Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Honeymoon in Vegas—With Me! (Part 1)

Note: if you enjoyed my previous post, you might want to see the comment that the great Lee Jones himself left in response to his critique of his decision in the hand.  You can go directly to it here.  

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As you probably know, when I first started playing poker in casinos, and even when I first started blogging, I was strictly a 2/4 limit player. I was having really fun sessions and picking up amusing anecdotes to tell my friends from these 2/4 games.  And as I’ve explained often, those anecdotes I was relating to my friends turned into many of my early blog posts when those friends encouraged me to start the blog.  

Recently, I’ve been reflecting back on my days of playing 2/4 and kind of missing them.  I’m almost thinking of them as the “good old days.”

This is not because my recent run of poker has been bad—although it has.  Yes, my bankroll would likely be better off if I had been playing 2/4 limit instead of 1/2 NL during this downswing.  But that’s not the reason I’ve been thinking more fondly of those days. 

It’s because I miss the fun.  Back when I first started playing NL cash games, when the blog was just a few months old, I did a post about the differences between the limit and no-limit games.  You can—and should—find that post here.  At the time, I was concerned that if I played NL full time, the kind of fun I was having playing poker—and the kind of fun stories I was getting from it—would vanish.  That post was actually introduction to my post about meeting my now good friend Prudence.  That was key because my first session with Prudence helped me convince me that I could play NL and still have really fun, really crazy sessions that would also provide me with quality blogging material. 

It’s a good thing, because honestly, sooner or later, I really wouldn’t have had much choice but to switch to NL.  Limit poker is increasingly hard to find in Vegas.  When I first started playing it, my favorite poker room (then referred to as “BSC”) always had multiple 2/4 games going whenever I walked in (even though there were always more 1/2 games going).  It became my favorite poker room because of the great 2/4 games.  These days, they virtually never get a limit game going (it would be 3/6 if they did). It’s been over two years I’m sure since I’ve seen one there.

Now of course, I’ve played in fun, crazy NL games plenty of times since then, and hopefully those sessions made entertaining blog posts.  But games like that occur much less frequently at the NL level than at the low limit level.  And it just seems like it’s been quite a while since I’ve played in one of those really fun games.

There are two ways a poker game can fun (maybe there are more, but for now, let’s go with two). One, it can be fun because you’re winning.  Winning is always fun.  As I’ve documented here, winning has been a rather infrequent occurrence for me lately.

The other way is with a great group of fun players, or perhaps just one particularly entertaining player bringing great conversation to the table.  Or outrageous conversation.  The more outrageous, the better.  It helps if said player is female.  Female isn’t mandatory of course, but those outrageous and slightly (or not so slightly) provocative women I’ve encountered in the course of my poker endeavors make for my personal favorite blog posts, starting with Prudence. It was my pal Woody who coined the term “woman said” and I love writing posts that merit that label—they are my favorite. But I haven’t run into a “woman behaving badly” in a long time—over a year, I believe. My dry spell in scoring stories starring fun ladies runs longer than my bad run of poker.

So, in thinking of this recently, I remembered there was one story, featuring a very fun female, that goes back to my 2/4 days that I’ve never written up for the blog.  It’s perhaps ironic, because it took place just a few months before I started the blog. In fact, this story is definitely one of the ones that my friends Woody & LM had in mind when they pushed me to start the blog.  The email thread about this particular night is quite long and very entertaining in and of itself.

So why have I avoided posting this before now?  Well, I guess there are a couple of reasons. One, there is somewhat of an embarrassing element to it that I always had a problem coming up with a way to talk about to the general public (as opposed to my really close friends, where I can say anything).  Second, it took place right around the same time as a particularly painful incident in my life occurred.  Furthermore, in some odd way that I cannot reveal, this story ultimately played a small part in painful incident. 

You see, this story took place on my first night of poker in Vegas in May, five years ago.  And although I wasn’t totally aware of it at the time, by the time this trip was over I was about to enter one of the most painful periods of my life—and as I said this story played a small (but not insignificant) part in it.  Thus I had trained myself to not think about this story too much, least I relive some painful memories.  And in fact, just starting to write this post brought some unpleasant stuff back to me that I’m better off not revisiting. Sigh.  But it’s been a long time and it is time to soldier on.

So on this night, I arrived in the poker room and there were two 2/4 games, as was pretty standard for that era.  I got on the list and looked over the two games (which were right next to each other).  I couldn’t help noticing that at one table, there was an attractive young woman sitting behind one of the male players.  She had long, brown hair and was wearing kind of a flowing white dress that was rather low cut. She was slim but had a very nice figure. So yeah, she got my attention.  And when she leaned forward to talk to her man, she revealed some cleavage.  Just on the basis of having a pretty face to look at, I kind of hoped that I would get a seat at that table as there were no pretty faces—just guys—at the other one.

I took a seat at an empty table and waited to be called.  It didn’t take that long and I was called to the game I wanted.  However, when I got there, I was disappointed to see the attractive woman was gone, as was the guy she was sitting behind.  Guess that’s why the seat was open.

I played there for about an hour, sitting in seat 4.  The limit games were always 10-handed, so either 5 or 6 were my preferred seats (for purposes of vision), 4 a bit less so.  When seat 2 opened up, the floor man brought over a new player, a young guy.  Then I noticed there was a young girl with him and the floor man turned to her and said, “You’ll be first up.  What’s your name?”  She said it was “Sheila” and he put her on the waiting list.  And then Sheila pulled a chair up behind the new player to observe. 

Since it had been an hour at least, I didn’t even recognize the girl initially.  But when she leaned over to talk the guy, it suddenly came to me that this was the girl I had noticed sitting behind a player before I joined the game.  So of course I assumed that she was sitting behind the same guy as before.

In fact, the player in seat 1, who had been there the entire time, said to him as he got settled in, “You’re back, huh?”  The returning player, who we will refer to as “Bruce” from now on, replied, “Well, we had to eat sometime.”  At first I thought I might have detected a British accent from Bruce, but in fact, I soon overheard Bruce tell seat 3 that he and Sheila were visiting from Australia and were on their honeymoon. I’m always upset with myself when I make that mistake, I’ve encountered enough players from both Australia and England that I should be able to easily tell the difference.  Usually I do, but sometimes I goof, like this time.

Meanwhile, I was doing lousy at cards, barely winning a pot.  Suddenly the guy to my left, in seat 5, left the game.  Because I was losing in my current seat and because I prefer seat 5, and only for those reasons, honest, I told the dealer I would slide over to take seat 5.  I was not remembering at this point that Sheila was next on the list and would be taking the open seat.   But of course that's what happened...she took the seat that I had just vacated.

It was really fortunate.  Because it put her only one seat away from her loving groom, and basically right across from him. So they could easily converse during the game. It was real nice of me to do that, even though that's not why I did it.

However, when Sheila took the seat on my immediate right, I couldn’t help noticing the cut of her dress.  In addition to being low-cut, it had this sort of crisscross design, meaning from one side it was possible to see a whole lot of Sheila.  To see a “whole lot,” you had to be on her left side.  And as it happened, I was on her left side.  Oh dear.  I guess I should mention that it was obvious that Sheila had not bothered to put on a bra when she left for her evening of poker.  Was I perhaps in position to see something I wasn’t supposed to see?  

Spoiler alert:  I was.  You remember the famous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” from the Super Bowl, right?  Well, one time when I was conversing with Sheila, I got a better view of her than I ever got of Janet Jackson.  Oops.

Oh well, so what?  It was just a quick nip-slip.  And what did it matter that some guy she’s gonna be playing poker with for an hour or two and never see again saw it?  Back then I thought, “Wow, this is fun story to tell my friends.”  If it happened today, my thought would be, “Wow this will be a fun story to blog about.”

But what happened over the next 6 hours changed my perception a bit.  Yeah, six hours.  That’s how long I played with Bruce and Sheila. 

Now of course, being a gentleman, I spent that entire time trying my damndest to not experience another Janet Jackson moment with Sheila.  I tried really, really hard not to see anything I wasn’t supposed to see—that I had already seen—again.  And again.  And again.  You all believe that I tried really hard not to see it again, right?  You do believe me, I’m sure.

I suppose the surest way to avoid a recurrence would have been to move to other side of her.  From her right side, I’d be able to see nothing. For reasons I am unable to explain, that though never occurred to me on this night.

Ok, we’ll get back to the wardrobe malfunction later. Actually, it will be in part 2, sorry. Let’s return to the conversation.

It turned out that Sheila was a really nice, really fun, really interesting person.  The same could be said for Bruce.  Soon after she sat down next to me, I confirmed what I heard, that they were from Australia on their honeymoon.  Just Vegas?  No.....they came to the U.S. for six weeks. They flew to NY and drove across the country, and were having a great time. BTW, it was tough driving here at first because she told me they drive on the wrong side of the road in Australia just like they do in England.  Vegas was their next to last stop.  The next morning they were planning to drive to L.A. and fly home from there.  They were going to Disneyland. Sheila had been there when she was five-years-old but Bruce had never been. But they would be returning to Vegas first for one more night—a last minute decision. Saturday night was a special "Glee" show at Mandalay Bay and they wanted to come back for that since Sheila loved that show. Actually Bruce said "they" love the show but Sheila said he was just being nice, it’s she who loved the show.  They were staying Saturday nite at Mandalay Bay.  They’d had four nites in Vegas—two at Venetian, two at Caesars.  I wondered why they were at BSC in that case. Had they seen a show there? Nope, just came to check it out.  

Sheila had been watching Bruce play poker and decided it looked like fun and would try playing. This was her first time ever playing real poker.  She said she plays on her Blackberry, but that was not with real people or real money.  But she was losing so much money at the video poker machines she didn't think she could do any worse at a real poker table, and this was more social.

I asked if they had come to the U.S. immediately after getting married.  Not quite, they were married in March and Bruce had been busy in court.  So I asked if he was a lawyer or a criminal. Sheila laughed.  He’s a lawyer, as is she.  She was quick to point out that they are corporate lawyers, not those “personal injury lawyers everyone hates.”  So Bruce was in court on a case. I asked if they wear those wigs in Australia like they do in England.  She said they do!  But not Bruce and her.  It's a little different down there.  Although they are actual lawyers and work for the biggest law firm in their city, they have not passed the bar exam yet.  Sheila was hoping to soon.  It is only the barristers who are allowed to speak in court (and wear the wigs). All they can do is take notes. 

After a few minutes of chatting, Sheila introduced herself and Bruce to me by name and asked my name and where I'm from and what I do.  Sheila immediately noticed that I knew all the dealers and asked if was a local.  I said no but that I’m Vegas a lot.  

And that’s where I’m going to end Part 1.  Part 2 is now posted and you can find it here.


  1. Good insights Rob. My take is that I have fun if (a) I win, or (b) if I lose, but to friendly, decent people who don't brag or have major bad attitudes. It's a huge bonus IMHO if I can have both.

    Unfortunately I've been finding lately at Hawaiian Gardens' NL tables that I get too intimidated, too emotionally involved as a result, and too many opponents apparently think being a shouting macho gloating asshole is a great image to have. If I hear one more idiot scream at me or anyone else at the table "gimme your damn chips!!", there's going to be blood. ;-)

    I think I may actually be *going back* to the low-limit tables soon, you are correct that there's way too much chasing and getting lucky at the $40 NLHE level. I need to wait until I can afford the $100 and above levels, I think, to try again.

    1. Sorry to hear about your recent struggles, Steve.

      It's a rough game. Losing is bad enough, but people acting like assholes at the table makes it unbearable.

      FWIW, when I played low limit in the L.A. clubs (mostly at the Bike), they were not fun sessions. Vegas is different.