Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It was a Home Game, Even if it Was in a Casino

Played in an interesting little tournament today, in one of the last places I’d ever expect to play.  It was the noon tournament at Santa Fe Station out there on Rancho Rd.  If you Google “locals casino”, the first link will take you to their website.  I think I’d been there once before, long before I started playing poker, and felt no need to ever return.
What changed?  Well, an email I received a few days ago from someone I never heard of, but who turns out to be a regularly reader of this silly little blog.  I have absolutely no reason to give him a fake name, other than to piss off Lightning and Josie, so let’s call him Leo since that is actually not his name at all. 
Anyway, Leo tells me reads my blog and Tony’s blog and grrouchie’s blog, and all the others in our little blogger community, and would like to meet me.  Of course, I blushed.  Then he says he would love to play poker with me in order to—get this—evaluate his game.  Moi?  Evaluate his game?  Seriously?
I was both honored and amused.  I do a “poker blog” that is more noteworthy for hooker stories, girls taking about their vaginas and bosom obsessions than for deep, thoughtful discussion of poker strategy like one can almost always find at Poker Grump’s site.

But who am I to question the reasoning of one of my loyal readers?  I was of course, appreciative of the compliment and eager to meet anyone who finds this foolishness interesting.  Turns out Leo is a newbie when it comes to live play, having only started in January of this year, even tho he’s lived in Vegas for many years.  He’s played online a lot, tho.
Leo is too “intimidated” to play cash games, so he often hits the noon tournament at Santa Fe, which is close to his home.  The structure actually seemed pretty good for a small room and a small tournament.  Leo no doubt saw the note I put at the beginning of this post about being in Vegas and offering to meet and play with any readers who would like to meet me, and so it was arranged that I would drive out to his local room and play in his regular tournament.  Again, nothing is too good for my fans, all 3 of them.
The drive out to Santa Fe Station was not uneventful, but I’ll save that for another time.  I met Leo, who is a real nice guy and not a young guy either.  So I guess I’m not the only guy my age who likes hooker stories.  Anyway, I had to eat before the tournament and thus he watched me enjoy the fine cuisine at Johnny Rockets.  While doing that, he gave the lay of the land.  He described some of the regular players and what their tendencies were, giving me valuable free information about the players.
But it turns out that there was a very small turnout for today’s festivities.  Leo said that they usually have 2 or 3 tables but today there was only one, although it was 10 handed.  I think there were a few alternates signed up, but not enough to start a second table and they never got in as no one busted out before the break, the last opportunity to enter.
This was the first tournament I’ve played in recently that offered a “re-buy”.  Now, for $50 you got 6K in chips, with a $20 rebuy (through the first break, 4 levels) for 4k more in chips.  What I found weird was that no one used the re-buy option at the beginning, waiting to bust out (or the break) before getting the additional chips.  I think this is the wrong way to play it, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” who was the only one who didn’t seem to get the program, so I didn’t use my option until the break.
The tournament started and it seemed like everyone knew everyone else.  They were all on a first name basis and knew each other’s favorite hands.  One guy was well known to love playing J-7.  Actually there were a couple of younger guys there that Leo told me he wasn’t familiar with but it was mostly regulars.
As such, it seemed to me more like a home game than a game taking place in a professional card room. Of course they knew all the dealers and the dealers knew them.  So I didn’t say much, just observing, and kind of felt like that at any moment, someone was going to ask me to leave for being a party-crasher, when another regular showed up and I had his seat.
Leo’s information about the players was a bit useful, but really I was able to figure out the same things he told me pretty much anyway.  As for Leo’s game, I told him on the break that I didn’t know whether this was good or bad news but, I thought he played pretty much like I did!  He was a tight player and played solid, conservative poker.  Of course, after he hit a few pots early, he went a bit card dead and thus I didn’t get to see him play too many hands.  I really couldn’t give him too much useful information to help him out.  He was concerned that he was too easy to read but that’s a bit of problem with anyone who plays tight.  I hope he occasionally uses his tight image to pull off a move or a bluff like I do (and did today), but I never saw it, hopefully because it worked so well he didn’t have to show.
Leo started out doing ok, me not so much.  I was bleeding chips, playing few hands and not hitting anything when I did play.  I finally managed to get a few little pots that kept me from getting too low.  Still, I did the rebuy at the break and even so, was hardly flush with chips. Meanwhile Leo had had a few bad breaks, especially when his trip 9’s got rivered by a straight, and was running low.
Before the break, the most interesting hand came when a short stacked player shoved and got 5 callers.  Leo had warned me that this player shoved with any Ace after the first couple of levels, but with his stack, a lot of hands would justify this move.  The flop was all low cards, so the guy with the next shortest stack shoved.  He got called by one other player, who was had the second shover covered.  Now it was time to flip the cards.  Original shover made his move with pocket deuces and now had lucked into a set!  The second shover had pocket 10’s and no set.  The last guy had pocket Queens and no set.  Nothing more hit and the QQ guy got a small side pot and the original shover was now flush with chips.  He lasted to the end.
For me, the hand that got me on the way to success came soon after the 1st break.  I had AK offsuit and made a decent raise.  No one called until the guy on my right shoved all-in.  Now, Leo had told me that this was a guy who usually had a decent hand when he bet or raised.  So I had to think about it a bit.  I wasn’t in desperate position yet and tho I had him covered, calling and losing would have left me with about 2k in chips when the blinds were 400 and 800. Keeping in mind what Leo told me, a fold was definitely a possibility.  But I decided to call instead.
Good move.  He had A-rag offsuit and my AK held up.  He was busted and I now had some money to play with.
Another good hand for me happened immediately after I raised with A-8 suited and got no callers.  Next hand I looked down at the dreaded pocket kings.  I made the same opening bet I had just made, and got one caller, a short stack.  I was last to act, so when I saw the Ace on the flop, and he checked, I checked behind.  I guess he was hoping for a check-raise because as soon as I checked, before he even saw the turn card, he announced “all in”. 
I didn’t have a very tough decision to make because the turn card was a King.  Yeah, that was an insta-call.  He had Ace rag and when no Ace showed up on the river, he was gone and I was stacking more chips.
One more hand of note.  A bit later I had K-8 diamonds in the big blind.  No raise so I saw the flop for free.  It was only UTG and me.  The flop was really, really gorgeous, all diamonds, including the Ace, giving me the absolute nuts.  I checked thinking heads up, UTG would surely bet out to steal the pot.  I was right, he bet out about the size of the pot.  I suppose I could have slowplayed it further but I didn’t want to give a free card in case he could have somehow filled up.  I shoved. He thought a long time but folded.
Leo busted out and disappeared for awhile.  I was concerned that he had just taken off, but I think he just went to grab a smoke.   He came back and watched for awhile, but disappeared again when the tournament was ending.
Blinds were up to 2k/4k and we got down to 3 players.  Only two were getting paid.  I think at one point I was actually the chip leader but I had gone totally card dead and couldn’t find the right spot to even try to make a move.  I still thought I was at least in second when the guy with the lucky set of deuces earlier suggested we give $50 to the bubble, which we all agreed to (which meant losing money tho since we had all bought in for the extra $20).  But then a few minutes it was figured out that a 3-way chop would give us each $156.  We all agreed to it.  I was surprised t realize I was actually in last place at this point, so I actually caught a break there.  But at that point of the tournament, luck is much more important than either skill or stack size and it seemed like a fair result for all concerned.
As I was cashing out, Leo came over and I showed him my winnings and told him of the 3 way chop.  I thanked him for suggesting I come out and play in his little “home game.”  I hope to see Leo again, although he did inform me that he’s moving out of Vegas for awhile next week.  But he expects to be back plenty.
So today I met a reader of the blog, played in what was essentially a home game even though was at a real card room, made a bit of money and can say I chopped first place in a tournament.  Not a bad day.
Thanks Leo, it was a pleasure to meet you, in more ways than one.  And Leo, you definitely have the game to take on those “sharks” at the cash games…especially the 1/2 limit table.     


  1. That's where my bowling league will be playing starting in September.

    1. Ordinarily I wouldn't say this to a woman but I hope you stay out of the gutter, Carmel.

  2. Wowed -- a link next to the boiggest link whore around. Even bad press is good press, I guess ...

    Will you be in Las Vegas in mid-June? I hope that maybe we can play some cards at my favorite BSC (let's call it Bailey's). Maybe even go to the Tony Memorial Steak Dinner (featuring only country fried steak with mashed potatoes for Tony, of course) at, ... let's call it Nellis Peninsula ...

    : o P

    1. Yep, I certainly plan to be in Vegas for your trip, in fact, I've already booked a room. Unfortunately the last I saw of the female companion I was counting on she was exiting through a door marked "Employees Only." Oh well.

      But since it's me, when I blog about our adventures together, it will take place in Tonopah, not Las Vegas, and the mashed potatoes will be called potatoes au gratin.

      Now, if you really nice to me, I will take you to BSC and introduce you to Prudence.

      Oh and of course, for this post I had to change the name of the casino, it didn't take place at Santa Fe Station, it was Caesars Palace.

    2. Wait until you find out that Josie and Waffles are one and the same person. That REALLY gets confusing!

    3. Could be...have you ever seen them together?

    4. Hey don't use my real name! I want a pseudonym!

    5. LOL, Josie. Of course, giving you a pseudonym wouldn't work, because I wanted to give you the link love, so the link would give you away anyway.

      Unless I gave a link to a different site. Perhaps I could link your fake name to the same site Prudence used in her comment recently!

      But as for a psuedonym for you....hmmm....what would be appropriate? I'm thinking "Rakewell"?

    6. Oh and LightNing, and Josie too, have you seen that AVP is planning their next Meet & Greet and tournament for the Saturday night you will be in Vegas? I don't remember your schedule but I hope you and the other bloggers can make that.

      Maybe we could all get seated at the same table? I would love the opportnity to beat the Grump with the mighty deuce-four!

  3. Rob, I've seen your list of followers, and you almost have tens and tens of readers (not just three)... Second, when you said that everyone at the ten-handed tournament table seemed to be on a first-name basis, I was BEGGING for you to give the other eight players fake names... :) Congrats on the cash!

    1. Well, my own little "inside" joke was that the name I gave to my reader, "Leo", was actually the name of one of the other regulars in the game. Well, it amuses me if no one else.

      Coach, if I had given everyone fake names, including isolated, insignificant characters, I'd fear that I would run out of names to use sooner rather than later.

  4. He had Ace rag and when no Ace showed up on the river, he was gone and I was stacking more chips.

    Even if an ace comes on the river, you win. He'd have three aces, you'd have a full house.

    1. Thanks for correcting that little goof of mine, you are correct, MOJO He was drawing dead.