Thursday, May 29, 2014

If I Want a Bracelet, I Better Find a Jewelry Store

This is the story of my first ever WSOP bracelet event, an all-too brief experience that took place on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, there’s no way I can tell the story of my pre-mature exit without making myself look like a total idiot.  And I seriously considered not even posting about the event, other than to give the result without the detailed explanation that I am noted for. For a few hours after my bust-out, I was certain I would just punt on this post.

But no, I paid $500 to play in a bracelet event, and damn it, if nothing else, I’m going to get a Rob-size post out of it.  I paid $500 for this friggin’ blog post, so, at the risk of all of you never taking me seriously as a poker player again (assuming you ever did in the first place), here goes.

I do have an excuse for my screw-up.  But it’s just that—an excuse.  It’s really just an explanation of where my mind was when my brain took a few minutes off.  But it is the truth, and the reader is welcome to buy it, or think I should never be allowed near a poker table again for the rest of my life.

But before we get to the climax, you’ll have to bear with me while I go on a tangent to explain my state of mind at the crucial moment.

As I revealed here, I was allowed to play in Event #1 at the WSOP, the casino employees event, because I work for PokerAtlas (which now encompasses AllVegasPoker).  I debated quite a bit about playing in it.  It would be the most I ever paid for a tournament entry.  And, like all WSOP bracelet events, it doesn’t have a very good structure, to put it mildly.  You start with $3,000 chips.  That’s the same as the $1,000 bracelet events, but at least the $1K events have starting blinds of 25/25.  This one starts at 25/50 (because of the “discounted” buy-in, I assume).  At least the levels are a full hour each.  But starting with 60 big blinds is rough.

But as I said in the prior post, this is the only event that is under $1K.  So, unless I was able to satellite in, this was the cheapest way for me to experience a bracelet event first hand.  I was concerned that I could end up spending at least as much as the actual entry fee trying to win satellites to get into another event.  This was a sure thing, for “only” $500.  Since I now make my living from poker (though not from playing, thank goodness), it seemed like something I should do at least once.

I knew that a lot of my friends and acquaintances would be there, but unfortunately, I didn’t see hardly any of them.  Too many people there, and I didn’t get there early enough to mill around and hunt for my friends.  Just as well, I guess.

The festivities got off to a bang—literally—with canon explosions and dollar bills floating down from the roof.  It turns out that they released $10,000 in one dollar bills over the tournament area.  Some tables had tons of dollar bills fall on them, but not the one I was at.  Missed our table completely.  But I was able to see a bunch of dollar bills behind a nearby table on the floor, and I did scoop up some.  Sixteen in fact.  So it wasn’t a total loss.

I had posted about being in the tournament, and also tweeted about it, and I really appreciated all the good luck wishes I received.  But, after tweeting my table and seat number, I announced that I was turning off my cell phone so that I wouldn’t be distracted and could give my full attention to the matter at hand.  And so I did.

But, during the tournament announcements, I heard the Tournament Director announce that late registration for this event ended at the start of level 5, although most events had late registration through the start of level 7.  Why was that meaningful for me?  Because it’s my job.

I had entered all the tournament info on PokerAtlas (and also on AVP, even though you can’t see that anymore).  Someone at the office questioned the late reg time for Event #1, but I pointed out that it clearly stated that all Noon events had late reg until basically 7:30 PM (two extra levels from last year).  It noted a few exceptions, but Event #1 was not one of the exceptions. 

Even as my co-worker insisted that this must be wrong, I knew it was right based on the info on the WSOP site, so that’s what I entered.

And now I had just heard that I was wrong and my co-worker was right all along.


PokerAtlas is actually being referred to, by the WSOP, as “The Official Player’s Guide to the 2014 World Series of Poker,” so it is critical that we get these details right.  And however inadvertently, I had some incorrect info on there.  But there was still time to fix it.  I didn’t want people showing up at 7:15PM trying to buy in and being told that registration had closed hours before.  So, I emailed the office and told them of the change so that they could fix it.  If someone had planned on arriving that late based on earlier information (which was also on the WSOP site), there was nothing that could be done.  But if I could prevent anyone from arriving too late going forward, I wanted to do that.  Hey, I am dedicated to doing the job right.

To be clear.....the WSOP's own website had the wrong information on their site.  It wasn't my error, it was theirs.  I was trying to clean up their screw up.  No matter, it wasn't the first time a poker room or a website has given me bad information.  I'm used to it.  I point out errors like this to poker room managers all the time.  You'd be surprised how many tournament schedules or structure sheets I see with missing, misleading, contradictory or downright wrong information. I get thanks all the the time from managers and tournament directors for catching these errors and calling them to their attention.

I had to turn my phone back on and sent an email to the office.  Then, I wanted to wait until I got a response that it had been fixed.  Unfortunately, this was at lunch time, so I didn’t get a response right away.  All I could do was put my phone on silent and check it periodically between hands.

The fact that my phone was on is absolutely critical to my fast exit from the tournament, and I’ll get back to that in a bit.

With a structure like this, I thought the only way to play was to be extremely tight.  Sometimes I play looser in tournament situations but this didn’t seem the right time.  In fact, most everyone at our table was fairly conservative, seeing fewer hands than usual and raising in smaller amounts than you usually see in a tournament.  Everyone was probably playing the tightest version of their normal game to start.

Early I had QQ and raised to $125 (normally I would have raised to $150).  I had one caller.  The flop was Ace high and I bet $200.  He called.  The turn didn’t help me and I didn’t want to lose any more chips on this hand, figuring the most likely hand he had that he called my preflop raise with was Ace-something.  I checked, he bet, I folded.

Still on the first level, I had Ace-7 spades on the button.  With one limper, I raised to $175.  The limper was the only caller.  The flop was pretty good, King-Queen-7, both the paint cards were spades.  I bet $300 and he folded.

That was the only hand I won.

I started the second level (blinds 50/100) with $2,650 in chips.  Other than the QQ hand, I lost all the other money just on blinds, maybe once or twice I limped with small pocket pairs.  I was card dead.

Between hands, I took out my phone.  There was a message from the office that they would make the correction.  Good.

But I noticed I had also received a text message from a close family member.  Of course, I read it.  It seemed that this family member, who had recently had surgery, was having issues and was headed back to the hospital.  This was quite upsetting to me.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  Of course I wanted to receive this info.  But from 300 miles away, all I could do was worry.  I obviously couldn’t help them.  I knew I would call or text another relative during the break to see if I could get more details.

Within a hand or two of receiving reading this text, and with it still very much on my mind, I was dealt Ace-King offsuit, under-the-gun plus one.  First in, I made it $250.  One player called, the big blind, who was the guy who had stayed in the hand when I had the Queens.

I knew this guy was short stacked, he had lost a big hand.  But he had come back some when he called a raise out of position with Jack-9 offsuit and hit something.  I thought his play was questionable.  I can see being aggressive with a shortish stack and raising or shoving with Jack-9.  But calling a raise with it when you don’t have a lot of chips seemed incredibly risky.  But it worked out for him.

Now, I was in seat 7 and he was in seat 3 and my eyes aren’t very good and I couldn’t really see his stack very well.  But I certainly knew he had less than me.

The flop was Jack-10-9, rainbow.  So I had a gut shot.  But I’m not risking a lot on a gut shot.  He checked, and in that situation, heads-up, I’m almost always gonna make a continuation bet, no matter how much the flop missed me.

I put out a routine c-bet of $700.  Now, if that doesn’t sound routine to you, you’re right.  And I’ll get back to that bet in a moment.  For now, just know that that was my bet.

The guy announced all-in and put out his stack of chips.

OK, so much for that.  I’m not calling an all-in with just a got shot.  No way.

But I didn’t just insta-fold.  No, I didn’t want to do that.  I wanted to go through the motions of asking for a count and making it look like I was considering calling.  Why?  Well, I figure if I insta-fold there, it makes look obvious that I was just c-betting.  I don’t want to give out that information.  I wanted to make it look like I had a hand I could conceivably call with, and that I was making a thoughtful fold.

Big mistake.  I asked the dealer for a count.  She had just come to the table.  She had a soft voice and an accent.  She was Asian.  That’s actually relevant to the story because I think there was truly a language problem.

As I said, from my seat, I couldn’t tell how much his bet was, I needed the count.  Besides, it was part of the mis-direct (that I wasn’t c-betting with nothing) that I consider the exact size of his bet.

She counted and said, “$1,080.”  That’s what she said, or at least what I heard.  “One thousand, eighty.”

Instead of thinking, “How could it be $1,080?  We aren’t using $5 chips, the bet has to be in multiples of $25,” all I was thinking of was, “That’s only $380 more than my bet, there’s no way I can fold for that.  And I do have outs.  I have overcards and four outs to the nut straight.”

I wanted to be sure.  I said, very clearly, “One thousand, eighty?”  She repeated it, “One thousand, eighty.”  OK, to be extra, extra sure, “One thousand eighty total?  Not one thousand eighty more?”  The answer came back “One thousand, eighty total.”

I said, “Well, I have to call,” and threw out a $500 chip, which more than covered the $380 I needed to call his bet.

He flipped over King-Queen for the flopped straight.  I only had three outs, since he had one of the Queens.

Of course, a Queen never showed up.  When the dealer went for my chips, I was surprised when she asked for more.  The $500 chip should have covered it and I had change coming.  WTF?

Suddenly, when she said, “One thousand eighty” to me, I realized she was saying, “One thousand, eight hundred.”  And I felt very, very sick.

OK, honestly now, have you ever heard a dealer call a bet like that “one thousand, eight hundred”?  Who does that?  Every other dealer on the planet would have said, “Eighteen hundred.”  And it would have been clear to me that it was $1,800 and I would have folded easily.

Did she really say, “one thousand, eighty” or did she say “one thousand, eight hundred”?  I know what I heard, but I’ll allow for the possibility that I misheard it.  Three times.  But I know when I repeated it to her, I said, “One thousand, eighty?” and not “one thousand, eight hundred.”  I would never say, “one thousand, eight hundred.”  Never.  So when she confirmed the number I quoted back to her, she was giving me incorrect information, to be sure.

Note:  I know there’s only a $700 difference between the two amounts.  But when you start with only $3,000 in chips, that’s a huge difference.  I was down to $600.  $1,300 would have given me one move before having to shove.  But $600 did not.

I was sick.  At least it made me forget, very temporarily, about the disturbing text I had just read.

OK, now let’s get back to my flop bet of $700.  I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  That bet should have been $350-$400, something like that.  My brain was obviously still obsessed with that text.  I was thinking that the pot was $1,000 so that was around a 2/3’s pot bet.  I don’t know where I got $1,000.  My mind was totally distracted.  If I had bet $350, I don’t think I would have any trouble folding even if I did hear “$1,080” instead of $1,800.”  Easy fold.  And if he raised less than a shove, I still easily fold there.  Yikes, that was a bad bet.

And I didn’t even realize it until an hour later, when I finally got around to writing the note about the hand.  When I remembered betting $700, I was sure that had to be wrong, how could I possibly bet that much?  It just then dawned on me that the flop bet was the first mistake I made on the hand, even before mishearing the amount of the shove.

I can’t blame the dealer on that one.  And I can’t blame the dealer anyway, because, you know, I should have been smart enough to know that the bet could not possibly have been any amount that ended with ‘eighty.”  Duh.

Two hands later I was the big blind.  With 1/6 of my stack already in the pot, I was probably shoving with any two cards, but I was happy to see two Broadway cards, Jack-10.  The player UTG raised a normal amount, it folded to me. I shoved, he called and flipped over pocket 5’s.  I was happy about that.  It was a race and I had two live cards.

Until the flop.  There was a 5 on it.  Also a 4 and 6, so I had a shot of going runner runner to get a chop with a straight on the board.  But that didn’t happen, and I was gone, feeling worse than I ever have after busting from a tournament.

I’d like to think that I’m not really a bad enough player that I would have butchered that hand so badly if I hadn’t been distracted by some bad news.  But of course, you’re welcome to think otherwise.

And of course, I wouldn’t have received that bad news at precisely the wrong time if I hadn’t been so diligent about doing my job well—even when I wasn’t on the job, and was supposed to be on my own time, having fun. Even when it was a case of my cleaning up the WSOP's own goof. If I had ignored trying to make the correction for my employer, my phone would have been off, and I would have read the disturbing text during first break.  So it was a series of bad things that led to my distraction.  1. WSOP's initial error on their site.  2. My learning of that error that I had duplicated. 3. My turning on my phone to get it corrected.  4. My still having my phone on so I got that disturbing news at precisely the wrong time.

At least I’m good at my job, cuz I suck at poker.

Now, what does the pic below have to do with this post?  Well, it’s a picture of a big bust, and that aptly describes my WSOP bracelet event experience.

Note:  Just got an update and my family member is doing much better and seems well on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Playing for a Bracelet

I can, so I am.

Today I'm playing in my first ever WSOP Bracelet event.  Event #1 is the Casino Employees Event.

Turns out that because I work for PokerAtlas (which has absorbed AllVegasPoker), I am eligible to play.

It's the only bracelet event that costs less than $1K to enter.  It's "only" $500.  This is therefore the lowest direct-entry chance I have to play in an event.  I figure I might as well take a shot.

I figure if nothing else, I can at least get a blog post out of it.  Maybe I'll last long enough for a multi-parter?  You know, winning the thing could probably be worth a 10-part series. Let's go for that, why not?

In the meantime, I will try to do some updates on Twitter today, but probably not too many. I would find it too distracting to issue frequent updates.  But follow me and I will try to keep you in the loop.

Go me!

UPDATE:  Well, it was an all too brief experience (usually, I hear that from women).  I didn't last until the first break.  I guess I will have to blog the details in a future post, if I ever screw up enough courage to publicly admit how terribly I played one hand that cost me tournament life.  In the meantime, perhaps I should just give up on poker and talk about boobs full time.  Actually, I'm the boob I'll be talking about.  ((AND I HAVE INDEED POSTED THE HORRIFIC DETAILS, AND THAT POST CAN BE FOUND HERE))

Thank you everyone who wished me luck both in comments and on Twitter.  I'm sorry I won't have a better story for you. 


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Suncoast’s ‘Hoggy’ Stud Game is Legendary

My new column for Ante Up is now online and can be found here.

The issue should be in poker rooms around the country soon if it's not already there.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off

I suppose I could call this rant post “Pet Peeves” but I prefer the title I went with, because I want to emphasize that these are things that really piss me off! 

#1.  Waitresses—or floor people—taking my not quite empty glass of soda when they don’t have the replacement.

This mostly refers to when I’m playing poker in Vegas.  My throat tends to get dry really fast, especially in that extremely dry Vegas climate.  I need to keep it lubricated at all times.  Cocktail service in most Vegas poker rooms isn’t the fastest.  So I actually don’t mind when they bring me the diet coke in a glassful of ice.  I can use that ice when the soda is gone to keep my throat from getting dry.  I like sucking on the ice.

So when the waitress comes back to take my order and tries to take my glass that only consists of melting ice, I stop her.  I know it will be a good 20 minutes before she comes back with my drink, and if I’m lucky, that ice will last until she gets back.

Every now and then, when there’s just ice in my glass, I’ll take a bathroom break and come back to find that the waitress or a floor person has done me the “favor” of clearing away my glass. And that really, really pisses me.  Now I have to wait 20 minutes for the waitress to come back just to take my order, and another 20 minutes for the waitress to deliver it, and my throat will be bone dry.

Leave my freaking glass alone.  If there’s even one drop of liquid or a tiny piece of ice left, I want it, dammit.  And do you really think an empty glass in a cup holder is bothering anyone?  Even if the glass was completely empty, it wouldn't be doing any harm.  So why take it unless the person at that seat asks you to take it.  You’re doing a pretty crappy job of reading my mind if you take my glass away.

I’m gonna tell a story that I’ve been sitting on for a long time.  I just have to be careful—since I work in the poker biz I can’t go around blasting poker rooms by name even when they deserve it. 

But let’s just say I was playing in a tournament some time back in a room that had a special series running, and I was playing in one of the tournaments in that series.  There was a big turnout.  In players, that is.  In cocktail waitresses—not so much.

Throughout the first couple of hours, there seemed to be a dispute between the two waitresses assigned to this tournament as to which one of them was handling the center row, where I was seated.  They each had one of the outer rows, no problem.  And they came around fairly frequently.  But after one of them took our orders once, she never came back.  The other one ignored us as well.

As they were walking around, I’d yell, “Cocktails, Cocktails!” and they would look at me and walk away. They wouldn’t even have the courtesy to say to me, “Sorry, that’s not my table, I’ll tell the girl who is handling it.”  The dealers would call for cocktails and be ignored.  The floor people would call (after I complained to them) and be ignored.  One floor person even called over to the bar (or wherever) to try to get a waitress to come.  That didn’t work.

Fortunately, the one drink I’d been served was almost all ice.  So I was really milking it, hoping that ice would last until I finally got a drink.  Every time a floor person walked by, I’d ask about cocktails.  And they’d say they’d call, or they’d tell me a waitress would be right back.  Bullshit.

One of the floor people was someone I recognized from having played with him before.  In fact, it’s entirely possible he’s been mentioned in a blog post or two.  He was rather dismissive of my concerns.  Once, he told me the waitress would be right back.  Twenty minutes later, I reminded him and he said, “I think she went on break.”  Huh?  So I said, “You know, I’m dying of thirst here. My throat is really dry.”

And what did he say?  He pointed to one of my tournament chips and said, “If you’re throat’s dry, I suggest you suck on one of those and that should keep your throat wet.”  That’s probably not an exact quote, but it’s close enough and he definitely suggested I should suck on a poker chip.

To say I was displeased is an extreme understatement.  And I didn’t know what to do about it.  You see, before the tournament, I had said hello and introduced myself to the tournament director.  I had worked with him, via email, to get this event listed on AVP.  And at one point during the tournament, I had complained to him about the cocktail service.  To be clear, I wasn’t trying to throw my weight around, I just wanted him to be aware of how bad the service was.  And needless to say, it wasn’t just me that was looking for a drink.  Our whole row of tables had been ignored.  If I could use whatever influence I had to get us all served, that would be a good thing.

Of course, the poker room has no ability whatsoever to affect the cocktail service.  That’s true at any poker room.  The waitresses are union and basically are untouchable.

Anyway, the tournament director probably would have some control over his poker room people.  And honestly, that nasty floor person needed to be spoken to.  But I didn’t now want to use any extra influence I might have had to get the guy in trouble.  Even though he deserved it.  So I said nothing.  I wonder if I might have reported him if I was totally incognito and not “representing” AVP?  I’m not sure.

Anyway, there was still a tiny bit of ice left when we went on break.  And when I returned, I was really pissed to see that my glass I had been cleared away!  I exclaimed—to no one in particular—as soon as I saw it, “They took my glass away!”  It turned out that the floor person—a different one than the guy who had been so rude—had cleared it himself and was right there to hear me bitch.  “Sorry, sir, but it was empty.”

I responded, “There was a little bit of ice in it, and since the waitress hasn’t been to this table for over an hour, I was counting on that to keep my throat from getting too dry.  The cocktail service in here is atrocious.  I wanted that last bit of ice, since I can’t seem to get a drink.”

The guy couldn’t have been nicer, or more apologetic.  He went off and somehow managed to get me a glass of ice.  It would have been nice if there had been some liquid in it but this was good enough.  I wonder if it would have a violation of some union rule for him to have put water in it?

Anyway, the problem was solved when they broke our table and I was sent to a table in one of the rows where the waitress was actually taking orders.

When I busted, I said goodbye to the tournament director and he apologized for the poor service.  He explained that the regular staff is pretty good, but for the series, they have to bring in extra people (just like they have to bring in extra dealers) and some of those extra waitresses aren’t very good.

But the point is….don’t take my ice!  Unless you have my replacement drink with you.

#2.  Websites that auto-play audio or audio and video as soon as you get there.  No option to press play.  As soon as the page is half-loaded, there’s some audio blasting out of your computer.

Everyone who has a website like this should be banned from the internet and sent to jail.  For life.

First of all, I might be listening to something else coming out of my computer speakers, and this stupid audio might be drowning it out. Or I could be on the phone, or I could be in an office where the audio might bother my co-workers (or get me in trouble).   If you have something worth hearing on your entry page, tell me what it is and let me decide to play it, asshole.  It is downright rude to just play something as soon as I get to your site.  There is no excuse for it.  None.

Also, when I travel I sometimes don’t have the fastest internet connections.  In fact, in Vegas, I almost always have a slow connection (cuz I’m too cheap to pay for the upgrade).  So it really slows my whole system down while it’s trying to play that damn video.

And this note to radio stations:  When I try to listen to your station on the PC, please don’t run a video before starting the live stream. The video will take forever to play with a slow internet connection, delaying me from listening to your station.  I get that you want to play a commercial before you start the stream.  I’m fine with that, you’re entitled to do that, since I’m not paying for your programming.  But you’re a radio station, damn it.  Play your commercial as pure audio so it will take 30 seconds and not five minutes.

#3.  Intentionally bad singing in commercials.  Have you heard those “Flo” commercials for Progressive Insurance?  The ones where she sings?  It’s enough to make you vomit.

I know she is singing badly on purpose.  It’s supposed to be funny.  It’s not.  It’s funny for maybe one-tenth of one second and then it’s just 1,000 times worse than nails on a chalkboard.

I actually like the Progressive TV commercials.  There kind of cute and Flo has an odd appeal.  Until she sings.  If I met her in the street, I’d want to punch her in the throat to keep her from ever singing again.

Needless to say, if they could save me 99% percent on my insurance, I wouldn’t do business with those assholes.

#4. People with hyphenated last names.  Hey folks, please don’t burden the rest of us with your family issues.  A first name and a last name are more than enough for us to have to deal with.  Don’t make us have to say “Mr. Worthington-Jamison.”  Or Ms. “Billingsly-Shicklegruber.”

Pick one!

Look, I understand it’s not your fault your parents did that to you.  They gave you a horrible burden to carry, but please, please, please, don’t pass this on to us.  Even if it’s two simple names like “Smith-Jones” it’s still needlessly annoying.

So pick one.  Now, if it happens that your father was useless bum who left your mom when you were 2 and never visited you, why are you honoring him by using his name?  Drop his name and just go with Mom’s.

OTOH, if you have two loving parents, you need to sit down with them and tell your mom that you’re sorry she and dad were hippies but you can’t let that ruin your life.  And tell you mom that, as much as you love her, you’re going with Dad’s name from now on.  Tell her you’re trying to make it easier for all your acquaintances to live in peace and harmony, and hopefully she’ll understand.  Give her something extra special next Mother’s Day.

#5. The Designated Hitter.  This is, without question, the worst idea in the history of mankind.  Yes, mankind.

The Designated Hitter is what soured me on baseball.  I hate, loathe, despise it.  It is a crime against all that is right in the world.  There is no doubt in my mind that whoever thought of the idea, and everyone who voted to implement it, is either now, or eventually will be, burning in hell for all eternity.  And deservedly so.

If you happen to disagree, please don’t tell me or try to argue with me.  You’d have a much better chance of convincing me that 2 plus 2 is 1,345 than convincing me that the DH is not the worst idea in the history of the universe.  And if I find out you like the DH, I will just mentally deduct 50 points from my personal estimation of your I.Q.

No, if you do like the DH, finish reading this post and then go grab your phone and immediately call the nearest mental health facility and have them send an ambulance for you.  You need to be put somewhere where you cannot harm innocent people.

Another thing that soured be on baseball was all the damn specialization.  You have a closer, you have a set-up man.  You have a guy who only comes in with two outs in 7th.  There’s a different guy if there’s one out in the 7th.  You can’t have the closer pitch to anyone in the 8th.  He can’t face more than four batters. Etc.

And what’s with the bullshit with pitch counts?  These days if a guy is pitching a No-Hitter, the manager might still pull him in the eighth.  And for sure they’d pull him if he’s only pitching a shutout.  A guy has given up only three basehits and no one has reached second?  Sorry, we have to put our setup man in the 8th and our closer in the 9th.  What kind of bullshit is that?  In my opinion, if a manager pulls a pitcher throwing a shutout and the pitcher isn’t bleeding and missing a limb, the manager should be permanently banned from baseball.

What idiot of a manager would pull this pitcher prematurely?

And then, there’s pitching on four-days rest.  When I fell in love with baseball, pitchers routinely pitched on three-days rest, and in a pinch, two-days rest was ok.  Hell, Sandy Koufax and Mickey Lolich won World Series on two-days rest in the ‘60’s.  It was before my time but in the old, old days, pitchers would sometimes pitch both games of a double-header.

#6. Speaking of baseball, grown adults wearing baseball caps backwards (see here).

#7. "Zero Tolerance" Policies.  I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies.  It's just an excuse for people who don't want to think.  If people are incapable of thinking and making a proper decision, they shouldn't have the job they're doing.

#8. The Limp/Re-Raise (see here).

#9. The Button Straddle (see here).

#10. Funbags (see here).

Well, that’s all for now.  I reserve the right to do a follow up as more things that piss me off occur to me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Speech

The action’s on them.  They have a tough decision.  It’s either call or fold.  They can’t decide.  Also, they can’t decide silently.  They have to give a speech.

We’ve all heard it.  The player does a five minute monologue before taking the action.  The longer he talks, the more likely he is to call, even if he’s saying he’s beat.  He’s going to spend five minutes telling you he’s beat, and then he’s going to call anyway.

Why do they do it?  Perhaps they are trying to get a read on the player who made the bet they are facing?  That may be it, but I really think it’s mostly to somehow justify—not only in their own mind, but to the other players at the table—a bad call.

This one dates back to the March Madness trip, in what turned out to be a really nice session.

I was a bit under my $200 buy-in when I was dealt pocket Aces.  I raised to $8 and a guy who had me covered made it $21.  It folded back to me.  This happened about a week after the famous pocket Aces hand I described here, where I three-bet to $75. Afterwards, I had the long discussion afterward with The Poker Meister.  His feedback was fresh in my mind—but I hadn’t written the post about it yet so I didn’t have any additional feedback from my readers.  I tried to keep that in mind as I played the hand.

Since it was just the two of us, I re-raised to $45 and he just called.  A re-re-raise there would have been nice.

The flop was pretty dry, King-high.  My inclination was to bet, but I was thinking about the hand from the week before.  I was hoping he had Ace-King and he would bet.  I thought that if he had pocket Kings he most likely would have raised me back preflop and we would have had all the money in the pot before the flop.  So I checked, but he checked behind me.

The turn was another King.  If he didn’t bet the first King, I didn’t expect him to bet the second one.  Unless he was slowplaying a set of them which had now become quads, that is.  I bet $40.  That seemed small but again, I was thinking how I had bet too much in the situation the week before.

He tanked for awhile and then folded. He probably had QQ or JJ.

Then came the first big hand.  In the big blind, I had pocket 3’s.  A player opened for $10, two others called, including the small blind. I called as well.  The flop was Jack-5-3 rainbow. 

I’ve mentioned many times here how I don’t slowplay sets, but lately I’ve been a little more inclined to.  I’m trying to get more value for my big hands. It was a very dry board too, so when the small blind checked, I did as well, assuming the preflop raiser would bet.

He did, but only $10.  The next guy called and the small blind made it $40.  He had a few less chips than I had.  I think I started the hand with about $200 or a bit less.  I just called. The other two players folded.

The turn was another Jack.  To my surprise, he checked. Hmm.  So, hoping to get some value for my big hand, I bet $50.  He called after thinking about it for not very long.

The river was a blank and he checked again.  There was nothing for to do other than shove, so I did. As I said, he had a few bucks less than me ($80-$90?).  And that’s when he gave “The Speech.”

“I shouldn’t have called you on the turn.  I know you have pocket 3’s.  There’s nothing else you could have than pocket 3’s. The only thing you could have is pocket 3’s.  Pocket 3’s or pocket 5’s.  You’ve got pocket 3’s, you’ve got a boat.  I shouldn’t have called on the turn.  But I can’t let this go.  I can’t lay this down.”

Of course I said nothing.  I hadn’t encountered Bigmouth from the post here yet, but now that I have, I am wondering what the confrontation between the two of them would have been like?  Two guys against each other, neither one with the ability to shut up.  It might have been a half hour before the action was completed.  Bigmouth probably would have convinced him to fold even as he was trying to get him to call.

The guy kept at it.  “Why did that second Jack have to hit.  I can’t lay this down.  I can’t.  I know you’ve got pocket 3’s but I can’t lay this down.  You have to have pocket 3’s  That’s the only hand you could have.  Or pocket 5’s.  But I know you have the boat.  I just can’t lay this down.  I just can’t.  I can’t let it go.”

At one point, he actually turned over one of his cards.  It was a Jack.  I didn’t react.  But honestly, I don’t think he did that to see my reaction.  I think he wanted everyone to know how hard a decision it was. 

Finally, after taking more time than it takes to read one of my blog posts, he put all his chips in front of him.  I turned over my pocket 3’s, which of course, didn’t surprise him at all.

“I knew it.  I knew it.  I knew it.”  Well, since you knew I had it, thanks so much for calling, sir!  He never showed his other card.

The guy rebought, but didn’t stay much longer.  He left before he lost his new stack.  I think that hand had diminished his interest in poker for the night.

He was replaced by an older black gentleman, a really nice, really friendly guy.  Sadly—for him, anyway—he happened to be a pretty bad poker player.  And worse for him—he was real unlucky.

By now my stack was more than twice the $200 I’d bought in for.  In middle position I looked down on my favorite hand, the dreaded pocket Kings.  There were a couple of limpers, so I raised to $12.  The limpers and one of the blinds all called, so there were four of us to see the flop, and I was going to be last to act.

The flop was Jack-10-4, rainbow.  The first two players checked, and the action was on the older gentleman who was sitting directly to my right.  As I said, he was a very friendly, very chatty fellow, but chatty in a nice way.  So, before acting, this fellow also decided to give a speech.  Maybe there was something about that chair?  But this was a very different (and shorter) speech than the previous guy.  “Nobody bet?  Nobody bet?  Check to me?”


“Well, since nobody bet, I’m going to have to make it $50.”  And he counted out $50 and pushed it out in front of him.

I thought about his comment.  As I said, I’d already determined he was a bad player.  Perhaps incorrectly, I interpreted his comment to mean that he didn’t realize the preflop raiser (that is, me), hadn’t acted yet.  I really was convinced of that.  I truly believed he thought the preflop raiser had checked and his action was the last of the round.  To me that meant he could be betting with top pair, middle pair, or even less.  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

If he hadn’t made that little mini-speech, I probably would have just called and tried to get to a showdown cheap.  If he made that bet knowing that the preflop raiser hadn’t been heard from yet, I would have put him on a bigger hand.

So, thinking he was making that bet as a possible steal, I decided to raise.  I figured he would likely fold when he realized his error.  He’d realize his pair of Jacks were no good.  And I’d win a decent size pot for only having a lousy pair of Kings, which of course, is pretty much the worst hand in poker.

I made it $130.  That was about half his stack, maybe a bit more (he was already on his second buy-in).

The other guys folded, but the older gentleman surprised me.  He called.

The turn was a not-so dreaded King.  I really dismissed the possibility that this gave him a straight.  I’d never seen him bet a draw before.  Although I suppose, if he really thought he was last to act, he might have bet the draw as a steal, with a backup plan of hitting his straight.

His shoved.  That didn’t dissuade me from my belief that he didn’t have a straight.  Besides, I wasn’t folding a set of Kings.  I called.

The river was meaningless and he turned over his cards. “I have two pair.”  He did indeed. Jack-10.  I turned over my Kings.  He looked stunned.  I dunno what he put me on (if he was even capable of putting me on a hand) but it surely wasn't a set of Kings.

He was such a friendly, classy gentleman, I felt a tiny bit guilty taking all his money.  But hey, it was pocket Kings, so how bad could I feel?

Is it possible that I had totally misread his little speech and he made that bet on the flop totally aware that the preflop raiser was behind him?  I believe it is.  Oh well, dumb-ass luck can really come in handy in this game.

He bought in a third time.  He lost a few more bucks to me chasing a straight against my pocket Jacks.  Then he lost the rest of his chips to someone else and called it a night.

I left up $500 for the night.  And heard a couple of speeches.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"There's No Such Thing as a Fat Midget"

(This is the second part of the story I started last time (see here).  We pick up right where we left off.  Events occur in real time.)

As I was saying, after the discussion of strip clubs had run its course, the New Yawker had an interesting comment.  He piped in with, “I’m personally not into strip clubs.  I’m into fat women.  And midgets.  I’m really into fat midgets.”

This got everyone laughing and Kate then of course revealed to us that that a couple of nights earlier, she and her girlfriend had gone to the midget nightclub right in the casino.

Yes, I haven’t mentioned it because, unlike the New Yawker, I’m not into midgets (I have nothing against them, I just don’t find them inherently funny), but right there in the MGM, late last year, they opened a club that features midgets.  It’s called Beacher’s Madhouse and it is a midget burlesque show.  I believe that some of the burlesque stuff—i.e., the semi nude girls—is with normal sized woman.  And some is midgets.

Although I haven’t seen the show, I knew about it, especially because just a few weeks earlier, I had heard Dennis, who was still dealing at this table, tell some people that he and his ladyfriend had attended the show (or club, I’m not sure which word fits better).  He had thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Poor New Yawker had been staying at the hotel for days and somehow had no clue about the club’s existence.  Suddenly, he was thinking about cancelling his flight back home so he could take in the show.

He may have been kidding, I was never certain whether he was kidding about being into fat midgets.  For that matter, he might have been familiar with the club too.

But we all found it funny that he claimed to have this rather odd taste in his fantasy life, and of course Kate was only too happy to describe the place for us.

That is, after she claimed that, "There’s no such thing as a fat midget.She didn’t think they existed.  This caused a debate for some time, about whether or not fat midgets existed.  No consensus was reached, but Kate was insisting to the end that she’d never seen one.

But she enjoyed the show, particularly the midget who was on a wire and serving drinks by “flying” through the air. 

A bit later, after the subject had changed, The New Yawker started to say, “I’m not into—“ And Dennis cut him off. “We know what you’re into.”

Now as I mentioned, this was a club night and Kate had commented on how the room is in a nice location—you can see all the club goers coming and going to the club.  Gee, why didn’t I think of that?  But she had her back to the pedestrian traffic.  Dennis observed that when you see the people walk in the direction of the club, they’re obviously planning on going into it.  But those people you see walking away from it (at least early in the evening)?  Those are the folks that couldn’t get into the club for whatever reason and were heading to Beacher’s to see the midgets as a consolation prize.  I do recall hearing Dennis say that the night he went to Beacher’s, he at first tried to go to the nightclub but, even with his employee discount, it was so expensive he decided to settle for midgets instead.

Kate told the story of some guy getting kicked out of Beacher’s for talking to her.  Security felt that the guy was bothering her even though she never complained.  Weird.  We surmised that there may have been another reason for the guy getting escorted out.

But Kate made it clear she could be really brutal to guys who were bothering her.  One guy wouldn’t leave her alone once and finally she said to him, “Could you please back off?  I’m starting to itch.

She was at the pool during the day and some 20-something guy was horsing around, and threw a pool chair into the water.  Trouble was, Kate’s towel was on the chair—and wrapped in the towel was her purse with her cell phone.  Luckily the phone was in a water tight bag and it was fine.  The guy, scared to death when Kate started berating him, jumped into the pool to fish out her purse.  Apparently, Kate ripped him a new one and nearly scared the guy to death.

She did say that, at the pool, “it was all so phony.”  I asked, “the people or the bodies?”  She said, “Both.  All the girls are out there comparing themselves to each other.”

In many ways, Kate was the ideal woman.  She loves poker and she loves Vegas.  Despite the fact that it’s a 4 -1/2 hour flight from Toronto, she comes to Vegas frequently, and sometimes at the last minute.  And she stays at the MGM, which isn’t cheap. She gets deals on cheap airfare, she said. Sometimes she just comes for a long weekend.  I thought it was a long trip for just a weekend but when Brent was dealing, he pointed out that, if the price of the airfare isn’t a problem for you, it’s really no different than someone from L.A. driving up to Vegas for a long weekend, which I used to do quite a bit when I had a “normal” job.  I told Kate that she had to be some kind of highly paid doctor or lawyer to afford all those trips to Vegas from Toronto.  She laughed.  She only gave a vague hint about what her occupation was.

In fact, she had made a last minute decision to come to Vegas this particular weekend.  She had four days off work (Good Friday/Easter weekend) and booked the flights for her girlfriend and herself with about a ½ hour to spare in order for them to pack and head to the airport.  The interesting thing was that her girlfriend had never been to Vegas before.  And didn’t know how to play any of the games.  Her friend said no, but when Kate showed her the tickets she’d already purchased, she threw her stuff in a suitcase and headed to the airport with Kate.

I was shocked when she said she remembered when they had the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City at the front (Strip) entrance of the MGM.  That was when they first opened.  I said she was too young to remember that.  But she said she first came to Vegas with her parents when she was 12 years old. This was back when they were trying to make Vegas “family friendly.” She fell in love with the city right then and there, even tho she obviously couldn’t gamble.  I guess it’s fair to say she’s always loved Vegas.

Of course I had to ask how she got into poker.   It seems that she and her ex-fiancĂ©e used to watch poker on TV every week.  She never played but she apparently enjoying watching.  Later, after they broke it off, she heard about a poker tournament somewhere and decided to give it a shot, even though she’d never actually played before.  She did well enough to keep at it, and realized it was a lot more fun to play than to watch.

Another player at the table was a serviceman who had just gotten married—right there in Vegas—a few nights earlier. Just as we started teasing him about playing poker—without his wife—on his honeymoon, he informed us that his wife was also in the service and in fact she was already on a flight back to Europe. He had a few nights in Vegas before being sent to the other part of the world (far away from both Vegas and his wife).

Somehow the subject of prostitution came up, perhaps when we were discussing strip clubs.  Kate said that the U.S. is the only country in the world where prostitution isn’t legal.  Huh?  I was sure that wasn’t true.  But I asked if it was legal in Canada and it is (I didn’t know that). Same thing in Australia (didn’t know that either).  Kate seemed to know a lot about legalized prostitution.

Also an expert on legal prostitution around the world was the newly married serviceman.  He said that in most of the places he’s been stationed around the world, it’s legal. He also said that at a lot of the Asian countries, there’s really no difference between the strip clubs and the brothels (and it’s all legal).  But he made a funny observation.  In some of the clubs he’s been to, the girls would charge like $30 for “full service,” but $50 for a lap-dance.  He said, “I’m thinking, ‘Are you so lazy you don’t want to dance, you just want to lie back?”

Kate found that interesting. “The strip clubs offer ‘full service’?” He assured her that was the case.  And so Kate asked, “And they actually charged less for full service than a lap dance?”  The serviceman nodded.  I have to say, the way she said “full service” reminded me of a blog post I did (see here). 

Kate was reminded of a scene she witnessed at the Planet Hollywood poker room.  A guy had been playing poker and then apparently went off with a hooker. Apparently he picked her up either in or very near the poker room.  Oh my.  A poker player involved with a hooker?  Can you imagine such a thing?  Anyway, apparently, when he got the girl up to his room, she suggested he take a shower.  When he got out of the shower, the girl was gone. So was his wallet and his watch.  He came back downstairs and back to the poker room where he asked them to call security and/or the police.  And he unashamedly told the story to everyone in the room.  That must have been pretty funny.  I assume he had thrown some clothes back on before coming back down.  Kate would have told us if he come back to the poker room dripping wet and naked.

At one point, it suddenly occurred to me that as an Australian, she probably didn’t have a childhood love of the most popular sport in Canada—hockey.  I ask her if she was now a hockey fan and she said no, though she had gone to some hockey games and enjoyed herself, even though she didn’t really understand it.  I asked her if she had had any exposure to hockey in Australia and she said she didn’t think the country even had a hockey team.  I did inquire if they had Australian Rules Football in Canada, and she wasn’t aware of it.

But she does have a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey that she says comes in handy when she’s in Vegas.  She claimed that as long as she wears that shirt, the time-share people never bother her.  She didn’t know why that was but she knew it was the case.

Now, soon after I had arrived to the table, I saw Kate’s girlfriend come by to see how she was doing.  She took off.  But a few hours later, Kate was surprised that her friend hadn’t returned; she was supposed to check in with her every hour or so.  She knew that her friend wouldn’t be gambling unless she was adventurous enough to play some slots.  No live games for sure.  Kate said she loved to people watch and was likely just doing that.

“Or maybe, she’s talking to some guys in the bar.  It’s either that or she’s up in the room watching TV.”

I said, “Or perhaps she’s up in the room with a guy.”

“No, no.  There’s zero chance of that happening, zero.  She would not take a guy to her room.  She might be up in the room watching TV, but she’d never take a guy there.”

Then she added, without prompting, that in all the many times she’d come to Vegas, she herself had never had a guy in her room—and she never would.  Not possible.  She said she had never gotten herself in any kind of trouble while in Vegas, she was always prim and proper.  “I never misbehave in Vegas.”  Hmm, so I guess, not the perfect woman after all!

Well, I must admit, the whole time she was there, she didn’t have a drop of alcohol.  I believe she was drinking coffee.

I thought of a case where she might make an exception.  “Well, maybe you’ll get married in Vegas, or have your honeymoon here, and then you would have a man up in your room!”

“No, I would never get married here.  I’d never honeymoon here.  What if I got married here?    What if it doesn’t work out?  Vegas would always be the place I got married.  It would ruin Vegas for me.”

I said, “Well that’s going into marriage with a positive attitude.”

She said, “Well, you never know.  You just can’t ruin Vegas.”

Then she commented to the serviceman, “That’s why I find it so surprising you got married here.  Vegas will always be the place you got married. I hope it’s never an issue for you, that it doesn’t someday ruin Vegas for you.”  The serviceman wasn’t concerned about that.

Since this is a serious poker blog, I guess I ought to describe at least one hand of poker, right?  I started this hand with about $120 in front of me. There was a straddle.  First in, I raised to $12 with pocket 10’s.  Three players called, including Kate. The flop was 9-high on a pretty dry board. I led out for $35. The next guy, a relatively new player to the table, went all in.  He had me covered.  Kate thought about it a bit and folded.  The straddler folded. 

The size of the pot made it a pretty easy call for me, so I that’s what I did.  I was hoping the guy only had top pair and not a bigger hand.  We didn’t show.  No big cards hit the board and he showed pocket 8’s.  My 10’s were good. It was a nice pot. 

Suddenly Kate’s cheery disposition disappeared.  In fact, she looked a bit ill.  “Why was I such a wimp there?  I was so afraid….I’ve been having my Aces cracked so often.”

I was shocked.  “You had Aces?”  She assured me she had.  “And you didn’t three-bet me?  Why not?” 

“I’ve just had such bad luck with Aces this trip.  I was scared.”

Wow.  I mean, if it was pocket Kings, I could understand, but Aces?  She had played fairly tight all night, if she had come over the top preflop, I likely would have folded (depending on the size of her bet I suppose).  And of course, if she called the guy’s all in on the flop she would have taken all my chips.

I actually said to her, “You’re so cute and so nice, I actually do feel a little guilty about that.  Just a little.”

I had to work the next day so as much fun as I was having, I had to take my leave.  I said goodbye to everyone, and then said to Kate, “You were an absolute delight.  When you move to the U.S., I’ll see you at the Bike.”  She nodded and added, “Or back here again.”

I didn’t pay all that much attention to the poker, and lost a tiny bit of money, but it was really fun session. I sure do hope I run into Kate again.