Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Emergency Room, for Starters

As I start this, I'm not really sure how I'm gonna do it.  I suppose it will be a multi-parter, and I have no idea how many parts it will be or when I will keep adding to the story. If I have something better to talk about, I will interrupt it with that.  I don't want to get too medically detailed either, but fortunately, since I'm not a doctor and don't even play one on TV, there's scant danger of that. 

It so happens that despite the seriousness of what I have endured, there were actually a fair number of amusing anecdotes along the way.  Fortunately, I do already have a blog for reporting amusing anecdotes.  It would be a shame to waste it just because the stories don't involve poker or Vegas.  Keep in mind I've been through a lot since all this happened and I didn't keep notes, so some of the times, dates, and even details may be off a bit.

On Monday, October 17, I drove myself to the Emergency Room in the morning with some mild "discomfort" in my chest.  I really wouldn't call them chest pains, although perhaps that was an under reaction on my part.  Most of the time it was located very high on the chest, right under my neck, at the collarbone.  Sometimes it felt lower, more towards the center of my chest. It could be either the left or the right side, but it was more often the right side than the left.

I had noticed this for a few days.  I probably would have been more concerned but to be honest, I had had several similar incidents like this before.  The first time it was over 25 years ago. That time, I called my friend Norm, had him drive me to the ER.  I was only there an hour or two, they said I was fine, and Norm and I had lunch and saw a movie that afternoon.  The symptoms disappeared within a few days.

A few times more recently I have driven myself to the ER feeling something similar.  Each time, there was a lengthier stay in the ER, but each time, they found nothing.  After the first time, they recommended a follow up treadmill stress test, which I always completed within a few days time and always passed with flying colors.  End result: they never found anything, and the symptoms always went away on their own within a week or less.

One time I recalled arriving at the ER at Noon and not being released until midnite (and having to return for the treadmill stress test two days later).  It was before the days of smart phones and all I had to amuse myself while waiting for the test results was a dumb cel phone. There was delay with the lab results, that's why I was there so long.  I was bored out of my mind.  I did have a TV but I believe there were no cable channels on it.  I was reduced to watching "Deal or No Deal"—which actually kept me entertained a bit—and "Big Brother", which I watched for the first time and immediately decided was the worst show in the history of television.

I probably would have waited a few more days to decide to go in this time, but a look at the calendar got me thinking.  On that Friday (the 21st) I was headed back to Vegas for the first time since summer.  I skipped Labor Day trip due to my cataract surgery.  I was sure I had the same thing again—nothing—but couldn't stop thinking about if/when to go in.  I figured the only way to get it off my mind so I could concentrate on the trip was to just go in and get the clean bill of health.

Knowing I'd be there for a number of hours at least, I took my Kindle tablet and a few Kind bars (in case I couldn't get any food).  Knowing there was a greater than zero chance that I could be admitted, I threw some other things and put them in the car as well.  If I was admitted, I could have one of my friends visit me and bring stuff out of my car to my hospital room.  I wasn't too careful about the stuff I took, cuz it was a longshot.  But I grabbed my laptop, some toiletries and drugs that I had ready for my vegas trip, and a pair of pajamas and some changes of underwear.  I stuffed all this into a duffle bag I always take to Vegas    
My health provider is Kaiser Permanente.  They are a huge HMO in CA and other states.  If you've never had to deal with them, you've at least heard of them.  I've been with them for years.  The ER and my doctor's office—as well as a huge hospital—are located in Panorama City, which is roughly 20 minutes from my home.   So I drove myself over there and got checked into the ER.  They wasted little time in taking an EKG.  After that, they sent me back to the waiting area.  About 20 minutes later a nurse called me into the ER.  The nurse said that they EKG looked good.  He even told me I had a "good heart."  I replied, "Then what am I doing here?"

He laughed and said that he wasn't sure.  There put me in a gurney and then came back to check on me every once in the while. I was just lying in the hallway.  I assumed that meant that they were out of actual rooms to stick me but they never told me that.  I knew from past times that they would have to do two things before they'd release me: Give me a chest X-ray and take some blood tests.  But no one really told me what was going on.  I never saw an actual doctor during this time.  The first nurse (who did the EKG) asked a few questions but I would have expected a doctor to ask more in regards to my symptoms.  Never happened.

They finally took some blood and eventually took an X-ray.  I waited for hours and was mostly ignored. I wasn't even offered water (since I didn't have a room, there was no tray to put it on anyway).  I certainly wasn't offered food.  My Kindle was behind me where I couldn't reach it, but I had my cell phone to check twitter and such.  I was honestly disappointed with the way they were handling my situation, based on past experience with this very same thing.

Sorry to end this there, so incomplete.  But as I post this, in real time, I had a bit of set back today (Sunday). I felt that I had a bit better each day since getting out of the hospital.  But Saturday night I came back with some serious gastric distress.  I won't go into the gory details, but I spent of an awful lot of time in the bathroom for the next 12 hours.  Between that and a lack of sleep, I've been unable to spend any time writing today.  I feel much better now and hopefully will get back to making progress on my recovery tomorrow.  I'll continue this "soon".

(Edited to add, see the follow up here),

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Out of the Hospital

This will be another brief update on my condition.  Fortunately, I feel closer and closer to the point when I can do some real writing.  But still too tired and drugged up for that quite yet.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I was released from the hospital   I guess I was up to that but going "home" was quite the ordeal and took so, so much out of me.  The night was rough too as getting used to not having a nurse I could call when I needed something was challenging.  I am currently staying with my sister until I am up to completely caring for myself.  

Everyone has been joking about the possibility that I was having "cute" or "hot" nurses taking care of me, even giving me sponge bathes.  Hah! Nothing could be further from the truth.  Nearly half the nurses were male (though, to be fair, some of my readers may have thought some of them cute).  The female ones were hard working, dedicated, very caring.  And in the end I am glad they were hired for those reasons and not because of their physical characteristics.  

I had the triple bypass morning Saturday, so just five days ago.  Hard to believe.

Right now recovery consists of exercising....which means going for a walk twice a day.  I started at five minutes, and am supposed to add a minute each day.

I would certainly like to push the fast forward button on the next 6 weeks.  

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your well wishes.  Keep the coming..they do help!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Quickie Update

All the doctors say I'm doing really well. Of course I'm still in a lot of pain and discomfort but the docs know best.  Got out of surgery about 48 hours ago.

No idea when I'll be back to a normal routine. It will probably be a while 

Hopefully I can get back to doing some writing sbout the ordeal soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

This Alternative to Being in Vegas Really Sucks

Just a quick update.  I was supposed to be in Vegas tonite, through Halloween Weekend.

Not happening.

I am in L.A., in a hospital, waiting to be told when my Triple Bypass Surgery is scheduled.  Should be by Monday, the latest.

The problem was caught early, which is good, obviously.  There's no reason why I shouldn't have a complete recovery.  But it won't be quick, for sure.  After I am released, I am looking at six weeks of limited activity and no driving.  So Vegas, or any form of live poker, is out during this period.

So I won't have much if any of my usual content to write up.

The circumstances that got me here might be interesting though, and after I am able to write again, I may turn this (temporarily, at least), into a hospital story blog (one story even involves a medical tech who likes to martingale blackjack!)

We'll just have to see what develops.

Thanks in advance for your well wishes.

(Edited to add: Just found out I am scheduled for surgery tomorrow--Saturday--at 7:30AM) 

(Edited to add #2:  I changed it so that comments to recent posts, including this one, do not need my approval.  Figure it might be awhile for me to be up to approving them.  I will delete the spam comments that get thru when I get the chance)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Sir, I Write for a Poker Magazine"

This is a follow-up to my previous post (here).  It’s not a second part, this session was never meant to be a two-parter. It’s just that a few hours after publishing the previous post, I realized I’d left out this little part of the session, and I thought it was worth mentioning.  So since I need something to post anyway, I thought I’d do it as a separate entry. Hopefully this will please those of you think my normal posts are too long.

At one point during the session, the seat to my left opened up and a distinguished looking gray haired man took it.  I had noticed he had been playing in the now-broken 3/5 game that had been right next to ours.  I sort of recognized him.  I couldn’t remember anything about his play, but I knew I had seen around this room before.

He apparently didn’t recognize me at all.  But he must have noticed that I wasn’t playing any hands.  Now at one point, I misread where the button was and put out a $5 chip for the big blind when I was actually under-the-gun.  Said gentleman said to me, “Are you straddling?”  I double checked and realized my error, took back the chip and said to the guy, “No, I just thought I was the big blind. Thanks.”

Well that should have been the end of it, but he said something like, “You’ll be the big blind next hand.”  Well, duh.  I assumed he was just trying to be funny.

But when the next hand came around, he said, “Now you’re the big blind.”  Thanks for the lesson, Sparky.  This isn’t my first rodeo (actually, to be honest, it wasn’t a rodeo at all, but I digress).

So play continued and next orbit, the guy on my right was away from table when it was his big blind.  I posted the big blind of course.  I don’t think the guy on my left gave me any coaching this time.  Next hand, I put out my small blind and just then, the guy on my right returned and wanted to buy the button.  I was looking at my phone so I didn’t notice immediately.  So my “helpful” neighbor on my left, instructed me to take my small blind back and then launched into a brief lesson on what it meant for the guy on my right to be buying the button.

Up until that point, I wasn’t really sure, but it was now clear to me that this guy thought I was a total poker newbie.  He thought I knew nothing about poker!  Hey, if he thinks I don’t know how to play poker tactically, I’m not gonna argue with him, I know I’m not Phil Ivey (never mind that I still was playing any hands for him to discern this).  But I do know the rules and the etiquette of the game fairly well. 

I’m sure he gave me one or two more “lessons” in how the blinds work before my session was done.

I was more amused than annoyed.  I didn’t say anything, I was just kind of nodding as he educated me,  but in my head I had all sorts of responses that I decided not to give him.

“I may not know how to play poker well, but I do know the rules.  In fact, I work in the poker business. I work for one of the most popular poker websites there is.  I write for a monthly column for a poker magazine.  Oh and I by the way, I have my own poker blog that’s received well over a million page views.  I think I understand how the blinds work.”

I said nothing, no point.  It’s a small room with a relatively small cast of characters, and I don’t want to out myself as a blogger.  Besides, if I ever did play a hand, it would work to my advantage having this guy think I was clueless.  Sadly, I never got to test this theory.  

That’s all I got.  The pic below has nothing to do with anything, but I’m guessing most of you will like it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"I Admire Your Patience, Sir"

I played poker yesterday at PC in Ventura.

I mean, I guess I did.  I was at a poker table with chips in front of me.  They kept putting two playing cards in front of me.  That’s poker, right?

But almost immediately after getting those two cards, I returned them to dealer with touching my chips.  Over and over and over again.

Basically, I was mostly just taking up space.

I guess that’s the long version of saying, “Boy, was I card dead.”  But since I’m famous for my pithiness, I thought I’d change it up and go for verbosity for a change.

Fortunately, there were a couple of hands that other people played that I observed that kept me from falling asleep at the table.

Within minutes of taking my seat at my table, another seat opened and a guy likely in his mid-30’s took it.  We will call this fellow the table’s “Designated Maniac” or DM for short.  He bought in for $300, the max.  The dealer asked him if he wanted a hand.  He was going to be under-the-gun, so he might have decided to wait a few hands and then come in behind the button. But no, not only did he take a hand, he decided to straddle (for $6, remember the game is 2/3 NL).

A few players called his straddle, including the big blind.  DM then added $25 to his $6 to raise.  It folded back to the big blind, who announced “all-in.” That escalated quickly, as they say.  The big blind had about $260 - $270.  DM wasted almost no time in announcing “call.”  They didn’t show and the flop was Ace-Queen-X.  The last two cards were low and unpaired.

The big blind showed pocket Kings.  I’m sure he dreaded them when he saw that Ace on the flop.  But DM studied the board for a few seconds, and then meekly mucked his hand, face down.

Huh?  What the heck did he have?  Obviously not the most obvious hands, like AA, QQ, AK or even AQ.  So pocket Jacks?  Tens?  Worse?  Remember, he called a huge shove for nearly all of his stack.  Sure, in that spot, he could have raised his straddle with any two cards, hoping to steal.  But you would think he’d have to have a premium hand to call the shove. 

DM immediate bought another $300 (he had to pocket a few $5 chips to keep his buy-in at the $300 max).  And within a hand or two, he lost that one two (I think he shoved on the flop, got called, and lost to a fairly weak hand, again not showing his hand).

For the first orbit or two, he raised pre every time, big raises.  Not $12 or $15 like is common there but $20-$25.  He lost more chips,. Added $200 again, and finally, finally slowed down.  He would occasionally limp in and would occasionally fold to a big bet post flop.  But I’m pretty sure he never ever folded preflop.  That seems impossible but honestly, I can’t remember once when he did.  By the end of my time there though, he was limping in much more often than he was raising preflop.  He would pretty much call any prelop raise (if he didn’t three-bet, which he did a lot at first, until he slowed down).

He also sometimes won some big hands. Even maniacs get pocket Aces sometimes, and one time he did.

He was sitting two to my left, and I was only able to move one seat to my right to get a bit away from him.  My strategy almost immediately went to “wait for a hand and push” mode.  I wasn’t waiting for a great hand, or even a good hand.  Just a hand.  A decent or even semi-decent hand.  There were few limped pots and thus I had to get a hand that was arguably playable in a raised pot.

And I was just obscenely card dead.  For over an hour I did not put any money in the pot voluntarily.  Just the blinds.  I may have seen one or two pots when I was the blind and no one raised.  And of course completely whiffed.

During this period, I did witness one hand where I saw what I thought was a huge mistake.  There was a “mature”, very nice woman at the table.  She raised to $25 from the button.  I’m pretty sure it was a three-bet after DM had initially raised—by this time his opening raises were more “normal.”  She had three callers including DM.  The flop was Jack-high, two spades.  The lady bet $50.  That was too small for the size of the pot ($100), I thought.  She had two callers.  DM actually folded.  The turn was a second club, and this time she bet $100 (also too little).  Both of the other players called.

OK, the pot was now huge.  We’re talking $550, give or take, right?  The river was a third spade.  And this time, the small blind, with first action, led out.  He shoved for his last $110 or $120 or so.  That’s all he had left.  The next guy, who had closer to $200, folded instantly.  And thus the action was on the lady who had forced all the action until the river.

She still had over $300 left.  The pot was now at least $660.  It was huge.  I didn’t imagine that this lady was barreling twice with air.  She must have had a pretty good hand.  But she tanked.

“You didn’t,” she said to the guy who shoved.  “You couldn’t.”  OK, obviously she was worried about the flush.  That’s what the guy was representing.  And the way the hand played out, it made perfect sense that he had the flush, right?

Still, that bet was much too small to fold a bluff-catcher for the size of the pot.  I knew the lady had to call, I knew there was no way she could fold there if it was even remotely possible she had the winning hand.  There was no further action so after all she’d put in the pot, what’s another hundred bucks?

I don’t remember exactly what the guy was saying to her questions/comments about him having caught his flush.  It was non-committal, hard to read. But to me, it didn’t matter.  It was just a question of math.  She had to call there.

But she didn’t, she folded, politely cursing the guy who she folded to (in a very ladylike manner).  He was about to turn in his cards when he said, “Do you want to see?”  I think she said, no, or she didn’t care, but a few others said they wanted to see.  So he showed.  It was King-Jack.  One of them was red.  I think the other one may have been a spade, but he didn’t have the flush.

The other guy who folded said he had Ace-Jack, but assumed the lady would call and that one of them for sure had him beat.  He would have called if the lady was already out…and won.

The lady was as calmly and quietly livid as I can remember seeing anyone.  “I hate you.”  She didn’t say exactly what she had but she said it was a bigger pair than Jacks.  Most likely she had Aces, maybe only Kings.  She was fuming, but in a nice, pleasant way.  As she kept muttering about it, she eventually verbalized that it was her fault, that she shouldn’t have folded for that amount of money.  Lesson learned for her.  Amazing to me the guy got away with a bluff like that.  Good read on the lady on his part.

Another point….I did mention that I thought her flop and turn bets were too small.  That certainly kept both players in, when maybe bigger bets would have gotten them out.  But if she had bet bigger both times and the small blind had still called, he wouldn’t have had any chips to shove/bluff with!  I’m sure the other guy was just looking for a showdown and she could have taken the pot.  Good lesson for everyone there.

It was an hour before I actually got a hand to play.  It was Ace-Jack of clubs.  I limped in because DM was behind me and I didn’t want him to three-bet me off it.  Instead the guy in front of him raised to $18, DM called, another player called and I called.  I totally whiffed the flop and had to fold.

After nearly 90 minutes, I thought about it and realized that I had not seen a single pocket pair.  No Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  Not a single suited connector. It was almost comical. Actually, it would have been comical if it had happened to someone else.

So I was in the big blind with Queen-4 offsuit, no one raised.  The flop was Queen-high.  It checked around twice.  On the river, which paired the board (6’s), DM bet $3.  I called and took it (he had a pair of deuces).  First pot I’d won all day, and it was yugggge!  I suppose I could have gotten DM to call a few bets but I really didn’t like my kicker.

I finally got a pocket pair.  It was 9’s.  I called a raise with them and folded on the flop that was all over cards.

I got 9’s again, and the exact same thing happened.

Then I got Ace-King under-the-gun.  I raised to $12.  I was surprised no one commented because that was not only the first raise I’d made all day, but it was one of the few hands I’d played.  But no one said anything.  Only DM called.  The flop was Ace-8-4, I bet $20, he called. The turn was a blank.  I checked, thinking he would likely bet and I would call.  He was still playing every hand and any two cards.  He could easily have lucked into two pair.  But he checked behind.  The river was a King, and as I started to grab chips to bet, he folded.

So that was the second pot I won and a bit more chips than the first one.

About 10-15 minutes later, as I folded another garbage hand, DM must have seen some frustration on my face as I sent the cards back to the dealer.  “I admire your patience, sir.”

I smiled and said, “Just not getting anything to play.  Total garbage.”  He responded, “Well, that doesn’t stop me, I don’t wait.”  Really, sir?  I hadn’t noticed.

At that point, a few others who had been at the table the whole time commented.  “Is there a person in that seat?”  “Have you been here the whole time, I hadn’t noticed.”  I just laughed. 

I said, “I’ve only gotten two pocket pairs all day, and nothing else.  Just ridiculously card dead.  Believe me, I’m not usually this tight.”  True enough.  Even the biggest nit in the world would have played more hands than I had.

Just then, the next hand was dealt, and wouldn’t you know it, I looked down at two Queens!  I opened to $12.  Everyone went crazy, like it was only because I was commenting about being so card dead that I raised.  So I played along.  “Yeah, since you all noticed, I really have total garbage again, I’ve got nothing.  Just tired of not playing.”

No one bit—except DM.  Of course he called. He always called.  Unless he three-bet, that is.  The flop was low, I bet $20 and he folded.  At this point, I knew I’d be leaving soon, so I didn’t think there’d be any harm in showing my hand, so I did.  Someone said, “See, you complain and look what you get.”

Well, I stuck around another orbit or two and gave up.  I had managed to lose only $25, rather amazing for being so card dead.  Well for sure, I didn’t lose any big pots.

When I left, I said good-bye to everyone, and wished them good luck.  Then I added, “I’m sure when you see me again, I’ll actually play a few hands.’  Again, one guy said he didn’t even know I was at the table.  So I said, “Well, you tell me, is 9-4 a good hand?  Cuz I sure saw that a lot.”

Well, a few people said, “Ask him!” and pointed to the shift manager, who I see almost every time I play there.  And suddenly I remembered hearing him say once (or confirm), that indeed, 9-4 is his favorite (or lucky) hand.  I even remember him saying, “Everyone knows that….they even know it in Vegas!”

Now here’s the odd thing.  I actually don’t recall getting 9-4 once yesterday.  I just pulled that hand out of my ass right at the moment.  I mean, I got every other bad hand imaginable, but not that one.

And if you had asked me five minutes earlier what the shift manager’s favorite hand was, I’m sure I couldn’t have come up with it.  But still, I have to wonder, if, on some subconscious level, I knew about the 9-4 and that’s why it came to me.  Weird.  Or just a coincidence, maybe.

That’s it for this post. I am including the picture below of this rather ordinary-looking young lady because I need your help.  As you can see, she is holding the 10 of hearts.  If you’re like me, that’s probably the only thing you find you noticed in the pic.  I just can’t figure out why she is holding the 10 of hearts.  Can you?  Let me know.  My curiosity is aroused.

EDITED TO ADD:  Brief follow up to this post can be found here, just something I forgot to mention in this post.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cocktail Time

This is a story that goes way back, and it has nothing to do with poker or Vegas.  But it is a “woman “woman said” story, and as I’ve noted before, those are my favorite kind of posts to write.  I haven’t had the chance to write up many “woman saids” lately—they just haven’t been coming.  True, my previous post (here) was a “woman said”, but it was rather tame for the genre. This one is much more salacious.

I was recently with my friends Woody & LM (the ones who encouraged me to start this blog) and was reminded of this story from our past.  It took place many years ago, and I just remember a few details, but what I remember is quite juicy.

The story starts when I somehow discovered that there was a cocktail called a “shaved bush.”  Don’t ask me how I found it.  I just did.  It was on a bartender’s guide website.  Unfortunately, the site I found it on no longer exists and it’s really hard to confirm that such a cocktail exists.  If you Google it now (and be sure to add “cocktail” after “shaved bush”!), you will most likely be directed to a drink called a “shaved pussy” instead.  Close enough, right?  I assume the recipes are one and the same.  Anyway, there’s actually evidence that it was once called a “shaved bush” in the book you can find here.

I emailed the original link I found (which included how to make it) to Woody and LM because I thought it was a rather amusing name for a cocktail.  They enjoyed the name as well, and LM reviewed the ingredients and thought it sounded like it might be tasty.

Now, at this time, Woody and LM were frequenting a sports bar in their neighborhood.  We’ll call this bar “Cheers” because they went there often enough so that everyone knew their names.  They not only liked the food and the adult beverages at Cheers, but they also liked the atmosphere and the staff.  There was one particular waitress that they always asked for when they went.  Let’s call her Diane, since that seems like a good name for a waitress working at a place called “Cheers.”  (Note: Please don’t confuse my friend Woody with any bartender from Cheers).

Diane was young and loud and friendly and outrageous and funny and not at all ladylike.  She had quite the mouth on her.  She would banter with Woody and LM in pretty much an X-rated manner.  There was nothing you could say to her that would shock her, and at least half the things that came out of her mouth would make a sailor blush.  Woody and LM always had a good time whenever they went to Cheers and were served by Diane.

When LM heard of the drink “shaved bush,” she knew she had to ask Diane if she was familiar with it.  That, in and of itself, would be fun.  So one time, at Cheers, LM asked Diane if she knew what a shaved bush was. Sadly, her exact response to this provocative question is lost to time, but I’m sure it was pretty good.  But Diane had never heard of the drink.  She of course went to the bartender to ask if he knew what a shaved bush was.  I’ll bet that interaction was classic too, but again, I cannot report it to you.  Anyway, the bartender never heard of it either.

As I said, LM thought it sounded like it might be good, so she brought the recipe in and had the bartender make her a shaved bush.  And she did indeed like it.  I dunno if she kept ordering but I know she did occasionally.

Well, one time they invited me to join them at Cheers.  There were mostly anxious for me to encounter the outrageous Diane.  So I joined them one evening and they introduced me to Diane.

To be honest, I can’t remember much of that encounter.  But one thing I do recall is that Woody wanted to get a picture of Diane and me together.  So she leaned into me and Woody took a few snaps.  In one, Diane stuck her tongue all the way out and it looked like she was licking my face. There was another pic where she put both her hands down my shirt and rubbed my chest for the photo (I was wearing a button down shirt, which she partially unbuttoned).  To be honest, it’s possible both those things happened in the same photo.

Anyway, it was a fun night, and Diane was every bit as sensational and salacious as advertised. It’s too bad I wasn’t doing a blog back then, because I’m sure a blog post written immediately after the evening, when it was all fresh in my mind, would have been epic. 

But as it is, I just remember the best line of the evening.  Cheers had a computerized menu, for both drinks and food.  You just punch in the menu item and the computer kicks out the price.  On this night, LM had ordered a shaved bush, no doubt so that I could see Diane’s reaction to the name of the drink.  I’m sure many jokes ensued, all lost to time.  But when she bought the check, there was no way for it to show a “shaved bush” on it, because that drink was never in their computerized system.

I guess Woody noticed that instead of a “shaved bush,” the bartender charged us for a different drink, presumably one of equal value.  And the item on the check showed up as a…..”blowjob.” 

Check it out folks, if you’ve never heard of it, but yes, there is a mixed drink known as a blowjob.  You can find out about it here.  I am led to believe that it is a popular drink served at bachelorette parties, if for no other reason than to make jokes about the bride-to-be and blowjobs.

Well, I had certainly never heard of a blowjob cocktail (my goodness, that sounds obscene, doesn’t it?).  I asked Woody and LM what kind of drink that was.  I honestly don’t recall if they knew or not, but they knew that asking Diane would be fun.  Since the drink was in their system, she would certainly know what it was.

So when she came back to pick up the payment for the check, LM pointed to the item on the check and said, “Diane, what’s a blowjob?”

We all laughed, and Diane spent a few words beginning to describe the drink and its ingredients, like, “Oh, well it’s part…”  But before she could get into the description, she stopped herself.

And then, pointing to me, she said, “Would you like me to demonstrate on this young man?”

Needless to say, there was a burst of laughter from our table.  I’m not sure we ever got an explanation of what the drink actually was.  And no, she did not demonstrate it on me (although Diane was so outrageous that it was not outside the realm of possibility that she might at least have started to).

But it was a fun evening, a heckuva punchline….and a classic “woman said” long before I even knew what a “woman said” was. .

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"He Wants to Sleep With You"

Well, it’s been over three months since I’ve returned from my most recent trip to Vegas.  Can’t believe it’s been that long.  And I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I’ve been to Vegas.  Anyway, this is the story of the cash game session I played on my very last night in Vegas in early July.

The venue was the Wynn, my second time playing there this trip.  I told you about the first time, and reviewed their beautiful new poker room, here.  In that post, I also mentioned that a couple of my old MGM buddies had moved over there.  I didn’t see them the first time I played there, but this time, before I noticed him, I heard someone in a suit call out my name, and I looked over and it was my pal, Brent.  “How ya doing?” he asked as he shook my hand.

Brent was always one of my very favorite dealers at MGM, and I missed him.  He’s appeared in quite a few of my stories.  Perhaps my favorite Brent story is the one here.  Anyway, we had a nice chat.  During the summer Wynn series, Brent was working mostly on the floor.  He said he was only dealing once a week.  He would prefer to deal more and floor less.  But overall, he expressed great happiness at being at the Wynn.  Of course he wanted to know if I’d seen the poker room before, and I told him I had.  We caught up and had a real nice chat.  I guess I caught him at the tail end of his shift because once I got a seat in a game, I didn’t see him again.

I bought in to the 1/3 game for $300.  In the seat next to me was a cute girl who had her face buried in her cell phone.  It turns out she was playing in a tournament on  It was a satellite for the Ladies event at the WSOP which was a day or two away.  She managed to keep her mind both on the online tournament and the live game we were playing. She had over $800 in front of her when I got there. She even had time to tell me that she was at the final table (online) with her best friend.  She said she was at a disadvantage because she felt bad about stealing her friend’s blinds, but her friend had no such concern.  She ended up being heads up against her girlfriend but lost.  She got some money, but her friend got an entry to the Ladies event.  After the satellite ended, she was playing sit-n-go’s online.

Later I moved to a spot next to the dealer so I could see the cards better.  Not long after I moved, a guy took the seat next to me, just one away from the cute girl, who I am going to call Alysa.  The guy next to me recognized Alysa, saying to her, “I remember you from the old room.  Alysa, right?”  Alysa confirmed her name. “Are you still with that guy….Alvin is it?” 

“No, well yes.  I mean, he’s just my roommate, that’s all.  We’re just friends.”

The guy said, “There’s no such thing as ‘friends.’  He’s just hanging on for that day when get a little drunk and it finally happens. He definitely wants to sleep with you.”

Alysa took issue with that.  “No, it’s not like that. Men and women can be friends. He’s my best friend.”  They got into a friendly disagreement about it, and then, as was inevitable, one of them brought up the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.”  Pretty sure by the end of that movie, they had proven his point, not Alysa’s.

The banter continued.  “I’m too old for him.  He’s just a kid, I’m eight years older than him.”  I imagined Alysa was late 20’s, early 30’s. Did I mention she was cute?  Since Alvin was apparently playing poker at another table in the room, he must have over 21.  I seriously doubt he’d find Alysa too old for some hanky-panky.

The guy insisted that “he’s waiting for the night you get too drunk, before you get dried up.”

Alysa was not offended by that at all, she laughed and said, “That’s already happening.”

“Well, before you get too dried up.”

As the game went on, he kept going back to the subject.  “He’s staying in that friend zone, waiting for the opportunity. He wants to sleep with you.”

Alysa said, “Oh, I never said he doesn’t’ want to sleep with me.  But it isn’t going to happen.”  Later, she admitted that sometimes when she’d go out to a movie by herself, she’d tell Alvin that she was going on a date.

There was another woman at the table, a very aggressive player.  During the friendly table talk, she mentioned she was from Utah—Salt Lake City, I believe.  Then she said, “Well, aren’t you going to ask me if I’m a Mormon?”  So someone obliged and asked her if she was a Mormon.  And she replied, “Yes I’m a Mormon.  The more men, the better.”  Alysa found that particularly funny and said, “Oh that’s a good one, I’ll have to remember that.”

On to the poker.  Early on I had called $10 with Queen-10 of hearts, four of us saw the flop.  It was Queen-6-2, all clubs.  I called $20 and it was heads up.  The board paired the 2 on the turn and it went check-check.  The river was a blank and she bet $40 (I think this was the Mormon lady, not Alysa).  Unfortunately, my voice notes don’t explain to me why I called the $40.  Three months later, I can’t figure it out.  I guess because she checked the turn, it felt like maybe she had an Ace-King type hand was trying to steal it on the river.  But she turned over pocket 6’s for a boat.

In the small blind I completed with King-10 of hearts, it was six-ways.  The flop was King-high and I bet $10 and had three callers.  Another King hit the turn and I bet $35 and didn’t get a call.

This next hand bothered me a bit after.  I raised to $12 with Ace-Jack of clubs and had five callers.  The flop was Ace-10-x, one club.  I bet $30 and the guy on my left immediately shoved.  It was for $217 which was a bit more than I had.  It folded back to me.  I tanked.  This guy had never shoved before and hadn’t been particularly aggressive.  He maybe played a few more hands than average, but he hadn’t been betting any of them very hard.  Eventually I folded. He didn’t show.

Afterwards, I kept wondering if folding was the right play.  It was hard to put him on a hand where his shove made any sense.  Plus, my stack-to-pot ratio there was a bit more than three, which should have made it an automatic call with top pair, even if I could be outkicked.  I dunno, I just didn’t think this guy was risking his whole stack to steal what was then a $90 pot.  He ended up leaving not too long after the hand, so I was never able to get a better idea of what he was up to.

Alysa opened to $12 and I called with Ace-9 of hearts, it was 6-ways.  The flop was Ace-Ace-Queen, one heart.  After Alysa checked, I checked behind her.  I have it in my notes that “I should have bet.”  I know.  I can’t tell you why I didn’t.  No one else bet either.  The turn card was a low heart and this time I bet $45 and had no takers.

I had Ace-King and raised to $12, it was three-way.  The flop was King-Queen-9, I bet $25 and I was now heads up with Alysa. The turn was another King and my bet of $50 was called.  The river was another 9 and I bet $60.  She folded.  She said to me, “One of these times I’m going to get you.”

Next hand the Mormon lady straddled.  I made it $20 with pocket Queens and both ladies called.  The flop was King-Jack-x and my $35 bet was not called.

I raised to $12 with King-Queen of hearts, Alysa and one other called.  The flop was Ace-Jack-4, I bet $25 and only Alysa called.  We both checked a blank turn.  But the 10 on the river completed my gut-shot.  She led out with $40.  Seeing as how I had the absolute nuts, I made it $100.  She tanked, and talked. “Oh god….King-Queen?  Really?  Oh, alright,” and she called. She showed pocket 4’s for a set.  She said, “I should have bet the turn.  Why didn’t I bet the turn?”

The guy on my right, the guy who was telling Alysa that Alvin was waiting for a chance to sleep with her, agreed with her that she should have bet the turn.  “Yeah,. You shoulda bet the turn.  He would have folded.  Or at least, he should have folded.  You would have folded, right?”  I shrugged.  “I dunno, I guess it might depend on how much she bet.”

I had pocket deuces in a limped pot, four-ways.  I caught my set but the flop was all clubs.  I bet $10 and had one call.  Another club and I bet $15, he called.  The river was another damn club, making my set worthless.  We both checked, and he took it with a King of clubs.

In the big blind I had Queen-Jack of clubs and no one raised.  Three of us saw a flop of Queen-Queen-x, two spades. I bet $5 and they both called.  The turn was the Jack of spades, the absolutely perfect card for me.  I decided to check figuring someone would bet.  I was right.  The Mormon lady bet, but it was only $5. Fortunately the guy on my right, the small blind, the guy teasing Alysa all night, check-raised to $15.  I suppose just calling might have been a good option but I made it $35.  What is that when you check-raise after a check-raise? A check-raise squared?

The lady folded but the small blind called after tanking quite a bit.  The river was the 5 of hearts, and after he checked, I put out $50. The way he was agonizing over his call on the turn, I didn’t think he would call anything bigger.  And he had been playing with me for awhile and had to figure I wasn’t betting light there. Again he tanked….and spoke.  “Oh man, man…I don’t know….OK, a full house is good.”  He showed King-8 of spades.

I played awhile longer but didn’t get anything to play. I cashed out with a nice $150 profit.  And it was a fun table to boot.  Not a bad way to finish my trip. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Revisiting My Session With a Very Classy Celebrity

Today I am running a post that originally appeared a couple of years ago.  I don’t have a new post to give you, so I thought the post below would be especially appropriate for the today for a couple of reasons.  You’ll realize why this is the perfect time of the year to revisit this story when you get to the “reveal.”  Also, there is quite a bit of salaciousness in the news right now, so I thought you might appreciate a break from all that with one of the most wholesome, family-friendly posts I’ve ever done.  I won’t even add a typical “robvegaspoker” pic to spoil the mood.

This remains my all-time favorite poker session, and is also likely my personal all-time favorite blog post.  It is certainly my favorite G-rated blog post. 

One change from when I original posted it.  At the time, I spoiled the surprise in the title of the post.  This time, I am presenting it without identifying the “Mystery Man” until the appropriate time in the story.  So even some of you have read the story before might possibly have forgotten who I am talking about.  Some of you may just have such bad memories that you’ve forgotten the entire story and can enjoy as if it is new to you.  New readers are hopefully in for a pleasant surprise!

This post is from July 6, 2015, Enjoy!

Some poker sessions are memorable for reasons other than the results.  The session I had yesterday at the Aria, in which I left up exactly $1, will probably go down in my personal history as my all-time favorite poker session.

I was at the Aria waiting for a 1/3 seat to open.  I didn’t have to wait too long (by Aria standards) and was finally called to a table. There were two open seats and I took seat 4, directly across from Mystery Man, or MM for short, in seat 1 

The other open seat was seat 3, which was almost immediately taken by an Asian gentleman.  However, he came to the table holding a stack of red chips that was clearly less than the $100 minimum buy-in for the game.  The dealer pointed this out to him, and he explained that he had given bigger chips to the cashier to convert to smaller chips and his money was on the way.  Since no one had explained this to the dealer, the dealer was about to call the floor, and would not deal the player a hand until this was resolved. 

At this point, MM asked the Asian man, “What do you need?  $200?”  And he reached into his wallet and handed the guy two $100 bills.  At this point, I assumed the two knew each other.   But as the session wore on, and there was no conversation between the two of them, it became obvious that MM no more knew the Asian gentleman than he knew me.  He handed a total stranger $200!

The gentleman used the hundreds to buy red chips and the game went on.  Much, much later, an Aria employee came by and gave the Asian man a $1,000 chip. She told him that she couldn’t cash Baccarat chips in the poker room, and that he’d have to go to the main casino cage to cash it in.  At this point, MM said, “I’ll buy that off of you.”  And he reached into his wallet again and handed the guy $800 (since he’d already given him $200) for the $1K chip.  Now, at this point, he was not risking any money, he had an Aria $1K chip for his $1,000 cash that he had given the Asian man.  But he would now have to go out of his way to go to the main cashier to get money for the chip he had just purchased. What an incredibly nice man.

But I had already figured that out.  He was quite chatty and friendly with all the players. He often showed a card when he won a pot with a bet that went uncalled, to prove he wasn’t bluffing. And almost immediately after sitting down I realized that the attractive blonde woman in seat 9 was MM’s wife.  She was even more outgoing than her husband.  She had established a nice friendly relationship with the British fellow sitting immediately to her right, and with the Canadian gentleman sitting to my immediate left in seat 5.  Mrs. MM kept teasing the Brit because he liked to open pots for $8 every time.  And there was great fun between Mrs. MM and the Canadian over the Canadian’s admitted preference for raising big whenever he was dealt 7-2, and winning many, many pots with it. Because of the friendliness of MM and Mrs. MM, there was an incredibly pleasant, enjoyable vibe at this table. It was a really fun table.

MM and Mrs. MM had a nice banter going between them.  When MM handed the total stranger $200, Mrs. MM asked MM for some money and he gently turned her down.  She complained that he gives money to “him and not me.”  He replied, “Well he’s better looking than you.”  Ahem.  But that bothered Mrs. MM not one bit.

But I did find it a bit unusual that two of them were extremely interested in the starting line-ups of the Major League Baseball All-Star teams, which were the process of being announced as we were playing.  They both had their faces buried in their cellphones trying to learn of the line-ups.  I mean, really, who cares all that much about all-star games in any sport?  As regular readers know, I don’t follow baseball that closely any more, and my favorite sport is the NBA.  But even I wouldn't go out of my way to find out who was selected to the NBA all-star game. But to be fair, I will say this: of the four major US team sports, the baseball all-star game is clearly the best, the most like a real game.  The others are all basically jokes.  Still, really, why would two people care?  They must be really, really big baseball fans!  I did notice them express disappointment that no Dodgers made the team.  This didn’t seem unusual at all.  It appeared from the conversation that these two lived in Vegas, and you know, L.A. teams are basically the home teams for Vegas residents.  Vegas is a Lakers town (not the Clippers) and a Dodgers town.  If and when LA gets an NFL team back, that team will be adopted by the Vegas locals, no doubt.  So they were Dodgers fans living in Vegas.  Not unusual.

Every now and then, someone would come over to MM and say hello.  Sometimes it was a poker room staffer, sometimes it was a player.  Again, nothing unusual….that even happens to me at MGM.  Obviously this couple were regulars in the room and had been away for a while.

Then I heard someone expressed surprise that they were there, saying they didn’t expect to see them until the All-Star break.  MM said he would be back then but they had some things to do now (or something) and thus were here now as well.  I think I heard something similar to this two times.  The first time it went right passed me.  But the second time…

Hmm…All-Star game. Ok, they were big baseball fans, but returning to the Aria (or to Vegas) based on the All-star game break?  Wait, what?  Suddenly I started putting two and two together.  I gave MM a good, hard look.  I listened to his voice and began to think it sounded familiar.  I stared at him a bit more.  And you know what, MM noticed me staring at him.  And my brain suddenly recalled that if MM was who I was beginning to think he was, I had heard that he was a poker player, played poker all over Vegas, that I’d heard from players who had played with him, and I even recalled hearing that Aria was one of the rooms he most frequented.

And being the excellent poker player that he is, I’m sure that Orel Hershiser knew by the look on my face the exact moment I realized I had been playing poker with one of the greatest baseball players of his generation.  Seriously, I saw in his face that he saw the lightbulb go on over my head, the exact moment it did.  Of course, he’s probably used to it.

Internally, I was shouting, “I’m playing poker with Orel Hershiser!  Holy cow!” Fortunately, I didn’t say that aloud.  He knew I had figured it out, I could tell, and what I did say was, “I’m sorry.  I just recognized you.  It’s an honor to meet you.”

He was gracious and modest.  He just said thanks and smiled.  I’m sure no one else at the table, other than perhaps some of the dealers, had recognized him at that point.  But then, the table had an international flair, as I pointed out.  In addition to the Brit and the Canadian, seat 2 was occupied by a gentleman with a European accent.  Not sure if the Asian gentleman next to me was from the US or actual somewhere in Asia.  It was up to me, the American, to recognize Mr. Hershiser.

And I was the right age too.  Back in 1988, when he virtually owned baseball, I was paying a lot more attention to baseball than I am currently.  I watched that World Series, every minute of it, where Orel dominated after dominating all season long and having that 59-inning scoreless streak.  And of course, that was the World Series that featured Kurt Gibson’s iconic home-run in game 1.
I was like a little kid, so excited to be playing with a legend.  It was hard to concentrate on poker after that.  And I was just marveling at what a nice guy he was.  No airs about him at all.  Just one of the guys at the 1/3 game at Aria.

Suddenly, I heard his wife start explaining to the Brit who her husband was.  And I looked at Orel and said, “Sorry, I guess I outed you.”  He shrugged and said no problem.  “Usually she’s the one who tells everyone and brags on me.”  And so I heard his wife tell the Brit, “And he used to work for ESPN (she had probably already mentioned that he’s currently on the Dodgers’ broadcast team)….and oh, he did play before that…” and she mimicked throwing a baseball.

With that, I couldn’t control myself.  Loudly so that everyone at the table could hear, I said, “Used to play?….he was once the best damn pitcher in baseball!”  Orel seemed embarrassed, and again very modest, denying that was the case. 

After a hand when he and Mrs. H were heads up against each other (and btw, they did not soft play each other), he told this story about their wedding.  When the minister asked, the question, “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife (etc)…..” He answered, “All-in.”  When Mrs. H was asked the same question, she answered, “Call.”  Then the next day, they were playing poker together, and in a hand, he said, “all-in” and she said, “Call.”  And then Orel said, “And it’s been like that ever since.”

One time, the three of us were the only players to see a flop.  It was Orel, Mrs. H, and me.  And as the dealer was about to deal the flop, I think I muttered something about being outnumbered and Orel said to me, “Let’s team up on her.”  Wow.

Don’t have time or space for much poker, but I do need to talk about one hand. The lead up to it is that soon after I learned who I was playing with, I called a raise from Mrs. H and caught a bit of the flop, and a weak draw.  So I called her flop bet, which was rather large.  I missed my draw and she shoved the turn.  She had over $200 (a bit less than me at the time I think) and I had to let it go.

Earlier in the session, before learning that MM was Orel Hershiser, I had raised with Ace-King and Orel was one of the callers.  I made my c-bet on the flop and only Orel called.  I checked behind him when the turn missed me as well.  Orel led out on the river and I had to fold, holding Ace-high.  He showed one card, a Jack, which represented top pair.  That similar scenario had played out several times against other players, where I had c-bet the flop and then let it go.

So then, much later, when I knew Orel was Orel, and after I’d lost those chips to Mrs. H as I described above, I made it $18 with Ace-King. Orel called and a third player called (it might have been Mrs. H, and this might have been the hand where he suggested we team up on her).  The flop was very low.  It checked to me and I bet $40.  The other player folded and Orel called.  Another low card on the turn, and again Orel checked to me.  Hmm……usually I check here, because the players I face aren’t good enough to recall the other times I’ve checked in that situation, and they’ll call with almost anything.

But it occurred to me that Orel was a really good poker player (I had figured that out long before I figured out who he was) and might remember that I didn’t double-barrel as a rule—unless I had a hand.  In other words, he was good enough to bluff.  But then, I also realized that Orel was playing well below his normal game, limits wise.  He had me covered, and what was my stack to him?  Nothing really. Could I really bluff a guy who is used to playing 2/5, 5/10 or even higher for only $100?  Maybe not.  And I remembered that he had thought nothing of lending a total stranger $200 earlier.

But I decided to give it a try.  He wasn’t playing crazy, like money meant nothing to him.  He was a natural born competitor, playing to win.  I mean that’s what I assumed.  The money might not mean much to him but I assumed that when he played poker, like when he played baseball, he was going for the “W”, not the money.

With great confidence, I took my only $100 stack left and stuck it in front of me.

He thought and also talked.  “Oh, you’ve got it this time?  You didn’t bet the turn before….you must have it.  Well, the only hand I can beat is Ace-King, Ace-Queen…..”  It still seemed to me that he was leaning to calling. Note, that $100 was more than I had left, so I was pot committed, which may have made an impression on him as well.  Finally he said “OK” and folded his hand face up. Pocket 10’s!  BTW, Mrs. H gave him a bit of hard time for that fold.

Phew.  I had just bluffed Orel Hershiser.  The poker player—the really good poker player—not the baseball player.

Orel and his wife had been discussing taking a dinner break, and were debating leaving their chips and holding their spots or picking up and getting back in a new game when they returned (risky, because the place was getting busier by the minute).  They said they’d need less than an hour for dinner but you know, he could have gone up to the podium, where I’m sure they all know him, and asked them to hold the seat a little longer if necessary, and I’d be shocked if they wouldn’t accommodate him.  But that wasn’t his style.

Furthermore, he said to Mrs. H. “The two of us leaving the table for an hour, leaving the game short….that’s not right.  That’s not fair to the other players.  We’ll put our names on the list as we cash out.”  See, I told you he was a super nice guy…..very considerate.

When he stood up to go get a rack for his chips, he stuck his hand out to me to shake.  Yeah, he wanted to shake my hand! I said it was great meeting and playing with him.  I told him what a great guy he was.

Then I remembered my friend LuvMalts. One of my dearest friends, she and her husband Woody were the folks who convinced me to start the blog.  I had texted her when I realized it was Orel because she is a huge, huge baseball fan, and also a huge, huge Dodgers fan.  I bet she remembers every pitch of that 1988 World Series.  She was as excited as I was (and incredibly jealous) and had suggested I get an autograph.  I’m not really an autograph collector but I suddenly realized she would be thrilled with an autograph from such a Dodger great.

As he racked up his chips, I went over to him and said, “Do you do autographs?” He said, “Yes, sure, whatever you need.”  I took out my trusty notepad (didn’t have anything else handy) and had him sign a note for LM.  He even asked me three times for the correct spelling of her name.  And when he gave me back the pad, he shook my hand again.

OK, so I felt I owed him this much.  I whispered to him, “On that hand, when you folded the 10’s, I did have Ace-King.”  He laughed.  “You did?  Well, good.”

Orel is a competitor and if I ever do have the pleasure of playing him again, I’ll have to tread very, very carefully.

But what a great time I had playing poker with Orel Hershiser and his wonderful wife.