Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Was it a Fold or Not?

This was an odd hand one night back in January at BSC.  There was a mildly annoying guy there with what I took to be an Eastern European accent.  When I first got to the table, he was loudly reacting to any preflop raise, like, “What are you doing, why are you raising?” that sort of thing.  He gave people nicknames too, based on their perceived country of origin.  So he kept calling an Asian guy “Taiwan” and a guy he must have thought was from Indonesia, “Jakarta”.  He never got around to giving me a nickname.

Then, after about 45 minutes or so, he just totally shut up, and didn’t say a word for a couple of hours. 
At one point, a female dealer came to the table that I didn’t recognize.  This frankly shocked me because I thought I knew all the dealers at BSC who work swing shift, even the extra-board dealers who rarely get called in.  I saw her name and once I matched it to her face, I slowly recognized her.
But not from BSC.  I recognized her from another room that I used to play in quite a bit, but hadn’t been in a while, and further, I had stopped seeing her there when I was still playing that room.  So I asked her if I was right about the room I knew her from, and she said yes.  Then she told me she still worked there full time, but she had changed her shift, that’s why I no longer saw her.  I even remembered that she had a couple of kids.
I was surprised that she’d been on the call-list for BSC for over a year and had never seen her there before, but I guess it was just one of those timing things.  Anyway, we caught up on old times, she gave me some updates on what was going on in that room, and stuff like that.
During this, I guess there was some poker going on too.  Suddenly, Eastern European guy (EEG, for short), was talking again.  It was as if he had awakened from a coma.  And his talking was starting to interfere with my catching up on old times with this nice lady dealer.  The nerve.
But things weren’t too out of hand until a hand right after he’d won a nice size pot.  Included in that pot were a couple of green ($25) chips.  He was still pulling back the pot as the next hand was dealt, and thus put out two chips under the gun.  The dealer announced “raise” because one of the two chips was a green one, so the bet was now $26 (quite a big preflop raise for this table).  The guy to his right folded and the next guy was in the process of calling when EEG said, no, he didn’t mean to raise, he thought he was putting out two $1 chips to just limp, but had grabbed a green one instead.
The dealer said it was a raise, there had been action behind him, that was it.  He bitched and moaned so they called the floor over.  The floor ruled that the $26 bet stood.  After all, who’s to say the guy next to him might have limped in (or made a smaller raise), if he didn’t see the $26 bet before he acted?
So, we played the hand for $26.  That pissed me off, I had pocket deuces and hoped to limp in, or at least come in for a reasonable raise.  I wasn’t about to call $26 with my lousy ducks.  One other guy called, the guy next to me, and three of them saw the flop.
I don’t really recall the hand.  There was some betting and both EEG and the guy next to me went to the river.  On the river, EEG announced “all in” and put some of his still unstacked chips over the betting line.  There was a couple of seconds gone by and suddenly, long before the other guy had a chance to act, EEG just threw his cards face down, towards to the dealer.
They didn’t hit the muck and I believe the dealer made sure they didn’t.  The guy finally says, “oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to do that,” and grabbed his cards back.  The dealer was fine with that, but the other player wasn’t.
“What was that?”
EEG says, “It was a mistake, I made a mistake, sorry.”
The guy repeated, “What was that?”
EEG repeated that he made a mistake, he couldn’t really explain what he did or why he did it, or what he was thinking, but of course he wouldn’t move all-in and then fold his cards before the other person had a chance to act.
The other guy said “I think that’s a fold.”  The dealer said no, they didn’t hit the muck, it wasn’t a fold.
The guy complained again, saying it was a fold, and so, for the second time this hand, the floor had to be called over, and no, it wasn’t a fold.  EEG’s hand was still live.
Other guy accepted this, albeit quite reluctantly.  And then he just stared at the guy for what seemed like 10 minutes.  I think he may have said, “What was that”? a couple of more times even after the floor ruled. There was no doubt out in my mind he was purposely drawing out his decision because he was pissed, both at the guy who shoved and at the ruling.
He finally mucked. 
EEG took in another nice pot, but he just left his chips in a big messy pile in front of him.  The dealer told him he had to stack his chips so the other players would know how much he was playing with.  He made a half hearted effort, then stopped, saying he liked his chips that way.  The dealer insisted, and every time she did, he’d stack a few chips and then stop.  Her down was almost over, so she never got him to cooperate.  But he did manage to piss everyone off by now, not just the guy who thought he folded (“Taiwan” and “Jakarta” were long gone).
And then, instead of stacking his chips, he racked them up and took off. 
Later, when I was cashing out, I ran into the dealer again.  I told her it was good seeing her again, and then I apologized to her, not for me, but on behalf of the jerk.  And I told her he had been mostly silent until she showed up at the table.  Bad luck for her.  Oh well, I’m sure he wasn’t the biggest jerk she’s encountered at her job. 
As for me, it was fun running into her again.  But she’s gonna remember that down more for EEG than she ever will for me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's Going On?

What's going on is that I couldn't get my current post to show up in Google blogroll feeds, so I had to rename it and do it this way.  Very weird.  Anybody know anything about Google blogroll feeds?  Dunno why the original one wouldn't show up, it had the title of the column, which is what I usually do......


Mega Hits at Planet Hollywood for $672K

My latest column for Ante Up Magazine is online and you can read it here.

It's already starting to appear in poker rooms around the country.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Tale of "--S" & "M"

This post really started out to be a comment on the blog, Life as a Poker Dealer, but as I wrote it in my head, I realized it was going to be way too long for a blog comment, and since I need a blog post anyway, I decided to make it a post on my own blog instead.  I’m sure some will say it’s too long to be a blog post too, but that’s their problem.

I’m sure most of you read --S’s blog (or should I call him “pkdlr”—his Twitter handle?—I never know).  If you don’t, you should read his latest post here, as that way you’ll know what I’m writing about.  Long story short, --S has a tough assignment on his hands: turning around a struggling poker room in Vegas.
That poker room is The M Resort.  It’s a room I have a lot of familiarity with and that’s why I’m dedicating a blog post to it.  As I mentioned in this post here , I have a certain fondness for this room.  When it opened I was strictly a 2/4 limit player and played there a lot.  When I started this blog, I was still playing 2/4 and still playing at M quite a bit.  I expected that I’d have more than a few blog posts about things that took place there.  But somehow I became a No Limit player, and sort of as a result, I found myself writing a poker blog more than a silly stories blog, as I originally intended (thought I still manage to squeeze in a few silly stories).
As I explained in that earlier post, I stopped playing at the M both because of the change in my game and the fact that the room took a sudden and dramatic hit in terms of its business.  And now it seems that the poker room manager who opened the room has moved on to bigger and better things, and --S has been tasked with trying to turn things around in the room.
--S and I became blogging buddies long before we ever met face to face.  When I was playing there, he was working graveyard, a shift I never played.  By the time he would come in to work, I was either at BSC or back in my room sleeping.  But when I got into blogging, his was one of the first I discovered.  It took me awhile before I figured out that he worked at a room I played in a lot.  He didn’t advertise the fact that he worked at M and I think originally he was working at more than one room, as is true of so many in the poker biz.  Can you imagine a blogger not being clear about the poker room he was talking about?  I just can’t relate to that.
The thing I wanted to respond to in his current post is his theories about why the room took a sudden nosedive. To be clear, they are not his theories, he is giving reasons other people told him.  There’s already a comment there from me giving my reason, which is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely a joke.  I mentioned that a certain super-hot waitress no longer works there, and therefore business in the room took a hit because of that.  As I mentioned in this post here, the waitresses at M (all through the casino, not just the poker room), are extremely attractive (so much so that for a couple of years they did a calendar featuring them), and this particular waitress was the most attractive of them all (which is really saying something).  She was also the best waitress I’ve ever seen in a poker room.
But --S gives a few theories he’s heard, and I’d like to comment on them from the perspective someone who played a fair amount of poker there.
The first theory is the “bad seed” theory.  Some toxic dealers and floor people ran off the customers. I’m sure that every business has some employees who keep some customers away. That said, I believe this theory centers around one particular person.  This person is a known entity in the Vegas poker community so I won’t even assign this person a gender to help protect this person’s identity.  Said person could be brusque with people, I saw that, but I never had a problem with this individual.  We got along fine, even when I would pepper this person with a lot of seemingly irrelevant questions.  I can honestly say I like this person, despite the demeanor.
The only time I saw this person really exhibit any behavior I found questionable was when the person on the receiving end totally deserved it.  There was a regular in the room who was rude, nasty and just plan mean with her fellow players and the dealers alike.  Was this rude regular some young punk?  No, not at all.  She was a bitter old woman.  Rumor has it that she was banned from many a Vegas poker room.  So when I saw the “bad seed” floor person be a little rough with the nasty old woman, I felt it was more than justified.
So did regular players really stop coming to the poker room at M because of this “bad seed” floor?  I suppose it’s possible. Most of the regs in this room, as with most local rooms, are older types; perhaps they demand kid gloves.  But I can tell you I heard some of the regs actually praise the person in question, and some commented that no one ran the tournaments as well as this person did.
The next theory has to do with collusion, collusion among players regarding the promos.  I never saw that myself.  And who would complain?  Wasn’t it the regulars who were colluding?  Did they get mad at themselves for colluding and stop coming in?
Now I can only speak for the 2/4 game, I had no idea what went on at the No Limit table.   But the idea that people were talking about their hands to see if they had jackpot-eligible hands is rather absurd.  Whenever someone did cross the line, or get close to it, by saying something about the hand that might give it away that they were qualified for a jackpot, the dealers would always warn them.  The closest thing to this I saw would be a player saying he wanted to play a hand or see a flop rather than chop the blinds if he had a pocket pair that could conceivably make quads.
I did see some players upset with people who raised a lot at the 2/4 game.  And that bothered me too—I mean people raising a lot.  Every now and then a 2/4 game gets ruined by some clown who raises every single pot preflop.  When I was playing 2/4, I hated that.  I had no problem with people raising when they had a decent hand, but when you see a person just raising every single time, trying to turn the game into a 4/8 game, you wonder why they just don’t find a  4/8 game instead.  People play 2/4 because they don’t want to risk a lot of money.  It ruins the game, and I saw people request a table change because of a constant raiser, but I never heard anyone complain that they didn’t like raising because they were all playing for promos.    
Another theory is that they didn’t like the promos always changing, and there might be something to that, but isn’t that always the case?  If you like a promo, you don’t want it ever to change.  If you don’t like it, you want it to be replaced right away.  Most rooms change their promos regularly, as they are constantly trying to compete with each other for the same business.
Personally, I’m not that big a fan of promos, mostly because I so seldom ever got one even when I was playing a lot of 2/4 in locals rooms that had them.  I liked them for the fact that they brought people in to play them and kept the room busy.  In a 2/4 game, I think the promos change the way people play only at the margin.  Most people call a one-bet raise anyway.  I suppose there were times I wouldn’t let go of a pocket pair on the flop if the jackpot for quads was big enough that I’d spend $2 hoping for runner-runner quads.  And I might not raise with Aces or the dreaded pocket Kings in early position if there was a quad bonus, I wanted to make sure there was a flop.  Otherwise, I played my game.
But most rooms have them, and they have to keep trying things to get people in.  It would be nice if the people would all just come in to play poker, and the rooms didn’t need promos.  Personally, I think if they banned promos in the entire city, and thus no one had the option to go to a room with a promo, the rooms would be just as busy as they are now.  But as long as one room has them, they all have to compete.  Truth is, even most of the tourist rooms on the Strip have promos. The Mirage, a pretty fancy casino, has tons of promos. Only a handful of rooms don’t have them.
But I think that the room—any room, really—should have been able to see which promos were popular and which weren’t.  If a promo is working, why not keep it until it stops working? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  When people get bored with it, they’ll know.
Another theory is that people hated management.  This was the same management that was there when the room opened and thrived, so what changed?
Anyway, it’s time to look forward.  I admit, I’d like to see every poker room thrive, but I am especially routing for this one. One, because I’ve always liked the room.  And two, because --S is a real nice guy and I wish him well.
And I think it can be done, and there’s a good example of it.  Until M opened its poker room, nearby Green Valley Ranch had a hugely popular poker room down the street.  One of the regular players there?  Yours truly.  It was actually the first place I ever played poker in a card room.  But when M took off, most of the business came from GVR.  It was a bummer for me, I would have been perfectly happy playing in both rooms, switching off for variety sake.
But GVR became a morgue.  There were times when no one was playing in the middle of the day.  Most of those players were now at M Resort (and later, at nearby South Point).
But GVR seems to be thriving again, as M is declining.  I suppose it may be just a case of M doing whatever it did to lose its players and those players going back to GVR. But I suspect there was more to it than that.  They kept trying different promo’s and different things to entice their players back.  And they did indeed comeback.  The room is quite busy now, just like the old days.

So M can turn it around.  If you have any ideas as to what they should try, go over to --S's blog and leave a suggestion.
I have only one idea, and it’s one I’ve had for a long time.  Sadly, I don’t think he has the authority to get it done.  But it’s always struck me as dumb that locals rooms that have a lot of promos, and change them frequently, don’t promote them better with the one group of people who really want to know about this—players who already play in the room.
All these regs log in with their player’s card.  So the computer knows who is playing poker, and how much they play.  How hard would it be for an email to be sent to everyone who’s played poker in the room in the past few months whenever they have a change in promos or perhaps an exciting promo for a special day?
I get lots of email because of my player’s cards.  But it’s always generic casino email, promoting an act coming to the showroom, the pool opening, a new restaurant, an offer on cheaper rooms, stuff like that.  I play a lot of poker around town and I’ve never gotten an email that was poker specific.  Why don’t I get an email when a poker room is about to offer a super progressive jackpot for flopping quads or whatever?  That would be one thing that could help.  Otherwise, they’re depending on people coming into the casino for some other reason—the slots, the buffets, whatever—and walking by a very quiet poker room to grab the newest flyer.
Anyway, that’s enough rambling.  I like the M poker room and I like --S, and I wish them both well.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"I'm Small—Like My Vagina"

The Return of Natalee, Part 2
Note:  Be sure to read part 1 of this post first, below or see here, before reading this.  This post picks up right where part 1 ended.
When she came back from her pee/cigarette break, she stoped to talk to me.  “I know you.  I know you. Where do I know you from?  Is it ABSC?”  OK, I just made up that “ABSC” part.  She mentioned the name of Another Big Strip Casino that has a big poker room.  And I could use the name of it, except, if I did, you all would know that casino couldn’t be BSC.  So we’ll just have to call it ABSC.  Apparently, Natalee is a regular there.  Hmm, I might have to start playing there!
I replied, “No, no, it’s not from ABSC.  It’s from here.  I played with you in January, right here.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, I put all those guys on tilt, didn’t I?”

“Yeah.  But not me.  I never had any problem with you.”

“Yeah, yeah, you weren’t mean to me.  I like you.”

Crazy Natalee likes me.

So I asked what her name was, even though I know I will never reveal it on the blog.  But this way, I can put it in my log of “name conversations” instead of referring to just as “crazy woman who puts guys on tilt.”  I gave her my name when she told me hers.  She doesn’t look like a……well, she’ll always be “Natalee” to me.

The problem with Natalee liking me was it made it easy for her to ask to borrow my jacket.  You see, it was extremely cold in the BSC poker room this night, as it had been the past few nights.  I had already complained to the Shift Supervisor that night, and it had gotten a little better.  But I was prepared.  I had a long sleeve shirt, a sweater and a medium weight jacket with me.  The weather outside didn’t require such clothing.  Only inside the casino.

She was wearing a short sleeve top and had nothing to cover herself with.  She was freezing. Hmm….maybe this was the real reason she was rubbing her boobs, to stay warm? She kept asking me to borrow my jacket, which I was actually wearing inside the poker room.  She was getting pretty insistent.  And I realized that if she didn’t warm up soon, she might leave for that reason.  So, being the gentleman that I am, I went ahead and lent her my jacket for awhile.  She warmed up a bit and returned it before she was done playing.  I think she ordered some kind of liquid body warmer from the bar so she could return the jacket.
I’m gonna get back to Big Jerk in a second.  But for now, all you need to know is that he had started to violate the rule of not trying to get Natalee to leave.  As such, Natalee was starting to complain about all the players being “mean” to her, even tho he was the only one as far as I could tell.  Maybe she meant that no one was going on tilt as she had planned.  Or that no one—except me—was willing to lend her a jacket.
So she was kvetching about the other players when Jennifer came to deal.  Jennifer normally works the floor and the podium, but this night she was dealing as the place was super busy.  I believe that Natalee may have seen her up front earlier, or previously, and figured that she was “in charge”—or at least she might be a logical person to complain to.  As soon as Jennifer started dealing, she talked about all the players were mean to her, and gave some examples.
Then she pointed to me, “Except for him, he’s nice.”
Jennifer said, “Yeah, Rob’s a good guy.”
I think I might have said, “Yes, I am.”
Anyway, Natalee was too busy whining to remember that she was the small blind.  Jennifer had already dealt the cards and reminded her once or twice, and finally Natalee realized Jennifer was talking to her.  “Small blind,” Jennifer told her for the umpteenth time.
“I’m small?”
Yes, Jennifer told her again.  “You’re small.”
As she put her buck out, she said, “I’m small? Like my vagina.”
This got a reaction from everyone who heard it, but non moreso than poor Jennifer.  By the time she had put her buck out, the players under the gun and UTG+1 had already folded.  Jennifer started sweeping in the mucked cards as she heard Natalee’s line.  She was laughing so hard, she lost control for a second and swept the mucked cards way past the center, past her dealing hand, and almost all the way into the players’ hands on the other side of the table.  In fact, the cards came within in inches of touching my heretofore unlooked at hand (I was the button). 
She caught it in the nick of time, gave me a look that I read as, “WTF?  Did she really just say that?” And as she continued laughing, said to me, “Sorry, Rob.  I couldn’t help it.”
Natalee, either in response to Jennifer’s reaction or the guys’ reactions (or both) added, “Well, what am I supposed to say about it?  That it’s like the Grand Canyon?”
Which brings us back to Big Jerk.  Big Jerk had spent two, three hours sitting to my right, not being very involved in the poker.  Presumably he was card dead.  He was quietly complaining about Natalee’s antics, but she couldn’t hear him.  But it was clear he was not amused by her.  Even if, by now, Natalee’s luck had changed and her terrible calls and ill-advised raises had started costing chips.
So when the seat 2, immediately to Natalee’s left, opened up, he asked for a seat change there.  Damn.  I was actually thinking of taking the seat, mostly because I’d be better able to hear her outrageous comments, although being to the left of a maniac is a good place to be.  But BJ, as we will call him from here on out, asked first.
He said that he was just moving because he wasn’t getting any cards where he’d been sitting.  But it was clear that he another motive.
Almost as soon as he got there, he started violating the unwritten rule of not doing anything to get Natalee to leave.  Her stack was dwindling, some guys had won some big pots against her.  If she was an obnoxious winner (and she was), she was an even more obnoxious loser, upping the ante on the insults to the other players.
Especially BJ.  All the other guys were fine getting insulted by her because she was giving away all her chips.  But not BJ.  He started challenging her, getting her even more agitated, and they started battling verbally.  I couldn’t hear all the things they were saying.  But BJ claimed she said she would meet him the parking lot!  Clearly that was a joke, Natalee was a small woman, and unless she was armed, she was hardly a threat, especially since Big Jerk was, well, big.
As this escalated, guys tried telling BJ to cool it, that the last thing anyone wanted was for her to leave.  But he was a total bastard about this.  He asked the dealer to call the floor so he could complain about her.  The Shift Supervisor came over.  It was the same Shift Supervisor who had cut off her alcohol last time (along with the waitress), he certainly remembered her.
He got both their stories and also the dealer’s version (not Jennifer, she had been pushed by a male dealer, a pretty humorless fellow).  I’m not sure what Natalee said but I heard BJ say that Natalee was masturbating at the table.  Huh?
“She’s sitting there rubbing her tits!”  Well, yes, she was doing that.  But I would hardly call that masturbating.
Anyway, the Supervisor offered either one of them a table change.  But neither wanted that.  Damn, BJ, just go to another table.
The thing was, BJ, as I learned the next night when I played at his table again, said he was sick of her and wanted her kicked out.  He had already won some money from her at this point (that was one of the things they were having words over, a hand he won), and didn’t care if he won any more or not.
While Natalee was pulled away and talking privately with the Supervisor, all the guys at the table were begging BJ to lighten up, to leave her alone, to not get her kicked out.  By now, Natalee had lost all those chips back, had busted out, and had rebought.  Only for $100, but I was certain there plenty more $100 bills where that one came from.   Also, she had recently made one of the most boneheaded moves I’d ever seen at a poker table.
On the turn, where one of three players was already all in, she said, “Well, I’ve got a gut-shot so I’m betting.  The other player called.  The river was a 9 which put a 5 card straight on the board.  There was no flush possible so unless someone had a 10, it was going to be a split pot.  She bet $10 into a pot that was at least $100.  Even the side pot she was betting at was a lot more than $10. Of course the guy called, the easiest call he ever had in his life. 
When the guy called, she just instantly mucked.  Both players were playing the board.  Had she turned over her hand, she would have one a third of the pot (actually a little more, since there was an all-in).  But she mucked. And when somebody tried to point out her mistake, she said, rather nastily, “I know what I’m doing.”  Not so much.
Why the hell would anyone want this woman to leave the table???
But the guy was obstinate.  “I don’t like being insulted.”  OK, big jerk, then move to another table.  Everyone else was fine with being insulting as long as she was spewing chips.
As one brand new player at the table said, “If she leaves, we’ll all have to work hard to win money.  With her, it’ll be a lot easier.”
No, no, he said, “I didn’t come here to be called a jerk.”  There’s a reason you’re being called a jerk, jerk.  It’s because you’re a jerk!
The Supervisor told them that no more inappropriate comments would be tolerated, and the next person to make one would be asked to leave.
It didn’t take five minutes for them to start up again.  I didn’t hear what they said, but the dealer called the Supervisor back, claimed that Natalee started it, and so the Supervisor picked up her remaining chips and escorted out of the room.
Stupid ass Big Jerk.
I know that looks can’t kill, because BJ would have dropped dead instantly at the table from all the dirty looks he was getting from the other players, myself included.
I took that as a cue to leave.  I was up for the night, so I considered it being paid $130 to get a blog post.  Not a bad deal.
As I went to the front to cash out, several of the folks up there started throwing questions at me about her.  I gave them all some quick highlights.  I also bitched a lot about BJ. One of the female podium persons said that BJ was ridiculous.  I said that you could call me anything you want if you’re gonna give me all your money.  She agreed.
Then Jane, the other floorperson, told me that at one point, when she was running well, she came over to them and said, “I’m doing it again, I’m doing it again. I’m taking all their money.”  Jane knew of the night that she ran $100 up to $1500.
Then Stan saw me.  I first mentioned Stan in this post here, saying I didn’t know him well because he doesn’t usually work the room on swing-shift, but he was running the tournament this night.  In that post, I mentioned being surprised to learn that Stan not only knew my name, but knew about the blog.  By the way, that first time I mentioned Stan, you will notice that the word “vagina” was also in the title.  Coincidence?
Stan just said to me, “So, when will be reading about this night?”
I just laughed and said “Soon.  Very soon.”
Actually it wasn’t really soon, dammit, but better late than never, right?
There’s a quick follow up to the Natalee story.
A few days later I came into the BSC early in the evening and the same Shift Supervisor saw me as went to put my name on the list for a seat.
“She’s back,” he told me.
I knew exactly who he meant.  “The crazy woman is back?  The one you kicked out a couple of nights ago?” 
Yes, he confirmed, that’s who he meant. 
I told him that whenever I get a seat, to put me in for a table change to her table.
I walked over to her table, it was the same table we had played at the night before. 
I left to take a seat and wait.  When they called me, they sent me to Natalee’s table, but it turned it was her I was replacing.  She just left.
Damn, I missed her.
A few minutes after I got settled, in the exact seat where Natalee had been sitting, I said to the table, “Sorry, but I’m going to be a lot more boring than the last person who was sitting here.”
Everyone laughed, and they started telling me how crazy she was.  As if I didn’t know.  The dealer said something like, “She was nuts.”
Apparently, she was with a guy this time.  I saw them walking away, and it looked to me, from the brief look I got, that he was quite a bit younger than Natalee.  The players told me that she referred to him as, “The man I’m cheating on my husband with.”
Then a couple of player said that when she left, she announced that she was leaving to have sex with him.
Fortunately, I was sitting immediately to the right of the dealer, a buddy of mine.  He leaned over and whispered to me what she actually said.
“I’m leaving to go give this guy a blowjob.”
I have no idea if that was a bluff or if she really had the nuts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"I'm Rubbing My Boobs For Luck—Maybe They're Lucky Boobs"

The Return of Natalee, Part 1

Originally, the title of this post featured a different part of the female anatomy, one that my friend Prudence is famous for throwing around at the poker table.  But I had to make this a two part post, and the title I chose doesn’t come into play until part two.  So you’ll just have to settle for boobs, even though there is a reference to the v-word in this part.  And btw, Prudence isn’t in featured in this post, the woman with the uninhibited vocabulary is none other than Natalee, who was the star of the two part post that starts here.  Natalee is the luckbox who put several of the guys at the table on tilt with her (intentionally) obnoxious behavior and her uncanny ability to pull whatever river card she need out of her ass.
On this particular night, when I was minding my own business, playing some 1/2 NL at BSC, Jack came by to see me.  He was either on brush or on break.  I was actually having a pretty good session at the time, and I’m sure I’ll do a separate blog post about that part of this night in the future.  But Jack had urgent, pressing news.
“Your girl is back.”
I had no idea what he meant.  “What?”
“You know, the crazy one?  The woman who put everyone on tilt?  She’s putting everyone on tilt already.”
Oh damn.  Now I knew who he meant.  The aforementioned Natalee, as I had dubbed her.  I was interested.
“She’s at table 10 and there’s a seat open but you have to take it right now if you want it, they’ve already called somebody for it.
I had to make a snap-decision.  As I said, I was having a good night at the table, although after being up even more, I had dropped down to about $100 ahead.  I don’t like to change tables when I’m doing well (who does?).
Do I sacrifice a good poker opportunity for the sake of a good blog post?  Hmm…But wait, I knew that if Natalee worked her magic again, I would be a table where everyone was tilting and I could make a nice score.  Besides, as Poker Grump was only to eager to tell me, I blew the opportunity (pokerwise, not blogwise) the first time I played with her by playing too conservatively.  Now that I knew what to do, I had to see if I had learned anything from the master (see here, in addition to all the comments on that earlier post).
So I quickly decided I had to move and see if Natalee was as entertaining—and as potentially profitable—as she was the first time.  (Edited to add:  The story of the poker before I joined Natalee's table has now been told here, if you're more interested in poker than lucky boobs.  Just sayin')
The trouble was I had just been dealt a hand.  I started to look at it and Jack said I had to move right then otherwise the seat would be gone.  I said ok, I’d take it and could he get it held for me.  He said he would tell them to send the player they just called to the table I was leaving instead of the one I was going to.  I briefly looked at my hand.  It was King-Queen, certainly playable, but I decided to muck it just to make sure I could grab a seat at Natalee’s table.
I racked my chips as soon as I could and hurried over to the table.  I saw Natalee there but what I didn’t see was an empty seat.  I asked the dealer if there was an empty seat.  No, there wasn’t.  But I apparently a new player had just sat down.  I guess they didn’t get the message at the front.  The new player was an attractive young woman who I had played with recently at BSC once or twice and in other rooms too. I even remembered her name.  She was a local and a good player.  I flagged down a floor person and we got it straightened out.  She had been sent to the table in the back and stopped too soon.  She hadn’t played a hand and was fine going to the other table, she didn’t care.  Ordinarily, I would be unhappy about losing the attractive girl to another table, but I felt that she was too good a player to be tilted by Natalee, and besides, Natalee’s “tilting charms” would clearly work better on a guy than a woman.
So she left and I took her seat.  The guy to my immediate right, who will be called “Big Jerk” for reasons that will become apparent in the second part of this post, said , “No, no, I’d rather sit next to her than you.”
I knew what he meant and laughed.  “Yeah, that’s a bad beat, for you, huh?”   He said it sure was.
But then I said, “No, it’s ok.  I’ve played with her before.  She’s a much better player than I am.”
I’m not sure he believed me.
But as I was taking my chips out of the rack and getting settled, there was a hand finishing up.  One that Natalee was in.  It appeared by the time I clued into it both players were all-in.  Natalee said something about having a open ended draw to the straight flush.   Which, of course, she caught on the river.
Yes, the first hand I saw she did indeed river a straight flush.  The guy she was against already had the nut flush, so he lost his stack to her.  As I said, Natalee is a luckbox, among other things,
She had a big stack of chips, probably around $600-$700.  I wasn’t certain, but I assumed she had bought in for $100, as she had last time.  And the dealer told me she had just gotten there! This time, Natalee was in seat 1, and I was in seat 9, right next to the dealer.  We really couldn’t see each other, and it was a bit difficult to hear everything she said, or some of the things that players close to her were saying to her.
Apparently a guy sitting near me was from Israel.  So she called him, “israel” even tho I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his name.  She said, “Israel, Israel,….I’m a Jew too.  We’re the chosen people.”
Someone at the table knew that this occurred during Passover.  So they asked her, “Why aren’t you celebrating Passover?”
Natalee said, “I am celebrating Passover.  This is how I’m celebrating.”
Hmm, I’ll have to check the Bible, but I don’t remember it mentioning poker.
Earlier I saw the luckbox at work, again.  I don’t remember the specific details but a guy caught two pair playing 5-2.  She had ace-9, and there was an Ace there two.  The guy raised her and she called or shoved.  I don’t recall who shoved first, but they were both all in at that point.  Of course, Natalee caught a 9 on the river for a better two pair to take the pot.
As part of her charming personality, she called the guy a donkey for going all in with just bottom two pair.  Not withstanding the fact that she went all in with just top pair, crappy kicker.  Someone pointed that out and of course she ignored it.
In a hand with a scary board, it checked around to her and she bet out.  She was the only woman at the table, and wanted to emphasize that she was the only one with the guts to make a bet.  So she said, “No one bet?  Well, I’m betting.  And I’m the one with the vagina here.”
There is no doubt in my mind that the insults were meant to put guys on tilt, as she had done last time.
Like last time, she started talking about blackjack, although this time she didn’t claim that she had been playing all day.  But when she took some other guy’s chips, she said something like, “Oh, go play blackjack now.”  Again, it was meant to get him tilted.
Just like last time, she would announce her hand, “I’ve got a piece of that, so I’ll call” or “I’ve got top pair, so I’ll raise.”  And if she was heads up with anyone, she’d ask if they were heads up, and then talk about the hand, what she had, what they could have.
But here’s the big difference from last time.  The other players were all a lot smarter. Jack had told me she had put guys on tilt, but they may have left, or he may have been mistaken (he was never dealing to her).  The guys were trying hard to ignore her and I really didn’t see guys do anything stupid just to try to bust her out.  They all seemed to realize the best reaction was not to lose their cool with her.  They could tell that the way she was playing, if they waited for her lucky streak to end, she’d give all that money in front of her back, and maybe put some more on the table.
So when she said to someone, not sure if this was the guy I described above or not, “You’re a donkey if I ever saw one.”  His response was perfect.  “He haw, he haw.”
And everyone was pretty much ignoring her, or engaging in benign conversation with her, no one was insulting back like last time—at least initially.
At one point, someone won a pot from her, and she asked him, “Are you excited now?  Is that the same excitement as when you cum?  Or is it the same as when you make your girlfriend cum?”
The guy ignored her, which was the perfect response.
Another time, she announced to the entire table, “I know I’m annoying.  That’s my schtick.”
Then, after agonizing for a bit—verbally, of course—about how to respond to a bet in front of her, she said, “Ah, screw it.  I’m all in.”
Another time when she bet, got called and lost, she said to the guy, “I may have lost, but I scared your ass.”
Now I went in to the game with the idea that it would be wild and crazy like last time, and that I should be looking for hands to play that I might otherwise stay away from.  But it turned out that the game was nowhere near as wild and crazy as before, because the players were handling it much better.  Plus, I was card dead.  I wasn’t getting cards that I could play under any circumstance.  And there was no point in trying to make a move if Natalee was in a hand, she would call with anything.  And she was in most hands.  She did very little folding.  Although I remember one time when she did fold, she did it with this announcement, “I don’t have shit.”
But when I got King-Jack offsuit in the cutoff seat, I figured it was time to enter the fray.  I don’t have the details but I called a small raise and saw a nice flop of King-Jack-2. I bet out and Natalee was the only caller.  When another deuce hit the turn, I was a little concerned.  Deuce-anything was within her range.  But I bet out again and she asked me if I had a deuce.  Of course I said nothing.
The turn was a 6 and I bet out again, something like $60-$70, and she asked me again if I had a deuce.  Again I stared off into space.  She called, then stared at my two pair, and mucked.  I have no idea what she had.  Maybe top pair, medium pair, pocket pair…..Ace high wouldn’t be out of the question.
There was only one other decent hand that I won at the table, also involving Natalee.  In late position, there were a bunch of limpers and I had Ace-Jack.  I made it $14.  Natalee and one other person called.  The flop missed me completely, and it was checked to me.  I usually  make a continuation bet in that situation, but I almost didn’t.  I had almost never seen Natalee fold to a flop bet, and I assumed she would call me no matter what she had.  But I figured, well, they’ll probably check to me on the turn, and I can check too, and so I’ll be able to see two more cards, maybe one will hit me (sort of Natalee’s strategy, huh?).  I bet out $35 and they both folded.  I was shocked that Natalee folded, but I was happy the c-bet worked.
Mostly, I was just folding and gathering blogging material, so bad were my cards.  Just didn’t get anything where I had any real opportunity to play given the circumstances at the table.
The big I hand I lost was not to Natalee.  In early position I had Ace-Queen clubs, and raised to $8.  Five people called, but not Natalee.   There were two clubs on the board, so I put out $30.  It was both a continuation bet and betting the draw.  One guy, short stacked, shoved for $64.  Folded back to me and for $34 I called.  I missed the flush and he showed a flopped set of 3’s.  So that was my big losing hand of the night.  I wouldn’t ordinarily make a c-bet with so many seeing the flop, but I liked the draw.  In hindsight, maybe I should have checked.
Meanwhile, Natalee started rubbing her boobs for good luck.  Now, I almost missed that, because I couldn’t see her easily—the dealer was in the way—but I knew this because she announced it to the table.  I think it started with her just winning a pot, and she said, “Oh, I won.  I’m so happy.  I’m so happy that I’m rubbing my boobs.”  But next time she did it, she said, “I’m rubbing my boobs for good luck. They might be lucky boobs.”  She would even take some of newly received chips and rub them against her shirt and announce that this was to give her chips good luck.  Note:, all of this was done through her clothing.  She didn’t take her boobs out to do this.  Although, you know, that wouldn’t have surprised me all that much.  In case you’re wondering—and I know you are—Natalee, a middle-aged woman, is not overly endowed in this area.
It did sort of remind me of a story dates back to the 2008 WSOP, and which I talked about in this post here, where Karina Jett rubbed Heather Esquin’s breasts for good luck, right before an event Heather was about to play.  The difference was that Natalee was rubbing her own breasts.
I am sad to report this method of bring one luck didn’t work out too well for Natalee.  So maybe this will not catch on dammit.  But she started doing it when her luck started running bad and it didn’t help. 
At one point Natalee announced that she had to pee really bad.  And she got up and went to the Ladies Room (she also went to smoke).  While she was gone the guys at the table all talked about her.  Everyone was on the same page.  Listen, yeah, yeah, she’s annoying.  She’s a bitch.  But don’t do anything to get her to leave.  The way she plays, it’s only a matter of time before she starts spewing chips.  Let’s do everything we can to keep her here.  A bunch of guys said this, everyone—well almost everyone—agreed.  That showed that these guys were much smarter, much better players, than the group I was with last time I played with her.  So that made the situation a lot less profitable.  Still, I wasn’t going anywhere knowing she was going to be giving chips away, and I had a good shot at getting some of them.

And that’s it for part 1.  Part 2 continues here.  I should warn you, in the second part is a lot more salacious than part 1.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"You're a Swell Broad"

This was another session at BSC with Prudence.   In fact, this is the session I alluded to at the beginning of this post here. So this post could actually be called, “The Comeback Kid, redux.”  But I like the title I’ve chosen better, even if it has nothing to do with poker. 

Prudence and I decided to have dinner before playing and ate at the deli near the poker room.  We were almost finished when Prudence said to me, “Turn around, now.”
I did and at first didn’t know what she was talking about.  There were three girls walking by, nothing out of the ordinary.  Suddenly one of them moved ahead and revealed a fourth girl that was part of the group.
She was blonde—I think—but that’s not the reason Prudence wanted me to see her.  No, it was because she was wearing an extremely low-cut dress.  And bursting out of that low-cut dress were a couple of humongous breasts.  The effect was that the amount of exposed boobage on display was beyond excessive.  I had actually turned the wrong way, so I had to snap my head the other way to get a better look, and sadly, in an instant, they were gone (the girls, not the breasts—well the breasts, too).  I really only got a one or two second look, but for me, it was the thought that counted.  In case you’ve forgotten, it was Prudence who, upon seeing me the first time after I published the recap of our first encounter, claimed that I was obsessed with bosoms (see here).
Prudence laughed when I thanked her.  She said that she would have done the same thing if she’d been with her husband instead of me; she would have unhesitantly pointed out the mega-cleavage to him, just as she did to me.  So I said to her, “I’m gonna use this phrase.  It’s kind of dated.  But Prudence, you’re a swell broad.”
Again she laughed.  “That’s what it takes?  That’s why we’re friends, because I pointed out that girl?”  I said no, that wasn’t it.  “It has nothing to do with friendship.  I chose my words carefully.  For pointing that gal out to me, you’re a swell broad.  And if you’d point out that gal to your husband, that really makes you a swell broad.”
The poker started off miserably for me.  I wasn’t taking notes at the table at this point, and the next day, I was unclear about how I lost my first buy-in.  One hand that hurt was pocket 10’s, I missed the set but had a straight draw.  That didn’t hit, but someone’s flush draw did.
The other hand, the one that actually cost me the rest of my stack, was with the dreaded pocket Kings.  Can you believe it, I couldn’t remember the details the next day with my “favorite” hand.  All I could remember was that I had them, and was good all the way with them, until a fourth spade hit on the river and some guy with an underpair and the flush draw got lucky.

I rebought and I can assure you that I remember what happened to that buy-in.  I’ll never forget it.  There were a lot of aggro players at this table.  My pal Brent came to deal and I was already down a fair amount of money from that second buy in.  Then, I managed to find a way to take advantage of how aggro the table was.   Under the gun, I was dealt pocket Aces.  I stopped myself from raising.  If ever there was a table I could—and should—trying limping with Aces, this was it.  I had never limped with Aces in a NL cash game before, this would be the first time.  Very few pots were limped, the odds of someone raising if I limped were astronomical.
So on this hand, everyone limped behind me.  Well, almost.  The last guy who could raise, did.  Phew.  I re-raised and both the original raiser and one other guy called.  The flop was King high, and no one called my flop bet.  Another hand I won with Brent was with 10-7 in the big blind.  To my amazement, no one raised and I saw the flop for free.  I flopped the open-ender.  I called the flop, the turned checked around and I hit my straight on the river.  That brought me back up over $200 by a bit.
As I said, there were a bunch of aggros at the table, but none more than this one guy from New York.  He was raising more than half the time.  Didn’t get to see most of the hands he was raising with but just on the percentage it was obvious he was often raising light. 
So on this hand, he raised.  Again.  As usual.  I looked down at pocket Jacks.  I don’t normally three-bet with that hand.  In fact, the only previous time I can remember doing it—in a cash game, anyway—was in that “Comeback Kid” post I linked earlier.  Even with all the other aggros at this table, I probably wouldn’t have repopped anybody else at the table.  But he wasn’t anyone else at the table, he was the guy raising all the friggin’ time.  Yeah.  I was gonna re-raise him.  He bet $12 and I made it $35.
That got rid of everyone else and the super Aggro guy made it $100.
So he really had a hand there?
I thought long and hard.  I just couldn’t forget the fact this guy was super aggressive.  I could easily see him making that move with Ace-King, Ace-Queen, even a lesser pocket pair.  I could have folded and lost only $35.  But I felt there was a good chance I was good there.  At least, I managed to convince myself I was.
I thought long and hard.  I tanked probably as long as I ever have.  The guy had me covered.  He was probably pot committed, unless he was making a move or had played his AK as far as he wanted to go with it.  But I figured I might have some fold equity and if I called I was basically going to get it all in eventually anyway.  So I shoved.
He snap called—not a good thing.  He asked if I had Aces.  I said nothing but he showed me his hand.  Aces.  Yeah.  I guess the only thing he could put me on was the other two Aces.
Now I felt stupid.  I had shoved against Aces with a lousy pair of Jacks.  I was actually too embarrassed to show my hand at that point.  I at least if I had Kings I wouldn’t have been embarrassed,  because, you know, the ol' Aces vs. Kings situation. I can assure you, this was the only guy at the table against whom I would have played it that way.  Likely the only guy I’ve played with in many months that I’d do that against.
The guy had his Aces face up on the table while I looked on in horror.  I heard Brent say, “Robert, what did I do to you?”
I said nothing.  I knew I need a Prudence-style miracle with my pocket Jacks.
Brent put out the flop, which had both a King and a Queen.  The guy with Aces was scared, and looked at me.  He was sure that one of those two cards would have completed my set.  No, no.  I’m the idiot who shoved with pocket Jacks.
The rest of the board was low cards.  Finally I felt I might as well show my lousy Jacks.  I flipped them over as put all my chips in front of me.  I had just lost my second buy-in on friggin’ pocket Jacks.
I re-bought.  This was definitely going to be my last buy-in.  Honestly, if I did have to take Prudence home, I might have left then instead of re-buying.  So, thank you Prudence.
I was in a pretty bad mood for quite a while, but I wasn’t on tilt.  More numb than anything else.  One of the other players said to me, “I had a feeling he really did have it that time.”  Thanks.
After awhile I limped in with 9-8 of spades.  It was raised to $10 so I called, as there were two others in the pot.  The flop was Jack-9-7, rainbow.  No spades.  I checked, but then the guy who didn’t raise bet out $15, and the preflop raiser called.  Well, I had a piece and for the size of the pot, I thought it was worth calling with middle pair.
But I was thinking that with the Jack and the 9, and the 7, I’m not sure I wanted a 8 there.  I would much rather see a 9 on the turn.
And that’s exactly what I saw. 
I led out and was surprised when the guy who bet the flop raised.  The preflop raiser folded at this point.  Back to me.  Sorry, I couldn’t recall the amounts of the bets the next day.  I thought about re-raising but decided just to call.  I’m not sure why.  I think I was still spooked by that JJ hand I lost.
The river was a total blank, and I somehow checked.  It occurred to me that the guy had a boat or at least a 9 with a better kicker.  He put out a big bet that was about 2/3’s of my remaining stack.  I wasn’t about to fold, and  I figured there was no reason not to shove there, even though I didn’t have enough over his bet to get him to fold.  He of course called.
When he saw my trip 9’s, he looked for a second, then mucked.
I guess he had Ace-Jack, and played it badly.  Prudence thought his hand might not have been that good.  King-Jack, maybe.
Anyway, I had more than a double up, and over $400 in front of me.  I had gotten back one of the two buy-ins I was down.  Nice recovery.
Then I won a hand with pocket Kings.  Yeah, it happens.  New player with a short stack raised to $10 first, another guy called.  I made it $40, new guy calls, the other guy folds.  Queen high flop, I bet out, he folded. 
Another hand that got me some chips was King-Queen of diamonds.  In position, I called a preflop raise, there were a number of players in.  Great flop for me, King and two diamonds.  I bet out, got a call.  Blank on the turn.  Another bet, another call.  Blank on the river.   I checked the river.  I felt I’d put enough money out there just top pair/second best kicker.   My King was good.  It was a pretty big pot for just top pair.
There were a bunch of little hands I won that I really couldn’t remember the next day.  Things like raising with AK, AQ, AJ preflop and having no one call my c-bet on the flop.  I raised with pocket pairs like 10’s and Jacks’s and didn’t get a call on the flop.  No big showdown hands.
But after a couple of hours, my stack had been building and building.  I had over $700 in front of me.  That was only a $100 profit but boy, after losing two buy-ins, it felt like a helluva lot more.
Then I could feel myself starting to get too cautious.  The last thing I wanted to do, after making that kind of a comeback, was leave a loser.  So I told Prudence I was ready to go, and she declined the option of playing on while I just hung out, which I would have been fine with.
But there was my last hand.  My last hand I was dealt pocket Queens.  Ok, ok, I couldn’t not play that.  I raised and had two callers.  One guy was a really tight player, the other was the Aggro guy who had busted me with his Aces.  The flop was low.  But the small blind, the tight player, led out with a bet, and Mr. Aggro called.  Hmm…..I had a feeling my Queens were no good there.  It may not have been the smartest move, but I folded.  I figured one of them had me beat.  Actually, I figured the tight player wouldn’t have bet there when I had raised preflop if he didn’t have a good hand.   So I folded and watched the rest of the action as I finished stacking my chips.
It was a good fold.  The tight player had flopped a set of 10’s.  Aggro guy had a weak Ace, I dunno why he called on the flop.  But he hit his Ace on the turn and it cost him a fair amount of chips.  I had only lost $8, and had the third best hand by the showdown.  And yeah, I knew I was definitely ready to end this session.
With my $700 in chips racked up, I happened to walk past Brent, who was on a break.  I said to him, “You had to give me that hand against the one guy I would have made that move against?”
He started to apologize, as he was noticing all the chips in my hand.  “It’s ok, I got it all back, and then some.”  That made him smile.  “That’s great,” he said.
Prudence and I had a nice ride back to her house, talking about my dramatic comeback.  On the books, it was only a $100 win, but it felt more like a $700 win to me.