Thursday, May 23, 2013


One of the advantages of working for AVP is that I get advance notice of special tournament series.  Sometimes that gives me an early heads up about tournaments I want to play in when I come to town.

As such, while still in L.A., I learned about the “PHamous Poker Series on the Mezz” that Planet Hollywood was having to coincide with March Madness.  As I was entering the tournaments into th e AVP system, it struck me that I might want to play in one or two of the events.  The one on Friday at noon caught my interest.  It was $100 buy in for $15K in chips with two guarantees.  The total prize pool was guaranteed at $6K and first place was guaranteed to be $3K.
So I got moving early that Friday (a noon tournament is a challenge for me when I’m in Vegas) and headed over to Planet Ho.  As you can infer from the name of the event, the series was not held in the regular Planet Ho poker room (where this infamous event took place) but on the mezzanine, basically a convention area for the hotel.  This was both good and bad.
The good was that it was quite roomy and comfortable.  The bad was that it was literally a two mile walk to the rest rooms.
Ok, not literally.  I know you hate it when “literally” is misused like that.  It was only virtually two miles to the rest rooms.  But I’m pretty sure there was a change in zip codes between the poker tables and the facilities.
When I got to the table the guy to my right was someone I recognized.  I didn’t know his name but he was one of those guys who I’d known I’d played with a bunch of times.  I had a strong feeling he was a tournament player, not a cash player and tried to figure out where I knew him from.
To my surprise, he recognized me (I’m usually surprised when that happens, I’m so used to blending in with the scenery).  But he nodded to me and said, “How ya doing?”  We finally introduced ourselves and I’m going to call him Len because I think he may become a recurring character on the blog and I hope that one day he’ll do something so embarrassing that it’ll make good fodder for the blog.  At the moment though, all that my memory could come up with was that he was a good player and I had be careful against him. Fortunately he was directly to my right.  When we exchanged names, I asked where I knew him from and he mentioned a bunch of rooms where I’ve been known to play tournaments, as I suspected.
I started out rather card dead and won my first pot when I was able to check from the big blind with Ace-5 offsuit and flopped two pair.  No one called my flop bet.
A bit later I was dealt the dreaded pocket Kings.  The blinds were $100/$200 and someone raised to $700.  I made it $2000 and he just called.  Low flop, but 2 spades, I bet $4K and he called.  Turn was scary, it paired 8’s and was the third spade.  But I bet $6K and he called again.  The river looked harmless but when he checked, I checked behind him.  I thought I had put enough in the pot for just an overpair.  Before I flipped my cards, he asked, “You got Kings?” And then he saw them and said, “Yeah, I thought so.  But I had to keep calling” and he showed his pocket Queens. 
The right before the break I got pocket Aces.  Hmm, Kings and Aces before the first break.  Not bad.  A new player to the table limped and Len raised to $700.  I made it $2,000.  Limper called.  He was short stacked.  And just from the way he was acting, he didn’t give the impression he really knew what he was doing.
Len looked at me for a few seconds and folded. After the hand he told me he had a medium Ace.  The flop was low and I put out a pot sized bet.  Limper shoved.  His shove wasn’t all that much more than I had put out.  Turns out he had Ace-7 and there was a 7 on the board.  Yeah, that’s it, medium pair.  Who am I complained?  My Aces held and I got a nice chip up.  Always nice to be playing against clueless players, right?
I caught a nice break when I raised on the button with Jack-10 and a short stacked player shoved.  It wasn’t that much to call so I did.  He had pocket 10’s.  But the board ended up being a low, 5 card straight so we chopped it.  Ironically, just a little while before, the same guy had gotten it all in way ahead against another player, and when the board double paired he chopped that too.  Not his day.
At one point, as I was making some notes, a guy wearing a Bluetooth earpiece commented, “You’re taking notes on us.  You’re referring to your notes as to how to play.”  I laughed and said, “No, this is static information.  You’re using that Bluetooth in your eat to get real time info.  Someone’s speaking into it, ‘He’s got Aces, fold.’”  Later, as we crossed paths going to and from the Men’s room (and we were now at different tables), he said, “Keep taking those notes, man.”
Despite these hands, it didn’t take all that long for me to get into shove-or-fold mode.  As I’ve explained, I usually go into that mode a little earlier than most players.  That’s either because I think it’s the best way to recover and actually have a chance of getting a decent cash, or because I don’t trust my post flop game.  In this case, despite the lack of antes, it seemed to me after a few levels the blinds really progressed rapidly.  As I started shoving, I wasn’t getting called and some of the players were commenting on that.  So when I shoved with pocket Queens and no one called, I showed my hand to show I wasn’t stealing.  But it didn’t fool anyone. “Sure you show your big pairs, but don’t show the other hands.”
By that time I was at my third table.  When our table broke, I was sent to the next table to break, so I didn’t stay there long.  So when I moved again, I was sent to what was going to be the final table, even though it wasn’t the final table yet.
But that was a good thing.  This was the table right next to the one I had started out.  And from the beginning of the tournament, it was clear that this table was the fun table.  There was laughter, shouting (good-natured) and loud talk coming from that table seemingly every minute.  And the players who were fun were still there when I made it over there.
I sat immediate to the right of the main instigator, an Aussie.  He never shut up, but he had a certain charm about him that made it more than tolerable.  He was constantly cracking jokes, and braggin. His main foil was a British woman in the center of the table (we were at seats 2 and 3) whose name I eventually learned was Lydia.  Yes, that’s her real name.  I doubt I’ll ever run into her again or that she’ll ever see the blog, and because I like the name Lydia, I’m going to use it.  And unlike the Lydia in the song featured below, she had no tattoos.  None visible, anyway (she was modestly dressed). 

It turned out that Lydia was on holiday and was in the British military.  So was her husband, who was around but not playing in the tournament.  Lydia was a Captain.  She’d be serving for six years and was now “facing my majority.”  The Aussie asked what that meant, but before she answered, he said, “I face my majority every morning.”  It was clear what he meant.  This was neither the first nor the last time he referred to his dick.  In fact he mentioned several times that he had the biggest dick ever.
Unfazed, Lydia explained that she in the process of being promoted to Major, same rank as her husband.  The Aussie asked Lydia if she faced her majority every morning, but she didn’t respond.  She was very classy in the face of all the sexual innuendo, but she never appeared to be in the least bit offended.
So I asked who wore the pants in their family.  “Well, he thinks he does” was her response. 
Lydia was an absolute delight.  Funny and friendly, it was really a pleasure to play with her.  She was having a good time with all the guys at the table, most notably the Aussie, who was one of those guys who was always claiming to be the best at everything he ever tried.  And if there was something he hadn’t tried, he would tell you that if he did try it, he would immediately be the best at it.  I know this sound obnoxious, but trust me, there was something totally charming about it.  Maybe it was the accent.  Or the fact that he said it with a wink and was clearly just having a good time.

It was the class and charm that Lydia exhibited dealing with the Aussie that was so much fun. She didn't say anything outrageously funny, but there was something about the way she was reacting to all the brags and teasing from the Aussie that was just a total delight.
I guess you could say there was some flirtation going on between Lydia and the Aussie, even though the Aussie was talking about his wife a lot.  He asked if her husband, the Major, was a big guy.  He wanted to know if he could beat him up.  No, actually he was rather short….but he was a former bantam weight boxer, so he did need to be careful.  Her husband did eventually stop by to see how Lydia was doing, and was indeed short, but he met the Aussie and they had a good laugh.
There was a guy over on the opposite side of the table who was also pretty chatty and pretty braggadocio.  But perhaps because he was American he wasn’t nearly as charming as the Aussie.  His act almost wore thin, but he and the Aussie were almost in a competition as to who could brag the most.  And they practically had a dick measuring contest right there at the poker table.  At one point the Aussie asked him how old he was when he reached puberty.  The guy replied, “I haven’t yet.  I just have a big penis.”
As she did with any risqué comment she heard, Lydia reacted with class. “Being in the military, I’m used to talk like that. It doesn’t shock me.”
At one point, based on a poker move, the Aussie told Lydia, “You’ve got the most balls of anyone at the table, even though you’re the only one without balls.” Lydia thanked him for the compliment.
It was both the Aussie and the other chatty guy at the other side of the table that were giving me a hard time for all my shoving (which met with no resistance, I was never called—which meant I stayed alive but never doubled up).  At one point, the Aussie said to me, after a shove, “Would you stop shoving?  You’re sitting there with your girlie drinks and shoving.  Cut it out.”  But again, the way he said it, it wasn’t offensive at all.  And I suppose a diet Coke could considered girlie.
Lydia was not only fun but she was a good poker player and also a bit lucky.  I don’t think she had the biggest stack at the table when I first got there, but she soon did.  And she was fairly aggressive.  However, the luckiest hand that helped her out might have had more to do with a questionable ruling by the dealer than the cards.  As I mentioned, the tournament was a long way from the restrooms.  To make matter worse, the break schedule for this event was weird, and after the first break, the second break was for something like two and a half hours after play resumed.   It was weird, especially with those restrooms being so far away.
So I don’t think there was a single player who played the entire time between those two breaks who didn’t have to get up to run—literally—to the restroom during the actual play.  Lydia was one of those who did and as she returned, the dealer had already dealt her hand.  She got to the table—but was not sitting down—when the second card was dealt to her.  I believe that a strict interpretation of the rules would call for her hand to be mucked since she wasn’t actually seated.  A couple of the players questioned that.  Even Lydia did, she wasn’t sure if her hand was in play and would have been perfectly fine with having her hand killed.  But the dealer, without checking with the floor, said it was fine as she was at the table, even if she hadn’t had quite enough time to have taken her seat.
Well, she raised and another guy shoved.  He was one of the guys who had questioned whether her hand was dead, but he was only too happy about her being alive when she called his shove and she showed King-Queen.  He had two Queens.  Of course, a King on the turn gave the hand to Lydia, who admitted feeling a little guilty because of the question about her hand being alive.  And the guy did grumble about losing to a hand that should have been dead.  Of course, he was initially delighted that her hand was allowed when he saw it was only King-Queen.
When I was moved to this table, it was one of the final three.  Now, the prize pool was really weird if you ask me, and if I had realized that beforehand I might not have played this tournament.  Although there were about 100 or so runners, they were paying 18.  So between that and the fact that the tournament guaranteed a first prize of $3000 (a terrible idea, I realized), the first few min cashers were only going to get $113.  This for a $100 buy in.  The prize pool was ridiculously top heavy, even second place wasn’t that good compared to first (I don’t recall what it was, but I remember at the time it seemed weak). 
So when we got down 10 two tables and it was suggest that we pay the bubble, we found out we couldn’t.  Because of the guarantee for 1st, they would not adjust the prize pool at all.  Only way to pay the bubble would be to pay it out of our own pockets.  And since the min cash was $113, there was really no way to do it.  It was just dumb.  The right thing to do was take $113 off the first place money, which still would have been too much for the size of the prize pool and all, and given that to the bubble.  But we were not allowed to do that because of the 1st place guarantee.
So we had to play hand-for-hand, an excruciating experience.  But I survived and we were down to 9 at each table, and I was guaranteed at least a $13 profit for the day!
Just a few hands later, I get pocket Aces.  Couldn’t ask for anything better than that, right?  And before it got to me, a guy with long blonde hair that I’m calling “Surfer Dude” raised.  He had nearly double my stack.  So of course I shoved.  He didn’t think too long about calling, kind of surprising since I could do real damage to his stack.  He said, “you’re probably ahead of me.”  I said “I think so,” even before I saw his Ace-9 offsuit.  The flop came 5-6-x, and when a 7 hit the turn, Len, who had since joined the table, said, “straight draw!”  And sure enough, the river was an 8 giving Surfer Dude a straight and me the lowest possible min cash.  $13.  Be still my heart.
After I collected my winnings, I had to say goodbye to Lydia, who was still riding high.  She had been so much fun.  I wished her well and it was only then that I learned her name.  I told her she was an absolute delight and that she was one of the most fun people I’ve ever encountered at a poker table. I wanted to tell her about the blog, but I chickened out, I guess because of all the other players around her.  The Aussie had actually busted out before me, failing to cash.  Guess he wasn’t the best at everything.


  1. This took me literally 2 hours to read...well, not literally...nice story. :)


    1. I literally cannot thank you enough for the kudos and the comment, Bum. :)

  2. So when you showed your QQ, did you have some plan in mind? Were you showing to enable you to steal later pots with a limp-raise move? Were you showing because you were playing too many hands and trying to repair your image? Showing a hand isn't necessarily a bad thing, if done judiciously and as part of a broader strategy. But this felt like you were just showing without any real plan to use that action to advance your position in the tourney.

    1. Thanks Grange....yes it was a thought out move. I hadn't been at this table very long, and maybe one or two of the players there had seen me play the other two tables where I was playing rather tight. At this table I had never made a play that wasn't a shove. Unlike my usual tight image, I looked like a maniac. The idea was to get a little credibility and not guarantee that someone called the next time I shoved light. I guess my plan didn't fool anyone based on the comment I got, but that was the thought process behind it, anyway.