissing is disgusting and the next thing you know, she's pregnant.” Well it turns out Mike had gone to Catholic School in the Midwest, and his school wasn't like that at all.  He seemed to say that regretfully.  But he thought maybe there was a difference between Midwest Catholic Schools and New York ones.
She went on to say that when she finally made the decision to leave the convent and was able to date for the first time, she first tried a Christian Dating Service.  When someone expressed surprise at that, she said, "Well, it wasn't like I ran naked out of the convent shouting 'do me, do me!'"  But that didn't work out, she found the guys were too messed up.  I can't recall why. Maybe it was because their religious convictions inhibited them from wanting to bone her.
Well this discussion prompted a story by Horace about his experience trying to bone a Mormon gal. He said the girl wouldn't put out, but it was worse than that....she wanted a guy who wanted to bone her but who wouldn't for religious reasons.  She was unhappy that guys wouldn't admit they wanted to bone her!  Or something.  Anyway, once Horace realized he wasn't gonna bone this gal, he dumped her.
Horace also talked about attending church and not getting anywhere with the girls there.  This actually shocked Prudence (something hard to do).  She said to Horace, "Oh that's nice. You're there in church trying to figure out which girl you can slip your dick into?” 
At some point, possibly when Tom was still at the table but I'm not sure, I heard the following come out of Prudence's mouth"I have a vagina.  I have the power."  Unfortunately, I didn't hear the context of that.  But she continued, "The one with the pussy has the power.  I mean, if a guy wants to bone you...."  Not sure what came after that, other than a general agreement by all the guys at the table.  Someone said that it was easy for a woman, she really shouldn't be having trouble getting a guy (or Tom, not sure if this was specific) to bone her.  She agreed.  She then went on to say that "Even a fat, ugly chick can get laid anytime she wants to."
But Horace questioned that to some degree....."that's true if the guy wants to bone her, but can a fat ugly chick get a guy who doesn't want to bone her to bone her?  Show me that!"
We got back to the subject of trying to repress sexual desire and she mentioned the girlfriend of hers I saw when I first joined the table.  I haven't mentioned her before. This gal sat behind Prudence to watch her play for a bit before leaving.  She wasn't much to look at from the neck up, but she was wearing a low cut top and had very large breasts.  Shocking that I noticed that, I know.  When she bent over to get into her chair I got more than an eyeful.  She was long gone but Prudence mentioned that this friend was actually a major, major porn star...full hard core specializing in BDSM!  They were friends from high school.
Then she mentioned another childhood friend.  This one was Jewish, came from an Orthodox home, and Prudence described her as a wallflower growing up.  But today she's a major internet entrepreneur. She runs a porn site that specializes in catering to the Punk Rock crowd!  All holes catered to.
At one point she mentioned seeing a sign for a Bible class or a church there in Vegas with the slogan, "We'll Love The Hell Out of You."
Eventually I asked how she got into poker.  She said she liked table games and one day just wandered into a poker room somewhere in Vegas to see what was going on.  A floor person tried to get her into a game.  She didn't know how to play and the floor person said, "We'll start you at 2/4 Limit....just play tight."  She said she had no idea what that meant.
Anyway she liked it and started playing more and more.  She described the first time at no limit that she lost a big pot.  She started crying right there at the table.  She texted her boyfriend about it.  He asked her to describe the hand, and when he got the details, he texted back, “You’re a f***ing idiot. You deserved to lose that hand."
So I said to her something like, "Well, I guess you got over it if you're still playing."  And she held up her drink and said, "Oh yes, I get addictions really fast."
She talked about poker for a bit.  I dunno whether it was this boyfriend or another one, but she was ranting about one who played poker and would lose his temper when he lost a hand.  One time he thought an opponent played his hand very badly and won the pot anyway. Every poker player can surely relate to that! He stated yelling at the guy, who she described as being somewhat overweight.  She quoted the boyfriend as saying to the guy, "How do you find your dick under all that fat?"  She didn't like that and said something like how can you get mad at someone just because the dealer put one card down instead of another?
So I asked if that incident was why she broke up with this guy.  "Well, we weren't really dating, we just slept together a few times." Horace said, "That's dating." but I said, "Oh, what about that whole 'it's time to break the seal' thing you said?"  Yeah, I really said that.  She said, "Oh what, someone lying at the poker table?  How unusual!"  
Someone asked what everyone's New Year's resolutions were.  I said, "I'm going to stop playing poker."  Everyone laughed.  Prudence said she didn't have one but I said, "No, yours is....to come out of your shell."  She laughed and agreed.  "Yes, I have to get over my shyness."
Before I got to the table she had apparently seen Horace win a pot and not tip the dealer.  And he must have told her that he never tips at the poker table.  She spent some time giving him a hard time about that.  Finally she flat out asked him why he never tips and he said, "Because when I lose a pot, no one tips me."  These seems like a total non-sequitur to me.  Prudence didn't like the answer either but didn't really argue with him but made it clear that she thought it was wrong of him and that she thought less of him because of this.  Horace admitted that he is not a good-guy....always cheats on his girlfriends, lies to them, etc.  Prudence said she was not surprised.
Somewhere along the way I asked her what she does for a living, and she said she was a pastry chef.  When I mentioned I lived in LA she said she considered moving there but isn't used to driving and therefore ruled it out.
She mentioned she got kicked out of the Aria once for using ethnic slurs.  It seems she sat at a table where everyone else was Chinese.  She said she felt intimidated.  They told her she couldn't say that, it was insensitive.  She reminded them that she was Asian herself.  But they asked her to leave anyway.  
Finally when he was presumably on a break, Tom came by and whispered something in her ear. I think he said something about getting a drink.  I heard her say something like,"Great, do you have a room upstairs?"  After about half an hour, she came back.  I didn't see Tom but she picked up her chips to take off.  She said her goodbyes to the table.  "I'll be back, I'm here all weekend."  I said, "Tell your friends" but I don't think she heard.  Then she said, "Poker's here 24/7 but cock won't wait forever."
And that was the last I saw of her. And I looked around a few times and couldn't see Tom anywhere in the room, even tho by my best guess his shift should not have been over.   I tried to get back to concentrating on the poker.  Considering the fact that I had paid almost no attention to the actual game all this time, I was holding my own.  But soon another dealer came to the table and we actually started talking about his dating life.  I mentioned that he might have been too late, that there was this girl at the table who was on the prowl and who knows….if she had seen him first, instead of Tom, maybe he would have gotten lucky instead of Tom.  But as I described the girl, the dealer suggested that she sounded an awful lot like Tom’s girlfriend.  I expressed my doubts.  Based on what I told him about her, which of course was based only on what Prudence had said at the table, I managed to convince him this wasn’t Tom’s girlfriend (his shift started after Prudence left the room).
Then Jack came to the table.  By this time the table was filled with local regulars.  I knew this from overhearing the conversations they were having and the fact that they knew all the dealers and the dealers knew them.  Jack talked to the guy next to me about the fight, obviously knowing this guy was a fan.  I didn't recognize the players but that's because until now I was always playing Limit and wouldn't be playing with these guys.  After Jack and I disussed the Lakers and the NBA (which Jack and I always discuss), I mentioned the entertaining girl from earlier and her mysterious interest in Tom.  Jack laughed and although he didn't see the girl at the table, he thought it was actually Tom's girlfriend.  When I presented the same evidence to Jack as I had to the previous dealer, Jack made a convincing argument that I had been played somewhat, he was sure this woman was Tom’s girlfriend.  What about the fact that she lives in New York?  Jack said she is considering moving to Vegas.  Someone commented that there's probably jobs for pastry chefs in Vegas!
Oh wow, had I been scammed?  Were Prudence and Tom just putting on a show to entertain us?  Oh well, apparently so.  But it doesn't really negate any of the outrageous things she said. It just puts everything that happened at the table in a totally different light.  The comments were still outrageous, still outstanding examples of “woman said” stories.  But now I had to conclude that she was not just throwing herself at a relative stranger.  She was throwing herself at her boyfriend.  Very different indeed. 
At this point, it was way past time for me to leave, I had to drive back to L.A. in the morning.  But the evening definitely gave me pause to reconsider my opinion of No Limit vs. Limit that I expressed in my previous post.  This one evening—and Prudence—made up for a whole week of boring, sober, dour, quiet, No Limit play.  Maybe I could play No Limit and still get outrageous stories for my blog at the same time!  What do you think, dear readers?
One other thing to point out. Despite my intention going in,  I had paid almost zero attention to the actual poker.  I couldn’t concentrate on the game due to the entertaining distraction Prudence was providing.  Nonetheless, I managed to finish only fifty bucks down.  My inattentiveness could have cost me my stack—or more.  So I had to consider that a win.

(Want further wisdom from Prudence?  See here.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Difference Between Limit Poker and No Limit Poker

When I started this blog I was playing almost exclusively Low Limit Hold ‘Em.  Usually 2/4, sometimes 3/6 or 4/8.  But as some of my posts recently indicate, I’m more and more “experimenting” with No Limit.  It started with No Limit tournaments but more recently I’ve been playing No Limit cash games, either 1/2 or even 1/3.
This trend is continuing.  Last month I was in Vegas for about two weeks.  I played a lot of No Limit tournaments throughout those two weeks.  Some of the results have been blogged about, some will be blogged about in the future, and some are best left between me and my deity.  But of course I also played a lot of cash games.  As it turned out, most of the first week I played my usual 2/4 Limit game and most of the second week I played 1/2 No Limit.  I already blogged about one such time at the Mirage here.  Most of the rest of my 1/2 games were at BSC, where I am well known as a 2/4 Limit player. 
So that gives me a pretty good perspective to talk about the differences between playing Limit and No Limit poker.  But wait….this is not really a poker post.  I could blog about the differences of the two games from a poker playing perspective, but that’s not what this post is about.  I want to talk about the differences between the two games from a different perspective.  I want to talk about the differences from the social aspect of poker, the fun aspect, the enjoyment aspect of it—the difference in atmosphere.  Or, perhaps I should say, from the “story” aspect of it.
What do I mean?  I mean from my experience last month, it’s a whole different world playing at a 2/4 Limit game than the one that exists at the 1/2 No Limit table right next door.  Vastly different.
Playing at the 2/4 game the first week was almost always a fun, enjoyable, highly social experience (some exceptions, of course)--as usual.  There was almost always a lot of friendly chatter at the table, only a small amount of which actually concerned poker.  People exchanged stories about their jobs, their home towns, their Vegas experiences.  It was all very friendly, most of the conversation was pleasant.  There was lots of laughing between the hands, it was generally a very nice way to spend the evening, regardless of how the cards were treating me.
So it’s usually a nice social experience playing at the 2/4 game.  And more often than not, there are youngish, attractive women playing at the game.  This is always nice, especially since so many of them tend to wear skimpy clothing—even during winter.  I admit I’m not opposed to having good looking women in revealing clothing in view.
So Limit poker is fun…..and also, it is a great source for stories.  It turns out that, over the years, while I was having a good time playing, talking, laughing with all these folks, I was getting good anecdotes too.  People doing and saying outrageous things.  Me egging them on to do and say outrageous things.  Much of this has already been documented here on this blog, more stories will follow (I haven’t run out of “old” stories even as I am getting new ones).
In fact it was my collecting these stories that led to my starting this blog.  As I tried my best to relate these stories to my friends, they enjoyed them so much they begged for more.  And they encouraged me to document them in a way that other people could enjoy them too.  Of course, not all the stories I’ve told (or will tell) came from the poker table, but many did.  Some of them were poker related but some had nothing to do with a flush beating a straight.  My friends who couldn’t care less about poker seemed to enjoy them either way.
I mentioned above that the 2/4 game frequently has women playing.  Often it is these women who provide the best stories.  This has led to the “woman said” story.  At least one of my friends finds these stories to be the best stories.  A woman saying something outrageous or perhaps out of character (for how us middle aged guys view women) is a golden find to him.  Thus, if you check the labels I’ve used here, the “woman said” label is the one used most often—by far.
Ok, so that’s Low Limit poker.  Then, in the second week of my visit, I mostly played No Limit.  What a difference! Most of the time I was at the No Limit game, I saw some of the most gruesome looking mugs I'd ever seen, virtually all male. One guy just scared the crap out of me just with his face--he looked like he came out of Central Casting for a Russian mafia/ex-KGB villain for the show "24".

Even more radically different from the Limit games, there was very little table talk, most of the games were very quiet. When there was talk, it seemed a lot less interesting than the average 2/4 game. I didn't really get to know any of the other players (with a couple of exceptions) like I do routinely at 2/4. It was somewhat depressing.

While playing with all these quiet sourpusses, I’d look over to the 2/4 tables that had been my home for so long.  Every time I looked, every table seemed to be filled with people laughing and talking and generally having a good time. And I'd see attractive females at all those tables, laughing, chatting, and generally enjoying themselves.

Then I'd look back at the stone faced, dour looking, silent and unpleasant mugs at my table and wondered what the heck I was doing there instead of having fun with the 2/4 crowd.
Of course, I was entertaining myself—and more importantly educating myself—learning how to play this vastly different version of poker.  And I had some success and that was good (and fun) and when I did take a bad loss I used it as a learning experience. So it wasn’t really a negative experience…..but I couldn’t help thinking every night I’d be having a better time if I’d gone to the 2/4 table instead of the 1/2 table.
And then there are the anecdotes.  Night after night, it became clearer and clearer to me that my future blog postings were going to be more or less exclusively about actual poker, and not about funny stories from the poker table.  Any “woman said” stories—or other stories of amusing characters and outrageous behavior—would come from the time I spent in Vegas when I wasn’t playing poker.  Yes, there actually are such times.
So I was starting to wonder if the trade off was one I was happy about.  Was it really worth playing no limit and giving up all that fun?  I wasn’t committed either way.  I knew any time I wanted t could head back to the 2/4 game.  A couple of times playing no limit, I looked over at all the fun they seemed to be having at the 2/4 games and I came thisclose to asking for a table change, and a game change. 
But I was enjoying the challenge of trying to figure out this no limit thing, so I stuck with it.  And I started thinking I would switch back and forth between limit and no limit depending on my mood when I hit the poker room, or based on how tired I was that day or night.  If I was too tired to play my best poker, playing 2/4 might be more fun and less of a threat to my bankroll.
And then, something happened on my last night in town to make me wonder if I was making all these judgments about No Limit based on a too-small sample size.  What was it?  See here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ace Queen, First Hand of the Game!

Reading this post  at Bob Taylor’s excellent blog reminded me of a hand I wanted to blog about from last month’s visit to Vegas.  Not only does it have a better ending than Bob’s story but it also has a lot better ending than my previous blog entry about the curse of the pocket Kings.  The issue for Bob was a brand new player he had no read on made a move and he wasn’t sure at all what it could mean.  The issue for me in my hand was that I had no read on anyone at the table, or the table itself!
I went over to the Mirage and decided to play some 1/2 No Limit.  I was just sitting down and putting my jacket on the back of my chair when the dealer starting dealing me my first hand.  If he asked if I wanted a hand (rather than waiting for the button to pass), I didn’t hear him.  OK, I’m not likely to see a hand I want to play right away anyway, right?
I was in early position and the action was on me before I even got my chips or finished adjusting my jacket.  I looked down to see A/Q suited!  I had $100 behind and I had seen virtually no action at the table, so I was taken aback as to how to play this.  I had no idea what a “normal” raise was for this table.  No idea if I was playing with good players or a school of fish (or more likely, some of both).  I seriously considering just folding to bide my time and try to get a feel for the table.
But instead, I decided to play.  And raise.  I called out my bet of ten bucks.  It folded around to a youngish guy who called.  I had a tiny, tiny read on him.  As I was sitting down, on the very previous hand, I noticed he folded 3 4’s (he showed) to pocket Jacks (he also showed).  The guy had a 4 in his hand and there were two on the board.  The pocket Jacks took the hand unimproved because his river bet wasn’t called by the guy with the trip 4’s.  I wasn’t even sure how big a bet he needed to call, I got there too late.  And I hadn’t seen the play of the hand to even hazard a guess as to whether the betting action had convinced the guy with the winning hand he was beat.  It may have been a smart play—in theory—to fold.  But in reality, he folded the winning hand.  I suppose the sting of knowing this (because the winner of the pot showed he had nothing better than a pair of Jacks) may have affected his actions on the hand he was now in with me. 
I had no intention of going too far with this hand, since I had no idea the level of competition I was up against.  But the flop was A-Q-7, rainbow.  I had flopped top two pair.  Nice.  I was still getting situated in my seat, but at least my chips had come.  I paid in the $10 I owed the pot and then figured out my flop bet.  I bet $25, a bit over the size of the pot.  If he’d come back at me with a raise I could see myself folding.
Instead he flat called.  The turn was a blank but it put two clubs on the board (not my suit).  If he flopped a pair with two clubs in his hand, that could be problematic (I assume he had something better than just a back door flush draw on the flop to call my flop bet).  I thought I was close enough to being pot committed that I just shoved in the rest of my chips.  I kind of expected him to fold but he thought about it and called.  He had me covered, he had at least another $100 behind after calling my shove.
The river was a low club, which concerned me a little, but I had to show my hand first and showed my AQ.  He turned over one of his cards, an Ace, and said, “I thought we were gonna chop it.”  Hmm….so I’m guessing he had AK and thought I had the same?
Anyway, a hand I didn’t really want to play, and shouldn’t have played (because I should have let the button pass), ended up doubling me up on the very first hand.  Perhaps ignorance was bliss!  Maybe if I had a better read on the table and this guy I would have played it differently?  The guy left less than 15 minutes later (with the chips he had after his loss to me) so I still had no real read on the guy.
I played a couple of hours and bounced up and down for a bit, finally leaving up $120.  That very first hand made it a nice session.  And fortunately, I wasn't dealt Pocket Kings even once!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pocket King's—I Hate 'Em, I Just Hate 'Em

I have a few tournaments I hope to eventually blog about from my last Vegas visit, but the one that is the most pressing on my mind, and almost made me give up poker (not really) took place at the Aria on a particular Monday a couple of weeks back.  Yikes.
I made a last minute decision to play in the Aria 1PM tournament.  I would love to know how may day turned out in the alternate universe where I went with my original plan for the day and spent some time catching up on personal matters on the ol’ laptop.
Perhaps I would have slipped in the shower and killed myself.  I suppose that would have been a worse day than the one I had.  But maybe not.
There are two important characters in this stage play.  Together, we’ll call them the “clowns”.  Individually, we’ll call them “Asian Guy” and “The Punk.”  I’m calling the first character Asian Guy just for i.d. purposes…he was Asian.  He was probably older than he looked, so I can’t guess.  The Punk was early 20’s, if that.  Wool hat.  Did not have the earbuds and the hoody, though he seemed that type. 
Anyway, it was a late arriving crowd.  Asian Guy was there from the beginning, The Punk showed up later.  They were across the table from me in seats 8 & 9 respectively.  I had seat 2. 
Early on I stole a pot, which was nice.  Asian Guy was rather chatty.  He loudly criticized the player in seat 3 after he won a pot with 7-4 suited by hitting a straight on the river.  He had to call a pre-flop raise (after limping in) to be in the hand.  Asian Guy asked what the heck the guy was doing calling a raise with that hand.  He said he would be out of chips very soon playing that way.  But Seat 3 said nothing.
Despite this, Asian Guy was hardly a tight player.  I saw him take down a pot at the river with a J-9 offsuit.  He had raised pre-flop with it.  And he was criticizing a guy for loose play?
I was getting no cards, and no pots save the one I stole.   But things got weird when The Punk entered the tournament in seat 9.  He seemed to raise a lot pre-flop.  He didn’t get called down to the river much, he was taking a lot of pots uncontested (sometimes pre-flop, sometimes post-flop after he raised pre-flop and then bet the flop).  I started to suspect that this guy wasn’t raising with much, if anything.
So in early position The Punk makes his usual raise (approximately 3X BB’s)  I’ve got 99.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t 3-bet that hand but I felt that kid probably didn’t have much so I re-raised.  It folded back to him and he called.
The flop had a King and two low cards.  Certainly his raising range included King-rag, so I wasn’t too confident about my pocket nines.  He bet about 2/3’s the pot so I folded.  Instead of just taking down the pot, he flipped over his 8-6 offsuit.  That’s what he raised with pre-flop!  And of course, nothing on the board hit him, both his bets were total bluffs.  He laughed and Asian Guy loved it.  A few others laughed and someone said “that’s poker” and I just said, “nice bet.”
OK, nice lesson for me.  Not long after that I limped in with pocket three’s.  The Punk raises from the Big Blind.  I call.  I didn’t hit my set so I’m done.  He bets the flop and I of course fold.  This time he shows 7-2 offsuit! And there was nothing on the flop even in the same time zone as his two cards.  Now he’s just eating this up, Asian Guy is loving it and someone else says, “Oh, you’ve got his number now” meaning me.
Well, this really encouraged Asian Guy.  From then on, at least one of them, if not both, raised every pot, every single pot.  And they were laughing about it and between the two of them they were taking down most of the pots.  Of course all the players noticed this and so one nice lady shoved when she had top pair against The Punk.  Well, even maniacs get hands sometime and the Punk shows two pair (top two) to take down the pot and bust out the woman.
Between hands the two of them were laughing and talking and pointing out the other players to each other and I’m sure I heard one of them say “donkey” and I’m thinking they may have meant me. 
Now a couple of points.  One is that by acting this way, it was kind of bordering on collusion.  Although they did occasionally both stay in hands, usually it was one of the other (but to be fair, when they were up against each other, they really enjoyed bluffing the other one out). And I'm pretty sure they didn't know each other. But the fact that there was a raise on every hand and you know it was likely with a crappy hand made it extremely difficult to play at this table.
The other point is this—I know the easiest person to bluff is a bluffer.  And I thought about that and wondered if the best move I had was to beat them at their own game.  But the fact that there were two of them doing the same crap all the time made this seem too tricky to me.  I could maybe bluff one but not two.
So, I figured I had no real choice but to play super-tight and bide my time until I got a really good hand.  And then hopefully take some chips from one or both of them.
Well, it didn’t take that long for the really good hand.  With the blinds at $100/$200 I got KK in early position.  I bet $800 (had about $5000 left).  The guy to my immediate left (Seat 3) calls.  Asian Guy (who has me covered by a lot) re-raises to $2300.  I’m not unhappy about that.  With my KK I’m going to shove when it comes back to me.  If by some bit of bad luck he actually has AA this time, so be it.
The Punk folds because a bluff here with 7-2 offsuit isn’t going to work.   But I was surprised when the Small Blind called the $2300.  He was fairly new to the table and I couldn’t recall him playing a hand yet.  He must have something pretty good.  Could he be the one with Pocket Rockets?
No matter, I had to take my chances.  I shoved in the rest of my chips.  Now it was up to Seat 3. He thought about it for a long time and then folded.  Asian Guy instantly says “all-in.”  And Seat 3 says “That’s what I was a afraid of.”  Now it’s back to the Small Blind,  He takes his time and Asian Guy encourages to call (risking his entire stack).  This is clearly against the rules at Aria but the dealer says nothing.  I could have asked for the Floor but I wanted him to call, I figured if he had AA he would have called instantly, so since it was a tough choice for him, I was probably ahead of him..  Finally he calls.
We flip over our cards and Small Blind has QQ.  Asian Guy has A10 offsuit (great hand to go all in with when you don’t have to, he wrote sarcastically). 
At least he only had one “live” card, I thought.  I’ve got a good chance to triple up.
Wrong.  There were not one but two friggin’ 10’s on the flop.  Nothing helped anyone after that.  Somehow it was worse getting beat by two 10's than a single Ace, as I feared.  Anyway, he busted out the Small Blind as well as me, and he was just whopping it up, high fiving, fist bumping The Punk and just practically doing a table dance right there on the poker table.  And he said nothing to me or the other guy.  Uusually in that situation the lucky winner says “sorry” or “that was sick” or something acknowledging how damn lucky they got, but he was just celebrating.
Needless to say, it left a bad taste in my mouth as I exited the tournament.  I don’t mind busting out (ok, that’s a lie, but you know what I mean), but to see such poor sportsmanship, to see such immature behavior…well it just really angered me.  Worse, to see bad, silly, crazy play actually rewarded by the gods of poker was quite infuriating.  I was actually too upset to get in my car and drive.  I had to walk it off. 
I left the Aria and before I knew where I was headed, I found myself at the MGM.  Unfortunately they do indeed have a poker room there…..a very nice one (though this was when they were in their temporary location so it wasn’t as nice as the usual room).  They had a 2/4 Limit game just starting when I got there, but it was quite short-handed.  I didn’t want to play in a 2/4 game that wasn’t close to full.  Instead I noticed a 1/2 No Limit game starting and I could take the last available seat, so I took it.  I guess I figured I would get my money back and wash the bad taste of that tournament out of my mouth with a nice session.
I bought in for $100 and after about an orbit or two where I wasn’t really playing anything, I looked down at KK in middle position!  At first I had a quick nasty flashback to the tournament, but then I thought, “No way I can burned twice with this hand in less than an hour.”  I figured this was my chance to get a score on the Kings.
One person limped before me, and I raised to $8.  One caller and the limper called, so three of us saw the flop.  The good news, there was a King on the flop, I made my set of Kings.  The bad news, two hearts.  I bet out $10 but both my opponents called.  The turn was the third heart.  First to act now bets $20.  Well, I am not going to fold a set of Kings for a $20 bet to a guy representing a flush.  I call.  Then the guy in late position raises all-in!  Damn.  The other guy folds (did he have a small flush or perhaps just the Ace of hearts?  Dunno).  I had to figure the guy had the flush, or at least was making a heckuva bluff at it.  I hadn’t played with him long enough to have a handle on whether or not he was capable of that. 
I feltI had to call, even though it cost me my entire stack (he had me covered).   Even if he did have the flush, I still had 10 outs to beat him.  And he might not have the flush anyway.  So I shoved.
River was a blank and the guy flips over Queen/Eight of hearts to take down the pot…and my stack.  I showed the set of Kings to get sympathy from the other players…which I got.  I would have preferred the pot.
I re-bought for $60,  My mind was elsewhere but I managed to win a small pot.  When I got blinded down to the re-buy of $60 I left and vowed never to play poker again.  Or at least, never play pocket Kings again.  Of course neither vow lasted more than a few hours.
But just to reiterate …I hate pocket Kings!!!!!!