Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Double Barreling at Bally's

The events in this post took place on the day after the events I described in the two posts here and here.  Which means that they’ve already been covered, from Lightning’s perspective, here.

Long before this day, I learned that Caesar’s Palace poker room was having their official “grand reopening” on this day.  They had closed for a few weeks during the summer when their old room closed and they built  a new, smaller room (more or less the same general vicinity).  As I documented in an Ante Up column, after the new room was opened they put a new poker room manager in charge and now they were making it official: the poker room that had been open for 4-5 months was back in business.

By the way, the reason for closing the old room was to use the space for a new, bigger nightclub.  The new club will be run by the Hakkasan folks.  Which means that when it opens, it may actually be offering a better Slut Parade than MGM.  Of course, as horrible as that will be, I will no doubt have to check that out for myself, as a service to you, my readers.

The significance of this was that they had a bunch of interesting promos planned to celebrate. Starting at 7PM, they were going to give cash prizes away to one lucky player every 15 minutes (I think it was between $25 and $500—total of $5K cash given out—and then at midnight they were going to pick a seat and award that player an entry in the 2015 WSOP main event.  Pretty cool.

Nick, Lightning and I all intended to play at Caesars that evening to take advantage of the promo.  Silly me, I assumed that we could show up at 6PM and get seated and then try to stay afloat for six hours so we would still be in a game when they gave away the main event seat.

As he is when we get pocket Kings, Nick was smarter than me and suggested we may have to get there earlier.  But he wasn’t smart enough to suggest that we get there at 1:30PM, which I think is when they filled all 16 tables.  By the time any of us got there (and Nick & Lightning were together and got there much earlier than I did), there was already a list of about 140 names waiting for the 1/2 game (this was 3PM or so, I think). They were told that the chances of them getting seated before or during the promo were about the same as the chances of Jennifer Love Hewitt showing up and offering to give lap dances to players as consolations prizes.  

I heard this from them before I got there, but even though I was realizing that I wasn’t going to play there, I wanted to go over and check things out in my capacity as a professional poker journalist (don’t laugh—and don’t for one minute think that this personal blog of mine has anything to do with poker journalism).  I definitely wanted to stop by and congratulate them on a big success.

Now, the question you might have is, did I use my position in the poker biz to get a seat in a game and thus be eligible for the promotion?  Or did I at least try to?  The answer to the first question is no.  The answer to the second question is best left purposely vague.  Ahem.

But the bottom line is that I showed up to the room, saw what a mob it was, waited around for at least an hour, hoping for the manager to show up just so I could say hello. Instead, I chatted with his right hand man.  In the meantime I saw the busiest poker room I’ve ever seen in my life.  And tons of people coming up to the podium trying to get seated.  They would have had less trouble trying to cure world hunger.

Most of the games were 1/2 but they had a few 2/5 games going as well (they may have had a bigger game going, I’m not sure).  And it didn’t take me long to figure out that the games could not possibly have been very good.  It was obvious that everyone who was already seated in a game had great incentive to stay there until midnight—some 8 or so hours away.  There was no doubt in my mind that all of these games must have been the nittiest in the history of Vegas.  I was sure that no one would really be playing; they’d just be folding almost any hand—and to almost any resistance—so they wouldn’t run out of money before midnight.

In fact, while hanging around, I heard a couple of guys who were waiting discussing the 2/5 game.  They were saying that they didn’t see how the players in that game would be able to make to midnight.  They said the average 2/5 player stays in the game for 90 minutes (I have no idea if that is close to being accurate).  They said even if you double it…..how are they going to survive until midnight?  How many buy-ins are they prepared to go through?  That’s why I figured the games would be insanely nitty.

I left after little more than hour.  In that time, I heard exactly one player called into a game.  It was for the 2/5 game.

Meanwhile, I heard from Lightning and Nick that they were playing at Bally’s.  Historically that has been Lightning’s favorite room.  Bally’s is one of those rooms where I can’t get over my first impression.  The first few times I played NL there I did very poorly, and to top it off, there was always some clown button-straddling my big blind and you know how much I hate that (see here if you don’t remember).  So I don’t play there very often.

The funny thing is, in thinking about it, and then researching my log, I’ve actually had a decent amount of success whenever I’ve played there after the first few times.

So I walked across the street to join Lightning & Nick at Bally’s.  And I was immediately able to get into the game with them.  We were seated in a row…Nick in seat 4, Lightning in seat 5 and yours truly in seat 6.  Now. Nick decided to take advantage of the situation by button-straddling my big blind every friggin’ chance he got.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t usually do that.  I was sure he was doing it just to piss me off.  And in that regard, it sure did work.

So of course I had to give him shit about it.  Probably the nicest word I called him was “asshole.”  And naturally, I threatened to use my celebrity to get him banned from the room.  “I know the new poker room manager here pretty well.  One phone call or email from me and you’ll be escorted out of here, Nick.”  Of course I was just kidding.  I was, wasn’t I?

Ordinarily, I might have requested a seat change or a table change to get away from a weasel dick button-straddling me every time.  But the whole point was that we wanted to sit together and even next to each other, so I just decided to deal with it and take my revenge out by calling him names the whole evening.  You know, the mature approach.

Meanwhile, Lightning was still taking fake umbrage at my calling him a lousy player the day before.  And indeed, I was still enjoying calling him a bad player for calling my raise with Queen-Jack (it was sooooooted).  Good times.

As for the actual pokerz, well early on I had pocket Jacks and raised to $10.  A guy made it $20, I called and it was heads up.  The flop was King-Queen-Jack (rainbow, I think).  I checked and called $10.  The turn was a 4 and we both checked.  Note, not sure why I didn’t play that stronger, especially with the straight draw out there, I didn’t record what I was thinking the next day.  The river was another 4 and I bet $25.  He called and showed pocket Aces.  So that was a nice catch for me.

Two hands later I was in the big blind, which meant Nick was button-straddling ($5).  Second to act, I bumped it up to $15 with pocket Jacks again. Twice in three hands I had the fish hooks.  Two players called, including the guy who had the Aces two hands previously.  I think Nick was the other caller but not sure.  The flop was Ace-10-x (what, no set of Jacks this time?).  I made a c-bet of $25.  The guy I beat last time shoved for his last $72.  Other player folded.  It seemed like a bad call, but I didn’t think I could fold.  Not so much because I was getting 2 to 1, but more because I had put half my effective stack in against this guy. My logic may have been off, but I made the call.

Well, bad call or not, I got lucky.  The turn and the river were a Queen and a King, giving me Broadway.  He showed Ace-Queen.  The Queen he caught on the turn only contributed to his demise.  The guy left after that.  He was no match for my luck—or my pocket Jacks.

Of course, both Lightning and Nick took great delight in giving me a hard time for what they thought was a terrible call on the flop.  Heh heh.  But as Lightning learned the day before, it’s pretty easy to take that abuse when you win the pot.

Then I raised to $16 from the big blind with Ace-King of spades. Two players called, including Nick.  The flop was low and I c-bet $25, only Nick called—after tanking for some time.  Really, that raggedy flop hit him?  The turn was another lowish card. Now, normally I’m not firing a second bullet there with nothing.  Perhaps I should do it more often.  But since my opponent was Nick, I thought I could convince him I had something.  Because Nick reads my blog and would know that if I bet the turn, I’m not just firing.  I must have something.  I was sure that Nick would think that I had to have an overpair if I bet there. Besides, he had thought long and hard before calling the flop, so I was sure he didn’t have anything he would risk fifty bucks for.

So I put out $50, sure he’d lay it down.  But nope, the s.o.b called me.  Damn him.

The river didn’t help and I checked.  Nick checked behind and showed pocket 5’s.  I started to give him a hard time about the call (especially on the turn) but he pointed out that he had picked up a straight draw (I didn’t note the board, and I don’t know if it was a gut-shot or an open-ender).  I was just mad that my brilliant strategy of double-barreling against a guy who knows I never double-barrel didn’t work. He even said, “I’m surprised you fired another barrel there.”

Exasperated, I replied, “Yeah, I did it because I knew you would fold.”

I raised with pocket 9’s, two players called.  On an Ace-high flop, I checked as did the other two.  So I really should have bet the turn, but I did not.  The river was also checked around.  I showed my 9’s and a guy showed pocket Kings.  Huh?  Who plays the dreaded hand that timidly?  Not me, that’s for sure.  Yeesh.  I wondered if I could have gotten him to lay those cowboys down if I had bet the flop or the turn on an Ace-high board?  He sure played them like he was scared of them.  I suppose I should have asked if he was familiar with “Rob’s Vegas & Poker Blog.”

In fact, a bit later I had the dreaded hand myself, it had been raised to $6, a few players called so I bet $32.  The raiser called.  The flop was low and I put out $50 and took it down there.

Next hand I had King-Queen, raised, one caller, caught my King on the river and took it down with a flop bet.

Very next hand I had pocket Aces.  I raised to $11 and had two callers.  I c-bet $25 on a low flop and no one called.  Nice three-hand run there.

I won hands with A-K and pocket 9’s, raising pre, getting one or two callers and taking it down with c-bets. Then I had Ace-6 diamonds in the big blind and caught an Ace and one diamond on the flop.  I bet $8 into an $10 pot.  One player called.  We both checked on the turn, a second diamond.  I bet $10 on the river, which was the third diamond I needed for the nut flush.  My opponent made it $20.  I only raised to $30, probably too little.  He called and didn’t show when he saw my hand.  I had no idea how much he’d have called, but I suppose the ten bucks was too little.

This next hand will demonstrate how good my luck was.  I raised to $13 with Ace-Jack offsuit.  Now, I meant to bet only $8, but I accidentally grabbed two red chips instead of one.  Two players called, but not the guy to my immediate left.  The flop was Ace-Ace-x.  I bet $25 and no one called.  The guy to my left, who had folded pre said, “Ace-Queen no good there, right?”  I didn’t say anything.  He went on to say that he folded Ace-Queen because of my big raise.  He was planning on raising if I hadn’t.  I didn’t ask, but from the way he was talking about my “big raise,” he probably would have called if I had only made it $8 as intended.

Pocket Aces, I raise to $12, three callers including Lightning.  Jack-high flop, I bet $25 and a weird player shoves for about $75.  He had played most hands and stayed in them too long but now that he was betting out I thought maybe he caught a set. It folded back to me and I called.  Board bricked and I didn’t bother to wait for him to show his hand, he mucked when he saw my Aces.

I tried double-barreling again, against a guy I had pegged as a bad player (but I didn’t see him as a calling station).  I raised pre with Ace-King and fired on the flop and the turn with air.  Both times the other player hesitated big time before calling.  The way he almost folded on the flop I was thinking my turn bet would get him to fold.  But he called and we checked the river.  He had a pair of 8’s (one 8 on the board) with a Queen-high board, it was second or third pair.  Apparently you can’t get bad players like this guy and Nick to fold to a second barrel.  Lesson learned. 

I ended up winning nearly $300.  It would have been more if I hadn’t double-barreled that second time.  Also, if I had actually been paying attention to the poker instead of bullshitting with the guys..  

There was more poker and craziness on this night, and I'll get to that in the next post, which you can find here.


  1. Lightning and I got to Caesar's around 3:00 for the great gift wrap-up, figured out what we wanted, and headed to the poker room. There were 12 1-2 games, 3 2-5 games, and a 5-10 game going, with 100 names on the list. Also, with their policy of bumping diamond and 7-stars players above everyone else on the lists, we had no chance whatsoever. That's when we left and decided to go elsewhere, ending up at Bally's.

    As for the button straddle, I will take advantage on occasion. I like having position in inflated pots, and tend to defend my straddle early on. Knowing your view on the button straddle just made it that much more fun to use the button straddle while you were in the big blind.

    I don't recall exactly what I was thinking on the pocket 5's hand, except that I felt it was worth calling the flop, and with a straight draw on the turn, even if I was behind, I had outs. When you checked the river, I knew there was no hand I beat that you would call with, I couldn't risk a check-raise as I couldn't call a raise, and my hand had showdown value. I got lucky, that's all there is to it.

    1. Luck? Haven't you heard?

      It's a skill game.

  2. Rob, I told you the double barrel never works!

    1. Yeah, you did. Why don't I ever listen to you.

      I mean, just because you're a fish...... :)

  3. So I've been reading your blog for a few year(s) now. I don't know whether you report every session or just a few chosen interesting sessions, but you always seem to get quite a great run of cards. Do you ever have sessions (multiple, in a row) where you don't get any pocket pairs nor anything else playable (endless string of 72, 83, J4, etc.)?

    Nice write up & nice run!

    1. Yes of course. Too busy to find them now but there's plenty of posts about losing sessions. If they are just totally totally card dead, with no even memorable losing hands, I probably won't blog about them, that would be too dull. But I do get them. I believe in December there was a four hour session where I didn't get a pocket pair once. It was the dullest session ever. I am actually planning to reference that in a future blog post because as I recall, the next day's session was good and bloggable so I was gonna talk about what a change it was from the night before. But I haven't gotten there yet.

      Never intended this blog to be a complete history of all my poker sessions. Its more of a journal of interesting things that happen at the poker table (or in Vegas). Four hours of unplayable hands isn't very interesting.

      Also, obviously, its easier for me to get inspired to write about the good sessions than the bad.