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.


  1. You're starting to sound paranoid like another blogger has been accused of... :)

    1. Paranoid? Me? You know what they say, Coach.....just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that everyone isn't out to get you.

    2. Coach and I are on the same wavelength here. Seriously, I could have sworn that TBC wrote that part about being a hidden reader of your blog.

      Who knows - maybe the guy was just a card rack at the right times? More likely, he was testing you.

    3. Once is a circumstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is nuclear action.

      I only thought of the possibility that the guy read my blog later, when I was writing this post. It never occurred to me at the time. It was just a thought, but I thought it was interesting enough to put it into the post.

  2. WTF???????? is that pic about?????? also Charlie dont surf. mayb u look like the dude from the My Lai massacre??

    1. Best pic of ladies wearing TARGETS that was family friendly that I could find at 3AM this morning.

    2. family friendly??? r u writing a newsletter for Chucky Cheese now too??

    3. ladies wearing targets= tramp stamps????????

    4. Well I just mean family friendly in the non-X-rated sense. I was turned down for employment at Chucky Cheese, sadly.

      As I understand the term "tramp stamp" those targets are way too high on their bodies to qualify.

  3. In that situation, I would have moved to get position on the guy 3-betting me. Winning or not, I want position on someone like that, as that's usually who the big hands happen against. Just my opinion.

    1. Yeah, you're right. Another reason for moving would have been to see if he tried to move after that to get back on my left, that would have been very telling!

      However, the one time I recall moving from a "winning' seat was that night at the V when we went looking for Tony. Pretty sure you were there and you remember how well that seat change worked out for me. Ugh. That's why I was extra resistant to moving.

  4. Rob...nice to get another mention in your blog ;-) I try not to take things like this personally. I remember one tournament I raised this guys BB three times in a row...he gave me a dirty look and said next time he would punish me. The table was about to break and he folded...I showed him my AA and told him not to take it personally. Probably should not have let him off the hook because we faced off again at the final table ;-) -Joe

    1. Thanks Joe, great to hear from you again. One thought I had, if it was just a coincidence, I think the guy may have said something to me, a joke or a smile anything, even if it was bullshit.

  5. Perhaps it is just his personal style to reraise his (new) immediate neighbor (who he has position on) in hopes of seeing the flop heads up, until he has played long enough with them to put them on a range of hands.

    If you look at the hands he got a lot of info. 1st hand that you would lay down any midrange hands to his reraise. 2nd That you may not reraise, and may not c-bet if you don't hit the board giving him a chance to hit whatever.

    He may just do it to intimidate the person acting in front of him so that he can play more hands without worrying about having to call raises and get better pot odds with mid range hands by forcing you to limp with yours. It makes his decision making a lot easier if he knows you are only raising top hands.

    1. Great to hear from you AgSweep. You make a good point, maybe he would do that to anyone sitting immediately to his right.

      In fact.....maybe I should try that myself some time.....

      I knew my strategy was flawed, but I couldn't think of anything better at the time. I suppose I should have just open shoved everytime I had a raising hand. :)

  6. ... “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...

    It's not the information that is inappropriate, but the thinly veiled accusation of collusion. I would have farted in his general direction.

    1. I never thought of that as collusion, interesting point.

      In fact, he may not have said 'friends"....I'm not sure what he said, other than to indicate perhaps we knew each other and maybe this was something going on based on some history we had. But yeah, I suppose that could include collusion.

      Like I said, my first thought was that he remembered me and that I done something to piss me off in a different session. Or maybe I looked liked the guy driving the car that cut him off on the way to the poker room?

  7. Either pots or promos -- winning money is money.

  8. Don't think Rob sounds paranoid. I read the blog occasionally and if I ever saw him in person I probably wouldn't say anything because I don't say much when I'm playing.

    1. Thanks, Anony. I hope you would introduce yourself, at least when one of us leaves the table!

    2. Lol I wouldn't worry too much about facing me. When I was at the MGM recently, there were so many loose players that I'd go after them first before I'd ever think of targeting you. In fact that's true of 1-2 NL in general. So I pretty much just played ABC instead of trying to get fancy and push anyone around.

      I'd probably come across as either a nit or a TAG player to you. If it's a tight table I might show more aggression but if I'm 3-betting anyone a lot, it's more likely to be someone who is raising too much. I usually just fold to the tighter players.

      I think I might have played with you already about a week or two ago and didn't realize it. I think I heard someone call you Rob and then it suddenly hit me that you might be him (but I wasn't sure). You left only minutes after that.

      Btw I'm Steve007 on PokerAtlas (and was posting under that name on That might be how I came across your blog. I also post on twoplustwo under a similar name.

    3. Also I've barely played at the MGM at all until a couple of weeks ago, so I doubt I ran into you before then. I'm usually at Venetian, Aria, Bellagio, and less often Mirage, Wynn, Luxor, and less often I'll play in another room. I started playing at the MGM more often very recently because I realized that the drawings are a better promotion than I thought, and this may not be meaningful with such a tiny sample size but I saw a lot of really bad loose players there (I often will recognize some regulars in the room however).


    4. Thanks Steve. My pic is on my Ante Up columns so you should be able to tell if that was me you played with. Please introduce yourself sometime. Of course I recognize your handle from the forums.

      Do you have a license to kill? :)

  9. Maybe he just thought you were a nit though. Anybody that doesn't look super young is going to be thought of as more nitty. I suspect he never c-bet the second hand because he put you on a big hand after your PF call.

    1. Thanks Anony, that was definitely my first thought. I'm just some old geezer who is going to lay anything but Aces (or maybe Kings) down.

  10. Rob,
    If someone has 3 bet me several times in a row, I'm going to fight back. I don't mind calling with AK in position, but out of position, I'm going to go with AK most of the time. When you raised to 8 and he 3 bet you to 25, I would have 4 bet him to 100. I'm hoping he folds and knows that you don't mess around. If he calls the 100, I'm betting my additional 100 on the flop in the dark. Sometimes before the dealer puts it out. AK is the type of hand that needs to see all 5 cards to be a good hand. If you are up against AA or KK, its just bad timing.

    On your A9hh hand; If you are going to call a 3 bet with that hand, you have to make a big raise on the flop with the nut flush draw. You can't just call. Being too passive will cause too much of a leak in the long run.

    At the poker table, you want to have people fear you. Take control of the table and their chips.


    1. Thanks for the advice, cowboy, it is excellent. I actually thought of doing something very similar. But as I said in the post, it wasn't the fear of being felted, it was the fear of being felt to THIS GUY.

      I would feel so foolish...and really go on tilt. I'd be thinking I played right into his hands.....I let him get in my head, played in a manner I don;t normal play, and gave him my stack.

      Next time though, I hope I'm ready to take a stronger stand.