Monday, July 30, 2012

How & Why I Started My Blog (Reflections on Reaching 50K Pageviews)

I mentioned in my previous post, a few days ago this blog passed 50,000 total pageviews.  As I said when I “celebrated” my 25,000th pageview (see here), I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it does amaze me.  Now, it took me about 8 months get the 25,000 pageviews, and only about 2 ½ months to get the second 25,000 pageviews.  So I guess that’s an encouraging sign, even though I’m sure others can brag about better results.
So, as I did for the 25k milestone, I want to do something a little different to mark the occasion. So I thought I’d talk a bit about how I got this blog started, and how I feel it’s changed—and how I’ve changed—over the 10 months since I started it.  Those of you who aren’t interested in such self-indulgence—or don’t like reading my extra long blog posts—please feel free to skip this post and check back in a couple of days or so for the next entry, when I return to my normal type of post—assuming there is such a thing.
When I first started the blog, I did an “introduction to the blog” page, found here, which I wanted folks to see before they started reading the blog.  Although that was adequate at the beginning, I’ve long felt the need to update and revise it based on how the blog has become a bit different than what I original envisioned.  For one thing, I’ve hardly ever mentioned “LC1” or LC2”, referenced on that page (OTOH, I have indeed talked quite a bit about “BSC”).  I guess I overestimated how many interesting stories I had that took place at those two locals casinos.  I think I will replace (or addend) that page with this post, after it falls off the main page)
Then, a few weeks ago a reader left a comment on this post. You can find the comment, but the gist of it was that said reader was not enjoying my blog as much as he used to.  He liked the poker stuff, but was less interested in my reports of meeting fellow bloggers or the more salacious stories that I post, which frequently feature women saying dirty things (usually, but certainly not always, my friend Prudence.)  And while I haven’t given any serious thought to changing what I write about based on that comment, I did take the comment very seriously.  I did think about what he was saying, and it reminded me of a concern I indeed had at the very beginning, when I started blogging.
So, thinking about this comment is what helped give me the idea to do a post about how and why I got started doing this.  And then I figured, why not do it to coincide with the 50,000th pageview, which I could see coming up?  And thus—this post.
A couple of years ago, I found myself with some free time and thought about doing a blog.  I had several ideas, but one thing that kept coming up was poker.  You see, I have been going to Vegas (from Southern California) regularly for over 30 years.  For most of that time, I played pit games (blackjack, craps, pai gow poker).  Then a few years ago I tried playing poker—2/4 limit—on my last night in town for a particular visit.  To make a long story short, within a few visits, all I was playing when I’d go to Vegas was poker.  For awhile, I’d force myself to play blackjack or craps at least once per visit, but I soon found blackjack (and pai gow) too boring once I had played poker, and craps had priced me out due to the high minimum bets.
Poker engaged my brain (yes, even at 2/4) as no pit game ever could, and I also began enjoying the social aspect of the game.  Particularly at the 2/4 game I was playing, there was a lot of really nice social interaction that one usually didn’t find at any of those pit games.  I actually talked somewhat about that in my post here.
So why not blog about poker?  I had accumulated some fun stories over the recent years.  And I figured—without doing any real research, mind you—that while there were probably a lot of poker blogs talking about No Limit out there, there probably weren’t too many about the limit hold ‘em games (and very low limit) that I was playing almost exclusively.  Or so I figured, anyway.
I guess I should mention that once upon a time, in what seems a lifetime ago when I was in school, I did a fair amount of amateur writing on a totally unrelated topic.  This was well before the internet and it was distributed to a very limited number of people (it actually had to be printed to be distributed).  I enjoyed it even though back in those days, everything we wrote was pounded out on a typewriter and nobody ever heard of a “word processor.”  And I got some decent compliments for my output; even from people who weren’t obligated to compliment me.
So in theory I was looking forward to getting back to writing, but when I first sat down to start blogging, I got stuck.  I wrote one post, started another, and then just stalled. One thing I am very good at is procrastination and I just couldn’t get out of the starting blocks.
But I actually was writing up blog posts, I just didn’t know it at the time.  You’ve no doubt seen comments to some of my posts from “Luv Malts” and “Woody Gentry.”  These are long time friends of mine; in fact, “Luv Malts” has been my friend for for about 25 years, long before she even met and then married Woody (and it is their dog who starred—and is depicted—in the post here).  For years I would come back from Vegas with stories from my trip and regale Luv with them.  She seemed to eat them up; even the more mundane stories seemed to amuse her.  That’s why I start taking a little notebook with me every Vegas trip, just to keep track of all the stories, small and large, that I would want to relate to her.
For the longest time, I didn’t really think anyone but her would find my stories all that interesting; but she started sharing them with Woody and he seemed interested as well.  So much so that I began telling him my Vegas anecdotes directly and he seemed to eat them up.  Of course, he seemed to especially enjoy the most salacious of my anecdotes, the more salacious the better.  He was especially interested any time I spotted a hooker, even if it was just in passing.
I had other friends who appeared to like some of this anecdotes, and sometimes, depending on when I saw my various friends, I would find it easier to write up these experiences as group emails to my friends rather than telling the same story over and over again to different people.  And this allowed me to feed that writing bug I apparently had.  My style back in school and now as I was writing those emails was always to include a lot of detail—clearly too much detail for some people’s tastes—and to throw in a few silly jokes, a few silly asides—some of them total non sequiturs—for color.  I really started looking forward to being able to write these emails with my anecdotes.  When I started taking a laptop with me to Vegas, it became easier to write up these email in a timely fashion while the details were all still fresh in my mind, although often I was having too much fun in Vegas to take time off to do them until I returned home.
I suppose I should have realized myself that these emails could be converted to blog entries for that blog I had started and put aside.  But I wasn’t thinking about it like that.  Since my friends were not poker players, I wasn’t telling them “poker stories” unless they were so unusual or interesting that even a non-player would find them of interest.  I was telling them of the other bizarre things that happened to me or that I witnessed in Vegas.  Now, a lot of them stories did indeed take place at the poker table, but they weren’t really about poker.  So I didn’t put two and two together for a long time.
But then on a trip to Vegas last year, that included Labor Day weekend, I had a particularly productive trip for good stories.  And I had time to email a lot of them from Vegas so they were still fresh in my mind when I reported them (note: I still haven’t published all the anecdotes I got from this trip). And so when I got back in town and visited Luv & Woody, they practically did an intervention.  They sat down with me and pretty much demanded that I do “something” with these stories and emails I had been entertaining them with.  They said I need to somehow share them with other people outside my small circle of friends, that they were too good to confine to just such a narrow audience.  They weren’t sure how, but they wanted me to get them out in the public somehow.  They suggested I publish a book of these stories, or perhaps put them on the internet somewhere.
And suddenly I remembered the long dormant blog I had barely started but never really got going over a year ago.  Hmm…..maybe I could do a blog with these tales?  I had never told anyone of my incomplete attempt to do a poker blog, but I mentioned it to them then.  So perhaps I could put these anecdotes in a blog about poker….and Vegas.  What if I combined all those poker stories I thought I had and wanted to blog about, with these other stories, the ones that were entertaining my friends, the ones that didn’t really have much to do with poker even if so many of them did take place at the poker table? 
But I did point out one problem to my friends.  Some of the stories I had been telling them could conceivably be embarrassing to some of the participants, who of course had no idea that things they did—or things they told me—would be aired publicly.  And since I was now going to Vegas very frequently—and typically played mostly in the same two or three rooms—I had gotten quite friendly with a fair number of the dealers and other poker room employees I regularly encountered.  I didn’t want to embarrass my “friends”, did I?  And if these friends of mine found out and read about my blog, did I really want them to know I found “hooker sightings” or “boobs mentionings” so fascinating (this was long before I even imagined “vagina mentionings”).  When Luv & Woody kept pressing me to press ahead anyway, I thought of the idea of using pseudonyms—not just for the people involved, but for the rooms that these people worked.  And thus, “BSC” was born.
I also knew there were probably some things I had recently learned that I could never reveal under any circumstances, even with pseudonyms, even if I tried to change some of the details.  OK, I could omit those, I would still probably have enough material. So I left that day promising my friends to get the blog going, combining the poker stories and the Vegas stories.
Let me point out some of my early posts and show you how I differentiated the two elements of the prospective blog in my mind.  The poker blog I originally envisioned would have posts like Four 7’s! , Olivia,(she wasn’t a Jack Off), I Shouldn't Have to Say "Raise!" and Four Queens (And They Weren't Mine and I Don't Mean the Hotel). The Vegas blog (the one with the risqué stories) would have ones like Hard Rock Hooker. She Pointed To Her Crotch, "I Don't Have a Penis!", and Worrying About Her Boobs Falling Out.
Even as I agreed to do the blog based on my friends’ insistence, and came up with the idea of combining the two elements, I had my doubts if the two elements would fit together.  I even thought about starting two separate (but connected) blogs, one for the poker, one for the other kind of posts.  But what would I do with a story like Playing Like a Dick? It was definitely a poker story, but also a classic “woman said” story.  Which blog would it belong on?
So I dismissed the idea of two blogs and pressed on.  In late September of last year, I posted four entries in two days and was on my way.
And of course, for a long time, no one read the blog, except my friends, who had either heard or read all the stories before.  And when no one was reading, I again began to wonder if the combination of the two types of blog posts didn’t really fit together well enough to make my blog “work”—if it ever really could work.  Were the poker folks bored by “woman saids” and “boob mentionings”?  Were the people who would like the “woman saids” and “boob mentionings” not even aware of them because this was a poker blog? I was discouraged, even as I found myself enjoying writing the posts (and editing my old emails to turn them into posts).
But eventually I picked up some readers. That same night I met Prudence for the first time in late December, 2011, I met a reader of the blog for the first time—a reader I didn’t already know, that is.  The story of that meeting is told here.  And once I got the story of that first poker session with Prudence posted a few weeks later, things really started taking off.
Meanwhile, my poker playing habits started to change.  I originally thought that the poker posts were going to be about playing 2/4 limit poker, right?  Suddenly I started playing No Limit.  First, in tournaments, then in cash games. At first I was just dipping my toe in the water with No Limit, but now, I don’t see myself going back to limit.  I think that has made the poker posts more interesting; people have told me they’ve enjoyed following my transition from limit to NL.
But I did fear that such a move would cost me some of the more salacious, provocative stories I also write about. I expressed that fear in this post.  But as it turns out, I’ve somehow managed to keep getting the kind of stories that people like Woody seem to like.
And it turns out, just blogging regularly has directly contributed to changing the blog.  I stated earlier that one of the reasons I switched to poker from table games was the social interaction of the game.  Obviously, that social interaction appealed to me.  And it turns out that having a blog has also contributed to expanding my social circle.  Without overtly trying, I found myself welcomed into a community of fellow bloggers—you know who they are, the ones on my blogroll to your right.  Most of these blogs are poker blogs of varying degree, but each of us write what we want to write about.  That’s the great thing about having your own blog.  There’s no one telling you what to write about, you pick your own topics and you can make your posts as long (!!!) or as short as you want.  Of course, you listen to feedback but you don’t have any specific assignments, you write what you want to write about when you feel like writing.  A lot of those so-called poker blogs don’t discuss poker that much anymore.  And that’s fine.  If people write what they want to write about, rather than what they have to write about, they tend to write better.
So finding this community of bloggers, where I comment on their blogs and they comment on mine, has gotten me some new friends.  And therefore it is great when they go to Vegas (or already live there), as several did last month, and we all get to meet each other and play poker together or maybe even have a meal or two together.  And not only is that great fun, but it gives us all material to blog about.  Most people seem to like the posts about these blogger get-togethers (though others disagree).
And that is how I got started, and got to this point.  I’ve really enjoy doing this, more so than I expected when I began.  I enjoy writing and I love getting comments.  Even the not so flattering ones (but admittedly, I love the flattering ones more).  Mostly, I love it when I can get a good discussion going, or when someone comments back with a thought or a joke I didn’t think of myself.
Knowing that there’s a bunch of folks out there that I’ve never met—that I don’t even yet know exist—who read this silliness is really fun for me.  Whenever I hear from a reader who I didn’t know was reading this thing, I get a big smile on my face.
Thanks for reading this self-indulgent post—the two or three of you who read all the way through (yeah, I know it’s “too long”).  On to the next 50,000!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sometimes, I Feel Like a Poker Player

I want to mention a few things before I get to the meat of this post.  First, I just got back from Vegas two days ago, so I have plenty of material to blog about.  I just need time to get to it all.  Of course, two of the better stories from the recent trip have already been posted, here (for those of you like the salacious) and here (for those of you like poker).  And while I didn’t chauffeur any bloggers around on this trip (here and here), I did chauffeur a very pretty, rather well-inebriated female poker dealer to her desired destination late one night (or was it early morning?).  Details will be forthcoming.
Second, today I passed 50,000 total pageviews on the blog.  That’s a meaningful milestone for me and I really want to do a special post to celebrate.  But this won’t be it; it has been too long since my last post and I thus I want to get a new entry up quickly, the celebration post, if I do one, will take more time.
But this is actually a fairly appropriate tale to tell for such an occasion, as it relates to my development as a poker player.  Long time readers will recall that when I started this blog, I was pretty much strictly a low limit player, 2/4 mostly. But as I’ve been blogging, I have now transitioned from limit to No Limit, both tournaments and cash games.  To a large degree, this blog has chronicled that transition.
I’m still quite new at the No Limit form of Hold ‘Em.  And still have quite a lot to learn to continue my growth as a player.  So whenever I do something that I know I was incapable of doing just a few months earlier, I feel quite proud of myself.  Unfortunately, the pride only lasts until I make my next dumb mistake, which is never far away.  But still, I do celebrate the little things I do that add to my success, however short-lived.
This leads me to the subject of bluffing.  In a 2/4 limit game, bluffing is really not part of the game.  Seldom is it even tried, even less seldom does it work when tried.  For $4, or $8, no one who has any kind of hand is going to fold if the pot has anything significant in it.
But in No Limit, even the lowly 1/2 variety, bluffing comes into play, and perhaps, just as importantly, bluff-catching comes into play.
Which brings us to a hand from early last week at the 1/2 game.  I had just moved to this table fairly recently.  Sitting nearby were the two ladies referenced in this post here, Ginger and her friend.  I guess I need to give her name, so let’s call Ginger’s friend “Faith.”
Almost immediately after I sat down, I witnessed a hand where Faith was up against a guy with a foreign accent.  A few nights later, this same foreign guy got quite friendly with Prudence and revealed himself to be a Palestinian, but I didn’t know his background at this time.  (Edited to add:  You can read about how he got friendly with Prudence right here.)  It appeared that at least Ginger and possibly Faith knew this guy; in fact, they had just invited him to move his seat to the one next to Ginger.  I’m sure that Ginger had either played with this guy before, or dealt to him right there at BSC before, or both.
The hand I witnessed had a board of A/K/K/10/9.  Faith made a large bet, and then the Palestinian shoved.  Faith was not happy.  But the guy said to her, as a friend would, he had her beat, so she should just fold and he’d show his hand.  Faith thought about this for awhile.  She didn’t want to fold.  But she believed that the guy had her beat, so reluctantly, she folded.
Having played with Faith before, I was surprised she folded there, even not knowing her hand.  She is a very loose player and will usually call down with anything.  She clearly believed the guy had her beat, and I think it was probably due to having played with him before and having some kind of relationship with him.
He was good to his word and showed his hand—Ace Queen!  Yes, all he had was an Ace for two pair (including the Kings on the board).  Faith was livid.  She said, loudly enough to heard at the poker room down the street, “F*** you!  I had a King.  I had a f***ing King, and you made me fold with just Aces?  F*** you!”  I think she fished her hand out of the muck to show her King.  I dunno what the other card was, probably a low card because she plays anything.  She clearly believed he had at least the straight if not a full house.  The guy just shrugged, and tried to sell the story that he was sure his Aces were better than what she had, that he didn’t think she had a King.
A little while later the floor did a “board check” to see if there were enough people on the interest list still there for the 2/5 game.  This guy was on that list and indicated he wanted to play 2/5 when available.
So I was remembering both the hand with Faith and the fact that this guy wanted to play 2/5 when I looked down at AK offsuit under the gun.  I put out a bet of $8.  Faith now was short-stacked so she went all in, but it was only for $15-$18, something like that.  Ginger folded and then the Palestinian re-raised.  He made it $30.  By this time I had seen him play most hands since I was at the table and he had raised a lot more often than not.  So I didn’t think he necessarily had to have any kind of a hand to make this move.
Folded around to me and I called.  He had me covered and I had most if not all of my $200 buy-in so I didn’t really want the pot to get too big by re-raising, even though I thought I likely had a much better hand than he did.
The flop was all low cards, maybe a 10 or 9 was the highest.  Rainbow.  But of course, that completely missed me, I had zilch.  I checked.  Faith was already all in, so the guy puts out a $15 bet.
Here’s where I’ve changed as a player.  Three months ago, I’ve already folded as soon as the guy reaches for chips.  After all, the flop totally missed me, right?  I have nothing.
But now… I think a bit.  Fifteen bucks for pot that’s over $70?  That ain’t much.  True I have nothing, but what does he have?  He could have made that move with any two cards so it’s possible that this crappy flop did hit him, true, but how hard?  Was he lucky enough to get a straight or straight draw?  Maybe.  But likely not. 
I figured he may have a pair and if so, I still had six outs to beat him.  Why not gamble a little here for only $15?  Let’s see the turn.
So I called and the turn is another blank.  No help.  I checked figuring I’m going to have to fold to any reasonable bet.  But he surprises me by checking behind me.  Ok, a free card.  Let’s see that Ace or King.
Nope, the river is a blank too.  I check again and this time he counts out $45 and pushes it in front of him.
So it’s $45 to call and I’m sitting there with Ace high.  The “old” Rob folds there without a second thought.  The “new” Rob is giving it a second thought.
Based on the hand I saw with Faith, based on his being a 2/5 player playing down to 1/2, and based on the fact that he had played a high percentage of hands he’d been dealt and raised pre-flop with most of those, I thought there was an excellent chance my Ace high was good.  Not sure, of course.  I knew even the crummiest pair would beat me.  But I just had a really strong feeling he was betting with air—and less air (or would it be more air), than I was holding.
So indeed, the “new” Rob takes over and decides, for “only” $45 more, to call.  And so I did.
I had barely gotten my chips out in front of me when he slid his hand into the muck faster than you can say, “good call.”  Heh heh.  I was right.  I caught him making a move.  It felt good, even better than the feeling of just winning the pot.
That was just for the side pot however.  I still had to show my hand to contest the main pot, with Faith.  So I had to show my Ace high hand.  Which I did.  Faith flipped over Queen/Jack!  The flop had missed her too!  I won all the chips.
But the Palestinian was not amused.  He said “You had Ace high?  That’s it?  You called me with Ace high?  Why did you do that?”  I just smiled as I stacked my chips.  Then he said, “I had a pair of 8’s.  I mucked a pair of 8’s.  I was sure you had something.  You kept calling.  How could you only have Ace high?”  I said nothing.  “I mucked a pair of 8’s.”
Heh heh.  Did he really muck the winning hand?  I’ll never know.  He was quite upset and insisted that he did.  A couple of the players near me who had said, “good call” to me thought he was lying.  Why would he muck a pair there, even if he thought my call indicated I had him beat?  Doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t table his hand there, just in case.  Maybe I had a lower pair?
Others thought he was telling the truth because he was so upset.  But he could have just been upset because he was caught in a bluff and his read on me was that he could easily bluff me.
As I said, I’ll never know, but that was one of the most satisfying pots I’d ever won.  Because, for that one moment at least, I really felt like a poker player.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Verbal is Binding

One of the rules of the poker room is this:  “Verbal is binding.”  This means that if a person says “call” instead of putting out his chips in front of him, he is obligated to put his chips into the pot.  If he or she says “raise” he must raise the required amount, regardless of any action he takes with his chips (in a no limit game, without stating an amount, the person saying “raise” would have to put out the minimum required to raise).

But that’s not where it ends.  If a person has yet to act, and the person who will be acting next says something about calling or raising, that too is binding.  Even if he doesn’t realize it.
And that little rule created quite a ruckus at BSC last week.  And it was your humble correspondent who was up against the guy who didn’t know the rules—or at least, claimed not to know them.
I was sitting in seat 4 and had about $250 in front of me.  A brand new player took seat 5 immediately to my left and bought in for $100.  This was his very first hand.  He was coming in right behind the button. 
A bunch of limpers in the pot, the action went to me holding 6/7 suited, so I limped also.  Seat 5 raised to $10.  Two or three called in front of me, so I called as well.
The flop was 865, rainbow I believe.  It checked around to the new player, who had last action from here on.  He bet $30.  A guy in early position called as well.  I had him covered but he had close to $200 in front of him.  I felt with the pair and the open ender it was enough to call, so I did.
The turn card was a beautiful 9, given me the second nuts.  Only a 10-7 could beat me.  First guy checked, and I decided to check too.  If I bet there, it would scream “straight!” and I probably wouldn’t get a caller.  If I checked, I thought the new player might bet and then I could figure out what to do based on whether the other guy called and how much the bet was. 
But the guy disappointed me, tanking for a bit, saying, “Wow, you put a straight out there huh?”  After thinking about it some more, he finally said he was just gonna check.
Oh well, I knew that was the risk.  The river was a totally harmless deuce that didn’t change anything (and there was no flush possible).  First guy checks, and, I knew I had to bet to try to get any more value for my hand. 
I started counting out chips and was trying to figure out what bet would be called. Before I got very far in my thought process of what the right amount to bet would be, the new guy, seeing me reach for chips, said something like, “Oh if you’re betting, I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”
OK, if that’s the case, no more calculating on my part was necessary.  The third guy was a good player; I didn’t figure he’d call the two of us unless he had a 7, or worse for me, 10-7.  If this guy was gonna put his last $60 in the pot, I was satisfied with that.  So I said, “In that case, all-in.” 
The dealer was Brent.  Brent is not just a dealer pal of mine but the very dealer who gave me the great story about “protecting your hand” that resulted in my all time most popular post, located here.  Now, we were about to get yet another lesson in poker rules and etiquette courtesy of Brent.
Brent immediately took out the “all in” card and threw it in front of me, and took out the “call” card and threw it in front of seat 5.  Seat 5 said nothing. Brent posed stoically and the action turned to the third player.  But nothing happened for awhile and I looked at Brent and he was still frozen.  So, for a nano-second, forgetting about the third player, or perhaps thinking he must have folded as I assumed he would, I grabbed my cards and said, “Is that in then?”  I hadn’t come close to exposing my hand tho, when Brent stopped me and pointed to the third guy and said he still had to act.  I immediately slammed my cards face down, no one had seen them.  I had barely gotten them an inch off the table.
I then looked over to the third guy for a second, and he was still tanking.  I looked away.  During all this time, seat 5 said absolutely nothing, made no motion, was totally still.  He was definitely not acting like a guy who had a decision to make.  Finally the other guy says, “Well, I guess at least one of you has me beat,” and mucked.
Brent looks at both of us and says “lets see ‘em” or whatever.  I show my hand, he said, “straight,” and then, and only then, did seat 5 speak up. 
“Call? Who called?  I didn’t call.”  Brent told him he most certainly did call.  He told him that what he said before I bet was binding, verbal is binding, and that he said “I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”  That’s binding.
No, seat 5 said, he didn’t say that.  “I said, ‘I’d probably call.’  I said ‘probably’.  I didn’t say I’d call.”   Brent said he didn’t hear him say “probably.” Anybody hear him say “probably,” he asked the table?
No.  A few people shook their heads and said definitely that they didn’t hear him say “probably.”  I said what I knew to be true, that he never said probably.  The rest of the table said nothing, presumably not hearing what he said.
The guy insisted he didn’t call, so Brent held up the action and called the floor over.  We’ll call the floor person “Bill” and like most anyone who works floor this time of day at BSC (or evening, actually), he knows me by name (and has helped me a few times on comps issues, among other things).  He even knows my last name, which surprised me because I didn’t think he’d ever seen my players card.
Seat 5 started making his case and Bill silenced him.  He got the story from Brent first, who accurately re-enacted what happened.  He also pointed out that his comment affected my action, which was true—just not the way the guy had hoped for.  Brent said he was trying to get me not to bet.
Bill turned back to seat 5 and said that “verbal is binding” and that since he had made the call, he had to put all his chips into the pot, as I easily had him covered.  The guy continued to protest, and rather loudly.  He said, “Why would I call when there was a four-card straight on the board?”
I didn’t say anything, but of course, that four-card straight was on the board when he said he was gonna call whatever I put out.  He had noticed the straight on the turn; that’s why he didn’t bet.  But he still said he was gonna call me.
He continued to talk.  He said, “I’m a man of my word,” and thus was trying to act insulted that he was being questioned like this.  He insisted he said “probably.”  Then he went on to say that this was his first time in Vegas and he just came into BSC to see the show in the main showroom and was trying to have a little fun before the show started. 
Somewhere along the way, Bill took the same survey of the other players that Brent had and found no one who recalled saying “probably.”  When Bill once again asked him politely to put his chips into the pot, he again refused and asked to speak to someone else.
Bill said fine, he would call the Shift Supervisor over.  Which he did.  Of course, “Nick,” the Shift Supervisor, knows me too.  I should point out that during the entire discussion, Brent, Bill and Nick referred to me only as “seat 4” and never by name, even tho they all know it.  I assume this is standard operating procedure, and it is an excellent idea.  Since they were siding with me, it only would have made things worse if the guy knew that I was a regular in the room who everyone knew.  He might have felt that as a regular, they were giving me preferential treatment, although that wasn’t true.  They were calling this one by the book.
Pretty much the same thing happened, Nick asked the other players after hearing Brent’s version of the facts.  Then, after hearing seat 5 tell him he was a man of his word several more times, and how this was his first time in Vegas, and how he said “probably” and why would he call a four-card straight and he was just there to see the show…..Nick very, very politely and calmly told him that he had indeed called my bet and to please put his chips into the pot.
Now I must admit, at some point I seriously considered just saying, “It’s ok, let him keep his chips.”  I really did.  The guy was clearly upset and who knew what would happen if this situation was allowed to escalate.  And it was only $60, even if it was $60 that was rightly mine.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As Brent had pointed out, his words had indeed affected my action.  Plus, he had all kinds of time before seeing my hand to say something about not calling.  The “call” card was sitting in front of him for a couple of minutes. Then he saw Brent remind me that another player, the one following him, still had to act.  Why would we be waiting for him to act if seat 5 himself had not already acted?  Of course, even if he protested as soon as he saw the “call” card placed in front of him, there still would have been an issue as to whether or not he had called, but at least it would have been adjudicated before he saw my hand.
So I said nothing.  My only contribution to the discussion was my statement, several times, to several different people, that he didn’t say “probably”.  He said he would call whatever I bet.
The guy was very agitated and repeated all the things he had been saying several times.  Nick once again told him to put his chips (which he had been holding onto tightly since the ruckus began) into the pot.  He said he wouldn’t because he hadn’t called.  Then Nick said he would have to call security.
“Security?  You’re gonna call security?  Are you serious?” he said.  I envisioned this guy hurriedly getting up from his chair and bolting the room (and casino), chips in hand.  Meanwhile the rest of the players were getting impatient, some complaining that this was holding up the game. Finally, he took his chips and flung them towards Brent.  Most of them landed in the rack in front of him. I don’t think any of them hit Brent. Brent calmly and professionally took them all out of the rack and placed them into the pot, which he then pushed to me.  I tipped Brent $5 for his troubles (it was a nice pot, but it didn’t really justify that kind of a tip—I was tipping him for the aggravation and for taking my side—which of course, was the correct side).  I dunno if the guy saw the tip, as he immediately got up and stormed out of the room, presumably to see his show.  But in hindsight, I shouldn’t have given that big a tip in front of the guy.  I should have given him a normal tip and then given him the rest later in the evening, when the guy was long gone.  I suppose he might have thought there was some collusion going on when he saw that tip.  But in fact, nothing was said, or even noticed.
That was the end of Brent’s down, and he moved on.  The new dealer saw just the end of what happened and asked what all the fuss was about it.  We all filled him in, and of course he agreed that the guy had called my all in bet. It took about 20 minutes for anyone to talk about anything else.  One guy expressed concern the guy was gonna come back later and gun us all down!
In fact, that’s not the last I saw of the guy.  Hours later, I noticed him talking to Nick peacefully, away from all the tables.  I saw them talking calmly for about 20 minutes.  I had already had private conversations with Bill and Brent about the incident, both of whom thought the guy was just angle-shooting and was just trying to pull a fast one.  Bill saw me in the Mens Room and asked, “What were the chances that guy said ‘probably’?”  I told him that the guy definitely did not say “probably.”  Brent said that he said to the guy “that’s binding” when he heard his initial comment and threw the “call” card in front of him.  I didn’t remember that and I didn’t remember if Brent had told that to Bill or Nick.
So I asked Nick if that was the indeed the guy I thought it was and he confirmed it.  He had calmed down considerably, he said, but he still didn’t agree with the decision.  Further—and I have to admit, this bothers me a little—he didn’t think the guy was a sophisticated enough player to be trying to angle-shoot.  He actually thought the guy was totally ignorant that he had done anything wrong or that his comment was even intended to affect my action.  But Nick did thank me for my concern, and I thanked him for making the right decision.
I’m glad he calmed down, but I do feel a little badly if he really wasn’t trying to pull a fast one.  But still, he had more than enough time to correct things—or at least to attempt to—before he saw that he was beat.
Near the end of the night, Jack game to deal.  I asked him if he had heard all the commotion and he said he had, he was actually at the next table over at the time.  He didn’t realize, however, that I was the other player involved in the controversial pot.  Since he hadn’t heard the whole thing, I explained it fully to him.  By now, no one at my table was left over from the incident, so they all chimed in.  Jack said that the decision was an easy one, he makes that ruling every night.  He recalled one time it cost someone over $500.  He said the guy was angle-shooting even if he never heard that term.
And hat-tip to Jack, he reminded me that from the next table over, he heard the guy say, “I’m a man of my word” at least three times.  I had actually forgotten that by this point.  He even suggested I use that phrase as the title of this post (and give him a credit for the suggestion), but, while I liked that idea, I decided to go another way, to make sure that the real point of this post is reflected in the title.
Just another fun night of poker at the BSC.

(Edited to add....I posted this incident at All Vegas Poker for further feedback and discussion.  So far I started a five page thread there!  Many interesting comments.  So if you are intrigued by this incident, and not sure if it was properly decided, I urge you to check out the thread at AVP here.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Girl-On-Girl The Poker Room?

Last night I was playing poker at BSC with Prudence and Ginger when Prudence’s boyfriend Tom came by to say he was going to be taking an “early out” because the room was slow, and suggested we all head to the Red Rock poker room to play.  Since he was off the clock, he preferred playing away from his place of employ, and why not?

Once there we all sat at different tables and never really got fully assembled in one game.  I was one table away from Ginger, and in fact, she and I were facing each other at the two different tables when this incident happened.  A young woman walked in front of my field of vision, in between our two tables.  The woman was quite short and was rather oddly proportioned. 

Oh screw it. She had an absolutely enormous rack.  I mean humongous.  Now, the slang term “rack” to refer to a woman’s breasts is not one of my favorites.  It doesn’t offend me, and I certainly enjoy making the occasional double-entendre using the word (see here), I just don’t think it’s a very apt description.  I’ve never see an attractive bosom that made me think of any kind of “rack” I’m familiar with (other than when “rack” is used in this very context).
But this gal immediately made me think “rack.”  I mean, you could definitely hang clothes off of it.  It was huge, and it was really attention getting because the girl was, as I said, so short.  This gal was basically a walking, talking bosom.
My assumption is that her chest was the result of plastic surgery gone terribly wrong.  Because quite honestly, if this chest is solely the responsibility of Mother Nature, I would actually feel sorry for the girl, having been cursed to carry such an enormous rack on such a small body.
I know my readers are totally shocked that such a woman would get my attention.  But somehow, she did.
The girl was wearing a tight-fitting top, which I’m sure is a description of all of her tops, unless she uses a circus tent to make her clothes.  No top off the rack (so-to-speak), could possibly fit this girl loosely.  Of course there was mega-cleavage exposed, but not really because the top was all that low cut; it was more due to the fact that, with her chest, anything but a turtle-neck is going to show major cleavage.
She walked to the side of the poker table and said hello to the woman in seat 7, an attractive girl (but built normally).  Presumably they are friends, and I later learned that the woman in seat 7 is also a friend of Ginger’s, which plays into this tale a little bit, as you’ll see.  Anyway, any player sitting down at that table, near this young woman would have no choice but come face to face with her bosom.  Seriously, it just took up so much space, vertically, horizontally, laterally.  And because of her height (or lack thereof), I’m pretty sure if she stood right up against the poker table, her tits would touch the table, even with industrial strength bra she must have been wearing.
Anyway, the gal she came over to say to hello to, in seat 7, stood up and—I swear this is true—gently rested the side of face on the gal’s right breast.  I believed it touched both clothing and bare skin.  She was smiling as she did this (who wouldn’t be?).  I was way too far away to hear anything being spoken, or if any of the players at that table were noticing or commenting.  Just as I was about to convince myself I hadn’t seen what I had just seen, she did it again.
And then a third time.  Each time she let her face (or head) linger a little longer on the gal’s tit.  OK, now I’m wondering, do they know I’m here to see this? Do they know about my blog?  Did someone put them up to this, just for my benefit?  I had to wonder.
Needless to say, I found this a bit distracting.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the two of them (I mean the two girls, that is).  So much so that I was dealt pocket Aces and immediately folded them pre-flop without a second thought.  OK, that’s a joke.  I didn’t really do that. But….I might have, if it had come to that.  Just kidding.  I think.
Anyway, just as I was finally convincing myself I was actually seeing this, seat 7 went all in.  This time, she didn’t just rest her head or the side of her face gently on the mostly clothed portion of her friend’s breast.  She turned her face directly at the enormous bosom and, facing the cleavage dead on, stuck her face right in said cleavage.  I didn’t hear the noise, if there was any, but yes, she was essentially motor-boating her friend. Right in the poker room.  Of a locals casino.
I point that out because it seemed even more out of place at the Red Rock, which is located a long ways from the Strip, where drunken tourists are known to inhabit.  I know that people visit Vegas, drink too much, and do things they later regret when they sober up.  You see a lot of wild things at the Strip casinos.
But I had to assume that these two gals were both locals, and I should also point out that the average age of the poker player in this room is a lot older—by 20 years, easily—than the players in the rooms on the Strip.  Let me put it this way.  When I enter the Red Rock, I always lower the average age of the folks inside, just by being there.
I immediately texted Prudence, telling her of this rather unusual event.  She was sitting at the next table over, with Tom, and was quite close to the backside of the young lady who had just been motor-boated by her friend. In fact, in order for the gal to not have smothered everyone at her friends table with her tits, she probably had her ass up against Prudence, or damn close.  So she had seen it too, or at least some of it.  It probably didn’t interest her quite as much as it did me. 
She responded, “yeah, they’re friends.”  I said “friends makes it ok?  Do you greet your girlfriends like that?”  I didn’t get a chance to add, “If so, I wanna watch.”  Actually tho, I think she was telling me that the person sitting in seat 7 was Ginger’s friend, not that she was a friend of the girl she had just molested.  I would hope they were at least friends, if not a lot more than friends.
Then I texted her back, “And the author of my blog was there to see it.  What are the odds?”
I swear I don’t go out of my way to find these stories.  Somehow, they just find me.  Of course it reminded me of the story I told here, about the cleavage photography I witnessed at the poker table.
The large breasted woman left the poker room.  I watched her walk by, marveling at how she managed to stay upright on her own.
A few hours later I got up to leave.  I had won a little more than $100, so I had a rack (no, not that kind) with 3 rows of red chips and a few left over.  I said goodbye to Prudence and then Ginger, who was still at the same table as before, as was her motor-boating friend.  Ginger asked me how I did and I showed her my holdings, telling her I did “pretty good.” Seat 7 (who had moved to Seat 3) saw this and said, “That’s it, that’s what you won?  Ten bucks?”
Actually it was $120, and I told her that.  Now I assume that it was only because she saw that I was her friend’s friend (meaning Ginger) that she felt it ok to basically mock me like that.  On the other hand, having seen what she thought was ok to do in public just a few hours before, perhaps this gal has no inhibitors on her whatsoever.
So she said, “Oh, I didn’t see the other stack” and turned back to her hand (she actually had cards at the moment).  OK, fine, if she’s gonna tease me about not winning “enough,” I’m gonna mention her motor-boating activities.
I told her that I saw how she was greeting her friend a few hours before, and that I enjoyed the show.  She looked at me confused for a second, then laughed nervously and said, “Oh, yeah.  That.”  And turned her attention back to her hand.  I resisted the temptation to ask her when the next show was.
And with that, I cashed out and left the Red Rock, with $120 profit and blog post that is right up my alley.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Odds & Ends--The June Trip Wrap Up

As I tweeted a few days ago, I am presently back in Vegas.  I've already gotten a few great anecdotes to blog about, but not enough time to write them up. So in the meantine, I have a bunch of little stories left over from my trip to Vegas last month (the “Bloggers Trip”).  None of them merit their own post (because, as you know, it is against my religion to do a short post), so I’m throwing them altogether here hoping that, when mixed together, I get something readable out of them.  Warning: there might even be some poker content involved.

First thing I want to talk about is that straight flush I hit my second night in town.  The story is here. In that post, I started the story with “details to follow” but I pretty much told the story of the hand there, nothing much to add.  Except maybe this.  The person who bet out on the river, who had trip 8’s, was a BSC regular I’d run up against before.  He’s a good player, and in fact, is the guy who took a nice bit of my money when he limped with pocket Aces against my pocket Queens. That story is told here. Hmm…..I just reread that story and was surprised that I had actually given the guy a name on the blog.  I guess I figured I’d run into him again, and I was right.  So, it was Willie, the guy who limped with Aces, who came up against my straight flush.  And because he’s a good player, he didn’t lose very much on the hand, damn it.  It would have been nice to have gotten all my money—and then some—back from him on that hand.
Truth be told, I’m not sure too many players would have lost much more to me on that hand though.  With a paired board, and both a straight and a flush out there, only a real fish would have dropped a bundle to me there.  I needed someone with a full house—or perhaps the nut flush—to really have paid me off.
My hand wasn’t the only monster I saw that night.  An incredibly hot, incredibly well-built woman came to the table. I believe she was attempting to test the reliability of the Jennifer Tilly Effect. She was wearing a low cut dress that revealed her impressively large breasts.  Now, admittedly, the previous sentence is totally gratuitous and really adds nothing to the story. But you know, talking about cleavage and breasts gratuitously on this blog is most likely the reason that women keep coming up to me in Vegas—once they know who I am—and pulling down their tops for me (see here and here).  So it seems I have a pretty nice incentive to mention cleavage and large breasts whenever possible.
Anyway, the very first hand she was dealt she ended up with quad 10’s.  Tens seemed to be an appropriate hand for her.  She was definitely a “10.”  And with four of them, the total of 40 might have come pretty close to equaling her bust-size.  But I’m guessing she’d need at least a four kicker to make that really work.
Unfortunately, she and I were on opposite sides of the dealer, so I only really saw her when she sat down.  I want you all to know that at one point during the session, I did have the opportunity to move to a seat directly across from her, and I stayed put.  No matter how big those gazongas were, I wasn’t about to leave a seat where I’d already been dealt a straight flush.  I do have my priorities!
Earlier, on my first day in town, a dealer at the WSOP venue told us a few cute stories.  One was about his observations dealing in the Seniors bracelet event a few days before.  He said he dealt it the whole day and it wasn’t until his last down that he finally saw somebody three-bet!  He said it was the tightest group of players he’d ever seen.  At the same event, he actually saw a guy fold pocket Aces pre-flop!  He insisted he saw it with his own eyes.
It was early in the tournament, first level, everyone had more or less their starting stack.  The guy in question raises with his bullets, another guy 3-bets him, and then another guy goes all-in. So the original raiser shows his Aces to the dealer as he folds!  He said to the dealer (after the hand, I assume) that he knew for certain that one guy had the other two Aces and the other guy had pocket Kings and he didn’t want to chop the Kings’ stack with the other guy who had the Aces!  That’s what he said, anyway.  Very strange.  And it turned out the guy was exactly right, one guy did have the other two Aces and the other guy had two Kings.
Someone at the table asked who won the hand.  The dealer kind of stammered and then said, “Well, as it turned out, it was the guy with the Kings….but that’s not the point!  I have no idea if that story is true but is a great poker story, regardless.
While I was in town this trip, I did finally check out the new poker room at The Palms, now run by Cantor Gaming.  Instead of being just near the Sports Book, like most poker rooms, this room is more or less inside the Sports Book.  I’ve heard complaints about this because the noise from the sports book can sometimes be overwhelming.  Not just the people watching the games in the book, but the sound from the gigantic TV screens.  However, when I was there, this wasn’t a problem.  Of course, I went in there on a night when there was an NBA finals game, but only after the game was over.  I suspect if I had been trying to play poker there during the game, I would have found it a rather unpleasant experience, but I’m only guessing about that.
The room is otherwise nice, roomy, comfortable.  The other issue is that from some seats in the poker room, those giant TV screens can be rather blinding, especially when the picture has a predominately white background.  I found it more than annoying the few times it happened when I was in the wrong seat.
Other issues—well, they do have the dreaded button straddle here. But at least the action starts UTG and not on the small blind.  Although there was some confusion over that by the dealer and some of the players.  The dealer said this was his first or second day working there and in the other room he works, they do it the other way (action starting on the small blind).  So people were folding out of turn until he figured it out.  I’ve got an idea how to clear the confusion.  Get rid of the god-damn button straddle.
Another issue I have is that it’s 1/3, not 1/2.  I don’t understand why a room that is struggling to get people in does that, when there are so many nice, big, busier rooms that offer 1/2.  Oh well, I guess it makes sense to them.
But they do have some great people working there, including Chuck, the star (victim) of this post.  Chuck was working there the night I dropped in and we had a nice chat as he dealt.  He told me his lovely wife, also a dealer, is now working as floorperson at the Tropicana several nights a week, so that was nice to hear.  They’re both good folks.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the hookers who were at the Mirage during the AVP tournament. The most remarkable thing about them was their location.  Usually hookers stay away from the table games and prefer to haunt the slot areas looking for suckers (or suckees, I guess, to be more accurate).  But right outside the Mirage poker room, as I was leaving it that night, I saw three gals standing just a foot or less away from the Big 6 Wheel (or Wheel of Fortune, whatever they call it these days).  There were a bunch of people playing who couldn’t get off their stools without practically running into one of these girls.  I was surprised they were willing to be so visible as they flagged down guys walking by.  If I hadn’t retired from hooker stalking, I would have hung around and waited to see if security was ever going to bust them.  But I didn’t.
Second to last night in town, I caught another monster at BSC.  It was the second of two pots in a row I won with Mike dealing.  The first one, he deals me the Josie—Jack/10. I call a small raise.  Highest card on the board is a 10.  I bet, one caller.  The turn pairs deuces on the board. I bet, the other guy shoves.  Since he was short stacked, it was an easy call even though I suspected he might be ahead.  I didn’t have to put all that much more than my original bet to call.  We don’t show.  River is a very nice 10, giving me 10’s full of deuces.  He had a deuce, so the trips he had on the turn became a lesser boat than mine on the river.  Excellent river, Mike!
Very next hand, I limp with pocket 5’s.  The flop missed me, so I was prepared to pack it in, but no one bet, so I got a free card.  The free card turned out to be a 5.  This time first action bet and I just smooth-called.  The board didn’t look all that scary with only one card to come.  The river was the case 5.  First action bet out $25.  Nice.  I just put out the minimum $50 for a raise there, praying for a call, or better, a re-raise.  Nope, he didn’t bite, and mucked his cards.
You gotta show quads right?  So as Mike is pushing me the second straight pot I had won, I flipped over my fives and said to him, “What, all of a sudden you like me, Mike?” Mike and I are pretty good pals, so he just laughed.
Naturally, he didn’t send any more pots my way that night, or the next one.
I’ll end this post on a sour note, a hand where I lost a little but should have won a lot. Of course, I had the dreaded pocket Kings.  My raise is called by two players, both women.  The flop is QJ7, rainbow.  First action bets $40.  Hmm…..what the hell?  I thought she was kind of a bad player.  I just call.  Other woman goes all in, but she only has $50.  Original bettor wants to go all in for $135!  What???  But they won’t let her.  The other woman’s all-in isn’t enough of a raise to count as a raise, all she can do is call the extra $10.  For another $10, it’s an easy call for me but I suspect I need help.
The turn is another Queen, and as it is hitting the board, the gal who wanted to shove last street says “all in.”  Shit.  Do I want to put another $125 out there with just an overpair, with a pair of Queens on the board, and knowing she wanted to shove even before she saw that second Queen?  I decided I didn’t. I wasn’t sure this girl knew what she was doing, but I thought she most likely had a set which now was a boat or two pair with the flopped Queen and now had a boat.  Even if she had Queen-anything, she had me beat.  I folded.
It was a bad fold.  River was a blank.  The short-stacked lady had a straight draw and missed.  The one who wanted to shove on the flop but couldn’t flipped over Jack/7.  Damn.  She flopped 2 pair so she was ahead of me when she bet out on the flop, but the second Queen would have helped me, not her!  She would have been counterfeited if I had called, my Kings up would have beaten her Queens and Jacks.  Ugh.
Would have won a pot of over $200 if I called.  I still think I did the right thing but…well, I guess that’s poker, right?