Friday, May 29, 2015

"Hey Rob, Do You Want to See Some Boobies?"

Last night was the Ante Up ambassadors mixed game.  See here for some background on the game and how I feel about mixed games.

The game was a mix of Ante Up folks and old-timers from the AVP forums, including a couple of us who have both in common.  I’m going to call the organizer of this event “Clark.”  I could probably use his real name, but since I have to give the star of this blog post a pseudonym, I will be consistent and give Clark a blog name too.  Clark is one of those folks who is connected with both Ante Up and AVP, that’s why he made sure that the old-time AVP’ers were invited.

The table quickly filled up, and I saw a few others come by to say hi and wanting to join the game.  It looked for awhile that there might be enough to start a second table but that never happened.

Suddenly a woman came over to me and patted me on the shoulder, and said hi to me by name.  I totally blanked out on who she was. She saw the look of puzzlement in my eyes and said, “Rob, it’s me, Pat.”  Duh. Pat is someone I’ve known through the magic of the internet for years.  We follow each other on Twitter.  I know she is familiar with my blog.  I met her once in person a couple of years ago (at the WSOP) and I even knew that she was in town for the early part of this year’s WSOP. I apologized for blanking out, said hello, and she went to play in a NL game.

Hours later, at our full table, Clark decided to read me a text he had gotten from Pat.  We were on the opposite sides of the table, about as far away as we could be.  And so everyone at the table heard him read off from his phone.  “Hey Rob, Pat wants to know if you want to see boobies?”

Everyone at the table heard this, everyone cracked up—including the publisher of Ante Up, who was seating directly to my left.

Most of the people didn’t understand the reference, I’m sure.  I’m not even sure that Clark did.  But after I finished laughing, I responded, “Well of course I do.  Do you even have to ask?  Who doesn’t want to see boobies?  Duh.”

Clark then asked me if I was going to tell Pat that and I said I didn’t have her number.  So Clark responded for me, texting Pat that yes, I wanted to see some boobies.

Clark later reported back that Pat said she didn’t want to get arrested.  I said I guess I had misunderstood.  I didn’t take it to mean that Pat would be providing the boobies to be seen.  I was thinking she was going to point me in a direction where boobies were being displayed, perhaps even as we were playing.

We progressed with the game.  Later I saw Pat at her game and again apologized for not recognizing her immediately.  Then I thanked for making my night with her question and asked if, when I tell this story on my blog, she wanted me to use a pseudonym instead of her real name, as is my custom here. She said she would prefer an alias.  So that’s how Pat became Pat.

When the game broke, I was talking to a common friend of Pat’s & mine.  She was cashing out of her game.  She said hi and bye to our friend, who I’ll call Don.  She gave Don a farewell hug.  I was next.  As we ended our hug, she said to me, "I'll show you my tits some other time.  They're actually pretty nice."

I don’t think Don, who had merely railed our game and hadn’t played, had even been around when Pat’s text was read to the table.  But he enjoyed the comment, none-the-less.

She was already on her way to the cage when I stopped laughing, and so I shouted to her, "I have a witness!"  

Don shouted after her, “Yes, I heard that, I can testify to it.”

I mean, we’re all poker players, right.  And of course, we all know that verbal is binding.

As for the game itself, we played fewer of the really oddball games that I’ve come to dread at these things.  Still, I lost $175 at a 3/6 limit game where I had no real chance of winning any money.  But I will say, the table we had was really a fun group and I certainly had a good time with all the joking back and forth and the great conversation.

I will only mention one hand, from Big O.  That’s five card Omaha hi/lo in case you thought I was saying something salacious.  This is actually a game I pretty much understand the rules for, even though I have no clue about the proper strategy, as you will see.

Two of my five cards were Kings.  If I have two Kings along with three other cards, can I still call them dreaded?  I don’t remember the other three cards.  Because I am clueless about this game, I just routinely stay in for the flop with any two paired cards, hoping for quads, and I suspect that is not the right way to play.  I say hoping for quads because I know a set is never going to win this game, and even a full house is barely even money to hold up.

There was a King on the flop.  I only called a bet.  I was not slow playing it.  As I said, I didn’t expect a set of Kings to be good at the end, so that’s why I didn’t raise.  But the turn was another King.  Bingo!  Even I can’t blow it with quad Kings.  This time the player who bet the flop checked, as did everyone until it came to me.  There was only one person left, and thinking the action was on him, he checked too.  But no, the dealer pointed out that I hadn’t acted yet.

Now knowing that if I checked it would be checked around, I thought I had no choice but to put out $6.  And sure enough, every damn player folded.  I got no action for my quad Kings.  I of course showed my hand.  It was a pretty small pot.  But I suppose I should be happy that no one stayed around with a winning low hand, so I didn’t have to split the pot.

Tonight I play in the Colossus event at WSOP.  They’ve already changed the starting time of my flight from 6PM to 7PM because they don’t think players will bust out fast enough.  I sure hope I am still playing poker at 3:30AM Saturday morning.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Year of the Guarantee

The idea for this blog post came to me from a Vegas poker room manager. I don’t want to say which one, because I’m not sure exactly how his employers would feel about this.  So I won’t name him.  But anyway, after reading my last Ante Up column (this one), said poker room manager contacted me with a suggestion for a column.  He had noticed that this year, almost all the special summer series in Vegas coinciding with the WSOP have guaranteed prize pools on most of their tournaments.  And he wondered if a room or two—or more—might just end up taking a big hit.  There are only so many poker players.  And there are an awful lot of poker tournaments in a seven-week span that have guarantees.  And players can only play one tournament a day (well, maybe more, if they bust the first one early enough).

So will a few poker rooms end up losing a lot of money this summer with their guarantees?

I guess I’ll tell you this much about the manager who suggested this:  He doesn’t run one of the rooms that has a summer series. 

Anyway, by the time he suggested this, it was way too late to do anything for Ante Up, at least the speculative part of it.  My next column (the one I’m about to file, not the one that will appear in a week or so) will be out pretty much after the WSOP is over.  Besides, to the extent that such a column might be considered negative about the poker biz, I’m not sure the editors of Ante Up would be all that thrilled with the idea.

But actually, I think what he was really talking about was tracking all these guaranteed tournaments and seeing how many miss the guarantee, and by how much.  That would be done after the summer was over, and I might just do something like that for Ante Up, depending on the actual results.  The trouble with that is, I dunno anyway to track that other than manually, which would be a bitch.  The results of all the tournaments are easily accessible, but someone (me?) would have to match each tournament with a guarantee with the actual prize pool and see if the pool was just the guaranteed amount or more.  If it was just the guaranteed amount, you would have to calculate how much money the house had to cough up to meet the guarantee.  Tedious.

So we’ll see about that.  But the speculative part of this exercise, well that I can do right here, and I will.

Now, as part of my day job, entering all these tournaments series on PokerAtlas, I certainly noticed the increase in the number of tournaments with guarantees.  This is happening both in the series events and even in the dailies.

Until I started working for PokerAtlas, I didn’t pay that much attention to the summer series, I was still a 2/4 limit player in those days, and high priced tournaments weren’t my thing.  But this is the third year now I’ve entered the series tournaments on PokerAtlas (or AVP, before the merger), and written about them for Ante Up.  So I’ve seen the changes over the years.

I sure don’t remember a lot of guarantees the first year I did this, or even last year.  But this year, it’s almost all of them.

Start with the Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series, which this year is part of the Ante Up Poker Tour.  Before he left, the former manager, Sam Minutello, put together a great schedule with great structures (see here). Note that the level times increase throughout all the tournaments, from 30 minutes, to 45 minutes, to 60 minutes.  Not all the tournaments have guarantees, but all the weekend ones, usually $350 NLH events, have $100K guarantees.  My recollection is that the Nugget usually had some guaranteed tournaments in past GPS series, so this isn’t a change in that respect.

Across the street (or the sidewalk, really), there’s the Binion’s Classic (here).  This year all the afternoon events have guarantees, usually $10K for relatively low buy-in events.  Pretty sure they didn’t have all those guarantees last year…some, but not all. 

Both the Venetian and Planet Hollywood (here and here) have every single event guaranteed. The Venetian, the biggest series outside of the WSOP, is offering $11 Million in guaranteed prize pools.  This is something that has progressed with them over time.  Pretty sure that when I first started working on their DSE events, they didn’t have any guarantees.  Every series since, they’ve added more and more guarantees.  BTW, they’ve also added guarantees to their regular dailies over this time.  They used to not have any daily guarantees, now their entire schedule is guaranteed, even when there is no DSE going on. 

In the case of Planet Hollywood, it’s harder to compare.  They are new to big summer series scene, having taken over from the corporate sibling Caesars Palace when that room down-sized.  I recall a lot of guarantees last year, when they first entered the scene in a big way, but this year, they are offering $4.75 Million in guarantees over their entire schedule. I believe Caesars used to have some guarantees when they had a big summer series, but not many.

Wynn (here) is also guaranteeing every event in their series.  But they did the same thing last year, so nothing new.

So who isn’t offering guarantees?  Well, first up, the Orleans (here) has no guarantees at all.  Never has had them, to my knowledge.  But they do their series early and don’t really compete with the WSOP or the other big series, so it probably won’t affect their business.  Well, except for the fact that this year Venetian is starting its DSE early and at the same time as the Orleans, so maybe that will hurt their business.

And then there’s Aria (see here), which isn’t offering guarantees.  Well, except for their big, 10 Day 1’s WPT500 affair, which offers a $2 Million prize pool.  But the dailies that are not part of the WPT500—which of course make up the bulk of the schedule—have no guarantees.

And then of course there’s the big enchilada, the WSOP.  Only a few of the bracelet events offer guarantees.  And the daily deepstacks, a popular feature of the WSOP, have no guarantees.

So how does it all shake out?  Anyone care to make predictions?

One possibility—the daily deepstacks at the Rio will take a hit as players would prefer to find a tournament with a guarantee (and possibly even more enticing—the chance of a big overlay).  I dunno.  The deepstacks are so popular and in the past, the fields have been so huge that I don’t think the lack of a guarantee is going to keep players away.  Plus, they get so many players just from being at the WSOP venue—and from players busting out early at bracelet events—they would seem to be bullet-proof.

But the Aria is the one that I most wonder about.  When they are not running one of the Day 1’s for the WPT500, will attendance be down as players find a tournament somewhere else around town with a guarantee?  Or does the overall reputation of the Aria make this a non-issue?

Of course, in this age of Twitter and other forms of instant communication, will the numbers fluctuate as word gets out that Room A is having trouble meeting the guarantees (“overlay alert”) while Room B is hitting them easily?  If a room misses the guarantee a few times will it suddenly be hit with a big wave of players looking for some casino money?  If the word gets out that Aria is having the huge fields that people have come to expect, that will make it easier for players to decide to play there (unless they want to hunt for an overlay).

And here’s the big question—are there just too many guarantees and are the guarantees to big for Vegas to handle?  Will there be enough players—tournament players—to enable all the rooms to hit their guarantees most of the time.  I’m sure all the rooms expect to miss a guarantee here and there.  And if they feel the guarantee increased overall attendance, they’ll be fine with that.  But if they keep having to put a bunch of their own money into their prize pools, it could be unpleasant for a poker room manager or two.  I can also envision a room or two having to cancel their guarantees (going forward) if they find that they consistently are not reaching them.

This will be an especially interesting summer to observe.  The year of the guarantee—boom or bust?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Reviews of Red Chip Poker & SplitSuit.Com

As I mentioned in my last post, I need to spend more time studying poker, and by poker, I mean hold’em.  No time to learned mixed games, as I indicated in that post.

The WSOP is just days away, and tho I am planning on winning the bracelet for Colossus, I figured I might just need a plan B.  Besides, studying some poker now may help me get that bracelet, right?  So I’ve been looking over some content from a couple of interesting poker sites and want to share with you my impressions.

The first is RedChip Poker.  This is a site founded by Ed Miller, James “Splitsuit” Sweeney and several other really good poker coaches.  You all know Ed Miller, one of the most prolific poker authors around, and an expert on cash games.  Recall that I mentioned one of his videos back in my post here.  That video was one of the free videos that RCP releases every month. I learned a lot from it and it definitely helped my game.  As I’m currently reading Miller’s new book, The Course, I am reminded that a lot of what that video covered applies much more to 2/5 than 1/2.  The new book is probably Miller’s best and it shows a step-by-step approach not only on how to improve your game, but how to progress from 1/2 to 2/5 to 5/10.  Ed will also show you why it makes sense to raise under-the-gun with King-10 suited.  You can read a full review and order the book at the link here.

The main reason I’m mentioning Miller’s new book is that he is working on a video series that ties in the book.  One of the main features of Red Chip Poker is the fresh video content they release every month.  You can get a free membership that entitles to one video a month.  For a monthly fee of $15.99, you can get a “pro” membership get a whole bunch of videos a month—for May they have 8 in addition to the free one, though I’m not sure if it’s always the same number. 

I’ve watched a few of this month’s videos and they are all quite worthwhile.  The one by Miller on barreling ties in with his new book.  Barreling is the first “skill” he talks about that you need to master when you step up from 1/2 from 2/5.  He explains that 2/5 players are just maniacally adverse to stacking off with second best hands, and shows how to take advantage of that.  I think what I can best take away from that—until I’m ready to move up myself—is that 1/2 players are not nearly as adverse to stacking off and that I need to design my preflop game with that in mine.  Of course, when you do find those players who seem much too risk adverse than the average 1/2 player, you can definitely use the material Miller talks about here to your advantage.  But the thing with 1/2 is, there are just a lot of really bad players who will you call you down with very weak hands (so value bet the hell out of them!).  Miller gives great advice on how to tell if a 2/5 player likes his hand enough to get it all in or if he’s more likely to fold to a big turn or river bet.  I almost want to go play 2/5 tonight to try it—but I need to learn the other skills first.

Another one of the pro membership videos from this month is Sweeney’s on Range Reading Live Tags.  I want to watch this one several times because I think this is a weakness in my game. My mind seems to automatically put a villain on the nuts and I can’t get my mind off that thought.  But Sweeney lays out a logical way of putting opponents on ranges and really simplifies it.  I believe he’s going to do similar videos on different types of players.  I’m waiting for the Range Reading Live Maniacs.  Maybe he’ll help us all figure out the player who shoves any two cards preflop.

The free video this month was from Dr. Tricia Gardner, a psychotherapist who coaches players on the mental game.  She’s also an avid poker player.  Her video was about Building Confidence.  For me, the timing was perfect, something I needed to hear right before all this time I’m about to spend at the poker table, and in particular, playing in the Colossus event.  I think I’m gonna watch this one again the night before the event….possibly play it back right at the table when I’m playing.  Well, maybe not.

But she reminds us how important confidence is, and offers tips on how to develop it.  No poker strategy here but some really helpful advice, a brief visit to a therapist for free.  You can’t beat it, and this one is available for a free membership.

Red Chip Poker has other nice features, including a lively forum, where you’ll get feedback on your hand histories from one or more of the poker coaches from the site.  Sometimes two different coaches will give two entirely different critiques, because, as we know, in poker, the answer to how to proceed in any situation is…”it depends!”  Another cool thing is that sometimes the coaches give their response to the forum questions in the form of a video.

I haven’t watched the other May videos yet but based on everything I’ve seem, I’m sure they all have plenty of worthwhile content.  You can also find plenty of free articles on the site from the coaches.

If you want to sign up, here’s a link you can use.  Please use the links provided in this post!

The other site I want to mention is, which is the individual site of the aforementioned James “Splitsuit” Sweeney. There’s a bunch of free videos on the site and they are all fun and informative. 

I’ve watched two of the premium videos as well.  The two I watched were both aimed at online play, not live poker.  Lots of talk about HUD stats.  Sweeney really goes into those HUD stats and tells you to use them, when not to make too much of them, and how to build lines using them.

Since I don’t play online, and have never used a HUD, I couldn’t get the full value out of these videos, but if you do play online and use a HUD, you can’t go wrong with these videos.

That said, the two videos I watched had a wealth of valuable insight that I can easily adapt for life played.

The first one was Playing Ace-King.  I was really interested in this one as I know I almost always mess this hand up.  I’ve written a few posts about that tricky hand (see here).  And yes, Ace-King is a lot trickier than the dreaded pocket Kings.  Kings are easy—just get it all in and lose your stack.  Ace-King is tough and Sweeney really helps simplify it.  Again, he’s using HUD stats you won’t have in live play, but I think the video will help you with a default line that you can modify based on what you see at the table. James presents a bunch of different scenarios that really got me started thinking about how I should play the hand.  Hint:  Three-bet.  A lot.  That’s not something I normally do very much.  Need to rewatch this one again before I get dealt my next hand.

The other one was Reacting to 3-Bets.  He really simplifies it, taking what I thought was a complicated situation and breaking it down for you.  And by the way, he even has a situation where he recommends folding pocket Kings to a three-bet!  Of course, this too is based on HUD stats, but you know, if that guy with the gray hair hasn’t played a hand since he sat down and he re-raises you, that’s the equivalent of an online player with a 1% 3-bet percentage and you know he’s only doing that with Aces & Kings.

What I really liked about this video was he points out at the end that you can use it in reverse—when you see the thought process you have to go through to find the right play against a three-bet, it helps you decide when to three-bet yourself. If a villain put you in an uncomfortable situation, then you can use that move yourself.

This may sound odd, but one of the things I like about Sweeney’s videos is his voice.  Seriously.  He has a soothing, soft-spoken style which I enjoy listening to.

I also recommend following SplitSuit on Twitter (@SplitSuit) as he is always tweeting out his free quick play videos which are a lot of fun, and also his poker quizzes. 

I’m happy to announce that if you buy anything from the SplitSuit site (here’s the link to store), you are eligible for a 10% discount if you use the code “robvegas” at check out.  Such a deal.

The only problem with the material on these two sites is that now I have no excuse for losing at poker! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nixing Mixed Games

For some time now, I’ve been leaning towards doing a post about Mixed Games. Finally, the time has come.

You know what I mean by Mixed Games, right?  That’s when the specific type of poker that is played is changed every so often, usually once an orbit.  Instead of a steady diet of Hold’em, you’ll see all kinds of poker games….Omaha, 7-Card Stud, Razz, Badugi, Badeucy, Big O (not nearly as exciting as it sounds) 2-7 Triple Draw, etc.  Then there’s variations on those games, some can be played hi-low, or you can have multiple boards.  Or three flops, two turns, one river. Some games can even be played with an “ocean.”  I think that means there’s one more community card after the river. 

Badeucy?  What the hell is Badeucy?

Hell if I know.  And I’ve played it.

Here’s the thing.  It seems that when groups of friends get together to play poker, a lot of times they want to play Mixed Games instead of hold’em.  For one thing, it’s easier to get everyone in the group at the same table.  Yes, you can get all your buddies together at the same hold’em table in a casino, but it ain’t easy, as I’ve described here.

But if you and your buddies want to play a mixed game, and there’s enough of you, you can pretty much have a table to yourself.  Especially if you arrange it with the poker room before hand.

Thus, for certain occasions, I’ve found myself playing mixed games in Vegas.  I guess you could consider those birthday games I’ve described in the past (see here and here, for example) as mixed games.  But just switching back and forth between Crazy Pineapple and Omaha Hi doesn’t get to the crux of what a mixed games session is all about.  Mixed games usually mean a lot more variety, and a lot more obscure games, games that are much more different from hold’em than are Crazy Pineapple and Omaha Hi.

And after the original TBC Invitational, I played H.O.R.S.E (see here).  But at least all those games were games I had played before and kinda knew most of the rules for (except maybe Razz, but that isn’t really very complicated).

Anyway, I’m frequently invited to play in these mixed games, and I try my best to say no.  It’s not that I don’t like mixed games.  It’s just that I hate them with a fiery passion.

OK, that’s not entirely true.  I don’t hate them in theory.  It’s just in practice that I hate them.

You see, by the time I started playing poker in casinos, going on 10 years ago now, hold’em had taken over the poker world.  I had played stud (both 7-card and even 5-card) back a zillion years ago, but I had to learn hold’em if I wanted to play poker.  Approximately 99% of the games dealt in Vegas are hold’em. 

So I read up on the game, and of course, learned by playing it.  It’s the only game I’ve actually studied how to play.  First I learned the rules, then I studied the strategy.  And studying hold’em strategy is a never-completed process.

But most of those games in a typical mixed game session?  Not only didn’t I know strategy, I didn’t know the rules.  In fact, I’d never even heard of a lot of the games before I was actually playing them—with actual real money on the line. And those games where low is best drive me crazy.  Sometimes an Ace is high only, sometimes it’s low.  I can never keep that straight from one game to the next.  In some low games a 9-high could win, but other games, the high card can only be 8 or lower.  Huh?  Then there’s a game where you have to have low cards in four different suits. WTF?

I should never, ever play these games because I not only don’t know the strategy, I don’t know the rules.  It’s like sitting down to the poker table for a game of NLHE and not knowing cold whether or not a straight beats a flush (see here).  No sane person would do that.  And no sane person would sit down to a real money mixed game where both Badeucy and Badugi were being played and not be able to tell you the difference between the two.

But I have done just that, so I must be insane.

I’m not sure, but I think the first time I played mixed games it was at the Tropicana, shortly before that room closed.  They had a regular weekly mixed game.  Poker Grump knew I was in town and invited me to play.  When I said I had no idea how to play those games, he said that no one was really an expert on them anyway, and it would be fun to learn.  Like a fool, I believed him.  Not the last time Grump suckered me (see here).

It was miserable for me.  I didn’t know half of the games.  I never even heard of them.  I got a 30 second explanation as the game changed and then I was on my own. 

Around the same time I guess, there was an AVP (now Poker Atlas) mixer I was in town for, so of course I showed my company spirit by showing up for that event at Treasure Island.

Last year I attended at least two more of these.  One was another PokerAtlas get together at the Mirage.  And then there was AnteUp ambassadors get-together at Treasure Island.  Both of these were during the WSOP. 

I never wrote about any of those sessions because I really wouldn’t have known what to say.  I didn’t take notes, cuz I couldn’t.  I somehow won some hands but mostly I lost.  I was too confused to anything other than fold most of the time.

But the worst part was losing because I didn’t know the rules of the particular game I was playing.  Of course, even with Omaha, I’ve called (or bet) on the river thinking I had a big hand, only to have to be reminded that you have to play two cards from your hand.  But some of these other games, especially all the low-ball variants, just drive me crazy.  I’ve lost plenty of money because I thought an Ace was low but it was only high in that particular game.  And you know, it’s not really a good idea, right in the middle of the hand facing a bet, to ask, “Is Ace low or high?”  It’s like asking if a straight beats a flush. 

So bad enough I’ve done zero studying on these games to learn strategy.  But worse is not even knowing the rules of the particular game.  And losing because of that.

Of course, even when I know the rules, because I never studied strategy, I never get the most value for my good hands, or lose the least amount of money for second best hands.  So sometimes, I’d show a monster and people would ask, “Why didn’t you bet?” Or “Why didn’t raise?”  Umm….because I wasn’t sure I had that good of a hand….or because I didn’t know the strategy for that game to get the most for it.  Then there were other times when the right thing to do was to stay in and I folded because I was just too confused.

These games are just guaranteed money losers for me.  Not knowing what I’m doing, it would be almost impossible for me to come out a winner.  I’d have to get lucky beyond belief.  And the money I’m losing is real.  Sure these are usually low limit games—2/4, 3/6—but believe me, that adds up fast.  Especially when you get a few aggros in the game.  When the friends get together, it frequently starts out tame but sooner or later, the buddies get into a dick-measuring contest and start raising and re-raising with crap—or without even looking at their cards.  And I get caught in the middle.

In that Tropicana game, there were a couple of real sharks who knew the games and made it impossible to ever see a limped flop. I don’t blame them for trying to use their knowledge and skill to take advantage of the weaker players—that’s why we play poker.  But as a beginner, it was frustrating beyond belief.

And for good measure, some of those mix games I’ve played include No Limit games, so the money can get really big. 

I recognize that some of these games are fun to play, once you know the rules.  I get that.  And too, playing oddball games with a bunch of friends can be fun.  I’ve had plenty of laughs at these games.  Until I look down at my dwindling stack. 

The thing is, I would absolutely love to play these type of games around a kitchen table, for quarters and half dollars.  So that at the end of a really bad night, I’d be out $25-$50 tops.  That would be worth it.  It would also be a great way to learn these games.

But playing them in a real casino for real stakes is quite a bit different.  Dropping a few hundred bucks in games like this is not fun.  I can’t afford to just throw money away like that.  Plus, there’s the opportunity cost. If I’m playing a mixed game where I am sure to lose money, it means I am not playing in a hold’em game where, believe it or not, I actually have a chance to win money (don’t laugh, it happens).  True I could also lose money, and I could lose even more than I would like likely lose at a mixed game.  But at least I have a chance to win.

So you might be asking why I don’t take some time and study those games, learn them, read a few strategy articles on them (after memorizing the rules).  Well, the thing is, I don’t have enough time to study and improve my NLHE game.  Since I’m going to play that 99% of the time, any time I have to study poker is best spent studying that.  It wouldn’t make sense to use the precious little time I have to improve my skills at NLHE by trying to figure out the difference between Badugi and Badeucy. 

So why do I ever play in a mixed game? Well, to be sociable, sometimes. If all my buddies or colleagues want to do it, what can I say?  If there’s an official game sponsored by my employers, I want to a team-player.

So why am I bringing this up now?  Well, as you might have guessed, there’s going to be another one of these mixed games coming up soon after the WSOP gets underway.  A group of Ante Up columnists are going to have one, just like last year. A bunch of the old AVP’ers who love the mixed games will likely join us. They’re all great people and I look forward to seeing them all again, and having some laughs at the poker table.  I know I’ll have a good time—until I get a hand which I don’t know how to play for a game I don’t know how to play. 

I’ll be there.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Great Caesars Post!

OK, I’m not really calling this a great post.  That’s not for me to say, I only write this crap.  It’s for you guys (and ladies, if you ladies are offended by being referred to as “guys”) to decide whether this is any good.

But this is about a great session I had at Caesars Palace.  I could call it “Great Caesars Session” but that has no panache to it. Since this is a blog post, I can change “session” to “post” and it becomes a play on the exclamation “Great Caesars Ghost!” as uttered by Perry White in the Superman comics and TV show (and the movies, maybe, but I can’t remember).  And not only does the play on words amuse me, but it will give me a perfect excuse to post an otherwise gratuitous pic of one the fine ladies who has played Lois Lane on the screen over the years.  And if you have ask why, when I’m using a Perry White reference, I’d post a sexy pic of a Lois Lane actress rather than a sexy pic of a Perry White actor (assuming such a thing even existed, which I doubt), you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to this blog over the years.  In fact, I think I may just post several pics of several of the attractive females who have played Ms. Lane.

But since you have been paying attention to this blog all these years, this is surely the post you’ve been waiting to read for at least two months.  Because this is the “very successful session” I referenced in the post here that I had forgotten to write about at the time.  Or until now.  So here it is. 

And it goes back a ways.  Back to December of last year, in fact.  This was my first visit back to Caesars since the session I’d written about here.  Since that post, the room had come under new management, something I wrote about for Ante Up (see here).  After meeting with Frank, and hearing about his plans for the room, I knew I had to go back and check to see how things were going under his leadership, and to check on the changes that he made, some I knew about and some I didn’t.

I knew for example, that they had changed the 1/3 game to 1/2. This is something I really like, I honestly.  For reasons I won’t go into here, I much prefer playing 1/2, especially in Vegas.  Another big change….they got rid of the jackpot drop.  No more promos (tho they used the left over funds to give away WSOP seats in drawings through April of this year). 

And when I got there and started playing, I noticed another improvement.  They got rid of the dreaded two dollar chips that I had bitched about in the previous post.  So that was cool.  They also had the WiFi working a lot better than before. 

Anyway, when I first got to the game, I kinda/sorta recognized one player.  I couldn’t place him in a specific poker room, but I was sure I’d played against this guy before.  He was very aggro, raising a lot preflop and staying aggressive after the flop.  I’ll refer to him as “FLG” for Familiar Looking Guy. He was key to my early run.

Very early on I found myself in the small blind looking at the dreaded pocketKings. Before I could raise, FLG made it $10.  It folded to me.  I meant to raise to $27 but somehow, I had grabbed an extra red chip and I actually made it $32.  It folded back to FLG and he said to me, “You don’t like the kind of guy who plays bad hands out of position,” and folded.  Note, since I recognized him, it’s possible that he recognized me, but honestly, he gave no indication that he knew me from Adam—or from George Costanza for that matter

A bit later I had pocket 7’s and raised to $9. FLG called and it was heads up.  The flop was Queen-7-4, two diamonds.  I bet $15.  FLG raised to $40.  Cool.  He had started with about $110 when the hand was dealt.  I re-raised to put him all in and he called.  We didn’t show until the board bricked out and he turned over Queen-7.  Offsuit.  Note: he had folded to my three-bet thinking I don’t play bad hands, then he called my raise with Queen-7 offsuit!  Much appreciated.  Unfortunately, he decided this wasn’t his night and left.

I had over $300 at this point (from my $200 buy-in) but I managed to lose chips with fairly run-of-the mill hands.  Then NYR came and took the open seat to my immediate left.  I’m calling him NYR cuz he mentioned that he had played hockey his whole life (what…in the crib, even?) and was a huge New York Rangers fan.  He was kind of aggro too.  I’m assuming when he played hockey he spent a lot of time in the penalty box. 

I had King-Queen in the small blind and completed.  He checked from the big blind and three of us saw a flop of Queen-Queen-3, rainbow.  I decide to slow play it and checked.  I called NYR’s bet of $5 and it was heads up.  The turn was a blank and I checked again, this time he bet $10.  I’m not sure why I didn’t check raise there, but I just called.  The river was just a Queen.  This time I led out for $25 and he tanked a bit and then called. When he saw my quads, he said he was seriously considering raising.  He didn’t show, but he claimed he had a pocket pair for a boat.  Must have been a pretty small pocket pair to have not raised preflop.  I know I didn’t get much value there for my monster, but honestly, if I had bet or raised earlier I might have scared him away.

Very next hand I limped in with pocket 3’s. I missed the flop but nobody bet it (it was five-handed).  I caught a three on the turn and no one called my $5 bet.

An older gentleman raised to $6 and I called from the button with Ace-Jack offsuit.  It was three-ways. He bet $12 on a Jack-high flop.  I just called, suspecting he might have an overpair.  It was now heads up. He bet $17 on a blank turn. Again, I just called and he seemed really annoyed.  “You’re gonna keep calling me?”  He was clearly upset that I hadn’t folded.  Then a Jack hit the river.  “Well, you’re gonna keep calling me, so I check.”  I would have checked behind except I now had trip Jacks to beat his overpair, if that’s what he had. I bet $35 and he called.  But he mucked when he saw my hand.  He remained annoyed with me the rest of the time he was there, but he busted out not that much later.

I raised with Ace-10 suited.  The flop was Ace-King-10, I bet the flop and the turn (sorry, I didn’t record the amounts).  NYR was the only guy who called each time.  After my turn bet, he said, “Why do you keep betting, I thought this was a friendly game.”  I bet the river too and he called and folded when I showed my two pair.

I completed from the small blind with pocket 8’s.  A bunch of us saw the flop, which was 8-6-6.  Flopping a boat is an advanced skill; don’t try this at home.  I checked and NYR bet $12, it folded to me and I just called.  The turn was a 5.  I checked again, and he bet $20.  I called again.  Another 5 hit the river. This time I bet, putting out $40 in front of me.  NYR wasted little time in raising to $140.  There were two hands that beat me, quad 6’s and quad 5’s, and of course I didn’t think either was very likely.  I looked at his stack, he didn’t have that much behind…..a lot less than the $140 he had just put in the pot. It was like $40 or $50 behind.  So of course I was about to shove when he said, “If you go all-in, I might have to call.”  Well duh.  When he made that $140 he was certainly pot committed.  So as soon as he got that out of his mouth, I said, “all-in.”  NYR said, to the dealer, or to me, “Is he allowed to do that?”  I guess he was joking, but he didn’t sound like it.  He actually sounded like he was surprised by my move.

But he called and showed 6-5 offsuit.  Ugh, bad luck for him, he turned a boat and rivered a second, smaller boat (as had I).  Sorry, Rangers fan, this was my night, not yours.

As I was stacking my chips, I was thinking about how he had said he “might” call if I shoved, and about a similar situation I was involved in way-back-when.  So I asked the lady dealer, “When he said he might have to call if I shoved, was that binding?”  She said no.  “It was conditional, so it wasn’t binding.”

So I asked her about the situation I wrote about years ago (see here).  “What if he said, ‘I’m going to call any bet you make,’ and didn’t put any conditions on it.  He was going to call me no matter what?”  Well….no, she said, that still wouldn’t be binding.  So that would be different from the ruling I got back in my regular room.  Interesting.

I won a few more smallish pots, a couple of top pair hands, another set of 3’s (no one called my turn bet after I bet the flop).  By the time I racked up, I had won a bit over $400.  So it was a very pleasant return to the new Caesars poker room.