Friday, December 6, 2013

The Card Protector

I hadn’t returned to play at the Wynn since the story I told here of a rather disastrous session.  I knew that eventually I had to return to try again.  It took me awhile, but in August I finally spent another evening in the Wynn poker room.
I was playing at kind of a wild table and I could have made some money if only I could have gotten some cards.  If only.

There were a number of loose aggros and one absolute maniac.  The maniac was sitting in seat 9 and had every possible electronic device at his disposal.  In addition to his celphone, he had an Ipod and an Ipad.  He actually had the Ipad propped up in front of him, right on the poker table.  I was surprised they allowed that.  I was also surprised he wasn’t warned about holding up the game.  He was so into his Ipad, he frequently didn’t act immediately when it was his turn, because his head was buried in the Ipad and he wasn’t paying attention to the game.  When finally nudged by the dealer that it was his turn to act, he’d usually look around for a few seconds and then raise.

There were a couple of other pretty aggressive players, and most of these aggros had big stacks.  Because of the action at the table, I loosened my calling standards and played some hands I don’t normally play, hoping to get paid off if I hit something even mediocre.  But I had trouble hitting anything at all.  And it would have been difficult to bluff or steal because all these maniacs would call with anything—bottom pair, Ace high, Jack-high.

There was one player at the table who was a bit of a distraction for me.  No, it wasn’t a well-endowed woman in a low-cut dress dammit.  It was a guy who looked incredibly familiar.  My first thought was that it was just some guy I’d played poker with before, That happens all the time.  Even when I go into a room I’ve hardly every played, I usually spot someone I’ve played with before.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I knew this guy from something other than poker.

It was driving me crazy.  As the evening wore on, the more I became convinced it was not from poker that I knew this guy.  I started thinking that I had seen this guy on television.  So I started thinking that I didn’t know him at all, he just looked like someone famous. Some actor, some television personality, some minor personality.  Fortunately I came to that realization before I embarrassed myself by asking him where I knew him from.

It was only the next morning, waking up, that it dawned on me.  The guy had a very strong resemblance to former Clinton political advisor Paul Begala.  Yeah, that was it.  Phew.  I could stop thinking about it, finally.  Recall that last year I played poker with someone who looked like Newt Gingrich (see here). So at least my poker opponents were now officially bi-partisan.

Anyway, I was steadily losing chips when I found myself looking at Ace-5 of diamonds on the button.  It limped to me and I was relieved that I could see a flop with a pretty weak hand without having to call a raise.  The flop was great, an Ace and two diamonds.  It checked to me and I bet $10.  The only player who called was one of the tightest players at the table.  The turn card completed my flush, and I bet $20, and he called.  The river was a blank and when it was checked to me, I didn't expect to get a call there.  But I dutifully put out $50 and was surprised when he called.  He mucked without showing when he saw I had the nuts.

Then there was hand that I played badly and cost me some chips.  I had Ace-Queen off in early position.  There had been a button straddle (and you all remember how much I love the button straddle, see here) and the guy who was straddling usually raised when he did that.  So, I just limped in.  The button didn’t raise and I saw the flop for cheap. It came all spades, and all kind of bunched together, making a straight or even a straight flush possible.  I had the Queen of spades and a red Ace.  Paul Begala bet out $20 and I called.  You can’t just assume he has the Ace of spades there, right?  A fourth spade hit the turn, and this time he checked.

I figured he didn’t like the spade and so I bet $35.  He called.  A 9 of clubs on the river made a straight very, very likely.  This time Paul Begala bet out again, $75.  Did I still like my flush (which was only the third-nuts)?  Not really.  I thought about it.  I wondered if he had the straight there and if so, would he bet it?  I foolishly decided to call.  In my defense, I was probably distracted by trying to figure out where I knew this guy from.  Of course he had the Ace of spades.  Bad play on my part, to be sure.

By the way, Begala wasn’t really one of the aggros at the table, but he did do this one thing—whenever he raised preflop, he bet really big.  It was usually $20-$30 when he raised preflop, even if he was first in.  That’s a pretty big preflop raise in a 1/3 game.

My stack dwindled down to less than $100 (from $300).  As it was getting late, I decided not to add more chips and just play with what I had in front of me.  I hoped to get a top pair or overpair hand that I could play aggressively with a short stack.  So in early position I found pocket Jacks.  I had too much to shove with (a bit under $100) so I raised to $15.  The guy on my left—a reasonable player—called.  It folded to the maniac in seat 9—the Ipad guy.  He made it $35 and it folded back to me.  This was what I was looking for.  He could be doing that with a lot of hands, most of which I was ahead.  So I shoved.  The reasonable guy folded and of course the maniac called.

We didn’t show and the board was kind of scary.  Ace, a pair of 9’s, even a possible straight.  But when I showed my Jacks and I asked, “You have an Ace?” he just said “no” and mucked.  He said “no” as if it was a ridiculous question.  Like, “Do you really think I’d call your shove with that good of a hand?” I have no idea what he had but I was glad to take his chips.

There was one incident at the game I want to mention.  One of the aggros had a huge stack of chips, easily over $1000, all in red.  Some of the players, in addition to having $100 bills, had black chips, which of course, are worth $100.  I had noticed this aggro with the huge stack had what I first took to be a small stack of $100 chips (say 4 or 5).  Upon closer inspection, I noticed it wasn’t chips at all, it was either a lighter or a tin of mints like the one I used to use as my card protector.

I think I first mentioned the card protector I use to use back in this post here.  It was a blue tin and on one or two occasions when I used it, a player would express concern that it looked too much like chips to be used.  This really only happened at the Aria tournament and it did kind look like the blue tournament chips they use there.  I don’t think anyone would have confused it with any room’s real chips.  I've since replaced that card protector with an AVP card protector, which is actually too big (in diameter) to be confused with a chip.

Anyway, I had quickly figured out that the guy’s black “chips” were not chips at all.  But I will say, that the Wynn’s regular chips always seemed to me to look more like tournament chips and less like “real” chips than any other casino I’ve ever played in.  Anyone else ever notice that?  Well, apparently I wasn’t the only one who initially thought the small black “stack” was chips.  When a new player came to the game, he asked if the guy had a stack of black chips to go along with his stacks and stacks of red.  The guy picked up the “stack” and held it out in front of him and said it was indeed a lighter.  He rolled it around in front of him and even flicked it once.

The new player demanded that the lighter be removed from the table.  He said it was confusing, and he said that if some guy with a big stack went all in against him, he’d be liable for the $400 that represents. The player with the lighter said no, he liked the lighter and that it was his good luck charm.  The new player asked the dealer to tell him to remove the lighter, but the dealer looked it over and said it was fine.

Now a bunch of other players started complaining and insisting that the lighter be taken off the table.  Note, these other players had been playing with the guy all night and hadn’t said a word up until now. The dealer called the floor over.  The floor looked it over for a bit and said it was fine.  But the new player insisted on going to a higher authority.  He asked for someone by name—presumably the shift manager.  I guess this guy was a regular.  So a second guy in a suit came over and made the exact same ruling.  The lighter was fine.  He did ask the guy to put it in front of his other chips and not on top of them.

The players pissed and moan for some time after that.  One of them even pointed out my AVP card protector and noted the contrast. “Now, no one would confuse that with a real chip.”

Sadly, the JJ hand was the last even remotely playable hand of the night.  I was getting tired and so I left, down around $100 and change.  Still not wynning at the Wynn but it was improvement over my last session there.


  1. u didnt mention all the seats have plugns same as the V. i wish i knew of some casino utside vegas, anywhere in the usa, that does that.

    1. I didn't mention it cuz I didn't know about it. I guess that explains how the guy was able to run all his electronic devices all evening.

      Thanks for the heads up.

    2. also,rob ,u didnt mention the various bushes and landscapes that poker pros can sleep behind or the handicap restrooms that they can nap in. WTF. and u write 4 a poker mag. LMAO

    3. Bushes that poker pros can sleep behind, huh? Wow, you've given me a great idea for my next Ante Up column. Thanks, anger.

  2. After it was DEMONSTRATED to everyone present that the lighter wasn't chips, and they STILL complained that it could be confusing... #peoplecanbemorons

    1. Good point, Coach. Especially since after the stink that was made over it EVERYONE at the table sure new it wasn't chips. If he was that concerned, the guy who first complained should have taken it on himself to warn every new player who came to the table about it as they took their seats.

  3. On the A5dd have to attempt to get more value from the nit...massively overbet the river even.

    Let's looke at what we know about the Villain:

    He is a nitbag...only playing what would he continue to call with on this board?

    An unlikely set of Aces, AK....maybe with the K diamonds...and AQ ...maybe with the Q diamonds....and smaller sets.

    You have this guy in jail on the turn....and you have the PURE NUTS on the river...

    If he came along that far....he has what he considers to be a good hand (Aces with a K, Aces with a Q..and sets)

    What else do we know about nits?...they like to play passively and call, call, call when they have a strong hand...but don't have the PURE NUTS...which in this case...they can't have...because WE HAVE IT!

    These situations don't come along often enough to lose value have to go for the whole enchilada on the river here.....he may not pay it off....but with the amount of money he has already invested and the fact that he thinks his hand is too strong to fold on the previous two will get more calls then folds...and get maximum value in a situation poker players dream about.

    When you have a lock and they are check/calling you on two streets....overbet the river....don't lose value.

    Another reason to overbet the river is that passive nits want a reason to call...and it might create one.....he may think you have the naked Ad with a weak kicker that missed your flush and is now representing it to blow him off his "big hand"...he knows if that is the case he has you outkicked and in his head he has to call and snap you off.

    1. Thanks, bill. Getting more value on the river is definitely a part of my game I need to work on.

      Your comments remind me the advie a dealer once gave my pal Prudence. When you have the stone cold nuts on the river, shove every time. They will call you a surprising percentage of the time, and in the long run, you will get more money than by trying to guess the right amount that will get called. Not sure if I agree, but it is something to think about.

  4. Damn there are so avenues you can try or poker. This is what I meant when in Las Vegas, but here in Mardi Gras Casino Florida story is different. Never mind.