Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Return of "Poker Genius"

Just a few hours before 2012 died a most deserving death, at around 7:30 PM, PST, 12/31/12, this blog recorded its 100,000 page view.  I have to admit I was delighted to reach that milestone, and was happy that I managed to make it before the year ended, especially since 2012 was the first full year of the blog.  The blog was but four months old when 2012 was born.  I have no idea if 100,000 hits in 16 months is good or not, but I can tell you that I couldn’t have imagined such a number when I started the blog.
Unlike previous posts that celebrated a numerical milestone (see here and here), I won’t be discussing the blog much this time.  Instead, it seems appropriate to celebrate the event by revisiting one of the two early blog posts I did that put this blog on the map, to the extent that it is “on the map.”
But first an aside:  I do want to mention the other one of those two early posts that brought me some new readers.  That was the post that introduced the amazing woman I dubbed “Prudence” into the blogosphere.  That first post (see here) remains the most important post I’ve ever done, and my personal favorite.  Not only did it give this blog a huge jump-start, but more importantly, oddly enough, it led to a great friendship.   Primarily as a result of that post, and subsequent ones about her, we have become incredibly good friends.  We are certainly the odd couple—aside from poker and a rather bizarre sense of humor we share, we don’t have a lot in common.  Yet we are true buddies and just the other day, we had dinner together to celebrate our “first anniversary” of the night we first played poker together, and the night the activities in that first post took place.
But it is the other really important early post that will be the subject of this one.  Or rather, the subject of that other post is the subject here again.  This will be about the Vegas poker player/character that I dubbed “Poker Genius” (here) and when I first wrote about him back in February, 2012, I finally realized how many people were actually reading and paying attention to my blog.  The post immediate set the twitterverse ablaze, got me comments and questions from many people who I had no idea were reading the blog, and created quite a bit of discomfort for me. 
You see I did a very bad job of covering up this person’s identity, and in the original version, pretty much everyone who had ever been in a Vegas poker room instantly knew who “Poker Genius” really was.  Because I had said less than flattering things about “PG”, as I will now call him for the rest of this post, and because I prefer protecting identities even when I say nice things about people, I had to rewrite the post to do a better job of covering up his real identity, and I had to delete some comments that basically identified him.  But that was like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, as most of my readers at the time knew exactly who I was talking about.
Now, because PG is basically a part of the Vegas poker landscape, for better or worse, I have run into him numerous times since that first post, and thus, have mentioned him in subsequent posts.  He doesn’t have his own label but if you want to see the other mentions of him, you can enter “Poker Genius” into the search box over to your right.  As I’ve indicated,  I am about to reveal the story of my latest run-in with PG, and again, it will not be particularly flattering.  Since the first story appeared, I have gained a fair number of new readers who have likely not read that first post.  Some of these new readers (as well as the old ones) may in fact be quite familiar with PG, and may even see him fairly often and might actually be friendly with him (he is not without his charms).
So, I would very much appreciate it if those of you who know (or think they know) the real identity of PG would not tell him about this post, or reveal any of the details I am going to discuss in this post.  It’s not so much that I’m worried about his reaction—I get the feeling he doesn’t much care what someone like me has to say about him. I also don’t imagine he’s much of a blog reader.  It’s just that, as you’ll see, I am going to be revealing comments spoken by a very nice lady poker dealer, and if he heard these comments, he might be able to figure out who made them, and I wouldn't want that.  Although, I am willing to bet that there would be several candidates, if not more, for who this dealer is.
This story takes place in the same venue as the original PG post occurred, at the Binion’s 2:00 PM tournament, a few weeks ago.  I got there early and had lunch at the deli just outside the poker room.  Almost immediately, I saw PG hanging around.  Not surprisingly, I’ve seen him at this tournament a lot since that first day.  It looked like he was indulging in what I have come to learn is his usual pre-tournament activity: trying to get someone to stake him in the tournament.  I had seen him do the same thing at the Orleans Friday night tournament and also at the WSOP venue during the summer.  I’ve read online about how that is his usual practice.
And when I saw him notice me, I saw a look in his eyes.  I’m sure he recognized me—not as a blogger, not as someone who wrote about him—but as a guy he’s played poker with.  Whether or not he recalls the incident I originally blogged about or not, I have no idea.  I rather doubt it, because he’s done similar things so many times, he likely can’t recall them all.   What I really suspected was going through his mind was whether or not I was a person he could hit up for a stake!  I have no proof of that, but I’d bet on it.  However, he did not ever ask me for money, so either I’m right and he figured out a reason I would be not be likely to help him out, or my instinct was wrong.
However, on the way to the poker room to buy my entry, he walked right by me and did say hello to me, for whatever that’s worth.  I said hi in return, because I’m nothing if not polite.
When I took my seat, I noticed one of the very many very pretty female dealers they have at this tournament was at the table I had been assigned to.  I had noticed before that there’s quite a few really attractive ladies dealing at this tournament, including my pal Heather.  This time, it seemed like everyone of them was there, waiting to deal, and I must say it was rather nice to see so many pretty faces in a poker room.  To my surprise, the particular pretty lady dealer at my table said hi to me, not by name, but with a “how ya doing” type of greeting to indicate that she remembered me.  A couple of the other dealers sometimes ask where I’ve been if they don’t see me often enough, not realizing that unlike most of the familiar faces they see at this tournament every weekend, I don’t live in Vegas and thus can’t attend weekly.
It’s very nice to have an attractive girl smile at you and greet you like that, and usually with me, that only happens with hookers.  I enjoyed the moment and then, before I really knew it, I blurted out to her, “There’s always so many really pretty ladies dealing at this place—including you.”
She smiled again and thanked me, and then said, “Well, we’ve got to do something to keep you guys coming back.”  I responded that that was excellent way to do it.  Indeed it was.
I later found out why there were so many “hot” dealers at Binions, but you’ll have to wait to the end of this post to find out.
The tournament started and PG was nowhere to be seen.  He apparently was having trouble finding a sucker benefactor.  But not long before the late entry period ended the floor brought a new, late entrant to my table, just two seats to my left, and it was indeed the infamous Poker Genius.
I tried not to let it get to me.  I’ve become a lot better about taking annoying players in stride as the year had progressed, but I knew this was one guy that I would probably have a problem keeping out of my head.  But I did my best to try to ignore him.
PG started out hot, getting very lucky, playing a lot of hands and catching cards.  He took a lot of chips for calling a raise with 9/8 offsuit and catching a straight, thus taking a lot of chips from the guy who had pocket Queens. He kept catching hands like that.  He became the chip leader at our table for awhile, while I was struggling.  I lost almost half my stack calling a short-stack who shoved with pocket 10’s against my AK.  His 10’s held.
I should mention that in addition to being lucky, he was his usual PG self.  A lot of chatter about the game, the hands, although this time he was spending a lot of time looking at his cell phone when he wasn’t in a hand.  He also did his thing where he tried to help out the dealer at odd times.  One time he tried to “correct” the dealer because he thought his way of making change was better than the dealer’s.  The dealer was not amused.
So I was getting towards desperate while PG was riding high.  We hadn’t really gotten into any hands together at this point.  I was looking at an early exit when Heather came to the table.  And this time she was no Devil Woman.  In early position PG limps in and everyone folds to me in the Big Blind.  I have 10/9 offsuit.  I suppose in that situation a raise might be the right move, but I didn’t want to make it with this particular opponent.  If I had made a raise there and then had to fold, I would be in fold or shove territory and I wasn’t quite there yet.  So I just checked.
The flop was 9 high, 2 diamonds, so I bet out with top pair.  I put out a little less than half my stack.  PG called.  The turn was black Ace, and I thought about checking.  But I didn’t want to give PG control.  Now, I have a fair amount of experience with PG and I had been watching him all day.    He was calling with pretty weak hands and getting lucky.  I figured he had a weak starting hand and was most likely on the draw—which he had been hitting all day.  Still, I was fairly certain I was ahead, and I needed some chips.  My biggest reservation was that it was PG.  For purely emotional reasons, he was the last guy in the room I wanted to bust out to.  But I felt I was really in a decent position, so I forced myself to say, “all in.”
It was another $7k in chips for him to call.  Sorry, I didn’t write down what the blinds were or what his stack was, but it would have hurt him to lose the pot and also to lose another $7k in chips.  I really thought that, thinking of me as a tight player, he might think I had a really strong hand there and fold.  But no, he called.
He assumed I had at least Aces if not two pair, and was surprised to see me move in with only a pair of nines.  But he needed help.  Just as I assumed, he only had a draw to the flush.  I think he had something like Jack/7 of diamonds.  So a Jack would have given him the pot too.  The turn was a Queen of hearts and thus I had the pleasure of not only surviving in the tournament, but taking away a good amount of chips from PG, mostly because I had a good read on him.
The double up from PG was nice but I still needed more chips to become a factor in this tournament.  On the very next hand, Heather sent me Ace/King off.  After a few limpers (but not PG), the lady to my right moved all in for slightly more chips than I now had.  I moved all in myself—at least if I busted out now, I wouldn’t be giving all my chips to PG!  She flipped over pocket 9’s and I was thrilled to see an ace on the flop.  Nothing else hit and I had doubled up back to back.  Thank you Heather!
Soon there was a break and Heather was still at the table.  I had a chance to talk to her privately.  I of course thanked her for the back-to-back double ups.  She smiled and said she was a little worried and a bit surprised when I moved in with only the pair of 9’s.  I said yes, I knew that looked shaky, but I had seen PG play all day and was fairly certain he didn’t have much.  Plus I’d seen him play before.  Of course, Heather was familiar with PG but didn’t comment on his game.
The tournament resumed and I kept my stack more or less what it was at that time, which wasn’t really good enough as the blinds kept going up.  Meanwhile, PG’s luck had run out and he was bleeding chips.  Finally, our table broke and I was looking forward to no longer being at the same table as PG.  But no, my luck was bad (or so I thought) and he and I were sent to the same table, this time, more or less directly across from me, immediately on the dealer’s right.
Turned out I was glad I ended up at that table with him, but not because of my tournament result.  It seems the dealer at the new table we were sent to was one of those very, very attractive dealers I mentioned earlier.  She’ll need a fake name, so let’s call her Denise. 
By the time we were sent to Denise’s table, he had less chips than I did.  And in a matter of a couple of hands, he had busted out.  I can’t deny being happy about that.  But I wasn’t the only one happy about it.  PG was a good sport about being out, and gave his conqueror a fairly sincere sounding “nice hand” before quickly exiting the room (I’ve seen him handle loses a lot worse).  But as soon as he was gone from the room, Denise wasted no time in thanking the guy who busted him.
To the person who took the last of his chips, she said, “Oh, I’m so glad you busted him out, I can’t stand that guy.”  Everyone cracked up, and it turned out that every single person at that table had some kind of experience with PG and some kind of story to tell.  Now keep in mind, he had only been playing at that table for a few minutes, and I was the only player there from the table where he had been most of the tournament.  So he had made impression on all of them previously, not on this day.  We all asked Denise to tell us why she didn’t like him, but she wouldn’t say.  “He’s a customer, I can’t say anything.”  She was clearly dying to talk about him, but kept refusing to do so, at least for a time.
Meanwhile, the rest of us were talking about him, about how he always is hitting people up—sometimes relative strangers—for money to stake him.  I mentioned a couple of websites (which I won’t mention her because I don’t people going there and figuring out who he is like the last time I wrote about him).  One was a fairly recent thread telling stories about him supposedly living in his car, being essentially homeless, and always looking to bum a stake off anyone he knew.
Guys started going to these websites on their cell phones right from the tournament table and started sharing information they found about him.  The guy next to me had perhaps the best story until Denise broker her silence.  It seems he was an out of towner and only came to Vegas 3-4 times a year.  He also had a Chihuahua on his lap the entire tournament, although that really isn’t relevant to the story (but it does fit in with the subject of “dogs playing poker”) He said he ran into PG one time on a visit to Vegas, and the next time he saw him, on his next visit to Vegas, PG asked him to stake him!
Finally, we convinced Denise to break her silence and explain why she found PG so disagreeable.  Well, the first thing was that, after dealing to him several times, the very first time she ran into him at a poker room where she was just playing, not dealing, he tried to bum a stake off her (see a pattern here?).  Of course, she told him no way.
And then….and I don’t know if this was the same time or at a later date…..she said he actually asked her out!  Furthermore, he gave her his phone number….and then got mad that she never called him.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to properly convey in text how ludicrous the idea of Denise going out with PG is.  I believe I have described him well enough so that you readers will realize he isn’t exactly ideal dating material.  And let me repeat, Denise is quite the looker.  She is one of the many really attractive dealers that deal in this room, in this tournament. She does not look like a woman who would have a hard time finding dates—none of the female dealers in this room do.  I would roughly estimate that the percentage of eligible, straight males who would find her a desirable woman to date is approximately 99.3%, give or take a tenth of a point or two.  And again, pretty much the same could be send for most of the ladies who deal there.
So I said to her, “All you had to do was say to him, ‘look at you and look at me’.”  Of course, she said she would never say such a thing to a guy.  She’s too nice for that.
Then she said there are two requirements to date her.  One, you have to have a cell phone that is not on a month-to-month plan.  And two, you have to have your own car.  For a gal who looks like this, that’s actually very minimal, but hey, they are her rules.
So of course I repeated what I had heard on one of those unmentionable websites (whether it’s true or not), “I think he has his own car.  I think he lives in it!”
This amused everyone and somebody mentioned that if she indeed had taken him up on his offer, he would have already gotten her into his bedroom on the first date!
She went on to give other criticisms of PG.  He’s rude to the dealers, he’s rude to the players.  He’s always trying to tell the dealers how to do their jobs.  At this point, I mentioned how he had earlier tried to correct a dealer on how to make change.  Then she said something to the effect, “This is a low paying job.  If you can’t get a job as a dealer, don’t tell me how to do it.”  Also she mentioned that he thinks he’s the best poker player in the world.  Hmm….where have I heard that before?
Well that was about it.  The subject was finally exhausted just as I was about to bust out.  Knowing that I could play another two hours before cashing, I looked to make a move that would either end it quickly for me or get me enough chips so that I had a real shot of a major cash.
Despite it being three-betted before me, I went all in with AK suited.  The guy who had three bet really thought long and hard, he said, “Oh man, you got Aces?  Just my luck you got Aces right now?”  He hadn’t been playing with me long, this was still at the same table PG and been sent to and they hadn’t even advanced the levels since I’d gotten there.  But he reluctantly called and flipped over KK.  He was seriously thinking of folding!  The original raiser had folded AQ when I shoved.  Another person said he threw away a weak Ace.  In other words, I didn’t have a very good chance of catching my Ace.
And I didn’t, and I was gone.  I ended up that night back at BSC, where once again, Heather dealt to me.  I described my tournament demise to her, and then of course mentioned what Denise had said about PG.  She found it funny, especially his asking her out, but she has a different take on PG.  She actually likes having him at her table.  She says he makes it interesting, and livens up what could otherwise be a dull shift.
And she explained why they have all those pretty girls dealing at Binion’s.  In the pit, Binion’s has one of those “party pits” where they have hot gals dealing blackjack and the like in minimal clothing (not minimal enough, if you ask me, but they haven’t).  They are called “Cowgirls.” (although I haven’t seen them wear cowgirl outfits in a long time.  Usually they wear football official type uniforms.  Sometime back, they got the idea to have “cowgirls” deal poker too.  So they brought in all these hot gals to deal poker.  The problem was, none of them knew anything about poker.  So the Tournament Director had to spend long hours working with these girls to teach them how to deal poker.  I said to Heather, “Gee, what a tough gig for him.”  She chuckled.
Then, after they did that, they changed their minds and decided not to have scantily clad hot girls deal in the poker room. Again, I was not consulted in this decision.  But now they had some really good looking girls who knew how to deal poker, so they kept them as regular poker dealers.
And by the way, Heather was not one of these “cowgirl” poker dealers, even though she is definitely qualified for it.  She was hired strictly for her dealing skills—and for doing right by me and getting me a nice double up from good ol’ Poker Genius.



  1. You're lucky PG didn't "snap you off."

    It was fun to read the interesting thread about him on a popular poker site. Maybe I can stake him on my next trip to Las Vegas.

    Congrats on 100,000.

    1. Hmmm....I dunno what happening, Lightning, I was sure I had already responded to this. Thanks for the kudos.

      He didn't snap me off, but sadly, I didn't snap him off either.....just took away a bit of his chips.

  2. Congratulations on your 100,000 milestone ... your posts are most enjoyable! I've gotten to know all of your 'characters' and enjoy reading about their escapades. Prudence is certainly larger than life! Keep your posts coming!

    1. Thanks, LM. I couldn't have done this without you!

  3. 100k!

    Too bad you don't get paid $1 per hit :(

    Congrats on a great milestone!

    1. Thanks, Duck! Yeah, that would be nice....or if I just got paid by the word, as so many readers have suggested. :)

  4. Well, the ADD kicked in before the end. I'll just talk about the "Third Best Hand in Poker" -- AK. It is also the top three hand that can get stacked by a pair of ducks. There is a better name for that hand -- coin flip. It tends to give the other guy near equal odds.

    So, the hand is as much about bankroll management and blinds as it is about being "Top 3" and we all know how you do with its senior member -- KK.

    I've always thought AK was a hand to over bet rather than over call with. It is nice to avoid turning poker into roulette of the Russian variety.

    At times it isn't as much about cards as it is blind and stack management. A popular question is: Are you good enough to fold XX with XX being a primo hand.

    PS stacked QQ with an implied odds hand. He may have put too many chips in the pot at a point but he end up killing. Daniel calls it low-ball poker. What he is saying is he'd rather not play big pots even with 53 to the other guys 47 for most of his stack.

    All of the above can and should be thrown away at a moments notice. The problem we all have is recognizing the moment and where changing makes more sense. You made a great read and crippled PG and his draw. That is better poker, IMO.

    I finally learned what Daniel meant when I found a juicy limit Stud8 tournament. You can't play big pot a.k.a NL there. The reasons to play get clearer and why Daniel's idea is such a winner.

    BTW, I can't do it playing Hold'em. I get bored and tilt and go looking for confrontations. I'll testify that my old game won more than this new stupidity. I can be stupid without extra help. That's what made me think about playing mixed games.

    1. Thanks, Ken, but I have to say, this comment was almost as long as some of my posts :).

      Regarding the AK move, I did shove/raise, not call with it. I didn't note the amount of chips, but it was a pretty big raise of the guy's bet, but he had a lot of chips to risk.

      The other thing is, you see a lot more three-betting in a tourn than you do in a cash game, so I couldn't assume he only had Aces or Kings. Similarly, he hadn't seen me play a hand yet (I don't believe) in the 20 or so minutes I had played with him. So he could have easily put me as a tight player who would only make that move with AA or KK. So I actually thought I had pretty good fold equity there, unfortunately, he had the dreaded Kings there. I'll bet anything he would have laid down Queens.

      I was in a position there where if I didn't get a double up--or near that--I might have been stuck playing another 2 hours without cashing, and I was ready to roll the dice.

  5. Very proud of you for reaching over 100K page views. Next up on your agenda should be winning over 100K in a tournament.

    And as long as I don't get blacklisted from the Strip, may we have many more anniversaries to come.

    1. I wouldn't worry about getting blacklisted from the ENTIRE strip, I mean, there are so many poker rooms, who could possibly get banned from all of them?

      Thanks. Prudence and I appreciate the thought, $100K, huh? First I have to figure out how to win a $100 pot from Poker Grump.

      "Shoves with Jacks" may be your cleanest, and funniest, URL. But hey, I shoved with Jacks twice this past time I pulled a "Prudence" and rivered a set. The other time...not so much.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, MOJO, I'll do my best to make my posts longer in the future.

  7. Love to read the trending topic about the Poker Genius. :) Congratulations for reaching a high mark on your page views! :)