Friday, August 31, 2012

"Just My Luck, Someone Grabbed My Boobs and it's a Girl"

OK, I’ve done quite a few pure poker posts in a row now.  That’s all well and good, but I know what my readers are really clamoring for.  I can hear you now. “Enough with the damn poker hands.  What’s going on with Prudence?
Well, as it turns out, on this month’s trip to Vegas, I barely saw her.  She didn’t play poker and just dropped into the BSC poker room for a few minutes while I happened to be there.  She may have given up the game.  Perhaps scarier, she may have given up demon rum.  Why?  Well perhaps the story I am tell to tell will explain it.
This tale goes back to July, the last time we played poker together. On this night, we both got to the poker room fairly early—while most of the day shift dealers were still working. We were immediately able to sit at the same table next to each other.  When Susan came over to us to get our chips, I remembered the story of Isabel grabbing Susan’s crotch (story told here).  Now I actually had texted Prudence about that incident when it happened, but Susan’s presence reminded me of the story and I mentioned it to Prudence.  To my surprise, Ann overheard me.  Ann was the dealer, and she is on the day shift.  This was her last or second to last down of the day.  She works the same shift as Isabel, the crotch-grabber in my story.  Of course in talking to Prudence, I used Isabel’s real name.
Ann knows me (and of course, Prudence) but not as well as the dealers who work the swing shift.  But I was surprised that, in response to my mentioning Isabel’s grabbing Susan’s crotch the other night, she said, “Yeah, I heard about that.”  Now Ann had been done with her shift and long gone from the poker room when that incident happened.  So I said, “really?” and she said, “Yeah….no secrets in the poker room. I was not the source of her knowledge for the incident.
So guess who replaced Ann as the dealer at our table?  None other than Isabel herself.  This was the first time I’d seen her since the crotch-grabbing story and there was something very different about her.  She was stone-cold sober.  I almost didn’t recognize her.
I said hi and since she didn’t seem to know me when I was playing with Ginger and her the other night, and since she was quite drunk when I was playing with her that night, I’m not sure if she remembered me or remembered playing with me a few nights earlier.  I asked if she was busy at the “clubs”—a reference to the strip clubs where she and Ginger worked the poles (as described by Ginger on that night) but she either didn’t hear me or didn’t have any idea what I was talking about.  I didn’t follow up.  I was kind of hoping that Prudence would say something to her about the crotch-grabbing, but she did not.  Perhaps because the drinks she was starting to order hadn’t kicked in.
But apparently Prudence was feeling neglected on the blog.  A few posts had gone by without her being mentioned.  So she said to me, “So, what’s up with the blog?  You used to like girls talking about their vaginas.”
I just laughed.  But to give equal time to the boys, at one point early, in a hand she felt I played too soft (so to speak) by not making a river bet, she said, “Where are your balls?  Have they not descended yet?”
Remember the Palestinian guy from this post?  Well, as I mentioned in that post, he would eventually met Prudence and become friendly with her.  Here’s where that happened.  When he first took a seat on the other side of the table from us, I pointed him out to Prudence and told her he was a loose aggressive 2/5 player playing “down” at the 1/2 game.  And sure enough they got into a few hands and seemed to be testing each other.  But somehow, they seemed to be enjoying the friendly banter and became buddies.  So much so that, when the seat next to her opened up, she asked him to move there and he jumped at the chance.
Once he sat next to her, the reason he was so eager to move became obvious to me.  He was trying to get into her pants.
After trying to impress her with what a big a gambler he was, he invited her to join him at some high-rollers only event that was a few weeks away.  She said yes, as long as it was understood she you would also be taking Tom, her boyfriend.  Well, that wasn’t exactly what the Palestinian had in mind.  He kept bringing it up though, and whenever she responded that Tom would also be attending, he dropped the subject.
In an apparent attempt to impress Prudence—the logic of which totally escapes me—he told the story of how some small breasted woman stopped him in the elevator of a big casino a few weeks earlier.  A total stranger, she never the less asked the Palestinian if he thought her tits were big enough.  Apparently, he gave the girl the thumbs up, then told us that what he really likes is big asses.  Did we need to know that?  Did I need to blog that?  Well, only because his mentioning of that caused him to sing a few choruses of the “I Like Big Butts” song. Which was even a 1000 times worse than the original.
I have to confess something weird here.  He referred to the lady in question as having “small tits”—and I was oddly offended that he used the word “tits” in telling the story to Prudence.  I mean, some women are offended by the word, how did he know Prudence wasn’t one of them? It also struck me as a weird story to tell and a weird choice of words considering he was trying to hit on her.
Of course, this was before both anal sex and oral sex were discussed.  I happened to mention a certain blogger who I won’t name that blogged about performing a certain service for a woman of his acquaintance.  This was whispered discreetly to Prudence.  Her reply was not so discreet.  “Oh, vagina licking, I like that.”  When this was heard at the other end of the table, and a few of the players did double-takes, she said, “Hey, we’re talking about oral sex over here.”
Later, and I’m not sure what the context was or if there even was one, Prudence announced to the table that a lot of guys are into anal sex as a power thing.  But it’s not her thing. 
And then a bit later, when she came back from a visit to the Ladies Room, she announced to the entire table, “Guess what everyone?  I just got my period.”
This caused an immediate silence over the table.  She continued, “Yeah, I just shoved some cotton up my vagina.  Not pregnant!”
In case you couldn’t tell, the alcohol she was consuming was really starting to take affect.  This makes her especially chatty with the players as the hands are being played out.  A brand new player at the table—a guy—soon was contesting a pot with her.  She made a big raise, causing the guy to stop and think.  While he was thinking, she said to him, across the table, “Yeah, you’ll be dealing with my vagina.”  He said, “Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.”
A massage girl came by and asked if anyone wanted a massage.  By now Prudence was fairly plastered.  She asked the girl if she could get a free one.  “Do you work for free?    Sorry, just kidding.”  Although it was clear that Prudence was both kidding and drunk, the massage girl was not amused and made a nasty comment asking if Prudence worked for free.  Of course, Palestinian guy heard this and asked if he could get one with a “happy ending.”  Palestinian guy had a friend with him that Prudence had met.  They don’t like playing at the same table.  So in response to his request for a happy ending, she said to him, “Yeah, bring your friend over, both of you at the same time.  Like ski polls.”  She then made a motion with both hands….well you can figure it out.
Jane was floor this evening.  I mentioned her in this entry here, where Prudence’s boyfriend Tom accidentally elbowed her boob.  So funny thing.  Prudence went to grab Jane’s boob.  Now I actually didn’t see how that started.  I’m not sure if it was an accident or a joke.  Or if, given enough alcohol, of which she had had plenty at this point, Prudence starts liking women, you know, that way.  Maybe she was thinking about the story of Isabel grabbing Susan’s crotch that I told her back when she was still sober.  Whatever, at least based on Jane’s comment, she didn’t just try to grab her boob, she succeeded.  
Because what Jane said was, “Just my luck, someone grabs my boobs and it’s a girl.”  She took off immediately after saying that, so I yelled after her, “I can fix that.”
Now, since I didn’t get a response, I assumed at the time that Jane hadn’t heard me.  But the next evening, or the next time I saw her, she made it clear that she did indeed hear me say it and just chose to ignore it because she knew I was kidding.  Which is good.
At one point, clearly feeling the effects of the booze, Prudence gave the waitress an extra dollar for the drink she was being handed.  One for the drink and one to make sure the waitress skipped her on the next round.  This was a good idea, but when she changed her mind, the Palestinian’s friend ordered a drink for her anyway.
I suppose you might be wondering about the poker.  Yeah, we were actually playing poker.  And I was having a bad night.  On this trip, I kept flopping 2 pair and running into straights.  So I was stacked when, with K-10, someone flopped Broadway with a KJ10.  I wondered why he didn’t raise preflop with AQ?  And Prudence’s new Palestinian’s pal took time off from trying to get into her pants by taking some chips from me when I had a big overpair to the board with 2 6’s on it.  And he had a six of course. He was playing a totally shit hand, of course.
But I stacked a guy with KK (!!!) when we both got it all in preflop.  Yeah, I had Aces and they held up.  And my buddy George did me right when I hit a set with pocket deuces and filled up when the turn paired 10’s.  Even better, a guy with a 10 doubled me up.
And then there’s Prudence.  She was given her last drink—the forbidden one—and was pretty much chugging it down while Tom was getting ready to take her home.  And on her last hand, she got into it again with the guy she had warned would have to deal with her vagina.  There was a raise, a re-raise, and suddenly she announced all-in.  She showed me her hand, pocket Jacks.  Now, oddly enough, the guy took a rather long time to call, but he eventually did.  He had her covered.  I think they both showed, she her Jacks, he his…pocket Aces?  Yeah, pocket Aces.  So why was he so hesitant about calling her shove?  It was sort of a pre-slow roll.  Prudence thought that he was just trying to be a jerk, somehow teaching her a lesson,
Anyway, the flop and the turn were benign, but of course the river was…a jack!  Yeah she had sucked out on the guy by hitting her two-outer on the river.  Awesome.  For her that is.  For him, not so much.  No matter, he was a jerk for not insta-calling her shove.  He got what was coming to him.
Note, I had actually seen Prudence make this exact same move, with the exact same result, before.  See the post here.  Another time she shoved with Jacks vs Aces, and pulled a lucky river Jack out of her ass.  So the moral of the story is, you really don’t want to be dealt pocket Aces when Prudence is dealt pocket Jacks. 
That was her last hand, as Tom came up to take her home while she was stacking her chips.  The guy who lost, who was of course quite pissed, complaining that she was leaving after winning such a huge pot.  But Tom pointed out that she had only been playing for about 8 hours.  I was a bit surprised she was able to walk out under her own power, considering how much booze she had consumed that night.  But she did, and when I played poker with her the next night, she didn’t have a drop of alcohol.  Which I think for her own sake, is a good thing

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Poker at The Bike With Indiana Jones

Over this past weekend, I went down to the Bike here in Southern California to play some poker. I knew before getting there I was going to give that 2/3 NL game that I talked about here another try.  Of course, they call it the “$100-$300” game after the minimum/maximum you can buy in for.
As it turned out, the poker itself wasn’t all that interesting or profitable, at least for me.  But the table I was at for the afternoon had quite a few interesting and entertaining characters, and there was some drama too, so I want to blog about the weird afternoon.
I got there I around lunch time.  Last time I learned that by playing in this “big” a game, any food I ordered while playing would be comped.  I talked about the nice spaghetti lunch I had last time, this time I went for the NY steak.  It was a nice complete meal, salad, potato, vegetable, beverage, and of course a nice sized piece of steak.  Even if I had paid for it, it would have only been $9, but it was really a bargain for free.  The food was good, though far from the best steak I’ve ever had.
Enough about the food.  I was sitting in seat 8 (it’s 9 handed) and the most annoying person at the table was in seat 2.  He was there the entire time I played.  He had a big stack (between $500 and $700 most of the day) and took a long time to make decisions whenever he was facing a big bet.  He liked to make huge preflop raises when he opened a pot.  Whereas most players at the table would make it $10-$15, in that range, if he raised, he’d likely make it $25-$27 (he liked the number 27).  He had “time” called on him several times while I was there.
The first time was when he breached poker etiquette.  On the river, it was down to him and the guy on his immediate right in seat 1.  The board was all kinds of draw heavy, flushes, straights out there, but no pair.  Into a big pot, seat 1 put out $100.  Seat 2 tanked and agonized over whether to call.  He took forever.  Finally, in an act that signaled to everyone who was watching that he was about to fold, he raised his cards, showed them to the guy who bet the $100 and held them for a second or two.  Everyone thought he was gonna fold but the dealer spoke up.
“You can’t do that.  No showing the cards,” and immediately called for the floor.  Our table was very near the podium so there was almost always a floorperson nearby.  It took less than 2 seconds for the floor to show up.  Meanwhile, Seat 2 had put his cards down and was now waiting for the dealer to explain to the floor what happened. 
The dealer explained that he had showed his hand to his opponent.  The floor told Seat 2 that he was not allowed to show his cards while there was action pending, even if the action was his and there were no other players involved. 
The penalty?  Seat 2 had 10 seconds to act, or it was an automatic fold.
I’ve never seen this before, and I have no idea if this is a rule unique to L.A. clubs, or the Bike or if a similar ruling would have been made in Vegas.  All I knew is that it was new to me.
So Seat 2 picked up his cards again and looked at them.  I swear he was just about to chuck them, when suddenly his other hand grabbed a $100 stack of chips and he put the chips in front of him and said, “ok, call.”
Very strange.  But here’s the stranger thing.  Seat 1 showed his hand, all he had was top pair.  Seat 2 then showed his hand…pocket aces!  Pocket aces easily won, and the guy who had been penalized took down a big pot.  And he said, “I was gonna fold, I really was.  But when the guy put pressure on me to act fast, I changed my mind.  I really think better under the pressure.”
Seat 2 was not amused.  He felt, like I did, that the guy was just about to fold.  And he blamed the dealer for calling the floor.  “Why did you have to call the floor?  Why did you call the floor so fast?  You could have just explained the rule to him, you could have given him more time to act.  He was going to fold.  He would have folded if you hadn’t called the floor.  Why did you have to do that.”
The dealer said she was just doing her job, but the guy wouldn’t let it go and bitched about it—not overtly so, more under his breath—for quite awhile.  When the next dealer came in, he explained to the new dealer what happened and ask if he would do the same thing.  The dealer wisely stayed out of it and refused to answer the hypothetical. 
Not long after that seat 2 caused another problem, this time against seat 9, immediately to my left.  Seat 9 on the button raised preflop, seat 2 in the big blind re-raised.  Only seat 9 called.
The flop was K77.  Seat 9, acting out of turn, put out a big bet, about the size of the pot.  Dealer pointed out that he was out of turn.  So seat 9 went to grab his chips and pull them back, but Seat 2 said it was ok, leave them there, as he was deciding what to do.  So the action was on him.
Again, he took forever to decide what to do.  Seat 9, having seen the prior incident I described, was fine letting this clown take all day to decide, but everyone else was at the table was getting antsy.  Although these two incidents were the extreme, he had routinely taken “forever” to decide every time it came to such a decision.  Finally someone not in the hand said, “call time, the rest of us would like to play some poker.”  At that point, seat 2 told seat 9 to take back his bet, which he did, so the “time” call was never enforced.  But the guy still wouldn’t act.
Finally time was called again, this time the dealer called for the floor, and as he showed up, seat 2 finally said, “ok, check.”  Seat 9 immediately put out the same bet he had just taken back.
And then… 9 still refused to act.  Really.  Another couple of minutes went by and again someone at the table called for time.  This time the floor made it over there and set his timer to 60 seconds.  The guy still wouldn’t act.  When it got to 10 seconds, the floor started calling it out, backwards, “10, 9, 8….”  When he got to 3 or 2, the guy finally said folded and mucked his cards.  He didn’t show, but apparently told the players near him that he had a big pocket pair, like Jacks or Queens.  The guy who took down the pot lifted up his cards and showed them to the guy to my right and myself, then mucked them face down.  “What did you have?” the guy in seat 2 wanted to know.  Seat 9 said nothing.  So seat 2 asked the two of us he had shown his cards to what he had.
Ordinarily, I would have told the guy what I’d seen in a heartbeat.  But not this time.  I was way too annoyed with the guy in seat 2 to be so accommodating.  He was just being a jerk.  And the guy to my right apparently felt the same way, as he said, “I don’t remember.”  So I said, “I didn’t really see, I wasn’t looking.”
In fact, the guy showed us pocket 6’s.  Seat 9 was grateful to us for not saying anything, and threw us each a dollar chip.  I didn’t like that, I hadn’t done that to get a buck, but I didn’t say anything or give it back because I didn’t want to call attention to seat 2 that the guy had paid us for our silence!  I guess I should feel a little guilty about this, but sometimes, the best way to improve the game is to take matters into your own hand, just a little.
There was more drama and another misunderstanding a bit later, this time involving seat 1 and seat 6.  On a board of A-10-9, 2 spades, seat 6 led out with a $26 bet.  Seat 1 made it $76. 
Seat 6 was a little confused about the bet, so he asked the dealer.  “What’s the bet?”
“$76,” the dealer said.
Seat 6 said, “so, $50 on top?”  The dealer said yes, $50 on top.
Seat 6 said, “Make it $100 on top,” and put out a stack of $100.
The dealer said he needed to put out another $50 because he said he was betting $100 on top.  So $50 to cover the raise, and another $100 for the “on top.”
Seat 6 said no, he was “making it $100 on top, so I was just raising it $50.”
Dealer called the floor, while seat 1 was saying, “No, no, he wanted to make it another $50, I understand what he meant.  Fifty is fine, let it stand.”  Everyone at the table now chimed in as to what the bet should be.  I heard him say “make it $100 on top” and thought that it was clear he raised only $50, not $100.  But everyone had their own opinion.  Oddly enough, both players in the hand were fine with it being a $50 raise.
When the dealer explained to the floor what happened, I don’t think she really conveyed to him how the bet was stated, the part about “making it $100 on top.” The player tried to explain, but the dealer wouldn’t listen and neither would the floor.  The floor ruled that he had to put out an extra $50, so he did.  He said, reluctantly, that it was ok.
So faced with a $100 bet, seat 1 just shoved, because he didn’t have all that much more than the $100.  Seat 6 called.
The both had 10/9.  So it looked like all that drama had been for nothing—a chopped pot.
Except that the final two cards were spades.  Seat 1 had the 10 of spades. Seat 6 had zero spades.  And thus seat 1 took down the pot.  He was apologetic, but happy.  “That was bad, I know, it should have been a chopped pot.”  Seat 6 was kind of stunned.  He was first of all surprised that seat 1 had such a weak hand.  Huh?  He had exactly the same hand as he did!  Somehow, he expected a better hand.  Also, he was still thinking that the bet had been called wrong by the floor and the dealer, and he should have been allowed to only raise $50 there.
Finally though, he said he should have shoved when he re-raised, instead of just adding another $50.  That probably would have gotten seat 1 to fold there.  Maybe.  I’m not so sure.
Anyway, as Seat 1 was stacking his chips, he said, “Man, this is the best table I’ve played at in months.  The floor’s been over here a bunch of times, I’m winning, the pots are big, there’s all this drama.  It’s like a TV show.”
And I said, “Yeah, and there’s even Harrison Ford.”
Harrison Ford?
Oh yeah.  About a half hour before this hand, an older gentlemen sat down directly to my right in seat 7.  I really didn’t get a good look at him, but within minutes, seat 1 said, “Hey, you know, you look just like Harrison Ford.  Ever been told that before?”
The guy said no and just laughed, but the guy continued, and everyone agreed.  I didn’t get a good look at the guy, but from the profile, I could see a resemblance.  Now suddenly everyone was referring to this guy as the Harrison Ford character (the President) from Air Force One and doing quotes from it.  “Get off my plane!”
Hmm, I wasn’t sure why that was the first Ford role that came to mind.  When I think of Harrison Ford, I either think of Han Solo or this guy:
Yeah, Indiana Jones.  I dunno, maybe because it’s an election year, they went to the role where Ford played the President.  Or it could have been the age.  This guy was older than Ford.  He looked older than Indiana Jones, even the old looking Indy from the last film, Indiana Jones and the Hip Replacement of Doom.
It turned out the guy was a pilot and owns his own small plane, but I’m pretty sure that he didn’t reveal that until after they brought up the Air Force One role.  BTW, speaking of Air Force One, I was always pissed they never completed the series.  I mean, calling the film Air Force One, they obviously intended this to be the start of a movie franchise.  Whatever happened to Air Force 2, Air Force 3-D, Air Force 4, etc?
But I digress.
By the time this hand had played out, Harrison Ford had moved to seat 5, and I got a good look at him.  Boy, he really did look like Harrison Ford, but about 10 years older than the oldest I’ve seen Ford look.  I wonder if he always looked like him or he just aged into it?
Anyway, Harrison Ford was an interesting guy.  He talked about his Korean wife, who he claimed was a compulsive gambler.  She comes to the Bike daily to play Pai Gow Poker for, um, $1000 a hand!  Yeah.  Fortunately, she’s got her own money, a lot more than he does (he’s retired).  He also claimed that she could beat him up….and has!  No idea if he was kidding.  He comes to the Bike and leaves when he loses $600-$700, but she can win or lose $10k a day.  Yikes.
He said he didn’t find out his wife was a compulsive gambler until he married her.  Before they got married, they’d never gone to a casino together, so he had no idea.
Someone asked him when he found out about her gambling addiction.  “The day after the wedding.”
That got a laugh and then he explained.  “We were honeymooning in the Bahamas and we went into a casino.  And I was showing her around like she was a total novice. ‘Now this such and such, and this is such and such.’  Suddenly she shoves me out of the way, sits at a table, buys in for a bundle and I realize she’s done this before.” When he got back home, he gave all his wife’s friends a hard time for not clue him to her gambling problem.
Finally seat 1 left, so seat 9 took his seat and I took seat 9’s seat.  Into seat 8, where I formerly was, came a really attractive woman.  When I looked at her, I did a double take, maybe a triple take.  She looked remarkably like Ginger, the BSC dealer I’ve posted about numerous times (see here, for example).  At quick glance, she looked enough like Ginger that I almost said hello to her and asked her what she was doing in L.A.  In fact, I was ready to drive her to another casino if she had asked!  But on closer look, I realized that although there was a very strong resemblance, she was probably a few years younger than Ginger.
Now poker wise, I’d been playing very tight, as usual.  The table was weird.  About half the table were loose aggressive, with some really big preflop raises (like seat 2’s obligatory $27 opening bet), and the other half was tight as me.  Well, not quite.  I started looking for openings to loosen up, but there was usually someone making some outrageous raise first whenever I thought about it.  One time I had AQ suited and raised preflop.  The guy to my left said, “If he raises, I’m folding anything.  I fold aces.”  I got two callers and whiffed on the flop, but my continuation bet took down the pot.
A couple of other times, my raises were not called.  But mostly, I did a lot of folding.  I was kind of enjoying the table dynamic, and figured that there were enough loose players at the table that I could make a good score if I ever actually caught a hand.
So the very first hand I had after Ginger came to the table, I got AK suited.  She had already limped, as had a few others.  I raised, everyone folded, including Ginger.  The very next hand, I was dealt pocket Aces.  No kidding.  I was praying for a raise before it got to me, so that I could three bet, fearing that no one would call my raise.  But no one raised, just a bunch of limpers, including, again, Ginger.
Again no one called, and as Ginger folded, she said to me, “Do you have raisey-itis?”  I had to laugh, from her perspective, I was the wildest player at the table.  Two hands, two raises.  Of course everyone else knew the truth, and I felt the need to explain.
“That’s the first two raises I’ve made in an hour.  Ask anyone else at the table if I raise a lot!”  Harrison Ford said he’d played with me an hour and he couldn’t remember raising until the previous hand.  Seat 1 (formerly seat 9) repeated his line that he’d fold Aces if I raised.
Later, the guy next to Ginger asked her if she played poker a lot.  By now it was obvious that she was a decent player.  Her response was great.  She said, “Not really. I just play every……….day.”  There was about a 10 second pause between “every” and “day.”  As he laughed, the guy who asked the question said, “That’s otherwise known as ‘daily.’”  She then corrected herself.  She takes Sundays off.
Then came the most interesting hand of poker that involved me.  I had 9/8 hearts in the big blind.  Young guy in seat 4 raised to $11.  I had pegged this guy as the best player at the table before Ginger showed up.  Didn’t play a lot of hands, made reasonable raises when he did, not too aggro, but not too tight.  Plus he looked familiar.  I was sure I’d played with this guy before.  I just wasn’t sure where.  Had I seen him here at the Bike or somewhere in Vegas?  I can’t be sure, but if I had to bet, I’d say it was probably Vegas.  He was one of the two most quiet players at the table.
Harrison Ford and Ginger called.  OK, so this was a reasonable raise, I hadn’t played a lot of hands and the aggro in Seat 2 was out of the hand.  I thought it was a decent risk to call for $8 more and hope for a flop to hit me.  Well it sorta did.  It was Q83, rainbow; the Queen was a heart.
It was checked around to seat 4 and he bet out $26. Both Harrison Ford and Ginger called.  With middle pair and one heart do I call?  I almost folded but with the pot suddenly a decent size, I thought it was decent odds to call and see one more card.  So I called.
Turn was a Jack of Diamond which was gave me a gut-shot, but took away any flush possibilities.  I wasn’t about to put much more money into this hand.  But it checked to Seat 4 and he thought about it and….checked.  OK, a free card.  The river was a low card, a blank.  When it checked around to Seat 4, I knew I was folding to anything but a really small bet.  A pair of 8’s with two overcards on the board?  Not gonna risk anything there.
But seat 4 checked after tanking for a bit. I showed my 8 and….no one else showed their hand.  My 8’s were good and I took down a nice pot, one that put me in the black for the day.  Nice.  I was surprised, but happy to take down the pot.
The last story concerns a hand involving Ginger and the aforementioned kid in seat 4.  On the river there were 2 3’s on the board, along with a 7, a 6 and a 2.  Ginger went all in for about $100 or a bit more.  Seat 4 just said he called, without putting out any more chips.  Ginger flipped her hand showing 9/7, a pair of 7’s to go along with the 3’s on the board. 
The kid looked at his hand but didn’t muck it.  He put it down in front of him and asked how much he had to put in to pay off Ginger. Before getting an answer, he just put out a bunch of chips, and the dealer took it and measured it against Ginger’s last all-in bet.  Dealer threw back a few chips to the kid and then the kid looked at his cards again, looked at the board, and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I have you beat.  I’m sorry, I almost didn’t see it.”  And he flipped over his cards, which were a 7/6 for a better two pair than Ginger’s.  It was the worst slow-roll I’d ever seen, although presumably accidental.
So to Ginger’s absolute horror, just as she was about to pull in the two stacks in front of her, the dealer grabbed both stacks, put them in front of the kid, and then pushed him the rest of the pot.
The kid continued to apologize.  “I’m really sorry, I just noticed, that was totally accidental, I never would do that.  I thought we both had two pair, and that you had me outkicked with the 9.  I didn’t notice the 6 made it two bigger pair for me.  I’m really sorry.
Ginger just glared at him.  She had no intention of accepting his apology.  Finally she said, “Next time, one player to a hand.”  I didn’t understand this, but the kid said, “I noticed it myself, no one told me.  I looked and saw it myself.”  Ginger repeated the one player to a hand comment and looked miserable for the next few minutes.  But she did buy more chips and kept playing.
I didn’t get it.  Who helped the kid out in Ginger’s opinion?  Well, I found out about 20 minutes later when the kid got up to leave and so did the guy on his immediate right, another young kid.  And one of the oddest looking guys I’d ever seen.  He was freakishly skinny.  I had never seen the two of them converse during the whole session; I had no idea they were together.  But obviously they were.  And as Seat 4 started walking away with his chips, he apologized again to Ginger.  She responded by saying to him and said, “Next time, one player to a hand, please.”  Again he said he didn’t get any help.
When the kid and his friend were gone, I asked if she was sure the guy had help.  She said she was.  She said he briefly flashed his cards to his friend, and the friend had tipped him off that he had the better hand.  She was absolutely certain.  That being the case, I asked why she didn’t say anything to the dealer or call the floor.  She shrugged.  She said ultimately there’d be no way to prove it and they’d rule against her, so why bother?
Actually, I’m not sure they could have done anything.  He had the winning hand and he didn’t muck it. I think the most they could have done was warn the friend not to do it again.
Anyway, by late afternoon, I still had a few bucks profit and decided to call it a day.  I left about $15 ahead, which isn’t thrilling but it beats losing.  Plus I got a free steak lunch.  I’m sure the free lunch and the $15 more than covered the gas it cost me to get there.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Nice Hand, Sir"

Here’s a few hands from an afternoon session at another “big strip casino” I had a few weeks ago.
Perhaps the most interesting one didn’t involve me.  Two guys had around $150-$200 behind them, something like that.  Pre-flop, there was a raise, a re-raise, a re-raise….well, it actually took the 6th bet before one of them announced “all in.”
Wow, you rarely see that in no limit.  After a four-bet, it’s usually all in, if it takes that long.  So they both showed before the dealer put the flop out.
They both had Aces.
Huh?  How does either one of them not shove a lot earlier than they did?  I mean, really?  I raise with Aces, someone re-raises me…that’s an easy shove when it gets back to me.  You’ve got Aces man, it ain’t gonna get any better than that!  If you’re not prepared to get it all in preflop with Aces heads up, you shouldn’t be playing poker, right?
The guy with the Aces next to me actually laughed and commented that he was, I think, “impressed” that there were six bets before the shove.  Then he said, “I really thought of only calling that last time.
What did you put the other guy on?  Super Aces???  Double Secret Probation Aces????
Whatever, I thought it was weird that it took so long for them to both get it all in. The hand itself was uneventful after that.  Neither of them hit a lucky flush and so they got their money back.  I just shook my head in disbelief.
Next hand of note did involve me.  I called a small raise (as did a bunch of others) with 10/9 of hearts.  Nine was the highest card on the flop, giving me top pair.  There were 2 diamonds and no hearts.  I bet $50, which was about the size of the pot.  Only one caller, a guy who had me covered.  Gulp.  How much do I want to risk with top pair, lousy kicker when top pair is only a 9?  I wonder if I should have bet a lot less there? 
A queen (non diamond) on the turn slowed me down and we both checked.  A King (also non-diamond) on the river didn’t seem to be a reason to bet.  But the other guy put out enough money to put me all in if I called.  No way I’m risking my stack with a lousy pair of 9’s, so I folded.  The guy showed his cards.  He had 4/5 diamonds.  He only had a flush draw and missed, but had bluffed me off the hand.  I was pissed, but figured it was good lesson for me.  Hey, that’s poker, you’re supposed to bluff sometime, right?  He outplayed me, pure and simple.  All I could do is tip my hat to him (except I wasn’t wearing one).
Then there was the last hand of the session.  Under the gun guy to my immediate right limped.  I look down at pocket Aces.  I bet $10, a totally reasonable raise for my position and for this table.  It folded back to the limper to my right.  He called for an extra $8.
The flop is 10-5-2 rainbow.  He checked, I bet $15.  He calls.
The turn put a pair of 5’s on the board, he checked again.  I bet $40.  He calls again.  WTF?  There’s not a lot of draws out there.  He couldn’t have a five, could he?  Ace-5 soooted, maybe?
The river is a 4, makes a baby straight possible, but I really couldn’t see that as a strong possibility.  He checked again.  Hmm……I don’t have a lot of chips left. Maybe around $80.  He has me covered.  I figured I may as well throw it into the pot and see if I can make a really nice score (if he calls).  Or, take my leave if he had me beat.
He insta-calls, which was not good news for me.  I show my aces and he turns over…..Jack/5 of clubs.  Yeah, I said Jack/Five.  But it was soooted! 
Seriously, guy, seriously?  You called my preflop raise with Jack/5?  I don’t give a flying fig that it was soooooted.  Jack/5?  OK, now if I had had a bunch of callers to my $10 bet before it got back to him, I could see it.  Pot odds and all.  But with it just being heads up, putting $8 into a $15 pot with that shit?  Shirley, you jest.
And how about calling my flop bet with middle pair—and a lousy pair of fives at that?
I couldn’t help myself.  I knew I was done for this session, so I softly muttered when I saw his hand, “Jack/five, huh?”  I dunno if he heard me, but I’m sure he heard me say this, in my most sarcastic voice possible as I turned away from the table to hit the exit.  “Nice hand, sir.”  If it wasn't the most insincere "nice hand, sir" in the history of poker, it wasn't for lack of trying.
I couldn’t get that hand out of my mind as I left.  I think there might have been steam coming out of my ears.  You see, all I could think of was, this wasn’t supposed to happen now that I’m playing No Limit instead of my old 2/4 limit game.  I mean, all you hear when you play 2/4 is, “You can never bet anyone off a hand.”  And then, “If this was no limit, I could have bet him off that hand.” 
Of course, in 2/4, I raise to $4 there and no one who’s already got two bucks invested is going to fold for another two bucks.  I’d faint if I ever saw that.  But now, he has to put $8 more in there with a terrible hand and only one opponent.  Why the hell would he do that?
So….exactly how much am I supposed to bet to get people to lay down Jack/5 (sooooted) preflop when I have pocket rockets?  Am I supposed to just shove with them every time, to reduce the possibility of a suck out?
Grrr……it still makes me mad to think about it.
But hey, that’s poker, right?  Even No Limit poker, right?  Right?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind:"

Neil 'Armstrong 1930-2012
I was a teenager when our whole family gathered around the family TV (it was still black and white back then, but it didn't matter, the pictures from the moon were also in black and white) and held our collective breaths as man walked on the moon for the first time in the history of universeIt was the one moment of my life when you knew that everyone in the country--no, everyone on the planet--was doing the same thing you were.

Having grown up on Twilight Zone and Star Trek (the original, folks, in the first run), having read science fiction and comic books, it was just the most exciting thing I could possibly imagine.  Was man actually going to conquer the moon?  Was American ingenuity going to to triumph over the dreaded Soviets and get there first?  Hey, the Cold War was in full bloom and the "Space Race" was a big part of it.   

I doubt if anyone who is too young to have lived through this unbelievable day will be able to understand what it felt like at that singular instant in time.

It was truly an epic moment, the most incredible moment of my life.  I suppose when I think back on it, it still is.  There were no VCR's, DVR's or anything like that back then.  I tried taking photos of the first pictures back from the moon rkgnt off the TV screen with a crummy camera, and of course they didn't come out.

The memory of Walter Conkrite taking off his glasses, and with tears in his eyes saying, "Man on the moon," is one I will take to my grave.

It wasn't until later that we learned just how great a pilot that Neil Armstrong had to be to pull off the landing without crashing or aborting.  Armstrong was a true hero, beyond any doubt.  After retiring from NASA, he refused to capitalize on his fame and hero status and quietly returned to private life.

Today the world lost a truly exceptional person,  a hero, and a really good man.  May he rest in peace.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The First AVP Weekly Showdown

As I mentioned here, I played in three tournaments during this month’s visit to Vegas.  Here’s the story of the second, and the most unusual one.
It was sort of last minute that I knew for sure I could and would play in this one.  I had read on All Vegas Poker that they were starting something new that very night.  Every week, they would pick some regular Vegas tournament and make it the “AVP Weekly Showdown.”  AVP’ers would be encouraged to go to a different Vegas poker room each week and make the regular tournament there a sort of mini-AVP Meet & Greet.  The folks at AVP have been very good to me, and they’re all really great people, so I knew I would want to attend whenever I was in town and available.
This was the very first one on this particular Thursday night, and it was to be at the 7PM tournament at The Stratosphere.  Wow.  There’s a poker room I had never played before.  Now, I can remember way back when, when The Stratosphere was called “Vegas World.”  Yeah, that’s how old I am.  Even back then, long before I ever played poker, my friends and I considered it a dump.  It was owned by a fellow named Bob Stupak, who has since gone on to meet his maker.  I mention him because I can recall that he used his name prominently at the casino itself and in all the advertising they did for the place.  In fact, it was always referred as “Bob Stupak’s Vegas World,” I guess to distinguish it from Charles Manson’s Vegas World, or some such.
I remember my first visit to Vegas World.  It was also my very first visit to Vegas, many, many years ago.  My two friends and I went there one evening to see a show—I have no idea which one.  We were rushed, and in order to make the show, we had to eat in a hurry first and thus ate in the nearby McDonald’s.  Now in those days, it was especially crazy to eat in a place like Mickey D’s, because the food in Vegas was ridiculous cheap.  Almost any buffet you could find was like $5 or less.  The McDonald’s meal we had was probably the most expensive of our trip. I’m pretty sure the McDonald’s we ate at nearby Vegas World was not the same as the one that is now located across the street from where the Sahara used to be, but can’t be sure.  One thing I know, it was a standalone McDonald’s; in those days, you never saw a franchise operation like that inside a casino.  Now, you can’t escape them.
Anyway, as I recall, parking there was kind of scary.  We weren’t familiar with the place and we made a wrong turn trying to find the parking entrance, and ended up in a nearby residential area which was not the best, to say the least.  I assume the neighborhood has not gotten any better in the intervening years.  Until we found our way back to Vegas World, we were rather uncomfortable, to say the least.
We did make it to Vegas World and asked where the show we wanted to see was.  We were told it was in the lounge.  So we went over there.  No one greeted us, and no one else was there, which should have been a clue that something was amiss. We took seats near the dark stage and a waitress came by and we ordered drinks.  We were surprised by the small tab, because we thought that there was a X-drink minimum which was the cost of the show, and expected it to be more than they charged us.
Time went by and no one else was there.  The starting time for the show came and went and still no show.  Finally the waitress came by and asked if we needed refills.  So we asked her when the show started.
“Show?  What show?”  We mentioned the show, which was prominently featured on the marquee in front of the hotel.  “Oh, that show closed yesterday.  There’s no show tonight.”
Uh, thanks.  Every piece of literature we had, every sign we had seen inside the place, indicated there was a show that night.  Remember, this was long before the internet existed.  So we got up and left.  Thanks to their screw up, we had wasted an opportunity to have seen another show, we had gotten lost in a terrible neighborhood, and we had eaten a meal at McDonald’s for more money that a buffet would have cost us.
So I’ve always held a grudge against the place.  But really, that story has nothing to do with the tournament I played at Stratosphere on this particular Thursday. I was just afraid if I didn’t include it, this post would be too short to please my fans who constantly tell me that the longer my posts, the better.
I guess I’ve been to Stratosphere maybe one time previously since I switched to playing poker almost exclusively.  I did check out the poker room that one time, and either it was empty, or there was one game going.  It was probably a NL game as this was when I was playing 2/4.  So I never played and was never really enticed to ever go back there.
Until this night.  If I’m not mistaken, when the Sahara closed, the Stratosphere simply took over the very popular smallish ($65) three times a day tournaments that used to run there.  I did play in the Sahara tournaments a few times, without any success.  But this was before I started taking tournaments seriously.
On this night, I found the Stratosphere parking lot without incident and then tried to find the poker room.  This was a challenge, as I’m pretty sure it was moved from when I first observed it (wasn’t it located right near the entrance to the parking lot?).  I was early and hung around outside the poker room, hoping to see some familiar AVP faces.  It took awhile, as this was definitely a late arriving crowd.
But eventually I did see a familiar face, my fellow blogger Stump.  I’ve met Stump a few times and played with him twice to my recollection (see here and here).  So we had a nice chat and talked about a few fellow bloggers who shall remain nameless, and of course, we were not assigned to the same table.
As has been noted on the AVP forum, the good folks at AVP really need a better way to help identify each other for the occasional visitor.  The locals all know each other of course, but those who are just visiting really have no idea who the AVP’ers were.  I’ve met quite a few of the folks by now, and I could only identify two: Jon Friedberg, AVP’s head honcho, and the fabulous Alaskagal.  Jon recognized me as well, and early during the first level came over to say hi.  I made sure to say hello to Alaskagal during the first break and we had a nice chat.  While talking with her, a woman who lives back east did introduce herself to Alaskagal, Stump and myself as a fellow AVP’er, but for the life of me, I cannot remember her handle.
And as far as I know, those were the only AVP’ers there.  The rest of the crowd was mostly locals, quite a few looked familiar to me as folks I’ve seen in tournaments before.  And then, just as the tournament was about to start, a guy with an English accent took the seat immediately to my left and said hi to me.  I immediately recognized him as one of the folks I had played with at the Aria tournament two days before.  But there were at least three British blokes I had played with at various times during that tournament.  So when I said hello back to him, I wasn’t sure which one he was.  “Hi, I played with you at the Aria tournament on Tuesday, right?”
“Yes, you did.  In fact, I was the one who knocked you out.”  Ugh.  Thanks for the reminder.  And of course I immediately realized he was right.  He was indeed that British bloke who called my all in with a pair of 6’s and hit his set on the flop to force me to settle for 6th place.
Small world.  Now, I know the poker community in Vegas is a very tight, very insular world, and I’m used to running into the same folks over and over again.  But it’s usually locals.  It was a little bit more unusual to run into to the same guy who was visiting from across the pond on two separate days, at two separate tournaments, at two separate times of day.  But there he was.
Turns out he was a very nice guy.  I asked how he ended up, and he actually chopped first place at that Aria tournament with the guy I flopped the nut flush against who complained about not being able to beat me.  I told you he was a good player.  Actually, I forgot to mention in the previous post that that guy had actually thanked the British bloke sitting next to me for knocking me out, since, as he pointed out, I was the one player he couldn’t beat. 
Because I asked, my new British pal pretty much recreated the entire end of that Aria tournament for me while we were playing the tournament we were presently both in.  He  remembered pretty much how everyone I remembered from that final table busted out.  It was an impressive display of memory, I guess that’s why he’s such a good player.  And in case you haven’t figured it out, I keep using the word “bloke” here because that’s the word he used for every single male player we discussed at that final table.
Anyway, discussing the prior tournament with him was a lot more interesting that the tournament I was actually playing.  My new British pal busted out very early. I was typically card dead, and with this not being a deepstack tournament, it didn’t take long before I had to start taking chances.  Early I called a raise with 10/9 of hearts, flopped two pair and filled up on the river.  The original raiser kept calling me and didn’t show his hand, I bet he had pocket Aces.  That was pretty much the only pot I won.
During the break, they served pizza.  This was not because of AVP’s presence, it is actually a regular feature of the 7PM tournament at the Stratosphere.  What I found unusual about the pizza was that every single pizza pie was just plain cheese pizza.  Not a single topping on any of the pies.  I’ve never seen this before.  Usually when multiple pizzas are served, there are various kinds of toppings on multiple pizzas.  Now this was not a problem at all for me, I’m a plain guy who actually likes plain pizza.  Frequently I get stuck with a slice that has anchovies or pineapple or peanut butter or some other crap that doesn’t belong on pizza.  So I was fine with the plain cheese.  I just don’t remember ever seeing that before.  No vegetarian pizza?  No meat lover’s pizza?  OK by me.
After the break I didn’t last long.  I was light on chips and looking to take a risk to score some chips or get out early. When I was dealt Jack/10 (Josie’s favorite hand), I made my move with a big preflop raise.  The big stack at the table three-bet me and I called all-in.  I figured I was behind and needed some luck.  I was right.  He had A-10.  Nothing hit either of us and Ace high held up.  And I was done.
Despite the early exit, I was glad I went and glad I participated in this first of its kind event by AVP.  I’ll attend as many as I can going forward--as long as they don't ever do an Omaha tournament--and it was definitely interesting to return to the Vegas World, I mean the Stratosphere, and finally play some (though not much) poker there.  Plus I got to hear how that Aria tournament played out!