Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Boobage

What to do when you feel totally unmotivated to write another stupid blog post that nobody gives a shit about anyway?

How about some totally gratiutous Halloween boobage?


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"If I Fold There, I Should Go Home & Put On My Skirt"

The last time I played at MGM during the Monday Night NFL promo, a story I told here, I noted that the games were especially dull and nitty.  Last night I played there again, the first time Monday for me since that opening night double-header.

There are no words in the English language—or any other, I'll wager—to describe how different the game I was on this Monday night to the ones I described in that post.  I mean, if I said the games were as different as Lindsay Pelas and Kate Hudson (see below, Lindsay is the lady with huge floatation devices) are in the, umm, chestal region, it wouldn't come within light years of describing how different the games were on the two Monday nights.

The game I was just in was absolutely the wildest, most insane, most maniacal game I've ever seen.  It was so crazy, it should have been televised.  Why wasn't this game on Twitch?   I described the previous wildest game I'd ever participated in here.  But this game last night made that game seem like a 5¢/10¢ game at the local retirement home.

When I got into the game, right before the football started, it seemed normal enough for a few hands.  I recognized two players.  One, a local grinder, I've mentioned a few times before.  He was the guy with ribs in the post here.  I think it's finally time to give him a blog name, so we are going to call him Dave from now on, because I've never used "Dave" before (ok, those thousands of you who memorize all my blog posts—and I know you're out there—will recall I used "Davey" once but the dealer I gave that name to retired and will not likely be heard from ever again).  Dave had at least $600-$700 in front of him, as he usually does because he's that good.  There was another reg I recognized, a guy who always reminds me of my best friend from Junior High School, but he has a European accent.  He had a few hundred in front of him. 

No one else looked familiar.  The guy to my immediate left had a huge stack of well over $1K.  And he was Asian.  But he soon proved himself to not be a Crazian.  He played very tight, in fact one of the regs even mentioned that he was playing tight.  There was an Indian with a big stack, and for a few hands, it appeared he was going to be the table's designated maniac, but this proved to be a false positive.  A mild mannered older gentleman (short stack) and a couple of non-descript looking guys (one from L.A., one from Canada) with around $300 each when I got to the table rounded out the field.

Oh, I left out one player.  The real maniac, who was sitting directly to my right.  He had a $300 stack too, and I have no idea how many times he had re-bought before I got there, but I suspect he had.  Just calling him "The Maniac" wouldn't do justice to this fellow.  He mentioned he was a truck driver but calling him "Truck Driver" won't do either.  Since he was a maniac on steroids, a turbo maniac if you will, let's call him Maniac cubed (not squared, not good enough), so we will refer to him as M3 (and always in bold).

As I said, it was tame for a few hands. My first big blind, I had 9-2 offsuit, and M3 just completed form the small blind.  A few of us saw a flop that gave me a gutshot  with two hearts on it; my deuce was a heart. I called a $6 bet.  There was another small bet on the turn, a third heart.  I called it (might have been $6, might have been $10, no more).  Now, as I entered the room, I asked and found out that there were two $1k cash drawing envelopes available for the last three drawings (at 8PM, Midnite, and 4AM), so there was a 66.7% chance the next drawing would be for $1K (either six $200 winners or one $400 winner and six $100 winners).  That's why I made the loose calls as long as they were cheap.  A fourth heart hit the river, giving me the babiest of flushes. I wouldn't have called a big bet, but fortunately, no one bet, so I got the ticket for the drawing without further cost.  But I lost the pot, I believe it was M3 who showed a 10 of hearts.

A little bit later, when things were still calm, I got the dreaded pocket Kings. M3 open limped, I made it $10, two players called, including M3.  The flop was Queen-high, I bet $20 and took down the pot.

Then it just got totally insane. Hard to really describe the action.  M3 started shoving.  A lot.  Usually pre-flop.  His whole $300, or whatever he had.  Sometimes he would see a flop and then shove.  Other times he would make a small raise, or call a small raise, and shove the flop.  He also limped in, and would sometimes fold or fold to a big bet, One thing he almost never, ever did was fold preflop.  He did that very rarely.

At one point he said, "I shove every other hand," and that was pretty accurate.  And so, a pattern developed.  It was sort of like this.  M3 would shove, either preflop or on the flop.  Sometimes he'd take it down, but he started getting called a lot.  He'd frequently get doubled-up.  He'd keep doing it and then would lose his $600 stack to someone, who was thus doubled up.  He'd rebuy for $300 or sometimes only $200.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Double-up, bust (doubling someone else) and rebuy.

The stacks at the table were getting bigger and bigger, as every 10 minutes or so this guy would add another $300 to the table.  Of course when he actually won the pot, the guy he beat would have to rebuy.  There was soon a ridiculous amount of money on the table.  Of course, most of the time the guy was shoving very light.  When he didn't get called, he almost always showed his hand.  If there was a flop, it would likely be middle or bottom pair, or maybe top pair with a bad kicker.  Or a weak draw. Or a totally naked bluff. Of course, sometimes he really had a hand, but that was always a long shot.  And of course, sometimes he'd shove with garbage and catch the card he needed to win.  He won most of his big pots like that, and lost them the same way.  One time he shoved pre, didn't get a call, and showed pocket Kings just to shock the hell out of all us.

A couple of hands that I wasn't involved in will give you some idea of how crazy it got.  M3 shoved preflop for $300 (he had just rebought after busting the previous hand, or maybe the hand before that).  It folded to the guy on his immediate right, the guy from L.A. who had about $350 in front of him.  The L.A. guy called.  M3 showed his hand, which was King-10 off.  That was a lot better than some of the cards he had showed when he shoved preflop.  But then the L.A. guy showed his hand.  It was....wait for it....Jack-3 of hearts!

Now, I was distracted by the turbo maniac but I hadn't really noticed the L.A. guy much, he wasn't on my radar.  But for sure I never saw him make any kind of crazy play, and I couldn't recall him ever calling any of M3's big bets before.  And he calls with Jack-3 of hearts!  As wide as M3's range was, Jack-3, even soooted, didn't really compare all that favorably to it.

We were all shocked.  He was quizzed on why he had done that.  He explained, "Well, I have to leave to catch my flight in a few minutes, so I figured, why not?"  O.  K. 

Well the dealer put two hearts on the flop.  And then a 3 on the turn.  And for good measure, a Jack on the river. And L.A. guy had a double-up, and suddenly had over $600 in front of him.

We noticed he didn't leave for his flight back.  It was suggested that he could get a later flight, and sure enough, he ended up changing flights so he could stay at the table a few hours longer.  Just because of the crazy action.

M3 just laughed it off and took out three more $300 bills.  And the pattern continued.

Which brings me to the hand with Dave.  Dave made a reasonable raise and it folded to M3 who still had his $300 or so.  He thought for a bit.  I overheard Dave saying to the guy on his right, "If he shoves this time, I'm calling."  Since I heard it, M3 may have heard it as well, not that he needed any prodding.  I seem to recall that a bit earlier, Dave had raised and then folded to a M3 shove.  And when he showed the total garbage hand that he had shoved with, I could tell that Dave was rather annoyed that he had folded his premium hand (and I'm sure it was) to that maniac's garbage hand.

So of course, M3 did what M3 does....he shoved.  Dave thought for about 3 seconds and shoved. "I can't fold this hand, it's too good," is what he said. They both showed their cards.  M3 had 9-8 of diamonds, actually well above the middle of his shoving range.  But  Dave flipped over Ace-King, also both diamonds. M3 groaned, no flush was going to save him.

So of course, there was an 8 on the flop, and nothing else.  Dave was out $300 and M3 had another double up.

Dave was not happy, as you can understand.  But he's a grinder and he did his best to shrug it off.  Still, it was bothering him, at least a little, the rest of the time I was at the table.  He did keep talking about it, I guess to the guy next to him but loud enough for me to hear.  At one point I heard him say, "No way I could have folded that.  No way.  If I fold there, I should just go home and put on my skirt."

I know you're all asking, what about me, where was I in all this?  Well, I was just trying to get a hand.  It was a terrible time to be card dead, and that's exactly what I was.  And with the guy on my direct right shoving $300 every other hand, it was kind of tough to find a hand to play.  I wasn't willing to lower my calling standards to calling a shove with 4-3 suited, even against this lunatic.  I would be willing to call lighter than normal, but wasn't getting anything close to anything I could play.  And keep in mind, there were now mostly huge stacks all around me, so even if I was ahead of M3, I'd still have to worry about the other players.

But I knew if I did get a big pocket pair or Ace-King, Ace-Queen, I was willing to risk my now less than $200 stack.  But I needed the cards to cooperate just a little.

A few hands after Dave doubled him up, M3 generously donated the chips he'd gotten from Dave, plus his own, to L.A. guy. I don't recall the hand.  But L.A. guy now had well over $1,200 in front of him (as well as a new flight to L.A., I presume, since the one he had planned to take was now somewhere over Barstow, looking over the In-N-Out Burger I failed to stop out days earlier.) And that's important to keep in mind as I describe this hand I actually played.

Yes, I played a hand.  I looked down at the dreaded pocket Queens, and as soon as I saw them, I knew my stack was going in.  But first action was L.A. guy, and he opened to $20.  Now M3 would occasionally fold preflop to a raise, or just call a raise preflop (likely planning on shoving the flop).  So it was not a lock he would do what he did, which was shove, of course.

I wasted no time in announcing my shove.  I was a bit worried about L.A. guy, but after all, I had only recently seen him call a $300 shove with J-3.  His opening range would be a lot of big cards, a lot of pocket pairs, and probably suited connectors as well. 

And it folded to the new guy in seat 9.  He had come to the table, replacing the older gentleman who was clearly looking for a milder game, awhile back with a $500+ stack from another game.  I recognized him as someone I played with before, but I didn't think he was a local.  I think I played with him when he was visiting last year.  A younger Asian gentleman, to my recollection, a solid player, a TAG, but no maniac.  And so, this guy...shoved.  Uh Oh. I think by this time he had over $600.

It folded back to the L.A. guy, who tanked.  And finally said, "There's too many players.  I can't call with three players....."  And then folded face up.  Two Kings.  He folded pocket Kings!  Holy shit.  Everyone was stunned.

Everyone in the hand was all-in, so M3 showed his hand, 3-2 offsuit. Yes, 3-2 offsuit.  That is not a typo.  He shoved $300 with 3-2 offsuit. I showed my Queens.  But the Asian didn't show.  There might have been an Ace on the flop, not sure, since it didn't come into play.  But there sure as hell was a Jack on there.  And so when the board was complete, the Asian said, "I got lucky," and showed pocket Jacks. 

And there went my stack.  Bye bye.  It was an interesting hand.  The Asian shoved to make sure the L.A. guy didn't call, of course, but I'm sure he wouldn't have expected him to have folded Kings.  He might have figured he was behind me as he was, but he also probably figured that with my stack, he might overcome some of his losses to me with the sidepot from M3.  So he had the same assessment of L.A. guy's hand as I had, that it wasn't necessarily that strong.

And I'm sure that if the Asian hadn't have shoved, L.A. guy calls the $300 easily with KK.  Why wouldn't he?  Even if he thinks I make that move only with pocket Aces (not a bad assumption considering how few hands I'd played), he loses less than $200 to me and likely gets over $100 back from the maniac. 

So apparently he just didn't want to risk half of his stack, even with those Kings.  Which makes me wonder....why did he stay?  If he was so protective of that $1,200+ stack he had, why not catch his flight to L.A. and have a really sweet flight home?  I'm not sure I understand his mindset.  He was clearly staying to try to get more money from the maniac, but then got scared when push came to shove.

Of course, results-oriented thinking, he made the right move.  And so I think either way, I wasn't going to win that pot.  Asian folds, L.A. guy calls, his Kings beat my Queens, and he has me way covered.  Instead I lost my stack to a set of Jacks.

I bought another $200 in chips.  It wasn't many hands later that I looked down at pocket Kings.  Of course. I had just a few bucks less than the $200 due to blinds and such.  To my shock, with his latest $300 stack, M3 only raised to $22, instead of shoving.  So I thought about it, and as crazy as the action at the table was, my shoving there would look weird.  Plus, he might actually fold to a nit like me if I shoved, but he'd likely call a smaller raise.  So I just put out $100, a tad more than half my stack.

It folded to the Indian, who had been up and down all night, but had around $400 at this point.  He called my bet.  Considering what it turned out he had, it's stunning he didn't shove.  But no problem, M3 did indeed shove.  I snap-called, as did the Indian.  Hmm...

Well M3 showed his hand, Ace-10 of hearts.  In other words,  the very top of his range.  I didn't show and neither did the Indian.

Do I really have to tell you that there were two hearts on the flop, and another one on the turn?  Do I really?

My Kings were both red, and apparently the river card was another heart.  I didn't even notice, I was too busy trying to get the license of the bus that had just run over me.  But the dealer gave me a drawing ticket as he pushed my chips to M3, so it must have been the case.

And just to make the hand even more interesting, the Indian showed his hands.  He had two black Kings.


I really didn't feel like risking taking another shovel to the head. I seemed to be the only one at the table unable to take advantage of M3's largess.  And truth be told, I didn't have another $200 buy-in on me.  I really hate paying the exorbitant ATM fees in casinos, so that wasn't an option to me--and my budgeted sockroll is $400 per session.  However, I had two drawing tickets, so I decided to buy in for $100, which I scraped together, just to be eligible for the drawing.  That sounds lame, but it actually worked the night before (a story I will tell another time).

It didn't work this time, and I was hoping to use that $100 to maybe get another big hand and finally win one.  But I just got total crap again, and lost about half of it somehow. 

It turned out to be a miserable night for me but I got a hell of story out of it.  Maybe I should have titled this post, "The $460 Blog Post."  I'm sure it will be a long time before I see another game like that.  I think I saw M3 put at least $3K on the table, and the there at least four $1,200+ stacks when I left.    

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Drive to Vegas Was a Pisser

Recently, our friend PPP had some problems encountering a Southern California traffic jam.  He wrote about it in the post here.  But his discussion of it only took up a single paragraph of his blog post.

Just the other day, I drove from my L.A. home to Vegas and also encountered traffic difficulties.  But I will get an entire Rob-sized blog post out of it.  Because I'm just that good.  Note: If you wanted me to end that last sentence with the word "verbose," please let me know when you get a horse and I will be happy to give you and the horse you rode in on a proper greeting.

Of course, because it is me, I have to make not one but two digressions in order to properly tell this story.  So, as usual, you will have to indulge me.

The first digression involves the fast food hamburger chain, In-N-Out Burger.  I believe most of the In-N-Out locations are located in the West Coast, and it has developed a cult-like following. Those who prefer their burgers to other fast food chains are almost like religious fanatics in their belief that their burgers are far superior to anyone else's.  It would be fair to compare it to the cult of Apple—you know how annoying people who worship at the foot of Apple products are, right?  In-N-Out cultists are like that.

I was never part of the cult.  I didn't find their burgers appreciable better than most of their competitors.  Now back in the day, I used to eat a lot of fast food crap, but as I've gotten older I've tried to eat better and I indulge much less frequently. 

But sometime last year, I was treated to an In-N-Out Burger by a member of the cult, our pal Lightning.  He is denied access to In-N-Out in his own neighborhood in Illinois, and it is a tradition for him to pay a visit to the In-N-Out on Tropicana, just down the road from the MGM Hotel, each time he comes to Vegas.  On this particular visit, he treated both Nick and I to this fine cuisine, and I had to admit that it was a lot better than I remembered it.  It might be because it had been so long since I had had a fast food burger, or it might have been because I didn't pay for it—that always helps.  But I did find it rather tasty.  I don't think I ever blogged about this meal, however, probably because I couldn't figure out a way to get boobies into the story.

Flash forward to this year, when I started playing poker at the Player's Casino in Ventura.  Somehow, I started noticing that, on my most "normal" route to PC from my home, I was actually passing no less than six In-N-Out Burger joints.  This struck me as odd because there are lot less of them than there are McDonald's or Burger Kings.  Or even Jacks-in-the-Box.  I found it unusual that there were so many that I passed getting to my poker session.

And so I started eating there for my pre-poker session lunch.  Because having a fast food burger in your belly seems appropriate for an afternoon of poker.  It's a relatively harmless indulgence since I don't play poker that often when I'm home.  If I tried this before every Vegas poker session, I'd probably be dead by now. 

Anyway, I mentioned this new "tradition" to my pals LM and Woody, mostly because I found it so odd that I drove by so many of this particular burger chain (one of which is in their neighborhood) going to play poker.  And then I didn't think much of it.

But as I alerted LM and Woody to the fact that I was leaving for Vegas the next day, Woody made a bold prediction.  He predicted that I would stop at the In-N-Out Burger located midway between L.A. and Vegas for a burger on the way up.

To explain why this was so absurd, I have to take the second digression.  For those of you who have never driven from L.A. to Vegas (or vice-versa), let me describe the drive for you.  Now it takes me about an hour from my home of driving east to get on the I-15.  That's the freeway you see that is just west of the Strip when you're in Vegas.  In fact, as you are driving thru Vegas on it, you can see the In-N-Out Burger on Tropicana, but that is a totally needless digression. 

Once you get on I-15 in Southern California. You are pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  There are some really small towns you go thru, but it's a lot of dirt and vacant land and some mountains in the near distance.  There are three "cities" that you drive thru before you cross into that state where you can legally gamble on pretty much everything but Daily Fantasy Sports. 

First you come to Victorville, which is noteworthy for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  Then you come to Barstow, which I always say, is a city that exists for the sole purpose of being midway between L.A. and Vegas. And then there is Baker, noteworthy for a big sign that says "Gateway to Death."  Actually, what it really says is "Gateway to Death Valley."  If you ever want to visit Death Valley, Baker is your way there.  Baker also is home to "The World's Tallest Thermometer."  Or as all my friends refer to it, "The World's Largest Rectal Thermometer." Of the three, Baker is the smallest—basically it's two miles of one street with a lot of fast food joints and gas stations—Barstow is the biggest, almost worthy of being called a real city—and Victorville is somewhere in between.

And south of Barstow, there is a huge mall with a collection of outlet stores, which also has a bunch of gas stations and pretty much every fast food you can name—including In-N-Out Burger.  I believe that this is the only In-N-Out Burger on the I-15 until you get to the one in Vegas on Tropicana.

Now, I've made that trip from L.A. to Vegas more times than I care to count.  In the old, old days, when I had a regular 9-5 job and would only go for a few days at a time, I'd leave L.A. real early, like 7-7:30AM.  That was easy as I was used to setting the alarm before 6AM—sometimes as early as 3:45AM.  But now I set my own hours, and my own hours don't get me started anywhere near that early.  So it's much more likely that I get on the road between 8:30 & 9:30 AM.

Since this is a four-hour or so drive, that gets me in town soon enough to hold off on having lunch until I arrive in Vegas, where I have many preferable choices to just a fast food burger.  Except for a few times when I left L.A. in the afternoon or evening (due to work obligations), I have almost never stopped for food on the trip up.  I can recall a couple of exceptions, once when I slept really late and got a late start, and once or twice when I encountered traffic problems delaying my arrival.

So when Woody predicted that I would be stopping at the one just south of Barstow (presumably because of this new "tradition" of hitting an In-N-Out Burger before poker), I told him that was ridiculous.  I said that I hoped to be passing by that location before 11AM, and why the heck would I have a hamburger that early in the day when there were so many better options just two hours away?  I even said that if I actually did stop at that In-N-Out Burger for a meal, it would mean something had gone horribly wrong, and I would be really, really pissed. 

So I left for Vegas the next morning, more-or-less the time I had anticipated.  I was making good time.  All was well.  Now of course, although I don't stop for food, I do have to make the occasional pit stop during this trip to answer nature's call. I know all the "good" places to stop, as my bladder dictates. And the older I get, the more likely it has become that I will have to make a stop—or two—or three—along the way.  When I drive up, I always have a cooler full of Diet Mountain Dew at my side to quench my thirst and to make sure I have enough caffeine to keep me awake during the drive.  This of course adds to the likelihood of multiple pit stops.

Anyway, I had been on the road for a couple of hours and was on schedule.  I was approaching Barstow and assessed whether I needed to make a stop at that outlet mall to unload the Diet Mountain Dew.  I felt like I did not need to stop.  I did feel like I would not be able to make it all the way to Baker without stopping, but there is a great place just north of Barstow where you can get off and back on the freeway really easily and use the Jack-in-the-Box there for the only thing it is good for—taking a piss.  Traffic had been light and moving very well, it would be another 10-15 minutes until I got to that Jack-in-the-Box.  Getting off to pee at the Outlet Mall would take much more time, as it is heavily trafficked.  The place north of Barstow was a much better option if all you need to do was use a urinal. 

So no stop at the Outlet Mall.  Next stop, the aforementioned Jack-in-the-Box.  And I would say I was no more than a minute or two past the exit for the Outlet Mall when I noticed red lights up ahead, and all of a sudden traffic came to a complete and total stop.  Uh Oh.

After the complete stop, traffic started moving again. At the brisk pace of approximately 10 feet every minute.  Or less.  Yikes.  Now, of course, I would have been unhappy with the traffic being so bad under any circumstances—after all, this was Vegas the traffic was delaying me getting to.  But seeing as how I had skipped the rest stop less than a mile behind me and was now stuck in one hell of a fustercluck of a traffic jam, I was incredibly outraged.  I managed to find out from the traffic station on the radio that they had closed two lanes (out of three) up ahead for repaving  And they said that the jam up would continue until well past the intersection for I-40, which I figured to be a long, long distance from where I was stuck, especially at the pace I was travelling.  Furthermore, the next off ramp ahead was for a state highway that they said was partially closed due to mudslides the week earlier.  I wasn't sure if that meant the ramp to it from the I-15 was closed or not, but even if it wasn't, getting on the ramp to a road that was closed didn't seem like a good option for me.

I didn't have any good options.  I was stuck in the middle lane and couldn't have gotten off the freeway—or to the side of the freeway—if I wanted to.  But as soon as that traffic jam started, suddenly the urge to pee changed from just mild to "get the f*** to a Men's Room this second."

It might have been psychological.  You know, just knowing that it was going to be awhile before I could get relief made it 1000 times worse than it really was.  But I have to say, for the next hour—yes hour—I kept looking over to the side of the road, when I could see it, and was seriously considering just pulling off to the shoulder and peeing right there on the side of the road.  Alternatively, I was looking at the empty cans of Diet Mountain Dew I had.  I was really strongly considering taking my sunshield, covering myself with it, and peeing into one of those cans as I moved forward at a foot a minute.  I was really, really getting desperate.

I was really dying, it was one of the most uncomfortable situations I could remember being in.  I was in total agony, to be honest.  Meanwhile, the traffic from the lane to my left started merging into my line as that lane was closed ahead.  The real reason for this being an especially bad traffic jam was that on the right side, after there was traffic merging on from that state highway, the right lane closed as well—this was just a natural gore point of the freeway design.  So at the point of the normal gore point, reducing the freeway from four lanes to three, you had two lanes on the left closing and merging into the one remaining lane for the repaving project.  You couldn't pick a worse place to do this.  I want the designer of this project brought up on charges of treason, at the very least.

I was still south of Barstow proper, there was only one lane of traffic, and still not moving, and I was still dying.  Face it, we've all been there, having to really, really having to go. At least I was on the right side of the road, and I could pull off to the shoulder if I had to do.  Was I really ready to pee with an audience (and also be committing a crime, I'm sure, public urination).  I was just hoping that there'd be an exit and I could escape and find any place to go.  Suddenly, I saw a sign for an exit, and there was actually an "exit only" lane for it, and there was no traffic in that lane.  I got in that lane and saw it was for "Avenue L" which was south of the main part of Barstow. I had never taken that exit before, but it looked like an Oasis to me.  I took my opportunity and the exit. It was the first time I had gone more than 5 miles an hour in the past 50 minutes.  As I climbed the off ramp, I saw a big sign for a Home Depot to the left.  Great.  A Home Depot will have public restrooms. 

And there was another thought as well.  It was now past Noon, and my thought of waiting until I got to Vegas to eat lunch was pretty much shot.  I figured when I returned to the freeway, it would be jammed for awhile and who knew when I would get to Vegas.  Up until the traffic jam, i had been debating in my mind which one of two places I would hit for lunch when I got to Vegas.  But now I realized that it made more sense to eat in Barstow and forego a better meal in Vegas.

So I was kind of hoping that the Home Depot was in a bigger shopping center that had some fast food options and I could kill two birds with one stone.  And I have to admit that, if I hadn't seen that Home Depot sign, I think I would have just pulled off the road at that exit and just whipped it out right there, I was that desperate.  The area was pretty desolate, nothing really around there.

But I thought I could make it to the Home Depot, if barely.  And so....I proceeded to drive right past it!  Seriously, from the road it looked like the entrance to it was actually the freeway onramp to the I-15 south, pretty much the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the freeway!  So I blew by the Home Depot and eventually came to a traffic signal.  I noticed that the street I had come to was Main Street and there was a sign that said "Barstow" that pointed right.  However, I was in the left lane, hoping to make a U-turn.  When I saw a "No U-turn" sign, I thought I would turn left and see if there was a fast food joint down the road I could stop at instead (such a law-abiding citizen!).  But it was mostly nothing except a few industrial/construction type places, machine shops and the like, nothing that would have a public restroom and no fast food.

I double backed and this time I found the entrance to the Home Depot.  There was nothing else there, no fast food, no gas station, just the Home Depot in the middle of nowhere.  But if it had a working Men's Room, it would be like Shrangri-La to me.  I parked the car and pretty much ran to the entrance. Just then, my cell phone rang.  I looked to see it who it was.  It was my pal Woody.  WTF?  Why was he calling me?  He knew I was driving to Vegas so why was he calling me?  I sent it to voicemail as I was in no condition to have a conversation.

There was greeter at the entrance. "Welcome to Home Depot."  My only response was, "Where's the Men's Room."  She pointed me in the right direction and saw the most beautiful urinal I'd ever seen in my life.  Phew.  However, to add insult to injury, after washing my hands, I saw that they were out of paper towels.  No hand drier either.  I was stuck shaking my hands dry as I walked back to my car.

I then listened to Woody's message.  It started with,  "Oh, I just remembered, you're driving to Vegas.  You're probably at the In-N-Out in Barstow having a burger right now..."  He went on to ask me about an Air Conditioning repair I recently had.  But WTF?  I mean seriously, WTF?  He calls me just as I was about to get the desperate relief I needed, and after I had already decided that I was indeed going to have fast food (most likely a burger) in Barstow?

And then I realized his "prophecy" was indeed coming true—well, almost true.  I wasn't going back to the In-N-Out, but I was gonna be having a burger in Barstow.  And after I told him I would be really pissed if I had to do that, and there he was making jokes about it on my voice mail!  And then I of course realized that this entire nightmare was all his fault.  His joking prediction that I would be doing In-N-Out in Barstow had totally jinxed the drive up, and that was the reason for my driving nightmare. 

It's just like in poker when some player not involved in a hand calls for a card that would change the result of an all-in and thus makes it inevitable that that card hits (see here).  That guy calling for the 9 to screw me over was just like Woody calling for me to eat a fast food burger in Barstow that day.  Totally his fault. 

I mean, I can't explain it logically, but come one, every superstitious poker player (and is there any other kind?), knows it's true.

Anyway, I was not in a good mood, despite my relief.  I decided to drive back to Main Street, drive thru Barstow, and find a fast food place to eat.  I started recognizing the road and realized I would be coming to "Main Street Station" in Barstow, home of what was once the world's busiest McDonald's (I think that designation now belongs to one in Russia or China).  But across the street from that I knew there'd be a Burger King, which I prefer (and is also easier to get in and out of).  I did indeed find that Burger King, and had a double whopper (no cheese) and a salad. 

The good news was that getting back on the I-15 there, the traffic was gone.  I had somehow gone around the rest of the big jam-up and when I got back on the freeway, it was clear sailing the rest of the way.  But with all the delays, what should have been a 4-hour drive to Vegas became a 6-hour drive to Vegas, and boy was I pissed.

The irony is that I've been to that In-N-Out in Barstow two times over the years.  Once when my friend's wife insisted we stop in so she could get some french fries.  And once to use the Men's Room.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The $400 Cigarette

Here’s another session from a few months back in Vegas.

It was a Slut Parade night and I got sent to the right table for it….but the wrong seat.  I had my back to the parade.  I immediately asked for a seat change button but—spoiler alert—the two guys in the preferred seats (1 & 9) refused to move the entire time I was there.

I was thinking of trying to find a different game—mostly because I wasn’t getting anywhere, pokerwise, at this game—when a familiar face took the seat directly to my right.  It was a reg I’ve called “former reg” before so let’s just go with “FR” when referring to him from now on since that’s so much easier than trying to think of an actual phony name to give him (you know, like Jack or Bill or Obadiah). Truth be told though. since I see him so often, the “former” in front of the “reg” doesn’t really fit. I’ve mentioned FR before, perhaps most notably here. 

FR has kind of a split personality.  If things are going well, he can be the friendliest, most charming guy around.  But if he’s suffered a bad beat or two, he can get a little testy.  In fact, the post I just linked to describes how upset he got when a guy thought it was a great idea to just shove his short stack blind every time.

He had transferred over from another game and was actually happy to see me, because at this table I was the only person he recognized.  And he said to me, “This is much better.  At the game I just came from there were 6 regs and the other two players had short stacks.”  Then he went on to identify two regs by name (a married couple) who he says he tends to soft-play against because he likes them.  I was a bit stunned by this confession.  For one thing, as a guy who makes his living grinding poker, I wouldn’t expect him to soft-play anyone—even his own grandmother.  And besides, as we all know, Soft-playing is cheating (see Grump’s post here).

So we were chatting pleasantly while the game was pretty much going on without me.  I was quite card dead and barely playing any hands. I had been there about an hour and it was coming up to the 8PM drawing.  I had no tickets.  But they announced they were giving away $1,000 which meant that the first ticket drawn would be worth $400 (and then six winners of $100 each).  Anyway, a few minutes before the drawing, the guy from our table in seat 9 got up to presumably use the rest room.  And he had not returned when they started pulling tickets.  And the first ticket was from our table, but no one jumped up to claim the $400.  The shift boss came over to our table and checked and there was nobody claiming to be the person they were looking for.  Suddenly, as the shift boss was heading back over to the drum to grab a replacement ticket, seat 9 came running back, having just barely heard his name, to claim his prize.

The trouble was, he had been gone long enough to have missed a few hands—and he had a missed blind button, making him ineligible for the drawing.  He couldn’t believe his bad luck.  He must have forgotten about the drawing, right?  I said to him, “Man, that was a $400 piss you just took.”  But he said no, he had remembered, but after using the Men’s Room, he thought he had time to take a cigarette break.  That’s how he heard his name, he was not that far away from the poker room, puffing away.

It’s like his mother no doubt told him….smoking is bad for you.

They pulled another ticket and awarded this guy’s $400 to someone at the table behind ours.  And then, with the very next ticket, they pulled a second ticket to the guy who had just won the $400.  Talk about getting lucky…he got an extra $300 because this guy had to feed his nicotine habit, then he got a $100 bonus on top.  He should have only won $200 (for tickets #2 & #3) but got $500 instead.  He should have been buying lottery tickets that night.

Eventually I had to start getting cards to play, right?  In fact, I got pocket Aces twice within about an orbit and a half.  The first time I raised to $10 and didn’t get a call.  The second time, after a bunch of limpers, I raised to $14 and got three callers.  The flop was dry and I bet $40 and didn’t get a call.

I called $10 with Ace-10 of diamonds, it was three-ways.  The flop was pretty sweet, King-Jack-2.  The two paint cards were both diamonds.  I called $15 and it was heads up.  The 3 of diamonds completed my flush, I bet $40 and he called.  The river was a blank and my $75 went uncalled.  I had to show my hand to get a ticket, and I pointed out to the dealer that she was supposed to put the Queen of diamonds out there to complete the Royal.  To this day, I have never gotten a Royal Flush in Hold’em.

Then a Crazian came to our table.  He bet a lot, raised a lot, called a lot.  Oh, I guess I already told you he was a Crazian.  Anyway, on this particular hand, FR made a standard opening raise and after I folded, the Crazian made a three-bet and then FR upped it to $75.  This was probably at least three times the size of the Crazian’s bet.  He called and they were heads up. 

Since I wasn’t in the hand, I didn’t write down any notes, but the flop was something like 7-5-4, with the two smaller cards being clubs.  The Crazian shoved—probably $100 or less, and FR called (he had the Crazian covered). The Crazian showed his hand, 7-6 clubs I think. That flop had really hit him—top pair and an open ended straight-flush draw.  He said, “something’s gotta hit.”  The funny thing was, he didn’t get the straight or the flush—he went runner-runner full house. 

FR hadn’t shown his hand until after the river.  He was rather upset.  He said to the dealer, “That’s the flop you put out when he calls $75 with that garbage?” and angrily flipped over his pocket Aces.  And then the Crazian said, also a bit agitated, “Why are you showing that garbage?” referring to FR’s Aces.  They kind of got into it a bit more and the dealer asked both of them to tone it down. 

And then FR took a break from the table to cool down (or maybe he just had to go to the bathroom anyway).  While he was away, I got pocket 9’s and the Crazian raised to $20.  With all those chips of FR’s he was still stacking, it made sense to me to call.  Besides, I thought my pocket 9’s might have had him beat anyway. It was heads up.  The flop was 10-9-4, two diamonds.  I checked, sure he was going to bet.  He didn’t disappoint me.  He bet $60 into a $40 pot.  That bet was so big, I felt my only raise was a shove, so I put it all-in.  He snap called and flipped over pocket Queens.  Much stronger than I thought, but no match for my set of 9’s.  The board bricked out.  That was a sweet double up, I had about $450 in front of me after that pot. 

Now, there was this know-it-all guy at the table, had been there since I got there.  He liked to tell people he assumed to be newer players how to play. Free coaching lessons, in other words.  He also commented on people’s styles of play.  And he was a self-proclaimed expert on every poker room in town, would tell you exactly how the games play at any poker room you could name.  So of course he had to comment on this hand.

He said to the Crazian, “Man, I thought you were ahead there.  I would have bet anything you were ahead. I thought you had set him up beautifully with that 7-6 hand, I thought he could have easily done that with a pair of 10’s, put you on nothing.”  Wow, this guy must have thought I was a really bad player.  I mean, we’d been playing together for some time, had I really given any indication I would risk my whole stack like that with just top pair just because the Crazian had made that one crazy move a hand or two earlier?  And if it’s one thing I know (and he should too, as the self-proclaimed poker wi), it’s virtually impossible to bluff a Crazian.  I was kind of insulted, but I did have all those chips in front of me to console me.

A bit later, FR returned and noticed my now healthy stack.  I told him that his buddy with the 7-6 had paid me off.  He said, “Oh that’s good.  I’d rather you have those chips than him.  It’s cosmic justice. Doesn’t do me any good but better you than him.”

As it got late, the parade was in full force, and the guys at the table were definitely enjoying the view and commenting on the girls as they were going by.  Men are such pigs.  I had to keep turning my head around to see what they were talking about as I been unable to get the seat change I wanted.  The other players were telling me that I had the worse seat at the table.  So, with all the sarcasm I could muster, I said, “Oh really?  I had no idea.”  The dealer was one of the regulars who was quite familiar with my seat preference on a night like this and why.  So he said, “Yeah, if he knew, he would have asked for a seat change.”  I held up the seat change button and said, “Well, I’ve had this since I got here, but these guys wouldn’t leave,” pointing to the guys in seats 1 and 9.  They all laughed at that.

I managed to win a few small pots after the big hand.  Even won with pocket Kings—a small raise preflop and a c-bet took it on a low flop.  It turned out to be a nice session, up over $300.  Enough to pay the chiropractor bill to work on the crick in my neck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Well, She Looked Like Tina Fey to Me

Another trip back to the summer, a session at Planet Hollywood on a Sunday afternoon.  This turned out to be successful session although I didn’t win (or lose) any big pots, but I left the table wondering if I had somehow inadvertently offended a young woman.

About an hour into the session, a cute young woman took the seat directly to my left.  She had long dark hair and was dressed rather conservatively for Vegas in the summer.  She seemed rather unremarkable until, after a half hour or so, she reached into her purse and took out a pair of black, plastic-framed glasses and put them on.

Suddenly, she looked an awful lot like Tina Fey to me.  And frankly, she looked a lot prettier with the glasses—the glasses just really improved her overall look.

We hadn’t been talking at all until this point, and frankly, it didn’t seem like she was interested in having a conversation with anyone.  But I couldn’t get over how much she was reminding me of Tina Fey.  So finally, I decided to say something to her.  “Do you get told a lot that you look like Tina Fey?”

No, she replied.  She had never heard that before.  Seriously? I repeated, “Wow, I’m surprised, when you put the glasses on, I couldn’t help noticing how much you look like Tina Fey.”

She just shrugged.

I should have taken the hint, I suppose, but I pressed onward.  “Who do you get then?  Who do you get told you look like?”  I’m pretty sure that pretty much everyone has been told they look like somebody famous before, right?  I mean, I’ve even been told I look like Costanza (see here).

She said, “Emma Watson.”  Now, I guess I kinda/sort knew who Emma Watson was, but I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie and had no real idea what the heck she looked like.  So to be polite, all I could do was nod and say “O.K.”

Our conversation was over and a few minutes later, when another seat opened up at the table, she asked to move there—in other words, away from me.  Was it a coincidence, or was she annoyed with me?  Is being compared to Tina Fey somehow an insult?  I find Tina rather good looking myself.  I certainly meant it as a compliment.  But then I thought, well, this girl was much, much younger than Tina Fey.  She was early-mid 20’s, tops.  Tina Fey is 45 years old.  Did that bother her?  I suppose I should have said, “You look like a much younger version of Tina Fey,” but from where I sit, 45 is still on the young side. 

Or perhaps she thought I was hitting on her, or making a clumsy attempt at flirting with her.  And considering the fact that I am old enough to be her—well, ok, her older brother, let’s go with that—she wasn’t amused.

Or, it could have had nothing to do with anything I said.  Maybe she wanted to get a better view of the cards, or saw a weakness in another player she wanted to exploit. 

Later, I googled “Emma Watson” and you know what?  She definitely looked more like Tina Fey than Emma Watson.  Also, I find Tina Fey more attractive than Ms. Watson.  

As for the poker, I raised to $8 with Ace-King and had three callers.  I missed, no one bet the flop or the turn.  On the river, I caught a straight (it was runner-runner and no one called my $20 bet.  I guess I could have taken that pot down with a flop bet.

Very next hand I got pocket Aces.  I raised to $8 and two called. The flop was Queen high, two diamonds. I bet $20 and it was heads up.  Third diamond on the turn, we both checked.  Another Queen on the river, no betting again.  My bullets were good.

In less than an orbit, I got pocket Aces again. I raised to $8 and four of us saw a Queen high flop with two hearts.  I bet $20 and two players called.  The turn was the Ace of hearts, I bet $35 and no one called.

A while later, I got the dreaded hand. After a limper, I raised to $10 and had three callers.  The flop was Ace high.  Do most players check in my situation?  I think a lot do.  They check and are prepared to fold to a bet, assuming someone has an Ace.  But I don’t do that.  Maybe that’s why I lose so often with pocket Kings?  But anyway, I bet $25 and no one called. 

I called a $5 UTG straddle with 6-5 of diamonds.  Four of us saw the flop of Q-4-3 one diamond.  I called $15 and it was heads up.  The turn was a high diamond, giving me both the straight and the flush draws, so I called $30.  But the river bricked and I folded to a shove.  One of these days I’ll learn to play my good draws more aggressively and successfully. 

I got pocket Aces for the third time in the session.  There were some limpers so I raised to $14 and was called in two spots.  The flop was Queen high and I bet $25, no call.

I limped in with pocket 7’s and call $13.  Four of us saw the flop, which had a 7 and two clubs.  I called $25.  Really not sure why I decided to slow-play it there.  But I regretted it when a third club hit the turn.  It was heads up. This time the villain checked and I checked behind.  The river paired the board, giving me a boat, and when the villain checked, I put out just $35, but he didn’t call.

Somehow, those small pots added up to a $100 profit, and I called it a session.  I just hope the girl who looked like Tina Fey wasn’t insulted.