Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Hate it When a Plan Comes Apart

Live blogging from the MGM poker room!

And it totally, totally sucks.

I had a plan--a brilliant plan, if I do say so myself.

Get to the MGM early today--New Year's Eve.  Take my laptop.  Set up shop in the Starbucks near the poker room.  Get work done before the New Year's Eve and Slut Parade watching commenced.

You see I wanted to get here before the traffic got crazy, the parking got impossible, and the snow starting falling (see previous post).  So instead of working from my current temporary residence, I'd work in the Starbucks and then be all set for a night of craziness.

Not only did I have a blog post to write and get posted, but I have a column due for Ante Up in two days.  That's right, despite the fact that this is a holiday week, I need to write a column on the Vegas poker scene due in 48 hours.  I was really expecting to be able to postpone it a week, since Friday is only January 2, but that just wasn't in the cards (so-to-speak). 

I was only a little concerned that I have nothing to write about (for the column) this month.  Faced with a deadline, I am usually able to pull something out of my ass in the nick of time.

Today seemed like a perfect day to do it, too.  Last year on this day, I arrived later in the day than I did today and used the Starbucks for writing a blog post (that didn't even go live that day).  So what could go wrong?


I got to the Starbucks around 1:30pm and discovered that they had removed all the tables and chairs.  There was place to plunk down a laptop and actually write from.

The rest of the damn casino is mobbed and there is no space anywhere to use a table and a chair.  I tried the food court but it was packed.  

I considered using an empty poker table in the poker room (if they would accommodate me) but the place is packed.  I don't even want to impose to ask if I could use one of the empty ones (there are two empty ones right now) and as I can see the list, they will likely be using them soon.

So after a tour of the entire casino, I ended back in the poker room, where I am in the back, using one of the spare food carts they have as a base for my laptop.  This will only work so long, because it is way too low to be comfortable.  I feel my back going out as I write this.  In fact, using a poker table wouldn't work either even if I could.....that's too high for the chairs they have.

So I will likely give up after I post this and just start playing poker. I dunno when I'll get to the column.  I hate it when a plan comes apart.

Oh, so that title.  I guess I should explain that it is a flip of a catch phrase from the 1980's TV show (featuring Mr. T., among others), The A-Team, one of the favorites from that era.  Their plans all failed so spectacularly that they ended up actually working, but only because of the work of the scriptwriters.  Which would lead one of them to say, "I love it when a plan comes together."

This would appear to be the opposite of that--unless the day has a very happy ending.  You know, with me using the extra time playing poker to make a huge pile of cash.  Or perhaps, with an actual happy ending.

Younger readers might remember The A-Team more from the movie version they did a few years back.  I saw it, and frankly, don't even remember if I liked it or not.

The film starred Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel.  That explains the pic below because I find her a lot sexier than Mr. T.  (Or Bradley Cooper for that matter, even if People magazine disagrees).


Monday, December 29, 2014

Colder Than a Witch's Tit

New Year's Eve forecast for Las Vegas:  Snow.

Snow?  In Vegas?

Yes, snow. 


Barring some unforeseen circumstance, I will be on the Vegas strip for New Years Eve.  If I can get there from my undisclosed location.

As I write this, there is a 60% chance of snow in Vegas on Wednesday, starting in the afternoon.

That should make things interesting.

Having lived almost all of life in Southern California, I am not used to being around snow. I am sure as hell not used to driving in it.  I think I drove in a few flurries once on a once-in-a-generation snow fall (very light flurries) coming home from work through the highest elevation of my commute one February many, many years ago.   But that was for less than five minutes, tops.

Another time, my buddy Norm and I were making our annual birthday trip to Vegas--it was mid-April--and we encountered some snow through the higher elevations.  This was actually on Easter Sunday and it was a freakish late winter storm (in Spring).  I immediately pulled over and let Norm drive the rest of the way, since, through his work, he had been forced to learn how to drive in snow.  I never needed to.

We got by ok, it wasn't snowing much as we made it into Vegas.  We later learned that just hours after we drove through the area known as Mountain Pass, they had to close the road because of the snow.  If we had left LA a few hours later that day, we wouldn't have made it to Vegas that day.

And it will be cold.  Of course, it has to be for it to snow.  Duh.  It's already cold here, very cold.  What's missing is the precipitation, and that is due in time for New Year's Eve.  But a storm is a' coming, and the snow level may get as low as 2,000 feet--which is the elevation of the Vegas Strip!

The past few days, Twitter has been all a' twitter about the coming possible New Year's Eve snow storm.

Discussing the possibility of all those tourists driving in the snow on the day of the year where more alcohol is consumed than any other day has been, um, interesting.  True, many tourists will be in town from cold weather states where they are used to snow. But most of the Vegas tourists come from Southern California (like me) where they are only used to driving in snow if they like to go to the mountains to ski. Many, like me, do not do that.

As I say, interesting.

It's already ridiculously cold here, much colder than I'm used to. I'm spoiled, living in L.A.  I come to Vegas every winter, where it is always colder than Southern California.  Still not as cold as Buffalo or Minnesota, of course, but colder than my mild L.A. climate.

So when I get in my car late at night (or early in the morning) and see the temperature gauge reading in the 40's....or even, gulp, in the 30's, I am a bit taken aback.

Still, as friggin' cold as it is, it is not unseasonably cold.  Because it is winter, and that is the season for cold.

One of my twitter peeps, discussing the coming storm, where the temperature may drop to the mid-20's, said, "I heard it's gonna be as cold as dicks."

I never heard that phrase before.  I wanted to ask, "As cold as Dick's what?"

But it will be colder than a witch's tit, if you believe that old saw.

Should be interesting, to say the least.  I am worried about the girls who make up what I lovingly refer to as The Slut Parade. I hope they have the good sense to leave those barely-there dresses in the closet and dress warmly and appropriately for the cold weather.  Long, heavy pants, multiple sweaters, heavy coats, no skin showing at all.

Yeah, that's what I hope. 

Stay tuned to the weather channel and this space for further developments.

As for the pic below, Kate Upton is, to the best of my knowledge, not a witch. But here she is in a bikini, in the snow, and I bet when this pic was taken, her famous "hand-warmers" were not very warm.

Friday, December 26, 2014

What Could They Have Had?

Sorry folks, no time for a full-size Rob-style post that you are all craving, I just have time for a quickie.

This was from last nite's session, Christmas night.  The story of this night's session will be an epic post (or two, or three) that I will get to eventually, possibly mid-2017 at the rate I am racking up stories for you. And it has a happy ending (the family friendly kind).

But for now, there were more Asians (Crazians?) than usual at my table, something not unusual for Christmas time.  There were at least five, and this involves three of them.  The table hadn't been especially wild to this point, a little more aggro than average but nothing that was unreasonable.

On this hand, a non-Asian guy wearing his baseball cap backwards raised to $8 in early position.  The guy next to him, Asian, made it $55.  That was unusual.  We hadn't seen a raise or a three-bet that size--or anywhere close to that--at this table.  The only exception would be the random short-stack shoving pre-flop with maybe a little more than that.

It folded to another Asian guy, who called.  The Asian guy behind him called as well.  The original raiser said, "I gotta get out of this," and folded.  It was three way action, all of them with two cards worth $55.  They all had decent stacks, at least $160-$300.

The flop was Ace-high, two lowish cards.  Rainbow.  

It checked around.

The turn was a Queen, putting all four suits on the board.

Again, it checked around.

The river was another Queen.

Again, it checked around.


How could that board have not hit at least one person who was willing to put $55 into a pot in a Vegas 1/2 game?  You would thank that board hit--and hit hard--about 100% of the hands that would pay $55 preflop.

The dealer asked the players to show their hands.

The guy who initially bet the $55 flipped over his hand--it was the dreaded pocket Kings.

He did so reluctantly, sure that he had lost.

The other two players in the hand studied the board, looked at the guy's two Kings, and--one by one--mucked.  Silently.  Without so much as a grunt or a sigh.

The guy took in his $160 pot in disbelief.  How could his Kings be good on that board?

By the way, backwards baseball cap guy (the original raiser) said he had Ace-8, and thus, he threw away the winning hand.

The two losers continued to say nothing.  The rest of us were as stunned as the winner.  Indeed, how could a board like that not have hit two people who called $55 preflop?

What were they calling such a big preflop bet with?

Jacks?  Tens?

I don't know the answer, but I'd love to know.  Any guesses out there?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Target: Robvegaspoker

I’ve played enough poker by now in live poker rooms to have encountered a lot of situations, but yesterday I think I encountered a totally new one.

I was playing at the MGM during their Sunday afternoon football promo.  I got there before the game started and stayed during the entire game—the game was the Cowboys vs. the Colts, which, of course, was a slaughter.  It was up to the Cowboys to do almost all of the scoring, and remember, every time a team scores, they pick a random player logged in to pick a ball worth between $100 and $500. 

A few minutes after my arrival they started a new 1/2 game.  I recognized one player….a guy I had played with a week or so earlier, a very friendly fellow originally from Eastern Europe, but he has been living in the USA for many, many years.  I took seat 5 and in seat 6 was an Asian fellow, head shaved to about 1/8th of an inch hair. I sure didn’t remember every seeing him before.

I won a few hands early making raises and c-betting.  Then I raised to $8 with 9-8 of diamonds, and the Asian fellow to my left made it $27.  It folded back to me.  He hadn’t been particularly aggressive to this point.  He had only raised preflop a few times (less than I had) and this was, I was sure, his first three-bet.  Not wanting to play a hand like that heads up and out of position, I let it go.

Not that long after, I raised to $8 with Ace-King of diamonds.  My Asian neighbor immediately put out $28.  This just didn’t get my notice.  The Eastern European gentleman commented on it.  “Are you friends?  What is this, every time he raises, you re-raise?”  Neither of us said a word, but I was thinking the same thing.  As an aside, it was totally inappropriate for him to say that, he should not be giving out information like that—to the other players, or to me, if I had failed to notice that.  It probably bothered the other guy more than me.  One of us should have said something but I didn’t want to give off any hint that his tactics were bothering me.  Maybe he didn’t want to give anything away about his play, either.

It folded back to me.  At least this time I had a hand to fight back with.  I suppose I could have re-raised, but we both had stacks of around $200 and I didn’t want to put my stack in play with just AK.  I was wondering if this was just a coincidence.  Maybe he was just getting great hands the same time I was getting raising hands?  Twice?  It could be a coincidence, right?  But I probably would have called there with anything because I couldn’t let him think I was just some nit would always fold to a three-bet.

The flop was 9-high, rainbow.  I checked, he checked behind me.  The turn paired deuces.  I checked and he checked.  I should have bet, but I was proceeding with caution, still trying to figure if I was in his sights or if it was a coincidence.  But when an Ace hit the river, I bet and he folded. 

Well, it was pretty obvious he had three-bet me pretty light.  Any pair bigger than 9’s and he’s betting the flop.  If he had Ace-anything he is probably going to call my $40 river bet.  For that matter, why didn’t he c-bet the flop anyway?  It was weird.

But I figured that would be the end of it.  If he was targeting me, I had stood up to him, won the pot, and proven that I wasn’t going to be push over.  Maybe he’d pick on someone else now.

Not too much later, I raised to $8 with Ace-9 of hearts.  He immediately put out $25 and this time another player called in front of me.  Again, the nice Eastern European fellow reminded everyone at the table that he had just three-bet for the third time.  No need to tell me, that’s for sure.  I was, of course, quite displeased.  It folded back to me.  I should point out that this was exactly the third time he had three-bet since the game had started, and every single time it was in a response to a raise from me.

Every single time.

Twice was maybe a coincidence.  This was now a vendetta. It sure seemed like he thought I was a soft touch—easy pickings.

I thought about re-raising.  But you know, if a player is pissing me off, losing a big pile of chips to him—or worse, stacking off—is going to bother me 10 times more than if I just lose the same amount to anyone else.  Obviously this guy hadn’t learned his lesson before.  So even though I didn’t have a great hand, I called.

The flop was 5-5-3, two hearts.  I checked.  He bet $40.  The other guy folded.  I called with my nut flush draw.  The turn was a black 10, I checked and he shoved.  It was $86.  The math didn’t work.  Even though Ace high might be good there, I just couldn’t see doubling this clown up when I wasn’t getting the right odds to hit my hand (and which might not even be good, since the board was paired).  I folded.

This was really annoying.  He had only three-bet three times.  Every single time it was in response to my raise.  He hadn’t even put in too many raises.  He was basically only being an aggro against me!  And the last three times I had raised preflop, he had raised.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I looked at him and tried to see if he did indeed look familiar.  But no, I just couldn’t place him.  Did he remember me though I had forgotten him?  Perhaps I took a huge pot off him once and didn’t recall?  Or maybe he played with me once and has a good read on the way I play, and knew (or thought he knew) how to exploit me?


Now at the time I was playing, I never thought of something.  But as I’m writing this post, I’m thinking of something else it could be.

Maybe he did recognize me.  Not from playing with me.  But from this here blog.  I mean, I’ve told stories of people who tell me right at the poker table that they read my blog and recognize me from my pictures.  Two such stories are here and here.  Is it possible that this guy recognized me?  Does he read my blog?  Did he decide to keep that to himself and use that information to exploit me by using his knowledge of me from reading the blog?

I have to wonder.  Hmm….maybe he was just doing this because he wanted to be immortalized on these very pages.  This would be one way to do it.

Now, a year ago, I would have been put on tilt by this—or my version of it.  I would have been incapable of thinking of any way to respond other than to move to another table to get away from this guy.  And maybe I should have done that.  If one person at the table is preoccupying your mind, you’re probably not capable of playing your best.

But I decided no, I’m better than that.  I can handle this. I can even try to profit from it.  I decided to try to exploit it.  Perhaps my plan wasn’t ideal, but I decided I would only raise hands that I was comfortable three-betting with.  I would throw away suited connectors or other marginal raising hands, or just limp with them.  I’d miss some spots, but I’d wait for a big pocket pair—Jacks for better, or maybe Ace-King—and be prepared to re-raise his three-bet with them.  See if that would put him in his place. 

I waited.  I didn’t get anything to play under almost any circumstances for awhile.  Finally with Michelle—the dealer who never pushes me a pot—pitching cards, I received the dreaded pocket Kings. This would have been a great time to test my plan with my targeting neighbor.  However, I was in the big blind, and, under-the-gun, he folded before I could raise.  It limped around to me and I raised to $16.  An early limper moved all in for $32.  It folded to the guy on my right,, who had barely played a hand.  He called.  The short stack who shoved had raised just enough so that I could re-raise, so I put out another $60.  The guy to my right called.

The flop came King-9-2, two diamonds.  My neighbor checked and I put out $100.  I suppose that’s not getting value for my set, but I didn’t like the diamonds and wanted to get some chips to battle the targeter on my left.  The guy on my right folded and I took down the side pot.  The board blanked out and when the short stack saw my hand, he mucked and took off.

At the time, I was frustrated because my targeter wasn't in the hand, having folding UTG not knowing I would raise.  But a few hands later, on the only time during the session I can recall him three-betting someone other than me, he felted a guy who had KK vs his AA!  This gave him a ton of chips to play with, which only made me more desperate to get this guy.

One of my options was to move to a different seat, to be to the targeter’s left.  The guy busting to me gave me a chance to do just that, he was two to the left of the guy.  I was planning on taking any seat to his left when it opened.  But…..I do have some superstitions and when I’m winning in a seat—as I now was—I am reluctant to move.  I stayed in my seat.

An orbit later, with a different dealer, I was in the small blind with Ace-10 offsuit.  I just completed and the targeter checked.  Five of us saw the flop, which I rather liked: Ace-Ace-10.  I checked and some guy bet $5.  Two of us called, but sadly, not the targeter.  The turn was a blank, I checked again but this time it was checked around.  I put out $25 on the river (another blank) and no one called.  I had to show the boat to get a ticket for the cash drawing which was about an hour away.  Remember that ticket.

That gave me nearly $100 profit for the session, but for the next hour I was beyond card dead.  I not only didn’t get any big hands to play against my targeter, I didn’t get hands I’d play no matter what.  No broadway cards, no suited connectors, no suited Aces.  Nothing.  The only hands I got during that time that I might have raised with were both Ace-Jack offsuit.  I folded it once and limped in once.

When the targeter was away from the table, I raised to $10 with pocket 9’s.  Only one player called, and on a 10-high flop, my $15 c-bet was not called.

Then I got Ace-King off.  As per my plan, I just limped in, and sure enough, the targeter folded.  But another player raised to $7 and I called, as did one other.  The flop was Queen-10-5, and I went ahead and called $15 with my gut shot.  There was an Ace on the turn, which led me to call a $40 bet.  The river was a blank and we both checked.  The preflop raiser turned over a set of Queens.  Ugh. 

I suppose the hand may have played out differently if I had played it “normal.”  But likely not much.  I dunno if the guy would have three-bet me with his pocket   Queens, many players don’t three-bet that hand.  It probably would have been played out pretty similarly.

Another hand I could play was Jack-9 clubs.  I limped in instead of raising.  The flop was 9-8-4, 1 spade.  I bet $6 and two players called.  The turn was the 9 of spades, I bet $20 and only one guy called.  A third spade hit the river.  I checked and called a bet for $35.  The guy had Ace-4 of spades, for the back-door flush.  I guess that hand would have played out differently if I had raised; but maybe not.  With the cash drawings they have, where the minimum hand to get a ticket is a flush, a high percentage of players call normal raises with any two suited cards, let alone a suited Ace.  But if I had raised, my flop bet might have been big enough to get him to fold with only bottom pair and a single spade.

This wasn’t working, and I needed a hand to fight back at my targeter, and I was getting none.  Finally, towards the end of the session, I raised with Ace-King again.  He folded.  In fact, no one called. I wasn’t sure what to make of his fold.  Did it prove that it was just a coincidence?  Or had I waited so long to raise again (in his presence), was he now on to me?  Did he just assume at that point that I was only raising with Aces or Kings?

An orbit or two later, I got Ace-King again.  I raised.  He folded.  I got two callers, who both folded to my flop bet.  I was still down close to $100, after being up almost $100, due to those two bad hands.

But the story does have a happy ending, just not the one I wanted.  On the Cowboys’ last touchdown of the game, they picked my seat for the football promo.  I could have grabbed the $500 prize (there’s only one), but no, I only got the $100 prize.

Just a few minutes later, they did the cash drawing.  I think they picked three names for $100 each.  And mine was one of those names. 

So, I suck at poker, but I do well with promos.

Anyway, the game ended, I left, ahead for the day thanks to the two $100 gifts, but frustrated with the guy who was—or was not—targeting me.  I still can’t figure out what that was all about.  Was it really a coincidence?  Had I pissed this guy off in a past life?  Did he have some kind of inside knowledge about me?  Is he a blog reader?  Perhaps if it’s that, he’ll surprise with a blog comment and confess?  That would actually be pretty cool.

In the meantime, I’d like the rest of you to give me your thoughts, both on what it likely was, and what the best way for me to handle it would have been.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Did You Just Ask Him if He's on Tinder?"

All during my October trip, I had been trying to get to Mandalay Bay.  As I mentioned before, my buddy Abe has been singing its praises lately.  And the last time I played there (see here), I did have a nice little run.  But things kept happening preventing me from getting over there.

But finally, on my last full day in town, a Sunday, when October had actually turned into November, I arrived there late afternoon, in time to get a seat for the last football promo of the day, the Sunday night game.  Their promo is nowhere good as MGM’s is.  It’s just $100 paid to the high hand of each quarter.  So at most, they are giving away $400.  Some quarters they might not give away a prize, as the minimum hand to qualify is Jacks full.  And as I learned, if you make a boat, in order to qualify you have to have a pocket pair in your hand.  Huh?  Why do they have that rule?  If I have Ace-Jack and the board has two Jacks and an Ace on it, that’s not good enough?  I understand needing a pocket pair for quads to qualify, but I don’t get the restriction on full houses.  But dem’s the rules.

When I arrived, they only had two games going, both 1/2 NL. This surprised me because just about 10 minutes before, on my Bravo app, it showed four games going with 4 people on the waitlist.  Place must have thinned out fast.

In the first half hour, I figured out why Abe liked the room so much.

Early on, I was dealt pocket Aces.  I bet $9, had two callers.  The flop was 9-9-2, I bet $20, no one called.

Very next hand, I had Ace-Queen. I raised to $8, had two callers. The flopped missed me, but no one called my $20 flop bet.

A few hands later, I had Queen-Jack of hearts, I raised to $8, had two callers (see a pattern here?).  The flop was 10-9-4. The 10 and the 9 were both hearts, the 4 was black.  I c-bet $20, one guy called.  The turn was the 2 of hearts. Now here’s maybe where I should have gone promo chasing and I didn’t.  With the open-ended straight flush draw, maybe I should have checked even though I already had the flush?  In addition to the high hand of the quarter that a straight flush (if I had hit it) likely would have won, they have high hand bonuses there, so I would have won that too, if it hit.  The amount of the bonus is progressive so I don’t know how much it would have paid.

But no, I went ahead and bet $50.  He folded.  Now I wonder what the point of betting there really was?  If he had a set, he’s not likely folding to any bet I could reasonably made.  Same thing if he has a naked Ace of hearts (or even, a naked King of hearts).  Probably not folding two pair there.  So with the third nut flush, maybe it would have been ok to promo-chase and try to hit the two outer to the straight flush. Thoughts?

Then I had pocket 9’s and raised to $8.  Once again, two callers (no, it wasn’t always the same two).  I rather liked the flop, which was 9-8-8.  I checked and so did the other two.  The turn was a 5, this time a guy led out for $20 and we both called.  The river was another blank.  Same guy bet $20 again.  The other player folded.  I made it $50.  He called and mucked when he saw my boat.  He said he had an 8.

I won a couple of more hands on the flop with c-bets.  One time I had raised with Ace-Queen and missed, another time I’d raise with pocket 6’s and missed.

In about half an hour, I had very nearly doubled my $200 buy in.  Then I reverted to form and went card dead.  Meanwhile, one guy at the table caught not one but two straight flushes.  The first one, he went runner-runner to get a 10-high straight flush, and that held to get the first quarter high hand bonus.  Early in the third quarter, he turned a steel wheel (Ace thru 5 straight flush, for those of you aren’t poker players).  Two straight flushes in an hour, both qualified for high hand bonuses?  Now that’s running good.  In the second quarter, the guy next to him won the high hand of the quarter by rivering quad Queens.

I’d gone a good hour plus with barely playing a hand.  I was still up over $150 and I needed to have some dinner.  The deli at the Mandalay Bay was overpriced and I didn’t have enough comps to pay for a sandwich.  So I cashed out and headed over to MGM, where I could use my comps to get an overpriced sandwich.

Dinner accomplished, I got into a game at MGM.  There were two interesting players at the table, both joining after I got there.  One guy was, I assume, stoned. He was actually barely conscious, and he kept nodding off at the table.  Young guy.  He claimed that he hadn’t slept much and was just tired.  He ordered Red Bull.  They didn’t bring it fast enough. He took forever to act on all his hands because he was always starting to doze off.  I began to wonder if he was actually capable of reading his cards properly or forming any kind of a coherent strategy.  That said, I never actually caught him in any kind of error that would have indicated he was impaired.

The other player to mention was a woman I’ll call Maggie.  The reason I’m calling her Maggie is that, when I left the game and asked her name, she told me it was “Maggie.”  Yes, I’m using her real name (assuming she didn’t lie to me).  She didn’t embarrass herself sufficiently to warrant protecting her identity.

Maggie came to the table from another game and had a lot of chips with her, and observing her play, I figured out how she got them.  She’s a good player, plays a tight-aggressive style.  I eventually found out that she’s from the L.A. area and plays at the Bike when she’s home.  She plays the same 2/3 game there that I do, but we don’t play at the same times, that’s why I’d never seen her there. 

After Maggie had been there awhile, my pal Jack came to the table to deal.  We started chatting and he asked me what I had written about for Ante Up lately.  Maggie asked Jack what I write about.  He wouldn’t answer and deferred to me.  I told her I do a monthly column for Ante Up.

She asked what the column is about.  I told her I covered the Las Vegas poker scene.  “So….do you do gossip?”

I laughed.  “No no, I don’t do gossip….I have a blog for that.”

Like most people who hear I do a blog, she didn’t ask me about it.  She just chuckled.

She did notice me writing down notes about hands.  So one time she asked, “What are you writing?  Notes for your column?” 

“No…..not for my column.”  I didn’t amplify.

Jack and I eventually started talking about a mutual friend of ours who has recently re-entered the dating scene. I confirmed what I think Jack already knew, which was that this woman was spending a lot of time on Tinder now.

And that led Jack to ask me, “So Rob, are you on Tinder?”  

I just laughed and said no.  But the question caught Maggie’s attention.

She asked Jack, “Did you just ask him if he was on Tinder?”  She was clearly amused by Jack asking me that.  Jack confirmed that he had.  She laughed at the answer.

Maggie seemed like a fun woman so I decided to take fake umbrage at her reaction.

“Whoa,” I said. “Do you think that’s a funny question to ask me?  What? Do you think I’m hopeless?  Do you think that I couldn’t be on Tinder?”

At first she thought I might have actually been upset. “No, No…..I didn’t mean that.”

I said, “Are you dissing me?”

“No, no, I’m not dissing you.”  Now, I’m pretty sure that Maggie knew I was just kidding.  “It’s just that—for one guy to ask another guy if he’s on Tinder, it’s kind of weird. It’s like, he wants to go out with you.”

I said, “I don’t think his wife would like that.”  Jack agreed, she wouldn’t.

As for the poker, the semi-conscious guy raised to $12 and I called with Ace-Jack.  It was heads-up. The flop was all spades, King-high.  There was a 9 I think and a 6 or 7.  He led out for $40, well more than the pot.  Do you just call with the nuts there?  I guess I should have.  But I went ahead and bet, thinking this guy would call if he had anything at all.  I mean, there’s no way he was going to fold Ace-King.  I actually expected him, in his sleepy state, to just shove the rest of his chips (we had similar $200 stacks).  

But he hesitated.  “Oh, you got it?  You got it already?”  He was slurring his words. “Will you show if I fold?”  I do so love that question, see here.  I said nothing.  Continuing to slur his words, he said, “It’s just common agreement among players.”  Why should I help him play his hand?  He gave up and eventually said, “Oh well…” and mucked.

As it happens, I did show my hand, but only because I needed to show my hand to get a ticket for the next cash drawing.

The other hand I’ll mention involved both this guy and Maggie.  She raised to $12 and the guy made it $40.  I looked down at pocket Queens.  I had close to $300, the semi-conscious guy had about $150, but Maggie had me covered by quite a bit.

If it was just a bet from the guy, I would have three-bet.  But not with Maggie being the first raiser.  I think I would have just flatted even if the other guy had folded.  So I just called.

Maggie thought about it for a bit and announced “all-in.”


The semi-conscious guy tanked forever.  Of course, he was taking a long time to make $5 decisions, so you can only imagine how long this one took.  But eventually he laid it down.

Having played with her a while, I really couldn’t imagine Maggie making that move with anything other than Aces or Kings.  I thought Ace-King was extremely unlikely.  It was painful to do it, but I folded.

As Maggie took in the pot, the guy said he folded Jacks.  Maggie said she had two red Kings.  I said, “So I guess my Queens were no good?”  Of course, no one showed anything so this information might not be accurate (except for my Queens).  But I’m pretty sure they were both telling the truth, especially Maggie.  The stoned guy might have been hallucinating his pocket Jacks. Maybe he actually had Aces?

That led to a nice discussion of the hand and the play.  Maggie looked directly at me and said, “I was sure you didn’t have Aces when you just called.  I was sure you would have raised if you had Aces.”  Well, she was right about that.

So I asked her, “If I had raised, would you have folded your Kings?”  

“No….I’m not folding my Kings.  But I would have called, not re-raised.”

Brent was the dealer and so he asked her, before I could, “What if he had shoved?  Would you have folded then?”

She thought about it and then said she might have.


Then Brent added, “Or you might have called anyway.  We’ve all done it.  You say, ‘I know he’s got Aces….I call.’”  Because it’s so hard to lay down those damn Kings.

I ended up winning over $100.  Because I laid down those Queens to Maggie’s Kings.

When I left, I told Maggie how much I enjoyed playing with her. She said she would look for my Ante Up column.  I hope I see her again—at the Bike, if not Vegas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


First hand of the 1/2 game at MGM.  I was dealt pocket Queens.  I raised, only one player called.  The flop was all low, my continuation bet took the pot. 

Easy game.

Folded some garbage the next hand, and then, third hand of the night, I looked down at pocket 10’s.  I am under-the-gun plus 1.  The big blind was a lady I recognized.  She had straddled the hand before and then forgot to put out her big blind on this current hand, so, thinking she was first to act, she tried to raise to $6.  The dealer corrected her and then she put out her big blind instead.  UTG folded.

I couldn’t remember exactly where I recognized the lady.  She seemed to know the dealers and the staff, but I swear, she didn’t seem like a regular in this room.  I suspected I knew from someplace else.  I think she might even be a dealer in another room.  But from the straddle, the under-the-gun raise attempt, and my vague recollection, I knew she was aggressive.  I therefore knew that if it limped to her, she would raise.  Since I didn’t have a feel for anyone at the table yet, I just limped in with my 10’s.  These days, I’m actually raising there more often than not.

But sure enough it was raised to $10 by the button.  The aggro big blind just called, as did I.  All told, five of us saw the flop.  Said flop was 10-9-8, two hearts.  Kind of a wet board.

The big blind led out for $20, kind of a small bet for the pot.  The action was on me with three to act after and already a big pot building.  There was no way I was going to slowplay this one.  I put out $80. 

So the guy in the hijack seat, with a huge stack, $400-$500 at least, announced, “all-in.”  It folded back to me.

I had about $120 left; there was no way I could fold, right?  I was hoping it was a set-over-set situation.  Perhaps he had one of the many draws out there.  I didn’t think he had flopped a straight, although Queen-Jack was certainly a possibility.  At this point though, I had no read on this guy.  Anyway, I called. I didn’t think I wanted to see a heart or a straight card, but I was hoping for the board to pair so I didn’t have to worry.

No such luck. I remember a King of hearts, which would have scared me except the villain said, “Oh no, did that hurt me?  That must have hurt me.”  The river was a blank.  And so as I showed my pocket 10’s, he turned over Jack-7.



Yeah, he flopped the straight.  He limped in with Jack-7 off, and called a raise with it.


I took out another $200 and re-bought.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that the guy who won that pot was both aggressive and drunk.  He raised a lot and limped in when he didn’t raise.  If it was raised in front of him he almost always called.  And he usually bet big, often over-betting after the flop.  One thing he didn’t do much—if at all—was fold preflop.  Honestly, I can’t remember a flop he didn’t see.

Less than 20 minutes later, with my stack still around $200, I was dealt 9-8 clubs.  Although most pots were raised pre at this table, there hadn’t been a lot of three-betting. I figured someone was going to raise this hand and it might as well be me.  (Note, I’m almost always betting suited connectors now, unless they’re really low).

I made it $11 and four players called.  Yeah, it was that kind of table.  The Jack-7 guy from the earlier hand was one of the callers, of course.  So was the guy to my right, who also had a big stack, a lot bigger than mine.

The flop was 7-6-2, rainbow.  What’s the right move here?  Usually, I don’t bet my draws.  But that’s if I’ve limped in, or if someone else had raised.  This hand I had raised preflop, so I wanted to make a continuation-bet, right?  But… you c-bet with nothing (but a great draw) five-handed?

Well I did. I put out $30.  It folded to drunk/aggro/Jack-7 guy.  He raised to $100.  Now, I knew by now that he could be betting there with almost anything.  Top pair, overpair, draw.  Probably not a naked bluff though, not with so many in the hand.  As I was thinking about my action, it folded to the guy to my right, who thought for a bit and announced “all-in.”

Shit.  As I said, he had me covered.  So did Jack-7 guy.  At this point, I was as sure as I could possibly be that Jack-7 guy would call the all-in, whether I called or folded.  So we were looking at a huge pot and I had the draw to the nut straight.  After the $30 I had already bet, I had about $155 left. If I was right about the other guy calling, the pot, at least for me, would be $545 if I called off my stack.  I was getting more than 3 to 1 for my call, with two cards to come. The rainbow flop made me less scared of a flush.  The draw was to the top end of the straight, not the bottom end.  I might have thought twice if it was bottom end.

There was nothing to do but call, right? 

I called.

No one showed.  I didn’t get any help with the next two cards.  No straight for me.  The guy to my right showed pocket 7’s for top set.  Jack-7 guy didn’t show when he saw the guy’s set.

I had lost two buy-ins in less than half an hour.


Ordinarily, I would have called it a very early night.  However, on this night, Prudence, Lightning, Nick and Alysia Chang were all in the poker room with me.  So, you know, I had to be sociable.  I bought in for a third time.

In fact, the table, as wild as it was, and with Jack-7 guy still there, getting drunker and drunker, it was probably wise to stay. I should have been able to get my money back, or at least some of it. Jack-7 guy stopped running so good and began distributing chips back to the other players.

But not to me.  I was totally card dead for the next couple of hours. I played some extra hands to try to catch something. Couldn’t.  I eeked out a few small pots and managed to keep all but $25 from my third buy-in.

It was a brutal night.