Sunday, April 17, 2016

"You're More Internet Famous Than I Am"

This session took place Saturday night, right after I had dinner following the Stratstack tournament (see here).  I decided to play at the Linq, the 1/1 game.  I’ve had success there before and the games are usually fun.

I was seated right away and as I sat down, a player across the table said to me, “Oh I know you…you’re Rob, right?”  I confessed and then tried to figure out who this was.  Young guy, wearing a baseball cap (the proper way).  I totally blanked out.  “Who are you?”  He said, “Dave…I played with you at the Venetian.  Tony and a bunch of your other friends were there.”

I remembered Dave from that Venetian session—a whole bunch of us played there that night with Tony, and we met Dave, who was familiar with Tony’s blog.  I wrote it up as a three-part post, the part with Dave is here.  The problem was, this guy didn’t look anything like the Dave I remembered from that session.  So I asked him to take off his baseball cap.  I’ve found that guys really look different in a cap if you’re not used to seeing them wear one.  I remembered the time I ran into a couple of MGM dealers at the M Resort, back when they had a poker room.  I recognized one right away and said hi.  We were chatting for a few minutes when another player, wearing a baseball cap, said, “Aren’t you gonna say hello to me?”  I looked right at him and drew a complete back. But his voice was familiar and I finally recognized him—from his voice.  Of course, I’d never seen him in a cap before since that isn’t part of the MGM poker dealer uniform.  I was amazed that I didn’t recognize him instantly.  He’d only dealt me around 1,000 hands of poker over the years and we’d always chatted whenever I was at his table.

The point is, it’s amazing how much a hat can do to hide one’s identity.  You know how ridiculous it is that we’re supposed to believe that no one can tell Clark Kent is Superman just because of the glasses, right?  Well, if instead, Clark just always wore a baseball cap, it’d work.
Anyway, I recognized Dave with his hat off, and he was at the table with me most of the night.  He’s still a really nice guy, so spending over a year grinding poker in Vegas hasn’t corrupted him (so far).  We caught up on Tony and some of the other blogging pals he ran into that night.

There was another familiar face at the Linq this night, but it was someone I expected to run into—The Trooper.  I hadn’t seen him until he was ready to push into our game for the first time that night.  I was sitting across from the dealer and so I said, “Hey, I recognize that guy!”  The dealer who was being pushed out looked to see who it was, saw it was Tim and said, “Oh yeah, he’s on the internet.”  I said, “Yeah, he’s like a TV star.”  Another player said, “Oh is he famous? Is he a celebrity?”  I’m pretty sure that player knew exactly who Tim was and was just kidding.  Regardless, I said, “Well…..he’s internet famous.”  Tim looked at me and said, “You’re more internet famous than I am.”  I disagreed and said, “No…the visual is more powerful than the written word, plus it makes you more recognizable.”  He got distracted and we never finished our “argument.”  But yeah, his face, his voice, his Starbucks cup are up on the internet every day.  I can’t compete with that.  But it was fun to even start the discussion…a few years ago, I never would have expected to get into a discussion with someone about which one of us was more famous. 

During one of his downs, something happened that reminded me of a recent post of mine about poker rules.  I don’t remember what the incident that triggered it was, but Tim made some sort of comment about how he was or wasn’t going to enforce a rule.  It reminded me of the post here about the string bet, and whether or not it is the dealer’s or the player’s responsibility to call out a string bet. I explained the situation in the post, and asked him if he, as the dealer, would call out the string bet.

I was surprised that he said he would not.  He felt that that was between the players, and that the dealer should not get involved.  Basically, he took the exact same position that the Player’s Casino in Ventura takes. It’s a player’s game, not a dealer’s game and he doesn’t want to be part of the game. It’s the player’s responsibility to call it or not.  Then he added that this was for a cash game.  He said a tournament was different, because every single player in the tournament–even ones at different tables—has an interest in the game, and every action affects every player in the tournament. 

I didn’t argue with him.  But in thinking it over later, I still don’t agree.  A rule should be enforced if it is reasonable to do so—otherwise, why have rules?  Furthermore, I could make his same argument about a cash game.  Who wins a pot in a cash game—and how much they win—does affect the other players in the game.  All other things being equal, I want the bad player to win that pot, not the grinder.  If the grinder is angle shooting (by manipulating the string bet rules if the dealer doesn’t call him out) and gets some fish’s chips, that makes it a lot harder to get those chips myself than if the fish had them. 

Early on, I had pocket Queens.  The guy in front of me raised to $2 (remember, both blinds are $1). I wouldn’t say that’s a common raise, but you do see it from time to time in this game.  I made it $10 and three of us saw the flop, which was Ace-Queen-4.  I bet $10 and they both called. I don’t remember what I was thinking to have bet so small and my notes don’t tell me. I bet $20 on the turn, a Jack and had one caller.  A King on the river made me a bit ill.  I checked as did my opponent.  He had Ace-Jack and my set was good.

King-10 of hearts, I raised to $7 and had three callers.  The flop was Jack-10-2 and a guy donked out $15. I called and we were heads up.  A King hit the turn and I called $25.  Blank on the river and he bet $45 and I called.  But he had King-Jack and was ahead the whole way.  

In the big blind, I had Ace-9 off and no one raised.  Just a few of us saw a flop of Ace-Queen-Jack.  I bet $3.  I check the turn, an 8, and he bet $15, which I called.  A blank on the river, I checked and called his $25 bet.  He had flopped Broadway with King-10.

That took me down to $12 (I had bought in for $100) and I added $90.  I did that rather than $100 just to get rid of all the smaller bills from my wallet.

I went back to (or stayed, depending on how you look at it) card dead.   Went a long time without really playing a hand.

In the small blind I had 6-4 offsuit and no one raised (remember, in this game, if there’s no raise, the small blind doesn’t have to add anything to stay in, since it’s the same as the big blind).  The flop was 7-5-3 which was pretty nice.  It was rainbow so I decided to check.  The button put out $5 and I just called.  The turn was a 10 and I checked again and this time he bet $10. I check-raised to $25. He called.  The river was an Ace, I bet $35 and he shoved.  I snapped and he showed a set of 7’s.  He had me covered, so it was a nice double up. I had around $90 when the hand started.

I had pocket Aces and raised to 10, it was three-ways.  The flop was Jack-high, two diamonds.  I did have the Ace of diamonds.  I c-bet $30 and a tough player check raised to $65.  I called, we were heads up. A black card hit the turn, ending my dreams of a back-door flush.  This time he led out for $110.  I folded.  Good fold?  I dunno.  The player said, “I played a bad hand and got lucky.”  I dunno, sure smelled like he had better than a pair of Jacks.

I called $5 on the button with Queen-Jack off.  It was four of us seeing a Queen high flop.  It checked through.  On a blank turn, I bet $10 and it was down to three.  On a King river, I bet $20 and didn’t get a call.

I had Aces again and raised to 8, it was three-ways.  The flop was King-7-7.  I bet $20 and had one caller.  It was the guy who bet me off my Aces earlier.  The turn was a Queen, the river was a King and there was no betting.  The other guy showed 10-7 offsuit.  Apparently this guy was an expert at cracking Aces with bad hands.

When Dave left, he came over to me and whispered, “I’m gonna be checking your blog to see if this night is written about.  I’m hoping there will be a good ending.”

Sorry, Dave, can’t do it.  I didn’t have a noteworthy hand after he left, and took off not much later, another losing session for this trip.  Got a few hands, but still mostly card-dead, and couldn’t get Aces to hold either time.


  1. Why have rules?

    Different rules have different purposes. In the case of a string bet, one purpose is simply to make sure that the central action in poker - betting - is carried out in a clear, unambiguous manner. But a second purpose is to prevent players from getting reads on opponents through a lot of messing around with chips. I've always felt few could achieve any edge through this anyway, so that to some extent the rule just eliminates that angle and the amount of time it might waste.

    There's also the question of intent. When I was new to live play I once clumsily attempted to push $75 over the betting line and a couple of chips fell off the stack on the wrong side. The rules nit I was up against, who wanted to be faced with the smallest bet possible, yelled for floor and floor ruled the bet was $65. They could have chosen to rule my intent was obvious and leave the bet at $75. It would have been pretty strange, though, for the dealer to announce I had only bet $65.

    A different scenario. I have the nuts lead out on the river for $50. My single opponent cuts out two stacks of $50 behind the betting line and pushes first one, then the other across. Do I really want the dealer announcing that the action is a call? Hell no, particularly when the intent of my opponent is clear to all.

    1. In your last example Kat, if you were betting out $50 with the 3rd nut, would you really want the dealer not to disallow the raise? I know I know, you would have spoke up yourself. What if you are not an experienced player and did not know the rule, or may be you are too timid to speak up? Would you want to be penalized because you did not seek to enforce the rule yourself?

      I believe the dealer should be in control of the game, and enforce the rules. I disagree with The Trooper if he said it is the players' game and he did not want to get involved. I am not a rule nit, and in your example of 2 chips falling off your stack while you push it in, yeah, it should be counted. String bets though, usually involve much more money, and is open to abuse by anglers, the dealer should enforce the rule.

    2. Yeah I have sympathy with what you're saying. I have an interest in the game growing, so that a newbie having a lousy experience because they got "out-ruled" by an experienced player using the letter of the law is not something I want to see. Having said that, I do feel if you sit in a public card room you have a certain responsibility to know the basic rules. People asserting petulantly that "That ain't how we do it in Saskatoon" irritate me.

    3. Great discussion guys, valid points by both of you.

      In the case of the chips slipping off your stack, Kat, that was absurd that they didn't count as part of the bet. I can't believe a dealer or a floor would rule against you.

    4. These days they wouldn't. Not sure if that's good or bad.

  2. B+++++++++++++ sweeeeeeeeeet rack #FuckLA #SHARKSHockey

    1. Thanks, anger.

      And no...I am not changing this blot to Rob's Poker & Hockey Blog.

  3. Young guy, wearing a baseball cap (the proper way).

    You say tomato, I say tomahto.

    1. can say tomahto if you want to sound weird.

      But wearing a baseball cap backwards is a crime against all humanity.

  4. Let's talk about the QQ hand. Quick retelling starting with the 3bet: "I made it $10 and three of us saw the flop, which was Ace-Queen-4. I bet $10 and they both called. I don’t remember what I was thinking to have bet so small and my notes don’t tell me. I bet $20 on the turn, a Jack and had one caller. A King on the river made me a bit ill. I checked as did my opponent. He had Ace-Jack and my set was good."

    You hit a dream flop, mid set on an Ace high board, and both players call your small flop bet of $10 into $30. I'm not loving the bet sizing, but you had your reasons as you explained. Now there's $60 in the middle and you bet $20 on the turn? Why so little? It's apparent at least one of them has an Ace and is NOT letting go! Press on the gas a little! Bet at least $40! If you did that, your decision is MUCH easier by the river, which was what I wanted to comment on originally.

    I see this happen far too often across the world of 1/2 & 1/3 players: check through the river on what appears to be a scary card. Yes, there is a 4 straight by the river, but reverse the situation; are you EVER checking to villain without a made straight, hoping that he's going to bet into a 4 straight? For what it's worth, a similar argument could be made for a 4 flush, though there is a higher percentage of the other player becoming sticky with a non-nut 4 flush card than checking the nuts to a bet bet betting player who will likely check through the river. What I'm saying here in far too many words is: don't auto check this river! It's very likely you're still way ahead and should go for some value. I like a bet of $30-40, but if you had kept in line with the betting I describe above, your all in would be next to nothing regardless. If he backdoored you with TT, AT, QT, KT, JT, GG sir - impressive that you checked the river. Otherwise, there's a ton of range that your opponent has that is calling a small bet, such as Ax, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, JJ (possibly?). He's called a flop and turn bet, why isn't he calling a river bet? For him to call, it doesn't always mean he has a Ten in his hand... that's why you bet small on the river so you can get some value and he can feel comfortable with the call.

    1. Thank you sir, always appreciate your great advice.

      Regarding the flop and turn bet idea. I mentioned I couldn't figure it out by the time I wrote this up. Flop or Turn, really. It's possible I had the wrong amounts, but based on how much money I think I had after, I doubt that. I can only guess. Maybe I was extra gun shy due to running so bad since I'd gotten to town. It was early in the session and maybe I was trying to feel out the table. Dunno.

      On the river, yeah, I've mentioned many times and its obvious anyway that one of my leaks is not getting enough value, and all too easily checking the river. But in this case, there have been numerous times when I've been burned with sets that got beat by straights and flushes. And I know that not too long ago I wrote up a big hand where a guy who rivered an unlikely straight checked the river, I bet my set, and he check-raised me all in. Lost a lot of money. That was like the third set I got crushed with that trip, so I adopted the line, "Don't bet the river without the stone cold nuts." I didn't keep that rule long, but it still weighs on me. All I could think of was how easily I could get beat there. And again, the fact that I was running bad affected me too.