Sunday, September 18, 2016

In Search of the Great Black Flush

This is the second (and final) part.  Be sure to read part 1 first, here.

We pick up with my decision to go to dinner,   Our table had been short-handed for awhile so I didn’t really want to leave my chips on the table and take up a seat while I ate.  For one thing, I feel it is rude to be away from the table that long just holding a seat.  Also, I was concerned they would break the table soon after I left, it sure looked that was quite likely.  So I racked up my chips to cash out, planning to return to the poker room after eating.

The thing was, with that late little rush, I had managed to work by second $200 buy-in up to $430.  So I was actually up thirty bucks for the session.  Nice recovery from that damn Kings hand.

Hmm, I knew what the house rule was regarding taking money off the table in such a situation. When I returned, I’d have to buy in for the $430 I took off the table earlier.  Unless I was gone at least two hours, that is.  After two hours, I could return and buy in for any amount between $100-$300. I learned that in the post here.  Prior to that previous session, I thought the time frame was one-hour, not two. 

I thought about it, and I decided that unlike the session I just linked to, this time I did want to rathole.  That $430 I’d have to buy back in for represented a profit of just $30.  It would be different if it was $230 profit.  But as I was essentially buying in to a whole new session, why would I want to buy in for twice what I usually buy in for?  It didn’t make sense to me.  I mean, if I wanted to buy in for $400, I’d play in a room where there’s either a $500 cap or no cap (Golden Nugget, for example, has no max on the buy in for their 1/2 game).

But if I was going to rathole, I was going to do it legitimately.  I would just wait the requisite two hours before getting back in a game.  Hmm….is it actually ratholing if what you’re doing is totally within the rules?  Maybe not.

Now the truth is, I probably could have gotten away with coming back much sooner.  At least I think I could.  My buddy Stan, the person who “stopped” me from ratholing in that previous post, no longer works in the MGM poker room.  The guy at the front was relatively new and didn’t really know me.  If I just came back an hour later, was he really going to remember how much I cashed out for?  Or that I only left an hour ago?  I kind of doubted it.  I could have tried it.

But no, I’m a guy who plays by the rules.  If it’s two hours I have to stay away, two hours it is.  Unlike some other people I could mention, I have no problem hanging around a casino and not gambling for two hours.  So after I walked across the street to grab my dinner at New York New York, I walked around, checked out “The Park” area for a second time, wandered over to Excalibur, checked out their poker room. 

I actually considered killing time by getting into a game at Excalibur.  I probably would have if I hadn’t filled up half of my parlay card.  Maybe I would have just finished up the night playing at Excal.  But by this time, I was interested in seeing if I get some more stamps on my card and possibly fill it up before leaving town two days later.

So just wandered some more, relaxed, and finally walked up to the MGM poker podium just about two hours after I’d left for dinner.  I did notice that the table I had been playing at earlier was closed up, so it was definitely a good thing that I didn’t leave my chips behind.

I took my normal starting stack of $200 to a different 1/2 game.  It was a wild table when I got there.  There was one particular maniac with a big, big stack.  He would open to $30 a lot, call big shoves, make big shoves himself.  By the time I got there, it appeared he was in the process of giving back all his money.  There was one hand where he called a shove of at least $200 on the turn with just a gut-shot—and missed.  Not much later, now playing with not so many chips (but still plenty), he made a shove himself on the river. When he got called (by someone who had him covered), he stood up and left, without even waiting for the guy to show his hand.  I don’t think he even mucked….he just left with his cards still sitting, face down, in his spot.

There was an Asian fellow there who was waiting for a seat in the 2/5 game.  He was pretty aggro.  He was there with his girlfriend, who was also playing.  He said that on their first date, they played poker.  However, the girlfriend was not nearly as aggro as the guy.  Her thing was to overbet the pot, particularly on the flop.  She was obviously not nearly as experienced a player as her boyfriend was, but she was definitely a step or two above a newbie.

Another player there joined us from an broken table, soon after I got there.  He seemed to me to be a newbie.  He took a really long time to make seemingly routine decisions.  He also seemed continually confused about the single chip rule and other poker etiquette.  Any chance he had to impress me with his game went out the window when, in the big blind, after at least five limpers, he raised to $5.  He’s not the first person I’ve seen make a raise like that, but still….it strikes me as one of the dumbest moves you can make in a hold’em game.  He wasn’t going to get anyone to fold, and if he had a big starting hand he wouldn’t be much of a favorite against the field he was inviting in.

But he did tell me something that I found somewhat disheartening.  He was considering getting into the 10PM tournament.  But he wanted to buy into it right before registration closed. He was convinced that was the smartest thing to do because the week before, he had entered the 7PM tournament right before reg closed and ended up winning it.  He won over $800 and there were 48 players.  I thought to myself, “Man if this guy could win a tournament, it really must be all luck.”

With most of my starting stack in front of me, I raised to $8 with pocket 10’s.  A new player to the table made it $25 and then another guy shoved for $27.  It folded back to me.  Knowing that the three-bettor couldn’t raise if I called, I called.  He did indeed ask if he could raise, but he was told he could not.  The flop came King-Queen-3 and it went check-check.  The turn was a 9 giving me a gut-shot.  This time he bet $25 and I went ahead and called.  I missed on the river and I folded when he bet $35.  He showed Ace-King.

I called a $5 straddle with pocket 5’s, then the straddler made it $10 so I called that. Five of us saw a flop of Jack-3-3.  No one bet.  The turn was another 3 and still no one bet.  The river was a 10.  This time someone bet $15.  It folded to me and, I just couldn’t fold a boat for that price, so I called.  But the guy had 10-x.

I was down to less than $100, and planned on top my stack off with another $100 when the button got to me. But before that happened, I was in the big blind with Ace-2 offsuit.  Now, I couldn’t remember the next day if there was a small raise that I called or it was limped.  It would have had to have been a very small raise for me to call. There were three or four of us in the hand. The flop came King-Queen-Jack, all clubs.  And my Ace was a club.  I checked and the Asian girlfriend I described earlier bet $35.  Definitely an overbet, just not sure how much.  I should have just shoved the rest of my small stack with my monster draw, I just called.  I guess I was thinking I could save a few bucks if the turn card was really ugly.  We were now heads up.  The turn was a brick and she bet $35 again.  That was about all I had left and I called (it was actually $34).  But the river bricked as well and I went bust.  She had 9-5 of cubs for the flopped flush.

So I bought another $200.  Very next hand, I limped in with pocket deuces.  No one raised and just eight of us saw a flop of Queen-Jack-2, rainbow.  Sweet.  The girl who had just busted me led out for $20.  I decided to just call, hoping maybe I could get another caller or two.  But everyone folded and we were heads up.  The turn was a blank and she bet $20 again.  I made it $50 and she called.  The river was a King.  She checked and was wondering if maybe she caught a straight.  Basically I was way too cautious there and just turned over my hand without betting.  She had Queen-6. The kid next to me—the seemingly novice player—burst out with, “Are you shitting me?” when he saw her hand.  “I threw out Queen-6!”  You see, he hadn’t noticed my hand and apparently thought she had won the pot.  When he finally saw my hand, he said, “Oh sorry, I didn’t see your hand….I’m so glad you won that pot, I thought I threw away the winning hand.”  Man that sure sounded like a newbie to me.

Well, it was nice to win the first pot after my rebuy, and also, that got me another stamp on my card for three-of-kind.  Only two to go.

The game wore on.  I lost some chips and probably won one or two really small pots.  Then finally, I got pocket deuces again.  When I limped in, I was thinking, “What’s the point?  There’s no way I’m going to flop a set of deuces twice in one session.”  Four or five us saw a flop of 8-8-2.  So I was right about not flopping a set of deuces again.  Flopping a boat was even better.  Someone bet $12, there was a call and I called.  The turn was whatever, but this time it checked to me.  I bet $15 and they both called (I bet small there to try to keep them in, figuring their checks were a sign of weakness).  On the river, whatever it was, it checked to me again, I bet $25.  I didn’t get a call, but I showed my hand to get a stamp for the full house.

Now I was just one stamp away from completing my card and getting $100.  All I needed was a black flush.  Could I get one before I called it a night?  It was getting towards 11:30 and I had figured I’d stop no later than midnight.  But I thought about it and decided if necessary, I could go to 12:30.  If I hadn’t hit my flush by then, I’d call it quits and return the next evening.

From that point on, I had a keen interest in seeing either clubs or spades (but not both) on my hole cards. I usually look at my cards one at a time, and whenever I saw the first card was red, even if it was an Ace, I was disappointed.  But when that first card was black, I would pray for the other card to be the Ace in that suit.  Or even the King of that suit.  Or a suited connecter.  And if the first card was a black Ace, I wasn’t wishing for a second Ace….I was hoping to see any card in that same suit.

Well, I’ve told you before, promos make me stupid (see here).  But seriously, although I was wishing for certain cards, I don’t really think I played any differently. I never called a big raise preflop with two crappy spades or clubs. Actually, I don’t think I really had the chance. For all my wishing, I didn’t see two black suited cards.  One time I did have Ace-Queen of clubs and raised with it, but totally whiffed on the flop.

It was close to midnight. Opening my hand, the first card I saw was the 9 of spades. Praying for the Ace of spades, I checked out the second card.  It was an 8….of spades.  OK, I’ll play that for sure.  I limped in, no one raised and three or four of us saw the flop.  Sorry, I didn’t’ write down the details, but there were two spades on it.  No one bet.  The turn card, whatever it was, was not a spade but did give me a gutshot in addition to the flush draw.  There was nothing in the pot, so I figured I better try to build one in case I caught my flush on the river.  I might not be able to get the pot to $40 if there was nothing put in the pot after the turn.  I bet $5 because the pot was small I didn’t think anything more would be called. Fortunately two players called.

The river was indeed a spade, and now I had two concerns.  One, did anyone catch a bigger flush than mine?  You have to win the pot to get the stamp.  And two, can I get a bet called so the pot will be over $40?  I bet $15, knowing that I only need one call to get the pot big enough. The first player folded but the lady who had busted me earlier called.  She had a straight. Phew.  I confirmed with the dealer that the pot was big enough for a stamp.  “Barely,” he said. Actually, by my calculations now, I really could have bet smaller, even $10 would have been ok.  But I needed that one call and I did thank the lady for calling.  But she wasn’t going to fold her straight for $15 anyway.

So I made it!  That was the last stamp I needed, I had managed to fill out a card entirely in one day.  And as soon as they brought me my $100, I took off.  That pot got my stack to $300.  But since I had bought in twice, it meant a $100 loss for the second session.  But with the $100 promo money, it became a break even session.  So for the entire day at MGM, I had a $30 profit.

It was fun filling out that card all in one day.  But man, it would have been super frustrating if I had come thisclose to completing the card and missing.

The pic below has nothing to do with this post, but since it is being posted on the second Sunday of the NFL season, I think it is somehow appropriate.  I hope the Packers-haters among you aren't too offended.


  1. Rob, glad you got the $100. Isn't it interesting how you were up $230 and ended up $30 after winning the promo. I've had sessions like that, where I'm up $250 and stick around until the end of the high hand promo only to lose my winnings and more haha.

    1. Thanks, Ace. But that's not what happened. I was NEVER up $230. the most I was up was $30 because I had to rebuy after the KK hand. And on the second session, I almost immediately went into the red again. So I didn't really lose any profit chasing the promo. In both sessions I was down big early and recovered.

    2. Oh, I see. I can't read. Yes, the dreaded KK.

  2. Rob,

    I see that you are not a fan of $5 silly raise. The time it makes sense, in a multiway pot, is when you have a suited Ace or get fancy with suited connectors.

    Or if you are playing during a promotion and you want the pot to reach a certain price.

    The thing with $5 is it will only cost you $3 more and no one folds for 5. If you do hit your magic flop or hit a monster draw you built a nice pot pre flop.


    1. Thanks, Golf that you mention it, I did once hear the answer as to why people do it, related to what you say. It is usually done by a player who has no confidence in his post-flop game, won't feel confident building the pot after the flop if he hits it. So he builds the pot preflop and if it hits, he's already got money in there and doesn't have to think too much after the flop.

      A suited Ace makes sense but....most likely the best scenario is that you flop a draw, and the flop and turn are going to be more expensive than if you didn't make the tiny raise. So more costly if you miss.

  3. But if it's done during normal circumstances yes it's silly, but during this promotion wouldn't that small raise almost ensure that the pot gets up to $40 that was needed?

    1. Thanks...yes, that's a valid point FD. A better way (to me) would be to make a decent sized raise, thin the field, and if you get called in one or two spots your about in the same place with a better chance to win the pot.

      Honestly tho, I don't think this guy was capable of making that calculation.

      And I've seen that move made when there was no such promo going to make it make any sense by that measure.

  4. I played at the MGM immediately following (or perhaps even during, slightly) the Superbowl this year. During that iteration of their promo, I filled the card (mostly unintentionally) in about 2 hours. I was almost literally (really figuratively) hit with the deck that session, cashing out for $800+. This was the first and only time I played that promotion at MGM, never had the change to get back.

    1. Nice report. It's so hit or miss tho, you could run well and still miss a hand or two. Or in my case, I actually lost money for the overall night but basically just got one of every hand I needed to fill it up in one nite.