Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Night at the Opera

Actually, it was several nights, not one.  And it wasn’t the opera, it was the Aria.  But they sing arias in operas right?  So it was almost like being at the opera—if operas were really casinos that featured poker rooms.  So with a little poetic license I can use the title of one the all time great Marx Brothers movies (and thus, one of the all time great movies) as the title of this post.

This took place on my late November/early December trip to Vegas, because yeah, I still have stories from that trip, as well as the two subsequent ones, to get to. Hey, it’s just a blog and I don’t have to do it chronologically if I don’t want to.  When I turn this into a book, I’ll reorder the chapters chronologically.
For reasons I won’t go into—because it might give away the identity of BSC for the five of you who haven’t figured it out—during this trip something was going on at BSC which encouraged me to play elsewhere during the evenings.  Besides, as I indicated here, for professional reasons, it’s good for me to get out and play in other rooms.  Now, I’ve played many times in the Aria tournament, as been documented on the blog (here, for example).  But before this trip, I’d only played cash there once, when it first opened, and they actually had a 3/6 limit game at the time.
This time I would be playing No Limit, of course, and at the Aria it’s1/3 NL.  I played there three straight nights and bought in for $300 each time. After the first two nights, I was up over $500 for the room, but dropped a couple of hundred my last night.  Still, I did well, and didn’t find the competition any more difficult than at the 1/2 games I usually play.
Two of the nights my buddy Stump was there, as I expected.  This is pretty much is home base, and that plays into this post.  The second night I actually played at the same table with him, and that was the night that I did the best, and produced the only hands (that I can remember) worth blogging about.
Sitting next to Stump, and being fairly friendly with him, was a guy that looked awfully familiar to me.  I knew I’d played poker with him before—or perhaps he was a dealer somewhere.  It took me awhile to rack my brain and figure out where I knew him from.  But finally a little light bulb went off above my head.  That really happened, you can ask Stump.  And I when I remembered where I’d played with him, I knew that he had appeared in a previous blog post.  It was the man I recalled “Italian Guy” in this post here, the story of how I cashed in the Orleans Friday night tournament.   He was the guy who pissed and moaned forever when I called him with King-10 suited and hit a 10 on the board to best his pocket 7’s.  He acted like he thought I was the worst player in the history of poker, and wouldn’t shut up about it.  It was so satisfying that I not only outlasted him in the tournament, but I cashed and he didn’t.  Sweet.
As I played back that incident in my mind, I realized that Stump was also at the tournament, also cashed, and had been at the table with me when I took so many of his chips with my bad K-10 call.  So I was wondering the whole time if Stump remembered the guy from that night.  But I was across from Stump and he was sitting next to Italian Guy so I couldn’t ask him while we were playing.
I had to assume the guy either didn’t remember me at all, or didn’t hold a grudge.  Because I was sure, the way he was talking to me at the table that night at the Orleans, if he remembered me, he would have said something, and it probably wouldn’t have been too nice.  On this night, his behavior was quite a bit different than I remember, possibly because he was having a good night as I recall, and because cash games are so different from tournaments.  And I have to say, he and Stump were chatting it up like they were BFF’s.  Also, it probably didn’t take him long to figure out that Stump and I were buds.
After he left, I had a chance to ask Stump if he remembered the guy, and he said, “Yeah, Orleans tournament.”  He told me that he had played with him at Aria a few times since that night.  I asked him if he thought he remembered me, and he said he definitely did, at least he recognize me as someone he’d played poker with before.  I don’t think either one of them brought up our Orleans experience.  He probably didn’t remember where he knew me from, or he wouldn’t have been so pleasant. 
The first hand of interest started with pocket deuces.  I limped in and so did a bunch of others.  The flop was pretty good, 2-A-A.  Always nice to flop a boat.  But with such a low pair, it’s pretty vulnerable.  I bet the size of the pot, $15.  I got one caller.
I really hated the turn card, another Ace.  Ugh.  Not only were quads possible, but my three deuces were essentially worthless.  Instead of deuces full of Ace’s, my hand was Ace’s full of deuces, and any pair would make a better full house than mine.
When the other guy checked, I was only too happy to check behind him.  The river was a third heart, somewhat medium in rank.  That put three hearts on the board, but I didn’t care about that.  This time, the guy bet out $40.  Hmm…..that was about the size of the pot, give or take.  So I was getting 2 to 1 to call.  I wish I could tell you that I had some great read on the guy, but I really didn’t.  It was more like, “Well, it’s only $40, I’m not folding a flopped boat for only $40.”  The more I think about it as I write this up, the more I think it was a horrible call.
But not as horrible as the guy’s bet.  He flipped over 7-4 hearts for a flush.  Yeah.  He was betting a flush there, a small flush!  On a board with three Aces!  Not only that, but he called my flop bet with a low flush draw on a board with 2 Ace’s.  Wow.  Thank you sir, for being a worse player than me!
That was a nice surprise. 
The other memorable hand involved, what else, the dreaded pocket Kings.  In early position, I had them and bet $12 as I was first in the pot.  A guy in late position, who hadn’t been at the table very long, raised me, making it $27. 
Now what do I do?  It’s me.  It’s pocket Kings.  It’s me.  It’s pocket Kings.  No, I didn’t let my personal history with the dreaded cowboys spook me there.  I never thought of doing anything but four-betting.  I didn’t know how much to raise, how much he’d call.  I also knew if he had AA he’d shove back against me, and I’d call, and that’s poker.  So should I have just shoved first?  He had at least $200 and I had quite a bit more.
I really need help how to size my bet there.  I think I bet too much.  I just put out a stack of $100, total.  Should I have just min-raised?  Should I have shoved?
Well, whatever, he thought long and hard and took his time, and finally folded.  He didn’t show.  I was left wondering if I had sized my bet right there, but I was happy that I didn’t play pocket Kings—my own personal Kryptonite hand, as Grump has called it—weak there.
I’m sure I must have won some bigger pots at the Aria, especially the first two nights when I did so well.  But those were the only two unusual enough to remain in my memory long enough to record them. 
Oh, and there was Stump’s dinner.  As I mentioned, he plays there a lot, and thus has a lot of comps built up.  At the Aria, they give you $2 an hour, unlike most rooms, where it’s a buck an hour.  You’ll soon see why that is necessary.
Stump had been playing there for many, many hours non-stop and was in need of sustenance.  As with many of the rooms in Vegas, and all of the really “big” rooms, they will serve you food right at the table.  One of the options is food from hotel room service, and Stump knew that’s what he wanted that night.  He ordered the spaghetti dinner.  Sometime later, they brought him his meal, which was n ok sized plate of spaghetti.  No soup or salad.  No desert.  I honestly can’t remember if there were meatballs with the spaghetti or not.  Stump of course paid with his comps, so no money came out of his pocket for this.
Still, I was curious.  One time before a tournament, I checked the options close to the Aria poker room and saw that a hot dog would cost me $15!  So I wondered what the pasta cost, and asked Stump how much it cost him in comps.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised by his response.  “It’s $28.”  I think I gasped, he could see I was a bit shocked, as could the dealer, who was enjoying the conversation.  The dealer said, “Hey, don’t forget, they give you a roll too.”   Sure enough, Stump held up the roll that had come with his meal.  “Yes, don’t forget the roll!”  Then I noticed that there were actually two very thin breadsticks on his plate.  I said, “Yeah, and they threw in a couple of breadsticks, don’t forget that.”
A few more laughs were shared over the pricey pasta.  I knew that Stump had recently visited the Bike in L.A. so I pointed out that that meal at the Bike would cost $2.50.  “Plus, the Bike is such a classier place than the Aria.”
Yes, that was sarcasm.  Stump responded that it would be actually be free at the Bike for the stakes he (or I) would play (see here).  True, but it’s only $2.50 even if you’re playing $2/$4 limit.
To be fair to Aria, it is a very elegant, super luxury place, and the price for food isn’t out of line compared to other similar hotels, and they do give you $2 an hour comps.  I’m just not used to playing in a place that classy!
A few days later, I told the story of the $28 plate of spaghetti to someone playing at BSC.  He was also shocked.  “For that price, I sure hope the waitress who served it was naked.”
Hmm….I’m pretty sure the waitress who served it was a waiter, and I’ll also pretty sure not even the women in the room wanted to see that.
Anyway, I would expect to be playing more cash games at the Aria in the future.  It’s a good room, the competition was far from overwhelming, and it has a very nice atmosphere.  But I’m not sure I’ll ever play enough to have the comps to order that spaghetti. 


  1. aargh ! fucking pseudonyms and BSC, they get on my tits !!
    and give me a break, I ain't anywhere near local .. guess I'm one of the five -((

    1. LOL. Thanks for commenting, dD! Sorry if you are frustrated.

      But I'm a bit confused myself. You refer to your "tits" yet your blogger profile says you are male. Hmm, "man boobs" perhaps? Or in Scotland, are you referring to a passerine bird?

      Tho I must admit, the double "D" in your handle does make me think of......well, tits!

  2. "The first hand of interest started with pocket deuces. I limped in and so did a bunch of others. The flop was pretty good, 2-A-A. Always nice to flop a boat. But with such a low pair, it’s pretty venerable. I bet the size of the pot, $15. I got one caller."

    I think, rather than venerable, which means commanding respect because of age or dignity, the word you are looking for is VULNERABLE.

    1. Fixed. Thanks for the correction, cockeboy! I really do appreciate it. It's always frustrating when little goofs like that get past me. In this case, I dunno how I did that, I suspect auto-correct is to blame (probably typed "vulnerable" so badly it looked closer to "venerable".)

      If you would like a job as my proof-reader, it's yours. However, the pay sucks. In fact, it's non-existent.

    2. No problem. It just looked wrong, and while I wasn't positive of the definition of venerable until I looked it up, I was certain you meant to say vulnerable.

      And how much free time do you think I have in a day? I'd almost rather proof-read for someone who writes short stories compared to proof-reading your blog! lol ;)

    3. So you're saying you'd do it if I paid you by the word? :)

    4. Rob, you are not known for mangling words so it wasn't auto-correct. What we have here is an unintentional malapropism. The word "venerable" is still fresh in your subconscious mind -- "... For some time now, Binion's, the venerable downtown casino...." (Ante Up Magazine, February 2013).

    5. Thanks for the comment, Mr. S! I'm am beyond amazed that you recall my using the term "venerable" to describe Binions in my Ante Up column. I don't think my own dear, late mother would remember that if she was still with us. That is impressive recall. Wow.

      And thanks for saying I'm not known for mangling words, not sure everyone else would agree!

  3. Rob,

    On your KK hand, I would have 4 bet to $65 - $70 to try to price in worse hands. When 3 betting or 4 betting, I will usually take their bet amount and multiply it by 2.5 times.


    1. Thanks, cowboy, that's the kind of help I need. I was actually thinking later that just a min-raise would have been the way to go, but I suppose that screams out, "Aces or Kingss." A call would have been more likely with a 2.5 X bet than a min raise, oddly enough.

      Of course, if he had called, since I had Kings, he would have sucked out on me!