Monday, January 27, 2014

“The Only One of Us Who Writes About Poker Any More is Rob.”

Last month, for the second straight year, I played in the WPBT Winter Classic.  The story of my first WPBT event can be found here.  I already knew going in that this one wouldn’t be quite as sensational as my first time, as I had read on Twitter or on Facebook that Michelle (MrsChako) wouldn’t be in attendance.  Meaning that there would be little chance of any girl-on-girl action this time.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should read the prior post I just linked to.

It was a close call as to whether or not I’d make it this time.  I had decided to be in Vegas for Thanksgiving, and hanging around Vegas until the December 7 tournament was a bit of a stretch.  Then too, I was concerned with the starting time.  Last year it started at the respectable hour of 2PM.  This year, they were starting it at 11AM.  Yikes.  I have to say, 11AM is really early for me when I’m in Vegas.  Some days I barely wake up by then.

But with only three hours of sleep in the bank, I managed to make it over to the Aria in time for the tournament.  Some of my pals who were there last year were missing.  I couldn’t drag Prudence with me this time.  And for some reason, Poker Grump didn’t drop in all the way from North Carolina.  Lightning was a no show as well.  And no one associated with poker has seen grrouchie since the last days of the first Bush administration.

My memory ain’t what it used to be and so, although I saw some familiar faces—people I met for the first time last year—I couldn’t quite put a name with a face in many instances.  I did recognize and say hi to both CK & PokerVixen of course.  They were actually organizing the event this year, and they did a great job.  And I did see my pals Donna & Jeanne.  And who was assigned to my table, directly on my right?  None other than Grange himself, the man who is responsible for the title of last year’s report on this event.

At my starting table, across the way, was a fellow who looked a little familiar. Before I had a chance to rack my brain for his name, he introduced himself to me.  “You’re Rob, right?”  He said he was NumbBono and reminded me that I had blogged about a hand I was in with him last year.  I had an excuse for not recognizing him.  Last year his hair had been a lot blonder.

Anyway, he said, “Yeah, we met last year but I didn’t introduce myself, sorry.”  I said that’s ok, he didn’t know who I was probably until he read my report on the tournament.  But no, that wasn’t it. He told me,  “No, I knew who you were.  I read your blog.  I read it before then.  Everyone reads your blog.”

That was nice to hear.  I thanked him and we chatted a bit before the tournament started.  Then, early in the tournament, one of the Aria dealers we had asked us what the WPBT was.  NumbBono explained that we’re poker bloggers, but that “The only one of us who really writes about poker any more is Rob.”  I just laughed and then he continued, “Yeah, your posts are great, but they’re ‘Hoy’-like.  Very long posts.”  I somehow figured out that he was referring to a famous blogger, likely retired.  I said, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”  Someone near me said, “He might not have meant it as a compliment.”  I agreed but said I would take it as one anyway.

When I returned home, I direct-messaged NumbBono for more information.  My curiosity was piqued.  He was kind enough to explain.  He was referring to Hoyazo (whose old blog can be found here).  Hoy’s blog posts were so long that another blogger started a blog called “Synopsis of Hoy.”  And even those weren’t brief enough, so someone else started a blog, “Synopsis of Synopsis of Hoy.”  Now that’s really funny.

I guess my posts aren’t long enough to inspire someone to do a blog devoted to publishing synopses of my blog.  Hmmm… that I think of it, if you read my comment section, you may be familiar with the occasional comment by Poker Grump that he calls the “Grump’s Notes” version of my post.  Now I know where he got the idea!

Also at my table was the defending champion, TheLuckbox.  On level 2 I had my first good hand against him.  He raised to $325 (blinds were 50/100) and I called with pocket 8’s (I was the big blind).  I hit my set on the flop and checked.   He bet $700 and I check-raised to $2,000.  He thought a long time and then called.  Turn was a blank and I led out with a $3,500 bet.  He tanked and folded.

On the third level, it was raised in front of me to $425 and I call with Ace-King and the guy behind me called as well.  He was an older gentleman who I don’t think was a blogger, he just was some guy who wanted to play in a tournament.  The flop was Queen high and the preflop raiser checked, so I bet $600 and the older gentleman called, the original raiser folded.  The turn was either a 10 or a Jack giving me a gut shot.  I bet out $1,200 and the older guy tanked for a bit, then folded and said, “I guess King-Queen’s no good there.”  I of course said nothing.  I just laughed to myself and thought, “Unless I was about to hit my gutshot, King-Queen was plenty good there.”

Same level and a bunch of us limped in.  I had pocket 9’s.  The flop was Queen-high, all hearts, but included a 9.  I led out with $600 and the preflop raiser from the last hand made it $1,200.  Sorry, I know this fellow was part of the bloggers group, but I don’t know who he was.  That’s real tricky for me there, I could already be losing to a flush.  I just called.  A non-heart on the turn and I checked and called his bet ($2,000 or so).  But the river card was a second Queen so I didn’t have to worry about the flush—only a bigger boat.  I still checked, thinking about check-raising.  He bet $3,500.  He had me covered by a decent amount, and I couldn’t raise without shoving.  So I shoved. He called. 

I showed my boat, and he was not at all happy.  He showed one card, a Queen, and then mucked.  I was happy with the pot, to be sure, but then started thinking about it.  Since this was a tournament and I was all in and he had called, the dealer should have insisted that he turn up his hand.  I guess I should have insisted on that as well.  But it was too late.

I pointed this out later to Grange and he agreed that it was a dealer error.  In the meantime, the player’s friends were asking him what he had to go along with that Queen.  He said, “umm…ummm, let’s just say it was an Ace…..was there an Ace on the board?”  When told there was not, he said, “Yeah, then I had an Ace-Queen.”

A bit later I was in the big blind and Grange was small blind.  It folded to him.  He raised three times the big blind and I had to call. I just had to.  The flop totally missed me and when Grange bet I folded face up.  I said, “I had to play this against you, I just had to.”  When he saw my hand, he agreed.  It would have been too good a story if only I could have beaten him with that hand.  You see, I had 6-3, Grange’s favorite hand.  Or, as he calls it, “The Spanish Inquisition.”

It’s lucky I missed though.  My 6-3 were both hearts.  But his hand, Queen high I believe, was also suited hearts. 

At the start of level 4, I had $24,000 ($10K was the starting stack).  But at the start of level 6, I was still at $24K, not having seen many pots (but no big losses, either).    Grange was much shorter stacked and was open-shoving a bit.  Recently he had done that with I had Ace-Queen of hearts, and I decided to fold.  A few hands later he did it again and this time I had Ace-King.  I was still a bit unhappy about folding the Ace-Queen hand so I wasn’t about to fold again.  He had around $7K in chips, give or take.  I thought about calling but there were players behind me so I thought it would be best to shove myself in order to isolate.  But a new player had just come to the table with a big stack.  He had me covered by a lot.  We’ll call this player Rich because that’s what everyone was calling him and that’s his name.  He thought a long time about what to do.

Of course, I was hoping he’d fold.  Grange couldn’t knock me out of the tournament but Rich could have.  But finally Rich did indeed call.  Ooops.  We tabled our cards.  Up against my A-K was Grange’s pocket Queens and Rich’s pocket 9’s.  Since it was a race, but since there were two pocket pairs against me, it was more like a three-legged race.

I sure did like the flop.  It was King high.  The turn was a blank, but the river was a damn Queen. Grange won the main pot—a nice triple up for him.  But I won the side pot and I ended up winning more than I lost.  I went from around $24K to $33K.  So it turned out to be a very good thing that Rich had called after all.  Now if only that damn Queen hadn’t hit on the river, I’d be swimming in chips.  Of course, if had been a 9 instead, I would have been done for the day.

It was at this level that our table broke and we were down to the final two tables.  There had only been 4 to start, around 40 players total.  PokerVixen was at my table and she limped in (blinds were 400/800).  I raised to $2200 with Ace-10 off suit on the button.  The flop was a total miss, but when she checked I bet $3,500 and she kindly folded. 

That took me to level 7 with $36K, a bit under an “M” of 20).  I raised with pocket 5’s and didn’t get a call.  I raised with Ace-Queen, had one caller, hit my Queen on the flop and my bet was called.  I checked the turn.  I bet the river and took it down without a call.

The last hand I wrote down was a bad hand.  I raised with Ace-Jack.  Rich, still with a big stack, re-raised and another guy four-bet. I quickly folded.  It turned out to be a nice pick up for Rich as he actually won with the dreaded pocket Kings.  We made it down to 10 players and from that point on, I never faced an all-in showdown.  As my stack dwindled, I just shoved instead of calling or raising, but I was never called when I shoved.  Not once.  I was getting pretty bad cards but shoved when the spot was right and never had a call.  There were very few times when I had a decent enough hand where I wanted a call, however.

One time when I would have wanted a call I got a walk instead.  I was the in the big blind with Ace-King and I figured this was either my double up or my bust-out.  But everyone folded, including the small blind.  I showed my Ace-King.  A few orbits later I got another walk, this time with a garbage hand.  Someone said, “Ace-King” again?  I laughed and shook my head. 

Only five were to be paid, with the last place prize being around $170 and 1st place being around $1,600 (it was a $125 buy-in).  Once we got to the final table I was one of the bottom feeders and I couldn’t chip up.  I was just hanging in there with my shoves that weren’t called. Without any double ups, I was just hanging by a thread.

But we got down to 7.  It looked like one other player and I were neck and neck for short-stack.  To my surprise, the guy next to me, who was definitely part of the blogger’s group but I can’t recall his name, suggested we do a chip-chop for the entire prize pool.

We had been playing for about 5 hours or so.  I don’t think there’s any way in a regular tournament this would have been considered at that point, but I guess because we were all friends, we discussed it.

So we stopped and counted our chips and Aaron, the TD at the Aria, did the math.  Rich was in first place and a guy I’ll call “The Intruder” was a close second.  The Intruder was the only one at the table who wasn’t part of the bloggers group; no one knew him.  He wasn’t especially friendly and was a fairly aggressive player. 

I think at this count, I was in last place, just barely.  This was actually my first experience with a “chip-chop” and I learned how they do it.  They start out making sure that everyone left is going to get last place money and take that off the table. Then, they chop up the rest of the prize pool as a percentage of their stack.  That meant that all of us would have gotten considerably more than the last place money, even the short stacks.  I would have gotten more than $300, and remember, last place money was supposed to be $170  And there was no guarantee of me getting anything.  It also meant that no one would get close to the 1st place price money, especially since we would be creating not one but two extra prize slots.

Rich heard the amount he’d get and balked a little.  He felt he should be getting a “little” more than that.  I think the rest of us would have agreed to that, but The Intruder didn’t like that.  He felt since he and Rich were so close together at this point, he and Rich should split a big first place prize and the rest of us should split the rest of the money equally.  He actually named a figure what he and Rich should both get, and I don’t recall what it was.  But it was even less for Rich than the chip-chop, and when he questioned it, The Intruder just said, “OK, let’s just play it out.”

A few grumbled but there was nothing we could do.  We would have had to agree unanimously and we couldn’t.  Since I was in last place, I certainly didn’t feel like I should really say anything.  Of course I wanted to make a deal.  So, after having taken a long break for us to count our chips and for Aaron to go to the office to do the math, we ended up resuming play.  Since I was closest to being knocked out, I was quite disappointed, as were most of the players, even the ones with much bigger stacks.  As I said, I was sure we could have made an agreement that would have made Rich, as well as the rest of us, happy, but The Intruder prevented it.

So we went on and played for another hour or so.  And no one busted out.  I actually stole more chips than I lost—or least I stole more chips than other people did, and I actually got to the point where I was in fifth place, not far from fourth.  All without a single showdown hand.

But at some point, The Intruder lost a bunch of chips.  Suddenly he wasn’t in undisputed second place.  And he wasn’t close to Rich, who now had chips galore.  So when we came back from the break, he said, “Why don’t we do a chop?”  But he didn’t mean a chip-chop.  He announced some figure for Rich, a slightly lesser figure for himself, and then said the rest of us would split the rest of the money.

The problem was that the guy to my left (again, don’t recall who he was) said no way, he had more chips than The Intruder.  So this time The Intruder agreed to having us count all our chips—again—and see what a chip chop would be.  I was in much better position now, in fifth place.  I don’t recall the numbers but the figure given to me as my payout was $447.  I was thrilled with any number that started with a “4”, I can assure you.
We all heard the numbers and, yes, yes, we all agreed. Even The Intruder was happy with his 3rd place (I think) money.  Of course, since it was still possible for me to bust out with nothing, I was very, very happy.  I think we all were.

There was one woman at our final table, a delightful mature woman who suggested we all put in $20 of our winnings for the dealers.  Her name was Linda and I actually wasn’t sure how she fit into our group.  But as we were waiting to collect our winnings, I asked her name and she told me that she was in fact, the very first poker blogger.  You can find her site, Pokerworks, here.

That’s about it.  It was fun playing with the bloggers again and I sure didn’t mind taking away some cash.  Thanks to CK & PokerVixen for organizing another great gathering.

I hope I can make it next year.  Or this year, really.


  1. Compared to Hoy. Lol

    Yes - Hoy wrote posts of epic length. However, he seemed to go out of his way to make enemies - pompous, bombastic, trollish. Also involved in other things I prefer not to discuss here.

  2. Rob, on the hand where you bust the guy with the full house, you are right that you are allowed to see the guy's hand, but that situation is about etiquette. Picture yourself having just been busted from a tournament, angry likely with your own poor play. The player who is dragging the giant pot then asks to see your hand. What for? I know you want to be able to provide details for your blog, but there is no way your inquiry doesn't induce more anger and steam. Enjoy the pot, ridicule his poor play in your head, but don't rub his nose in it.

    1. Thanks for the comment M!

      OK, to be clear, I didn't bust him, he would have busted me if he had won. He was still alive. Does that make a difference?

      But in reality, I didn't really have a chance to ask, by the time I realized it, the cards were mucked. I was only noting that, in hindsight, the dealer should have insisted that he show both cards, per T.D. rules.

      No biggie tho.

  3. Replies
    1. make me look like a leg man, Anger.