Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Getting Berated by a Professional Poker Player

This took place on a Sunday during my most recent Vegas trip.  I love the structure of the Binion’s 2:00 PM tournament and they get big crowds (80-120 runners) on the weekends.  And as I've blogged, I’ve had some success there before. 
On this Sunday I got there early and saw a lot of familiar faces.  This tournament, being downtown, attracts a lot of regulars and locals.  I’m getting used to seeing the same faces every time I play even though I’m not there every weekend like a lot of folks are.  We start to recognize each other and nod hello as we spot each other.
One player, a middle aged, rather non descript looking fellow, definitely seemed familiar to me but I couldn’t remember why.  I just knew instantly that I didn’t want to start out at the same table as this guy.  I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe it was because he was a really good player, and of course, you’d prefer not be at the same table with a really good player.  Ideally, you’d like to start at a table with the nine worst players in the history of poker.  Maybe I remembered him taking down a pot from me with really good play or a really outrageous bluff (which of course, is indeed really good play).  I wasn’t sure why, I just knew I didn’t want him at my table.  Something triggered in my mind but I can’t grasp the exact memory.
As everyone took their seats as the tournament was about to start, of course this guy sits at my table.  And he starts talking non-stop with the guy next to me (I was in Seat 6, he was in Seat 3).  He starts bragging about winning the 7PM tournament at Stratosphere the night before.  And then goes on bragging about a bunch of other tournament cashes.  Well, now I know one thing about him—he talks non-stop and he thinks he’s god’s gift to poker!  So if nothing else, he’s a annoying big-mouth.
As the cards are being dealt, I remember something else.  This guy likes to give a running commentary on the cards, talking about the hands and what people have.  Now, I don’t mean he gave anything away, that’s strictly forbidden.  It was more like after the hand he would speculate on hands we hadn’t seen or offer hints as to what he had, what he won with or what he threw away when he was sure he was beaten. He was sorta giving poker lessons during the time between hands, if you know what I mean.
I was pretty sure now that I remembered this guy being a really good player who wasn’t the least bit shy letting you know that he was a really good player.  And an annoying non-stop talker.
Well, things got very interesting for me very early.  Before we had even completed one orbit, I look down at pocket Aces (not pocket Kings, thank goodness!) in late position.  We need to give this character a name.  I actually know his real name (details forthcoming) but in keeping with the spirit of this blog, we’ll have to call him something else.  So let’s just call him Poker Genius, shall we?  Poker Genius had already limped into this pot, as had one or two others.  This was early in the first level (blinds 25/50) so I made the more-or-less standard raise to three big blinds ($150).  Only Poker Genius called my raise.
The flop came 2-4-6, two hearts.  Neither of my Aces was a heart.  That flop couldn’t have hit Mr. Genius could it?  Not if he called my raise, right?  He checked.  I bet $250.  He made it $750.  I supposed I should have mucked there but I was sure this guy was capable of making a play for the pot with nothing.  His check-raise smelled to me of a steal attempt.  Maybe he had a flush draw?
I went ahead and called.  The next card was a heart, which I didn’t like, so I checked.  But he didn’t seem to like it he either, he checked behind me.  At that point, if he had bet, I likely would have folded. 
The river was a high heart.  There were now four hearts on the board, plus the straight draw from the flop.  I didn’t really like my aces since, as I said, neither was a heart.  I checked.  Poker Genius thought for a bit and then bet out $1,000.00.
My head was ordering me to fold.  But my gut was speaking louder.  Let me remind you of the structure of this tournament.  You actually start out with $20,000 in chips. For only $105.  I know of no other tournament at anything like that entry fee where you get so many chips.  The Aria tournament I also like gives you $10,000 in chips for $125.  That’s a huge starting stack Binion's give you.  Also, after the first three levels, the levels move from 20 minutes to 30 minutes each.  So you really get some time to actually play some poker for quite awhile before you have to start playing desperately.
As such, the bet I had to call was only 5% of my starting stack, which I had all of at the start of this hand.  If I called and lost, I’d still have way over $18,000 in chips, more than I’d start with at any tournament I’m likely to play.  And close to the original starting stack too.  The point being if the same action had taken place at any other tournament I’m likely to play, that’s an immediate fold if I had even gotten to the river.
But in this tournament, with the stacks and structure I described, I started thinking it might worth a call.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that Poker Genius was pulling a bluff.  I mean, there must have been some other reason (other than his non-stop chatter) that I was remembering this guy, right? 
So I decided this one time I’d call.  I was curious to see what he called my raise with.  I was thinking there was at least a 1 in 3 chance he was totally bluffing, or had maybe a medium pocket pair that the flop missed.  When I called, Poker Genius flipped over his hand saying, “If you have a flush it’s good.  I flopped a straight.”  Sure enough, he played 3-5 clubs and hit a straight on the flop.
I said “nice hand” and mucked my cards, not showing.  I paid dearly for the information I got, why should I give him any information on me when he’s taking my chips?  That should have been the end of it, but not with Mr. Poker Genius. 
Instead of just stacking his chips and accepting his win, he couldn’t help commenting.  He was actually shocked that I didn’t have him beat!  Incredulously, he said to me, “What did you call me with, sir?  There were four hearts on the board!”  I should have said nothing, but I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “I wanted to see it.”
“You wanted to see it?  You wanted to see it?”  The tone was one of disbelief.  He then said to the player to his right whose ear he had been talking off for the past 15 minutes, “They always want to see.  No one ever believes me, even though I always have it.”  Then he turned back to me, and rather unpleasantly said, “Keep wanting to see it, sir.  I would appreciate it.”
I said nothing more.  I was pissed but kept it to myself.  I knew in hindsight I’d played the hand badly but at least I had reasons in my mind anyway for what I had done.  I didn’t appreciate Mr. Poker Genius criticizing my play.  But hey that’s poker.  In a cash game, I would have asked for another table so I could get away from this clown.  But that was not an option at a tournament.
I was prepared to sit there silently and not say anything more and hope I would have an opportunity to take some chips back from this guy.  But a guy in the 9 seat suddenly spoke up.  As I had said, there are a lot of regulars in this tournament, a lot of people who have played each other before. So Seat 9 says to the guy, “Why don’t you shut up?  You always berate the other players.  That’s your style, I’ve seen it many times before.  I don’t want to hear it.  Keep your mouth shut.”
Poker Genius seemed genuinely surprised. And a little bit hurt (aw, too bad).  “I didn’t berate him, sir.  I don’t think I berated him.”  I piped in, “Well, you did insult my play.”  He replied, “I don’t think I did, sir.”  I said nothing.  The other guy was back at it, “Yes, that’s your thing, you berate the other players, you insult them.  And I’m sick of it.”
At that point, the dealer stepped in.  He warned everyone to calm down and called the floor over.  He explained what happened to the floor (accurately).  The floor gave everyone at the table a warning that if there was any more unpleasantness, there would be penalties, he has no tolerance for this.  I said nothing, I had no plans to continue this.  The third guy repeated that it was a pattern with Poker Genius.  Poker Genius said not to worry, there’d be nothing further.
So we went back to poker.  Now, if I am going to have long term success playing poker, this is something I’m really going to have to improve on.  Because, internally, I could not let this go.  For the next hour or so I was just sitting there seething, explaining to myself why the call was justified. I’m not sure if I was more upset with the jerk or myself, but I was not paying full attention to the game.  I was definitely letting it affect me. 
Meanwhile, Poker Genius kept right on chatting, but he did seem, at least for awhile, to cut out any derogatory or insulting comments.  And he avoided saying anything at all to me (or the guy who spoke up for me).  But one thing is clear.  This guy is not capable of playing poker silently.  If you taped this guy’s mouth shut, he wouldn’t be able to function at a poker table.
I did lousy at the game for the next hour because I was distracted by this.  Something I have to improve on.  Anyway, as I watched and listened to this guy blather, I came to think that this guy isn’t really a bad guy, he just really has no idea how he comes off when he says these things.  I think he really doesn’t have a clue how unpleasant he can be.
So I decided that it would be really nice, and it would really show me something, if during the first break the guy came over to me and said something to me.  You know, “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean anything, I didn’t think I was insulting you, I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.”  That would really show me something and make me respect the guy.  I would have of course responded with something “No hard feelings, no problem” or whatever.
But the guy did no such thing.  Oh well.
Soon after the AA incident happened, a new player sat down in seat 10.  He recognized Mr. Genius. They started chatting up a storm about different tournaments in town. Genius bragged about his win at Stratosphere.  And the new player asked his name. He gave his first name.  He asked for his last name, and got that too. I memorized it and made a note to Google him after the tournament was over.
The tournament continued and I was doing poorly but due to the structure I was hanging on.  Eventually, I finally got past this whole thing and finally started playing better, and started chipping up. Then a wonderful thing happened.  As tables broke, Mr. Poker Genius was moved to a different table!  Nirvana!  As PG gathered his chips to move to his new table, he said, “Well, this table’s gonna get a lot more quiet.”  He was right about that.
Anyway, my head cleared and freed of Poker Genius, I started making a nice come back.  Then my table broke and I was moved to a new table.  Of course….it was right next to Mr. Poker Genius!  He said, “Did you miss me, sir?”  I said, “Yes, and I wasn’t even aiming at you.”  He said he knew.
At this new table, it appeared PG had already made a new “friend.”  When he didn’t make a bet on the river and took down a pot, the player he beat said, “Nice bet for value there.”  Apparently he thought PG cost himself a bet by not betting the river.  PG gave a long explanation on how there was no way the other guy would have called a bet unless he had him (PG) beat.  But the other guy explained that if had only bet “X” he would have called.  So Poker Genius said to him, “Wow, you would have called a bet of X?  I’m sorry.  I thought you were a better player than that.  I apologize for overestimating your poker skills, sir.”  There he goes, winning friends again!
I finally got my chance to get a small bit of revenge with Mr. Genius.  In the big blind I was dealt pocket 6’s.  A bunch of limpers entered the pot.  Mr. Genius on the button made a modest raise (there was no small blind this hand).  With all the limper money in there I thought it was ok to call the raise since I had the Big Blind discount.  It was 3 or 4 of us seeing the flop. 
I hit my set on the flop and checked.  Folded to PG who made a modest bet which I smooth called.  No one else stayed in.  On the turn I hit my fourth 6th!  Of course I checked my quads, but this time PG checked behind me.
The river put three to a flush on the board, so I checked again, praying Mr. PG would bet.  He did, a fairly large bet (sorry, I don’t have the details in my notes).  So what do I do?  Part of what I did was actually “Hollywooding” and part was just counting my chips because what I wanted to do was bet the minimum re-raise and induce a call or better, a re-raise.  But in counting my chips, I realized that if I bet the minimum I could bet, I wouldn’t have a lot of chips left.  And I figured that would be a real donkey move, re-raising the min and leaving such a small stack behind, I’d look like I didn’t know anything about poker and this guy already thought I was a fish.  So after counting I just shrugged my shoulders and shoved all in. 
Unfortunately, Mr. Poker Genius didn’t take the bait and folded.  Since you so rarely get quads, I had to show them off.  And he said, “I knew you had one 6, I didn’t know you had two. A little bit much with the 'Hollywooding' sir.”  So he didn’t have the flush.  He probably didn’t have anything and just bet to represent the flush on a bluff.
Afterwards, I realized that I should have taken advantage of this guy thinking I was clueless.  I should have made the minimum raise anyway.  He might have thought that I was stupid enough to not know that I was pot committed there and maybe I thus either didn’t have a hand he couldn’t beat or would fold to his putting me all in.  But inasmuch as he didn’t even have a flush, I doubt it would have made any difference.
A great punch line to this story would be that this hand made all the difference and was a factor in my cashing in the tournament.  But alas, this was not to be.  I lasted another hour but not long enough to cash.
When I got back to my computer, I googled Poker Genius.  I found it he's famous or rather infamous for borrowing money for buy-in's and not paying them back. He is well known, and not necesarily in a positive away, around town.

But I do have to admit, for all his faults, and there are many, he is a pretty good poker player.  And he certainly isn’t afraid to let you know this.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. monday nite this week, when i was on the strip i seen him outside bills, and he was wondering if i could buy him in for $30

    3. my bad - he substitutes trying to get a big score at the 5-10 game over trying to get a big score at VBJ.

      And, I admit, I do not know the guy nearly as well as you. In fact I have 100% no clue who we are even talking about. I did not put a name to the face that robvegaspoker painted in the paragraphs above.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I decided to edit my original post and also edit Anonymous's comments because apparently I did a really horrendous job of trying to protect Poker Genius's identity. Unfortunately, since Anonymous is, well, anonymous I can't ask him to edit his comments and re-submit, and even I don't have the ability to edit his comments, only delete it. But what follows below is the edited version of what Anonymous said:

      I've never gotten the impression he's a bad guy. But he does think he's better at this game than everybody else thinks he is. Which means he's sometimes not entirely fun to be at a table with, although I've never found him nearly as chatty as he appeared to be in this tournament. He does speculate a lot on what folks may have had, or predict what someone will turn over after the betting is over, and sometimes comment on the quality of a person's play, but I haven't experienced a constant barrage of chatter.

      You don't mention it here, but surely he mentioned his tournament score from a few years back which gained him national TV time?

  3. what im saying is i have enough sense to not gamble with my case money unlike POKER GENIUS. and hes called me a donkey before at ballys. when i lose money on VBJ, i can still buyin the next day, only thing is it keeps me from ever being rich or buying in larger like i should. but still i certainly live a lot more responsibly than a guy totally broke not even able to buy himself in for $30 at bills, and at least even though i have no apt, all my nights sleeps are indoors instead of in a car. the only reason he has several tourney cashes and i have none is because i dont ever play tournies, im sure if ive played about 200 or so in the past few years as he has, mine would total up to more. im sure also his buyins were a lot more than his total wins or he wouldnt be broke.

  4. After learning more about said player I have decided to delete my original comment.
    I apologize for the comments and attitude that has sprung forth as a result.

    I promise to not let it happen again tonight (51 more minutes to go).

    1. I apologize to both grrouchie and Tony (sevencard2003) for alowing such negative comments to get through. My bad. I also apologize to everyone for doing such a piss-poor job of hiding PG's identity. Boy do I feel stupid. As stupid as I did when I called the river bet with my damn pocket ace's.

      Let's everyone take a deep breath and relax.


  5. OK, let's end the speculation. IT WAS ME!!!! Yes, anybody who has ever played with me knows that I just CANNOT. SHUT. THE. EFF. UP. when I'm playing poker.

    So, since it will already be obvious to anybody who knows me, might as well edit the post everywhere it says "Poker Genius" and just make it says "Poker Grump."

    I've been outed.

    1. Thanks for coming clean, Grump. Yes, it was you. Of course it was you. I obviously mis-remembered the hand when I got those pocket rockets at the first level. The flop was 3-5-6 and of course you hit it because you were playing the mighty deuce-four.

      Thanks for clearing that up and taking the blame as well.

      Next time we play together I'll buy you a beer (which means the tip's on me....25c tip seems about right, no?)

    2. Well, yeah, if you don't happen to be carrying any dimes on you.

      I stopped using valets for parking because all those 25c tips really add up.

  6. Ha ha -- pretty funny, Grump! btw -- I had a great time watching you extract money at the table last night at Golden Nugget.

    Rob -- I pissed off PG one time by daring to make a big bet when he was in a pot. He got really angry that I would dare to reraise him and told me that he would "snap me off."

    I saw him passing through Bally's late Tuesday night. I don't know about him. Sometimes he has seemed okay, but I always wonder about guys who get so angry at minor things.

  7. Thanks lighting, please be sure to give a full report on your blog of your adventure with Grump when you get a chance.

    And did he in fact "snap you off"?

  8. Let me clarify -- I played with PokerGrump last night. The other comments I made were all directed toward Poker Genius.

    As I recall, Poker Genius did extract a little revenge on me. The guy just seems a little scary to me.

    1. He's a bit off center, isn't he? I really don't think he's a bad guy, just, well....unique?

  9. i can understand why a guy would get upset over things others might consider small, when u are pretty much penniless and broke, even things like $3 in blinds are greatly magnified. remember my own rants at ballys etc

    1. Good point, Tony. One thing tho that he should learn for his own good is that when a guy makes a stupid play like I did, just take the money and smile and not criticize him. If he does that at a cash game he'll chase all the fish away, and why would he want to do that?

  10. What timing! I added you to my blog roll and then a fight breaks out. lol

    1. Coincidence, Josie????

      Thanks so much for adding me to your blog roll. It definitely increased my hits, and then there started to be real hits in the comments sections! Wow. Anyway, I meant to thank you on the comment I just posted to VJ but I accidently hit the "submit" button before I was ready.

      See, I see you and I instinctively submit!

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    1. WEC, sorry I deleted your comment. I debated quite a bit before publishing it, then went ahead let it on and was working on a reply when I thought further and decided to remove it. I apologize. If I could have just edited your comment, I would have.

      The bottom line for me though, even though the cat is out of the bag elsewhere, I am just not comfortable with it being so easy for anyone to identify this person just from what is on my blog. If they already know, or can still figure out with what I've left on, so be it. But your comments were just too specific. If you want to post my general thoughts I would love to have your comment published and your continued readership of my blog! Please don't be offended.

      I'm not going to speculate any further on how good or bad a guy this gentlemen is. Obviously he gave me a very memorable story, which ultimately I am grateful for--he gave me a great blog post! I've had other negative experiences with people at a poker table--or in life, in general--who weren't bad folks, they just might have been having a bad day or, perhaps it was me who was having the bad day!

  12. Lol I happen to have the same bad habits as PG but to a lesser extent. I play 200nl live ,rake free in Portland.... :), and the players there are so lol bad. Anyways I think I know who PG is. Aren't his initials CR?

    1. Thanks for finding my blog and commenting, Anony. I can't answer the question you asked, really, because even if the answer is no, the initials are not CR, that would eliminate one possiblity, so it might narrow it down too much.

      But if I could answer your question, I would tell you that those are not the right initials.

      How the heck do you play rakefree in Portland? Maybe when I get better I should move there?

    2. Portland,or has poker clubs throughout Portland since casinos aren't allowed. We pay a daily fee (about $10) then play all the tournies and cash games we want