Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Shark in Guppy's Clothing

You all remember Alicia, right?  She’s the terrific poker player I ran into a few years ago at the Aria tournament.  The story of our first encounter was told here, where I used the pseudonym “Veronica,” Eventually I wrote an article about Alicia for the online magazine ADANAI which you can find here.

Well, this is the story of my encounter with another terrific female poker player.  And it has an eerily similar ending to the time I met Alicia (oops, sorry, I should have given a spoiler warning).  Maybe one day I’ll write a magazine article about this woman too.  I’d like that.

This story took place exactly one week after the big tournament score at Binion’s that I described here.  And at the same tournament, the 2PM Deepstack at Binion’s.  In fact, before the tournament started, a young bloke came over to me to say hello.  It was Leeds, the lad who took first place last week.  We chatted briefly and I asked him how many more tournaments he had won since I’d seen him last.  He said he hadn’t played another tournament since. This would not be the last time I saw Leeds before he returned to the U.K. (I assume he’s back now).  I would run into him and his father later this very day, a story I told here).  Apparently he and his dad like the same two poker rooms I do.

I was getting settled in to my seat (7) when I couldn’t help noticing an extremely attractive young woman approaching our table, seat card in hand.  I can’t say I was unhappy when she took seat 9 at my table (this tournament plays 9 handed).  She was really cute, and her figure got my attention in a way that readers of my blog might expect to get my attention.  In addition, her sweater was low-cut enough for her to be working the Jennifer Tilly effect just a bit. 

I was pretty happy about this turn of events.  I can think of worse things than sitting across of a pretty face for a couple of hours while playing poker.  I didn’t recognize her, at least not from this tournament.  As the day wore on, I started to think it was entirely possible I had seen her in other venues once or twice, but I wasn’t sure and I know we had never really played at the same table together, tho it was possible I’d seen in a poker room or two. 

I’m going to call her “Lois.”  She had a Superman bobblehead doll that she used as card protector.  So I’m naming her for Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane. 

I certainly wasn’t the only guy at the table to notice Lois.  Two seats to my right was an older guy I’ve played with a million times before at this very tournament.  He’s a regular so I’ll just call him Reg for short.  Reg was very interested in chatting up Lois. 

It turned out that Lois was perfectly fine with chatting with Reg.  And me too.  She soon revealed herself to be an absolute delight, a real doll, very nice, very friendly.  And from the conversations we were having about poker, a very knowledgeable and experienced player.

As the session wore on and we could all see she was really tough player, she mentioned that she had played a lot of poker all over and had some big successes.  At the WSOP, she had played only in the Ladies event, but hoped to change that this year.  She had had a few big scores at the DSE’s at the Venetian in the past.  And she had once placed 2nd in the Main Event of a WSOP circuit event held in the Midwest a few years back.  For that, she took home over 6 figures.

One of the dealers did recognize her and asked her what happened to her other card protector.  Apparently it was some kind of fish trinket.  She said a guy had stolen it.  That’s awful, a few of us noted.  Then she said that the guy claimed to have found it, but he was sure he had stolen it.

“Why would he do that?” I asked.

“Because he wanted my number.  He knew he’d run into me again in a poker room somewhere and then he could get my phone number.”

And in fact, he did run into her and told her that he had her fish.  “Did you give him your number?”

“Yes, I had to.  I wanted my fish back.”

Then I asked a question that was surely none of my business.  “And did you go out with him?”

She said she did not.  I expressed relief.  “Good. He sounds sleezy.”

She still uses the Superman bobblehead even tho she has her fish back. I said to her, “You know, I’m not sure that, as a poker player, you want to be associated with a fish.”

But she disagreed.  “No, no…that’s exactly what I want.  I want people to think I’m a fish.”

By this time I knew that she was definitely not a fish.  I conceded that this was not a bad image at all.

Then she said that one time on the 2+2 forums someone described her as a “shark in guppy’s clothing.”  She explained that she was wearing a summer dress at that event.

It was because of Reg that I learned her name.  After the first break, he came back and claimed that he was sitting next to a woman at a slot machine that was her spitting image.  He thought it was her.  So he asked her name and the woman was surprised. “What?”  So Reg said, “Wasn’t I just playing poker with you?”  The woman assured him he was not.   So Reg told Lois that her twin was out there playing slots.  She laughed and then said, “It’s Lois, by the way.”  Except instead of Lois, she gave us her real first name.

Reg had ordered a “Virgin Mary” from the waitress.  When she came back, she apparently had both a Virgin Mary and a Bloody Mary on her tray.  She picked up one to examine and said, “Let’s see… this your virgin?”  Lois said, “Yeah….that’s the only virgin you’ll find in this town.”

I had a blast talking with Lois—about her life and about poker.  She would comment on the hands that other people were in (after the fact, of course) and even guess as to what the odds were for a particular player.  Then she would look at her poker odds calculator to check and she was always within a few points. 

She would even give me a little free after-the-fact-advice from time to time.  I found this most interesting because helping out other players is not usually something a good player wants to do. Lessons are extra.

She wasn’t giving tips to any of the other players.  And all her advice was sound, it wasn’t like she was trying to hurt my game.  So I can only assume either she didn’t consider me any kind of threat to her getting into the money, or….she liked me.  Actually, I think that was it, really.  We were having quite the nice conversation all through the tournament.

And once again people had noticed me taking notes and were starting to comment about it.  At one point, Lois also gave me a poker hint to put in my book. Something like, “Put this in your book….don’t shove against a guy who’s running super hot.”  Earlier, she had asked me what I was writing in my book about her!  I kind of shrugged and then was about to say “Until I learned your name, I was referring to you as ‘Beautiful Girl’ in my notes.”  However, either I chickened out or something distracted me right as I was about to say that, and then the moment was gone.

Early in the tournament, who should join the tournament and be assigned to our table by none other than The Bubble Bitch (see here).  This was now just a week after her dramatic exit scene.  No one mentioned anything about that—at least while she was still there. 

And speaking of The Bubble Bitch, on a more recent visit to Binion’s, Audrey came over to discuss that post.  When she read it, she was dying to know who The Bubble Bitch was.  She had a very strong hunch as to the identity but wanted to be sure.  I hadn’t been back in awhile so she finally realized who the T.D. on duty would have been and asked him to confirm her suspicions.  She had totally nailed it.  She had identified The Bubble Bitch from my description of her behavior.

For brevity’s sake (since I’m so good at brevity), I’ll refer to The Bubble Bitch as BB from now on.  BB wasted no time in making more friends.  As last time, she was an aggro maniac.  And so she shoved on a flop even though she had plenty of chips if she had wanted to play it safer.  But the guy next to her called.  He was another regular and of course had some experience playing with BB before.

It turned out that BB had 10-9 and there was a 10 on the board.  That was it.  She had top pair, weak kicker and had gone all in.  But the other player only had Ace-King and had nothing on the board….no pair, no draw.  By the way, it was actually a third player who had raised preflop, neither one of them had.  So BB had called a raise with 10-9.  Anyway, BB was ahead until the other player hit a King on the river.

We all found that hand very interesting.  BB didn’t say anything to other guy at first, but she was shooting daggers at him with her eyes.  You could see the faint hint of smoke coming out of ears.

The rest of us couldn’t understand the hand at all.  Well, I understood the shove—that’s BB.  I had seen her play like that just the week before.  But the guy calling her shove with nothing?  WTF?  He had a shorter stack and so he didn’t bust BB out, but of course, if he hadn’t gotten lucky on the river he would have out of the tournament.

BB and the other guy were in seats 1 & 2, on the other side of the table from Lois and me.  And everyone on our side of the table was quietly expressing our disbelief.  Somebody said, “I don’t understand the call.”  And Lois said, “I don’t understand the shove or the call.”

Well BB and Seat 2 started overhearing our conversation so finally BB started commenting on the guy’s call herself.   And the two of them started arguing for a bit.

This caused a reaction from another woman at the table, a mature woman who was from New York originally—complete with NY accent and NY attitude.  While the other two were bickering, New York Lady (NYL) turned to our side of the table and said, “Oh, she’s so mad at him.  She wants to pull down his pants, take him over her knee and spank him.”

Someone said “He might like that.”  I think it was me. 

Everyone was laughing about NYL’s line about the spanking and Lois said to me, “Put that in your book.”  Of course, I did.

Anyway, her own comment about the spanking got NYL started.  “When she’d pull down his pants, he’d be wearing….what is it…..not briefs….not Speedos….”

“Tidy Whities?”  I was trying to help her out.

“Yes, that’s it.  Tidy Whities!”

She did not look like the kind of woman who would be talking about spanking men or men’s underwear.  But she was just getting started.

This got NYL telling the story of how she took her granddaughter to “Thunder from Down Under” for her 21st birthday.  That’s a Chippendales-type show at the Excalibur where male dancers get almost completely naked (for a post about a show where there’s no almost about it, check here).  I did find that a bit strange. I’m thinking that, when I was 21, it sure would have been weird and more than a bit uncomfortable to see a strip show with my grandfather.  But times have changed, I guess.

Anyway, NYL took her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s best friend to the show to celebrate her big day.  Then she went on to explain that the girl’s best friend was in fact a guy.  But as she said about him, “He likes men.”  She went on to declare that gay guys make the best friends.

Of course she described the finale of the show. “At the very end, with their backs to the audience, they all pull their bottoms off.  But they don’t turn around…..damn it.

She went on for at least a minute complaining about the fact that the guys didn’t turn around and reveal their…well, their true personalities.  She felt cheated. What a randy grandmother!  We were all laughing at her kvetching.

I’m not going to discuss many hands because I didn’t cash. But one I want to mention was in the 5th level with the blinds at (300/600).  My initial $20K stack was down to $18K or so. I raised to $1,800 with Ace-10 of hearts.  Good ol’ BB shoved for $6,500.  Assuming it folded back to me, it would have been an easy call for me, knowing BB was almost definitely shoving light.  And if she happened to have woken up with a good hand, well, I’d still have almost 2/3’s my stack.

But it folded to Reg, who was the big blind.  He thought and thought and thought for a long time and finally called.  Damn.  At the start of this hand his stack was similar to mine.  If I shoved, he’d likely call, feeling pot committed.  I considered him a fairly tight player, not a maniac. 
I didn’t want to put my tournament life in play against two players, one of whom (Reg) could easily have a better hand than I did.  I never really considered calling.  It was either fold or shove, but I just didn’t want to shove against Reg with only Ace-10.  My stack was about an M of 20.  I decided to play it safe and fold.

So they flipped over their hands.  BB showed Ace-5 offsuit, which was actually better than I thought it would be.  But Reg flipped over Queen-Jack offsuit.  WTF?  How the hell could he call $6,500 with Queen-Jack?  I thought he was a much better player than that.

The flop made me ill.  It was Ace-10-x.  Ugh.  Nothing else of consequence hit the board.  BB took it with a pair of Aces, 5 kicker.  If Reg had folded like he should have, I would have won with 2 pair.  If I had called or shoved, I would have gotten a lot of chips.  Ugh.

I was so surprised and more than a bit pissed.  I did something I don’t normally do—I told everyone what I folded.  I explained that I couldn’t call with Reg calling, assuming he had a much better hand than he did.  I came thisclose, I mean really close to saying, “I would have called but I had no idea Reg was such a bad player.”  Knowing Reg’s sense of humor, I know he would have enjoyed that, and laughed.  But I thought better of it.

But thinking about it later, the next day, I kind of figured out maybe why he called.  He knew that BB was a maniac and that Q-J was beating her shove-range there.  But that doesn’t explain why he did that in a pot where I had raised.  He’s played with me enough to know I’m not raising with a hand nearly as crappy as BB’s range.  I guess he was rolling the dice.  He figured I’d likely fold, and if I had a big pair or AK, so be it.

Sometime soon after this, BB did indeed bust-out.  This was much earlier in the tournament than the previous week, a long ways from the money, and she managed to leave without making a scene this time.  But we started talking about her inasmuch as her aggressive play and her verbal jousts with Seat 2 had made an impression on everyone. 

The dealer confirmed that she was a dealer somewhere in town, or at least had tried to be.  He claimed that one time, she had an audition at one of the bigger rooms on the Strip.  The manager ended it within 5 minutes.  She spent the entire five minutes ordering everyone around, so the manager told her, “This audition’s over.  You don’t have the right attitude.”  Shocking!

After that, I decided to tell everyone at our table the story of her exit last week, which of course everyone thoroughly enjoyed. 

By level 9, I was more than a little bit desperate. I shoved with Queen-Jack and the player to my left snap called.  He had me covered but not by that much.  He flipped over pocket Aces. Ugh.  Blank flop.  Jack on the turn.  Queen on the river.  Nice suckout for me.  The guy was now talking about being dead, but both Lois and I gave him the old “chip and a chair” speech.  In fact, this guy had a decent chip stack back by the time I busted.

And then something bad happened.  Lois was moved to balance tables.  As she got up, she told me she enjoyed playing with me and asked my name.  I not only told her but gave her a card with the blog’s URL on it and whispered that this was the real reason I was using the notebook.  She said she would check it out.  I told her she was a delight.

Anyway, I ended up helping the guy whose Aces I cracked make his comeback.  We were both all-in, I had shoved with Ace-Jack, he had called with Ace-8.  And he hit an 8 on the river.  I guess I had that coming.  And I doubled him up again when I shoved with Queen-10 and he called with Ace-Queen, which held.

My table broke and I was sent to the table where Lois had been moved to.  With an M of less than 5, I had Queen-Jack of diamonds.  First in, I shoved.  Lois was the big blind and called, turning over Ace-10.  A Queen hit the flop.  But then an Ace hit the river.  I was done.  Just like with Alicia, I met a terrific female poker player in a tournament and got busted by her.

As I got up, she said, in maybe the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard, “You’re not mad at me, are you?”  I said of course not, she had made the right move.  I told her again what a delight she was.

I hope I run into her again. 


  1. Rob, you have altogether too many girlfriends! Prudence has competition with this "tighty whitie" Chippendale banter you had with these latest gals. You're trying to concentrate on your cards when the woman next to you is talking about men dropping their drawers on stage! Further, I think I would have asked the woman if the dancers on stage were perhaps "pocket queens". Anyway, I enjoyed that post. Cheers

    1. Heh heh, great line about the pocket Queens.

      Thanks, Woody.

  2. Remember Rob, Queen/Ten is the 'evil hand' - I can't stress that enough... I thought your post-hand analysis of the BB (Bubble B) shove w/A 5 was dead on, with the Q J caller. He knows how she plays, and maybe figures that: 1) He'll be heads up with her, or 2) You both have an ace, and he has 6 outs (Q's and J's), while y'all only have 2 aces left in the deck (possible anyway).

    1. Right, right, Queen-10, almost as bad as the dreaded pocket Kings, right?

      I think Reg might have expected that he had 2 overcards to BB's hand, but again....he does have to worry about me.

      Oh well, that's poker.

      Thanks, Coach.

  3. I speculate that you are a boxer shorts type of guy. Why no tighty whities? I do not expect that the word "briefs" have ever been used to describe any of your posts. : o P

  4. Rob,
    i will be headed to Vegas on 2/26-3/3 to play in a few Caesars wsop-c events, and would like to show my appreciation for the entertainment your blog provides.
    So, if your up to it, so to speak, i would like to take you to the Rhino for some all expense paid relaxation therapy from some of the hottest dancers in Vegas, provided you have no heart health issues.
    If your in Vegas during those days, come by the tournament room, and i will hook you up; maybe you will get some additional non-poker related content for you great blog. At least, we can check out mass quantities of fully exposed boobs; T&A FTW!
    Hope to see you there, you may recognize me when i re-introduce myself.

    1. Umm. thanks very much Anony.

      Sadly, I will not be in Vegas during this period, but I really appreciate the offer.

      Perhaps next time!