Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bally High

This story dates back to my previous trip to Vegas, which started the end of November.  I timed this trip so I could play in the WPBT tournament on my first Saturday there (see here), and the AVP XVII Meet & Tournament the following Saturday (see here and here).

It turned out that, the very last AVP Weekly Showdown event of the year was being held the first night I got to town (see here for the story of the last time I played in such an event). So of course I wanted to participate.  Plus Lightning was arriving in Vegas that day and promised to play in the tournament.  It was the regular 8 PM tournament at Bally’s.  Now Bally’s has never been one of my favorite poker rooms.  My biggest complaint is that I just had never, ever won in that room.  And not only that, a lot of the time when I lost, I lost big.  It’s always been kind of a jinx room for me, despite the fact that many of my blogger buddies (Lightning & grrouchie) come to mind), absolutely love the room.
So it was with some trepidation that I entered Bally’s that night after the four hour drive from L.A. This was before they moved the room (as I discussed here) to the new location.  After checking out the then unfinished new poker room, I headed over to the existing room and soon ran into Lightning.  We chatted as he waited to get into a cash game.  Having had a bad run at tournaments lately, he ended up deciding to stick to the cash game that night and didn’t play in the tournament. He was probably afraid of my well known tournament skills, or perhaps he chickened out when I told him that Prudence and her boyfriend Tom had been persuaded (by yours truly, of course) to join us in the tournament.  Actually, I think it was mostly do to him just preferring to play cash games. 
Lightning claimed to be looking forward to meeting Prudence, being quite confident that she would immediately succumb to his alleged charms when they met, as he claims all women do.  But once she got there, he avoided her and never had the chance to meet her (they did meet and even play together—no not that way—the next evening).  I’m thinking that he was intimidated by Tom’s presence.  As for Prudence, I think she was scared of meeting a guy who claimed to such a chick-magnet—and clearly wasn’t.
After I paid my entry fee ($55), I received a tweet from Alaskagal, who is now my colleague at AVP.  She said she was running late and asked me to buy her entry into the tournament for her.  She didn’t want to risk being an alternate.  It is fast structure with only 5,000 in starting chips; being a late entrant would be quite a handicap.  I had never been asked to do that before and wasn’t sure they would allow me to buy someone else’s entry, but there was no problem.  Although the guy I got the entry from asked me if I was sure I could trust the person I was fronting the money for.  I laughed and said I was sure, because Alaskagal is not a dishonest kind of gal.  I looked down at her seat and realized she would be sitting next to me, directly to my right.  I was glad to have position on her, because I know Alaskagal is a professional poker dealer and, more importantly, a really, really good player.
It turned out that she got to Bally’s before the tournament started and before they had sold out the 20 seats anyway.  As she does at these events, she passed out AVP t-shirts to anyone who wanted one (until she ran out).  Of course, I wore my AVP shirt, given to me long before I started working for AVP.
Tom was at my table, but not close enough to converse with (that old Bally’s poker room was very noisy).  Prudence was at the other table.  Alaskagal and I were chatting up a storm with a couple of the players seated near us, one of who I believe joined AVP right from the table.  I pretty much didn’t get anything to play for a long time, but managed to keep my head above water with a few timely raises that for the most part weren’t called.
Then I looked down at Ace/Ace in late position, and was hoping that someone would raise before it got to me.  Someone did, but sadly, it was Alaskagal.  She made a big raise, almost half her stack.  She had me covered.  It was an easy decision to shove there, so I did.  She turned pale.  She probably knows me well enough to have figured out she was in deep trouble.  She shrugged and called because with the big raise she had initially made, she was pretty much pot committed.
She wasn’t surprised to see my Aces, and I was a little surprised to see her King/Queen.  She actually caught a gut-shot straight draw, but missed her Jack. (I’m too much of a gentleman to say she was a “jack off”—oh wait, I guess I’m not).  She is a frequent tweeter so of course she tweeted that I crippled her.  I tweeted back that it was only because I had AA and not KK. 
But not long after that, I looked at my hole cards and found the dreaded pocket Kings.  Of course I raised, and another guy, who had me covered, shoved.  Of course I called.  To my delight, he has King-8.  I guess he thought I was just kidding around and would fold to his shove.  It was a needless risk on his part, but it worked out well for me, a nice double up.
The table was rather tight for a long time, rather surprisingly so.  It took a long time for any bust outs.  But finally the structure dictated that it became a shove-fest.  Alaskagal, Prudence and Tom all disappeared.  After my double up with the Kings, I was the chip leader at the table for awhile.  I was trying to take advantage, making big raises when first in, but I wasn’t getting called and since there are no antes in this tournament, I wasn’t getting that many chips for that move.  And of course eventually I did start getting called, or raised, and I had hands I couldn’t stay with.
The tournament had a $1,000 guarantee prize pool, and with only 23 runners, they had to do an overlay.  Thus first place was $500, 2nd was $300 and 3rd with $200.  At those numbers, no one is thinking of paying the bubble.  Once we had the final table players were busting out pretty fast.
Down to four players, one away from the money, I lost my chip leader status on a nasty hand.  I shoved with 44, which I thought was a good play only 4 handed.  The short stack called with AQ, can’t argue with that.  No Ace or Queen hit the board, and he didn’t make a flush or a straight.
So how did he win the pot?  The board double paired, fives and sixes!  My fours didn’t play, and his Ace kicker with the two pair on the board did.  Three pair is worthless in hold’em.  Suddenly I was the short stack and very much in danger of being the bubble boy.
But I hung in there and some other guy lost enough chips to take away my short stack status.  Then I looked down at Ace/King of clubs.  Easy shove at that point.  The newly crowned short stack called, with Ace/9 of diamonds.  The flop was scary, two diamonds and one club.  But the last two cards were runner runner clubs to give me the nuts, and knock the guy out—and put the three of us remaining in the money. I was back being the chip leader, but it didn’t last long as Stack #2 soon knocked Stack #3 out to overtake me.
Neither one of us suggested a chop.  I almost never suggest it but always agree to it when suggested.  In this case, having seen this guy play for awhile, I was convinced I was a much better player than him and thought I had a pretty good chance to beat him heads up.  I sort of knew he hadn’t been in a situation like this before when at one point, when the announcement was made that we had moved to the next level, he asked if that meant that we were done and the tournament was over.
I was making some moves (and getting some decent cards as well) and soon took over the chip lead.  Then disaster struck when I went all in with Ace/Jack.  He called with his feeble pair of three’s and flopped quads.  Yeah, just quads.
But again, in this case, I was just a much better player than he was.  I kept using my position to make moves, and I stole a lot of chips, and as luck would have it, whenever he called me I actually had a hand.  Soon I was back being the chip leader, and finally shoved with Ace/Queen.  Lucky for me he had Ace/Jack and called.  He missed and that was that.  I had claimed first place, a $500 pay day.
This was the first time I’d ever taken undisputed first place in a tournament.  Over a year ago I was part of a six-way chop of first place at the big Binions tournament I play regularly (see here).  Long before that, I once chopped first place with a guy in a single table tournament at Hard Rock.  That was very different.  At that time, I had no idea how to play heads up, and neither did the other guy.  We were both playing tight and just trading a few chips back and forth before he suggested we just split it.  This time I knew how to play.
So that was a nice start to my trip.  And it was the first time I ever left Bally’s a winner.  So of course, soon after my successful visit to the Bally’s poker room, they had to close down the poker room.  Well, they did close it down to move it, right?


  1. I decided not to play in the tournament since it looked you and AKGal were about the only AVPers there. It looked like there was only going to be one table. If I had known that there were two I probably would have played. Looking back, I just should have played anyway.

    I am quite disappointed in you, Robbo, for putting such utter nonsense in your post. You had told me that Prudence thought I sounded kind of creepy, therefore I chose to keep my distance from her. We all know, however, that that obviously became her loss as her pangs of pure animal lust toward me could be clearly felt. As a courtesy to her boyfriend, I did not want him to be embarrassed as Prudence would have been fawning all over me.

    "Alleged charms." Harumph.

    1. Utter nonsense, huh? Hey, everything I put in my post was true. I mean, even if it didn't actually happen, you know, it COULD have happened.

      In fact, Lightning, after you left town, Prudence confided in me that she could barely keep her hands off you.

      And that, to be sure, is pure unadulterated nonsense!

      Sorry I didn't respond to your comment sooner.In my mind I had responded to it immediately.