Thursday, January 17, 2013

How Green Was My Valley?

This story goes back to my late November/early December trip, the same one that featured the WPBT tournament and the AVP Meet & Greet.  Because I returned to Vegas so soon after that trip, I’ve never had time to write up all the chronicles from that trip.  So hopefully I can get to them now, in addition to those from the more recent trip.

The day after the WPBT, the powers that be in Vegas decided to close the Strip for the Vegas Marathon.  Seeing as how I wasn’t staying on the Strip, this made it difficult to get to the strip to play poker in the evening.  There were back routes to get there, but I figured the traffic would be a mess so I opted to play off the Strip that night.  I tweeted out for suggestions and Stump suggested that I join him at Green Valley Ranch, so I did.
Since making the switch from limit poker to NL, I’ve been reluctant to play in locals casinos, prefer to stick to the tourists on the Strip.  Having played limit at those local places, I assumed that NL at a locals place would be tougher to crack.  Too many tight players….too many nits….plus they’d all know each other and each other’s games.  I thought I might be at a disadvantage.  Being a fairly tight player myself, I figured I’d never get paid off for my good hands.  Aside from a few forays at Red Rock (see here, for example), I’d stuck to the strip for NL.
By the time I got to GVR, Stump was mostly finished with his session.  I helped open a new table and we never got to play together.  The game started out extremely dull.  I got the sense that most of the players knew each other—as I suspected—but they weren’t much for talk.  I was card dead and after awhile, managed to steal a few chips with position raises.  But whenever I had a hand to play, it didn’t pan out.
After a couple of hours of spinning my wheels, finally things got interesting.  A table had broken and a couple of guys with big stacks joined us.  There were already a couple of guys with big stacks at the table, so it looked like things could get interesting.  The big stacked guys definitely knew each other and even started joking about eventually all butting heads.
One of the big stacks who had just joined the table was the most aggressive of any of the players I played with this session.  He was raising a lot.  I wasn’t sure if that was his natural style, or he was just taking advantage of his big stack to bully everyone.  So, I had J/10 of hearts and he raised, as he usuallyl did. He made it $10 or $12 and I called, so did one other player.  The other player and I had around $170 and Mr. Big Stack had over $400.  The flop was Qh-8d-2c.  So I flopped a gut shot and a back door flush draw.
The shorter stack bet out $40 and the aggro guy called.  I started to fold, but thought it over.  I don’t usually put much on the line with gut-shots, but the fact that there were two of them already putting in $40 gave me pause.  If it’s just one it’s pretty bad odds, but with the two of them already in there, it got a little better.  Plus both of these guys had given indications that they might possibly pay me off if I hit my straight—especially the aggro guy.  So there were decent implied odds.  And I had the back door flush possibility, making it a little more appealing.
It was such a slow night for me, I figured, what the hell, let’s roll the dice a little.  As I counted out my forty bucks, I started thinking about the one card I really, really wanted to see on the turn.  The 9 of hearts.  That was the card I was wishing for.  It would give me the nut straight, and also the flush draw.  And it would give me an open ended straight flush draw.
So as the dealer was about to put the turn card down, over and over and over in my mind, all I was thinking was, “9 of hearts, 9 of hearts, 9 of hearts.”
Have you ever gotten the exact card you wished for?  I don’t mean like you’ve got a pocket pair and you’re hoping for one of the other two cards that would give you a set.  I don’t mean where you’ve got a flush draw and you’re hoping for any heart, or any spade.  I don’t mean you’ve got a straight draw and you’re hoping for one of eight cards that complete it, or if it’s a gut shot, one of four.
No, I mean you want an exact card, both the rank and the suit.  I’m sure I’ve prayed for such a card before, but I’d never gotten the exact card I wanted.
Until right then.  Yes, the 9 of hearts was the turn card.  Straight made, flush draw, straight-flush draw now on the board.
Unfortunately, both the shorter stack and the aggro guy checked.  How much should I bet there?  I wasn’t sure.  Having been on the wrong end of some nasty suck-outs recently, I had some flashbacks to them.  A straight is good, but vulnerable.  If I made any other flush but the straight flush, I’d have at least some possibility of losing to a bigger flush.  I decided not to mess around.  Actually, I probably didn’t have much of a choice.  I wasn’t about to check, and my shove was less than the size of the pot.  So I announced “all in” for about $120 more.
The first guy folded instantly, but the aggro guy thought about for awhile, then reluctantly folded.  It was a nice pot, not as good as it could have been, perhaps, but I was happy.  As I was stacking my chips, I suddenly remembered that GVR has high hand bonuses, and if I held out and tried for the straight flush, I would have gotten a bonus.  Oh well, it probably wouldn’t have been worth the risk right?  I refused to check on how much the bonus was so as to not torture myself.
The only other “big” pot I won was a little later; I had Aces in early position, raised to $12, and had four callers.  The flop was Jack high and I bet out $40.  Everyone but the aggro guy folded quickly.  He took some time, looked me up and down…..and then folded.  I was ahead for the night and stayed that way, not getting any cards to invest a lot of money in.
There two other hands of note, neither involved me.  There was a kid to my right who had one hell of a night.  He didn’t talk at all but all the dealers knew him.  Early in the session, he stacked some guy and won a $400--$500 pot when he rivered quad 7’s.  The other guy didn’t show his hand, but based on the way the hand and the betting played out, I assume he had a straight and got unlucky.   The kid got a $20 bonus for the high hand and gave the entire amount to the dealer.
Much, much later, when those big stacks joined the table, the kid got into one hell of a hand with the both of them.  He still had all the money he had won earlier, and then some—at least $600.  The aggro guy about $500, and the other big stack had about $350. The shortest of the three stacks had raised preflop, the other two called.  The flop was K-8-4, rainbow.  There was a lot of betting on the flop.  The turn card is unimportant.  Aggro guy bet, the kid raised, and the short stack looked at the bet, looked at the kid’s remaining stack, and called.  Aggro guy re-raised all in.
The kid didn’t hesitate, but I swear, his voice cracked when he said, “Call.”  He was risking all but around $100 of his stack, and suddenly a really profitable session was in jeopardy.
I don’t remember the bets, but the other guy could have gotten out there, he still would have a decent stack, though his night’s profits would be gone.  But he snap-shoved.
River doesn’t matter either. I was thinking there were probably three sets out there.  Not quite.  Aggro guy flipped over pocket 4’s for bottom set.  The kid flipped over pocket 8’s for middle set. The short stack flipped over….Ace-King.
Yeah, Ace King.  He put over $350 at risk against two guys shoving and all he had is top pair, top kicker.  Can’t blame the aggro guy; set over set, that’s poker.  You’re probably gonna lose your stack when that happens.  But the other guy?  He didn’t realize that at least one of the other two guys could beat his TPTK???  He didn’t even have two pair.  Wow.
The pot was like $1350, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pots I’d ever seen in a 1/2 NL game.  The kid methodically stacked his chips (the other two guys took off) which took some time.  Interestingly, the guy didn’t tip the dealer, at least immediately.  He kept stacking his chips, and at one point, the dealer said something about the player not liking him.  He used the player’s name.  It was obvious reference to the guy not having tipped him for the huge pot.  First time I can recall a dealer actually “complaining” about not getting tipped.
The kid say he liked him fine, to be patient, I’ll get you.  When he finished stacking, he said, “See, I like you,” and slid a single one dollar chip to the dealer.  But just a few seconds later, as the dealer was “thanking” him, he threw him a couple of $5 chips.
The kid got up a bit later with over $1500 for his $200 buy-in a 1/2 game.  Not a bad several hours.
I left a bit later, happy with my much more meager profits.  On that one hand, I got the exact card I wanted, but I didn’t catch cards like the kid next to me had.


  1. First time I can recall a dealer actually “complaining” about not getting tipped.

    That's definitely a no-no. I'm surprised he did it.

    But just a few seconds later, as the dealer was “thanking” him, he threw him a couple of $5 chips

    That reminds me of a Bill Cosby story. There's a predominantly black university in Raleigh NC (Shaw) and Cosby wanted to make a donation. He showed up and gave them a check for $5000, then said, ha ha, and pulled out the real check for $50,000.

    1. Yeah, the dealer commenting like surprised me a little, but I should point out a couple of things.

      First, he did it in the most gentle, subtle way possible. He didn't say, "Hey you didn't tip", he just made a comment about the player not liking him, getting his point across.

      The other thing is that, as I said, the kid who won the huge pot was a regular in the room, and the dealer knew him. So he probably knew that the guy regularly tips--he wasn't one of those guys who stiffs the dealers--and thus figured the guy, excited over taking down such a big pot, might have just forgotten. I can actually see his point. Aside from wanting the tip of course, there's another factor. If the guy just forgot to tip, he would no doubt feel terrible about his omission upon learning of it. I mean, if I had forgotten to tip a dealer I would actually WANT him or her to remind me, and I know that's not acceptable practice.

  2. Hi Rob
    I have been following your Blog for a year or so from the UK and have really enjoyed your tales. I am now in the wonderful position of being able to vist Las Vegas myself(with my better half) in May of this year. Would you be kind enough to point me in the direction of any sites/blogs that may help us get the most from our trip to your playground? I am especially interested in hearing about Players cards?/Comps while playing? and or Rooms that are 'Newbie' friendly.
    I hope this message finds you well and I look forward to your next adventure, perhaps you may be in Vegas in the 2nd week in May? If so, the first drink is on me.

    1. Thanks, Dave, appreciate the kind words.

      The best site for everything Vegas poker related is All Vegas Poker. And I would have told you that before I started working for them! All that info is on the site by room, and then you can read the forums and also post questions there. You'll get a variety of opinions of course, but hopefully you'll be able to get a feel for who's got similar tastes as your do.

      You might also have some feel for things just from reading my own blog but feel free to ask me any specific questions. If I see your posts/questions on AVP I'll be sure to try to add my own 2 cents.

      Just one comment for now, I think most rooms in general are Newbie friendly, even the big rooms. The one exception might be Bellagio. I don't have a lot of experience there so that's not my opinion, its just what I hear from other players.

      Not sure about my sched yet but by all means keep my posted and if I'm in Vegas would love to meet you. Do you have a twitter ID? One of the best ways to keep up with everything and everyone while in Vegas. Or drop me an email (address over to right).

      AVP is at