Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Tribute to the Luxor Poker Room

Note:  As you've probably heard, the Luxor closed its poker room a few weeks ago.  So I thought I would repost my one and only post about the one and only time I played in the Luxor poker room as my lasting tribute to the room.  

And also, I haven't had time to write a new blog post and I need something to post before you all forget I exist.  So I can kill two birds with one stone.

This took place almost exactly four years ago, and features a few fellow bloggers you should all be familiar with.  You will note that it is bit out-dated.  For example, reference is made to Los Angeles not having any any NFL team, but now, today, we have two!  Also this is so long ago that I actually like the "Bra Burger" place--as you recall, I had a bitter disagreement with that place more recently (see here).

One might wonder if the room closed because in all the time I've been playing poker in Vegas, I only played there once.  I do feel guilty about that!

Finally, I should mention that the original title of this post was "A Duck & A Schmuck (x) 2," which explains the beginning of the post.  

I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.....

I guess I should explain the title of this post first.  A wise woman once told me that she referred to the starting hand of King-deuce as, “a duck and a schmuck.”  I thought that was quite funny and never forgot it.  But when I googled it, I was unable to locate any source that indicated this was an “official” nickname for that hand.  So I feel obligated to credit my pal Donna for that nickname.  Thanks Donna.  Whenever I get K-2, I think to myself, “a duck and a schmuck.”  And by the way, it’s a much better hand to get than the dreaded pocket Kings.  After all, when you see K-2, you just muck it and it doesn’t’ cost you any money.  Not so with KK.

Anyway, this is a tale about two “Ducks” and two Kings, Hence the "times 2."
In this case, the two “Ducks” involved are not cards but people: fellow blogger Lucki Duck and his awesome wife, Mrs. Duck.  I actually thought about giving Mrs. Duck a phony name, but, I don’t know, Mrs. Goose just sounded too silly.
Our story begins with a wonderful blogger’s dinner at Le Burger Brasserie, which is basically the official dinning place of poker bloggers.  As I explained in this post, it has everything a poker blogger could want.  Burgers. Women in sexy lingerie. Women in sexy lingerie serving burgers.  See what I mean?  The only thing missing is that since it is named after a woman’s support garment, the burgers should either be served on edible bras or on top of the girls’ actual bras, as I lamented here.  But to me, this eatery will always be known as “The Bra Burger” place.
I suppose I should mention that also joining us for the meal was Lightning.  But he doesn’t get mentioned in the title since he generously paid for the meal and that is his reward.  I suppose I should publically thank Lightning for the meal, but since his friggin’ Blackhawks beat my beloved Kings (the hockey Kings, not the pocket Kings), that seems like thanks enough.  Imagine my Kings losing?  Who’da thunk it?
Lucki Duck has already told his (totally false) version of the events here.  The burgers were good and the conversation was excellent.  A lot of fun. Lucki told us of his big score at the WSOP bracelet event, a tale he told here.  My first, if brief, meeting with him was there when he was in the process of winning a big pot and I stopped by to say hello and wish him well.  I have no doubt that it was my good luck wishes that propelled him into the money.
Lightning told the story of how he went to school with every known mass murderer of the 20th century.  On a totally unrelated topic, he told us how he spent several days providing taxi service for TBC.  They had fun hitting limit games, Omaha games, stud games, and I believe he drove Tony as far north as Reno at one point.
A lot of the discussion involved sports, as Lucki & Lightning debated the merits of their favorite home town sports teams.  So, it was the Cowboys vs the Bears.  Of course, I stuck up for my hometown of Los Angeles, proclaiming that my NFL team was the best of all time, the Los Angeles…..oh shit, we haven’t had a NFL team since the single wing, have we?

But I did get into the act.  For some reason, Lightning took great joy in dumping on Troy Aikman, former star QB of the Cowboys (and by “cowboys”, I don’t mean pocket Kings).  I pointed out that before he went to the NFL, Aikman was the star QB of my beloved alma matter, UCLA, for two years.  And damn it, in those two years, he was unable beat the University of Spoiled Children even once.
Mrs. Duck chipped in with a great story about being unable to get their clothes out of the washer at their luxury hotel (or was it the dryer?).  Fortunately, Mrs. Duck was able to figure it out before having to call the SWAT team to assist her.
Then Lightning noticed I had tweeted about our dinner.  I said we were having “bra burgers” for reasons I’ve already explained.  So he proceeded to make the ridiculous assertion to Mrs. Duck that yours truly is “obsessed with breasts.”  I am confident that I have put this ridiculous notion to bed with a recent post (see here).  But before I could explain what a total misconception that was, Mrs Duck proceeded to tell us about a woman she saw on the Vegas Strip recently.
“You would have really liked this woman we saw on the Strip, Rob.”  According to Mrs. Duck, she was wearing a pirate outfit from the waist down and almost nothing from the waist up. 
That pricked my interest.
She said the only thing this gal was wearing on top was mechanical tape.  Apparently very little of it, and apparently very strategically placed.  I couldn’t believe that Mrs. Duck didn’t call it what it was (or should have been).  Duct tape.
After all, you can fix anything with duct tape.  Even sagging breasts, no doubt.  And sagging was what these breasts were, apparently.  Mrs. Duck described her figure as “Rubenesque,” 
“Oh, she was overweight?”  Mr. & Mrs. Duck nodded affirmatively—quite a bit overweight, it seems.  And it seems that there wasn’t a whole lot of duct tape being used.
“Well it was very hot out there,” one of the Ducks explained.  In case I didn’t get the picture—oh, and trust me, I did—Lucki compared the tape and it’s placement to “tassels.” 
What the Ducks were too polite to say was that the gal was obviously using the duct tape to cover her nipples and not much else.
According to Mrs. Duck, the lady in question wasn’t just standing there.  No, she was dancing, jumping, shaking.  If she was indeed Rubenesque, I’m sure a whole lot more than just her ta-ta’s were shaking.
We all had a good laugh about that.  There’s no truth to the rumor that I spent the rest of my Vegas trip fixed to the corner where they said the girl was spotted.
Lightning suggested that before leaving town, the Ducks might go to a hardware store and pick up some duct tape for their own use.  Mr. Duck seemed enthusiastic about that idea, but Mrs. Duck said that he’d have to wear it. I have nothing further to report on the Ducks’ duct tape use, or lack thereof.
Lightning had already arranged to meet another blogger, Ron, over at the Luxor for an after dinner poker session, and invited us to join them.  Of course we said yes.  Ironically, I’d sat right next to Ron less than two weeks earlier at the first event of the Binions Classic, an event Ron discussed briefly here and I mentioned very briefly here. (Ron has now posted a more in-depth post about the session here and Lightning's version of the evening is here.)
We reassembled over at Luxor, (or as I’ve always called it, “The Luth Luxor”, which seems quite appropriate now that a new Superman movie just came out).  Oddly enough, I had never played at the Luxor poker room before, one of the few poker rooms in Vegas I could say that about.
As soon as we got there, they opened a new blogger’s 1/2 game, but I think we all wished we could have been in the other 1/2 game they had.  It was one of the wildest, craziest 1/2 games I’d ever seen.  There was like $5,000-$6,000 on the table, maybe more.  At least three players had stacks of over $1K each and the dealers were telling us that there was some guy there who was just giving money away.  He’d buy in for $300 and within two hands he gave it all away, almost without fail.  Apparently he kept shoving with nothing.  There was actually a crowd around the table watching, as if it was the final table at the Main Event.  It was hard to believe a room like the Luxor, of all places, could get that kind of an insane action table going, and it kept going the entire time we were there.
I sat between Lucki and Lightning, with Ron across from me.  Lightning will no doubt describe in painful detail how he lost his car, his house and his first born in a huge pot to Ron, who only happened to have flopped a boat.  Lightning promised to get it back over time by never tipping him again (Ron is a dealer at Bally’s).  For what it’s worth, Ron actually felt bad about taking Lightning’s money….but he took it just the same, of course.
I think all four of us left the room ahead, which was nice.  Lightning made a nice recovery; apparently his strategy was to give money away to people he knew and take it from total strangers.  Ron can almost retire on the money he took off Lightning and Lucki spent about two hours not playing a hand and then starting winning.
I’ll talk about three hands of mine, the last of which was especially noteworthy.
In a five way pot ($35), I flopped a set of 7’s.  In early position a guy (and I think it was the preflop raiser), bet $5.  There was two to a flush on the flop so I wanted to raise.  Three times the bet wasn’t good enough of course.  That was a ridiculously low bet for a pot that size.  I made it $30 and he folded. I couldn’t see betting less there and giving anyone a good reason to call.
Immediately after winning a nice pot when Ace-King resulted in a top pair/top kicker hand, I was dealt pocket Queens.  A fairly short stacked player in early position made it $6.  I made it $18 and he called.  The flop came King-Jack-9, giving me the gutshot, plus the pair of Queens.  He checked and I made my continuation bet for $30.    
He check-raised all-in.  But his stack was only $60 total.  It was an easy call for $30 more.  The last two cards were low and meaningless.  He showed his hand, King-Jack offsuit for a flopped two pair.  OK, that hurt, and I was left wondering what the hell he was doing, other than taking my chips.
I don’t get his preflop play.  Raising in early position with a crummy hand like King-Jack?  And with such a short stack?  My understanding of a short-stack strategy is you wait for a good hand to play before the flop, not play such a dangerous, speculative hand.  Whatever.  But with that hand, he called a three-bet?  It’s not like I was playing a lot of hands, even though I just had won the previous pot.  Anyone like his play?  I know, I know, you want him to call there.
By the time this next hand happened, Lucki had already taken off, and this was his last night in town.  He’s a great guy—despite what Lightning says—and it was a pleasure spending some time with him and of course, Mrs. Duck, who gifted me with a nice “woman said” story earlier.  But sadly then, only Ron and Lightning were around to witness this freakish hand—freakish for me, anyway.
In late position, I look down at the dreaded pocket Kings. A couple of others had limped, and Lightning, on my immediate right, also limped.  I made it $14.  Only two called, including Lightning.
The flop was Ace-King-8, rainbow.  It was checked to me.  If ever there was a temptation to slow play a set, this was it.  But no, I’ve taken a vow to never slow play a set again, so I bet out $30.  Both players called.  I’m sure Lightning couldn’t put me on a set of Kings, because he knows Kings never treat me that well.
A 6 on the turn, checked to me, and I bet $60, which was a little less than half my stack (that damn King-Jack-off).  The other guy called, and Lightning thought about for quite some time, but folded.
The river card was a beautiful 6, giving me a full house.  He checked, I shoved, of course.  And he called—he had me covered.  I showed my boat and he showed….Ace-7 offsuit. 
This is why you want people to make bad calls preflop, isn’t it?  He limped with a hand he should have folded, and called my preflop raise with a hand he never should have called a  raise with.  Then he kept calling me on every street, even though he had to believe, at the very least, that I had a bigger Ace than he did!
As Ron pointed out, the pair on the river was a great card for me.  If he was worried about his kicker, he might now think that it’d be a chopped pot and we both had two pair, Ace’s & 6’s, with a King kicker (on the board).  Well, as long as I hadn’t raised preflop with Ace-King!
Lightning told me he folded an Ace, and that it was bigger than a 7.  But I wonder—if he didn’t know me, if he’d never read my blog or played with me before, would he have possibly hung around until the river?  I’m glad he didn’t.  I would have felt guilty enough to at least have considered paying him back for the dinner if he had.

It was a nice pot, and put me up over $100 for the session.  I took off not long after that, saying goodbye to Ron and Lightning.

As I said, Lightning recovered by taking money from strangers instead of giving it to friends.  Summing it up, it was a great night…..great dinner, great conversation, great poker….a good time was had by all.
Except the guy who called my preflop raise with Ace-7 offsuit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

There's a Reason I Call Them "Dreaded"

Sigh.  In my last post (here), I mentioned that I'd had the dreaded pocket Kings a few times so far this trip and won a few, lost a few, but nothing too dramatic.

Until Sunday night. I was having an ok session, down a little but mostly due to still being incredibly card dead when my buddy Mike came to deal.  The night before, I'd actually won a few small pots during his down, so I was hoping the trend would continue.

Now those of you who have ridiculously good memories might recall me mentioning here that Mike seems to deal me pocket Kings more than any other dealer.  Actually, I'm not sure that's true.  But going back to the days when I was playing 2/4 limit, we both noticed that there was a time there where Mike seemed to deal them to me at least once every down that I was at his table.  Of course, when you're playing 2/4 limit, pocket Kings can't do as much damage as they can when you're playing no limit. And losing with them is pretty common.  Usually 4 to 6 players see the flop, so even pocket Aces don't hold up very often unless they are improved.  So it was just a running gag between the two of us.

It wasn't till I started playing NL that those Kings started killing me so much I came to dread them (and I still regret not trademarking the term "dreaded pocket Kings.")  Honestly, I can't say the pocket Kings Mike has dealt me over the recent years have been any deadlier than KK dealt to me by any other poker dealer. And truth be told, despite the running gag, Mike hasn't been sending Kings to me in pairs very often for some time.  In fact, I can't remember the last time he dealt them to me.  Well now I can….it was Sunday night.

So near the end of his down, Mike dealt me a couple of cowboys just like old times.  I was in late position and someone in early position had raised to $8 and it seemed like everyone but Wonder Woman called the $8.  So I made it $50.  Everyone folded until one guy went all in, but he only had $37 to shove.  We were heads up.

We didn't show but the flop looked harmless enough to me.  Just a couple of 7's and I can't remember what else.  There was no King, of course.  So when we revealed our hands, naturally the guy showed pocket 7's.  Of course I would lose with pocket Kings to freaking flopped quads with Mike dealing!  It seemed so right.

Well, Mike pointed out that it could have been worse because he was short-stacked.  True enough, but if he had a decent sized stack, he likely wouldn't have called a $50 bet with two lousy 7's.

Before Mike left, he dealt me two 4's and I limped in, along with five others.  I flopped a set, bet $5 and got three callers.  I bet $20 on a blank turn and didn't get a call. 

A new dealer came in to replace Mike.  On his first hand, I opened to $8 with Ace-9 of spades.  It folded to the guy to my right who made it $28.  I decided to let it go.  The guy showed his hand….pocket Kings.

The very next hand, in the big blind, I got the Kings.  This was less than 10 minutes after Mike had dealt me the Kings and exactly one hand after the guy on my right had Kings.  An early position player had opened to $7 and there had been a caller.  I made it $28. 

The original raiser—who had just come to the table and who I didn't know from Adam—made a large re-raise that was more than I had left.  It folded back to me and of course I called off my stack.  We didn't show.  The flop was Queen-Jack-X, which I figured was bad news.  The turn was even more bad news—an Ace.  The river was a brick. 

I mentioned to the dealer, who I was sitting next to, that it was a horrible board for my hand.  He said, "pocket Kings?"  And when the river was dealt I showed them.  The other guy took his sweet time to flip his hand.  Now that I think about it, he kind of slow-rolled me.  And he showed….Ace-King of course. 

I was done.  Losing twice in a 10-minute span with my cursed hand was a signal it was time to call it a night.  It was getting late and I didn't think I'd get off tilt before it was time to quit anyway.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vegas is No Place to be Card Dead

You can consider this a mid-trip update but I'm not yet at the midpoint of my current Vegas visit.  Although if the cards don't start coming, I might have to cut it short.

Been in Vegas for eight nights so far.  One day, I didn't play at all.  Still, that's a lot of poker and it's a lot of poker to be card dead.

For example, until last night, I had gone all those poker sessions without seeing pocket Aces, pocket Queens and pocket Jacks even one damn time.  Not once.

Of course, I did get the dreaded pocket Kings a few times.  Won a few, lost a few.  Without listening to my voice notes, I can't recall an especially horrendous loss with them.  And a couple of the "wins" consisted of me raising with them preflop and not getting a call (of course, that's an excellent result as far as I'm concerned).

But yeah, no Aces, Queens or Jacks.  How do you play that much poker and not get those hands even once? And I just had to Google "suited connectors" to remind myself what exactly they are, it has been so long since I've seen them.  Yeah, I've had an occasional Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  But mostly I've been seeing just total garbage hands.  All this time.

Last night, things changed a bit—a bit.  I did get pocket Queens for the first time this trip—and won with them.  I got pocket Jacks twice; won one, lost one.  And near the end of the session I did get Aces.  They held up for a smallish pot.  That put me in the black for the session, and I left that way.  Maybe it means I'll start getting more playable cards.  Sure hope so.

At least the total unplayability of the starting hands I'm getting means I'm not losing too much.  Throwing away your hand preflop is a lot cheaper than going to showdown with the second best hand.

But it doesn't get me many blog posts, either.  I guess I have a few stories to tell when I have more time, but the blogging material has been almost as bad as my starting hands.

This is short even by other blogger's standards, and practically a tweet by my standards, but I wanted to get something up on the blog.  Hopefully I'll have something spectacular to report sooner rather than later.

Oh, did I mention that right now EDC is going in Vegas?  It's sorta like this…..

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wake Up! It's Time to Play a Tournament

If you follow me on Twitter you know I'm back in Vegas now.   I drove up Friday and had a brief session that night.  Not sure if there's much to blog about from that game even though I was able to book a small win.

I didn't get much time to relax before I found myself playing in the first major of the trip—the $200 NLHE tourney at Golden Nugget the very weekend I got to town.  It had no less than nine starting flights spread out over three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), with Day 2 Sunday and a $200K guaranteed prize pool.  With 3,329 entrants they ending up smashing the guarantee with a total prize pool of over $500K.

I figured I had to take a shot at this tourney as soon as I entered into PokerAtlas and then once I realized I’d be in town for the entire last day of the starting flights.  The trouble was the timing.  The flights started at 11am, 3pm and 7pm.  The morning flight just the day after I spent a good chunk of time on the road seemed way too early.  I might not get out of bed before 11!  Besides, 11am is too early to be playing poker anyway.  But the trouble with the 3pm and 7pm flights were the timing of Day 2.  Each of those starting flights figured to last 8-10 hours—maybe more.  Originally, Day 2 was scheduled for Noon the next day (Sunday).  After I questioned whether it was "fair" to the players who survived the 7pm Saturday flight have to come back to play at Noon the next day, they changed it to 2pm.  Important note:  I'm not saying it was my inquiry that caused them to change the time. I don’t know that.  I'm just honestly reporting the sequence of events.

But even with the 2pm time, I thought it might not be enough time for an old guy like me to do that turnaround from either the 3pm or the 7pm flights. And there was no point in playing if I didn't feel I had a chance to make it to Day 2. Ideally I think, I would have played the 3pm or 7pm flight on Friday or even Thursday.  But I wouldn't be in town then.  It was Saturday or nothing.

And that meant hitting the 11am flight on Saturday.  It also meant packing a sandwich so I could gobble down my lunch in the 15-minute break after the first four levels.  I'd only do that for a really special tournament and this qualified.

So I went downtown and gave it a shot.  I was tired, but I don't think it affected my play at all.  The truth is, there were two other things that frustrated me this tournament.  One was being exceptionally card dead.  The second thing was that somehow, I managed to lose a bunch of my notes about hands that I had taken while playing.  Not sure what happened.  One time, I went to add on a note about a hand that had just taken place in level 5 or 6, and saw that everything after a level 2 note had completely disappeared!  Actually though, it wasn't that much of a disaster.  I was so card dead that I had several entries that just updated chip counts and demonstrated that I'd played an entire level without playing a hand.  In other words, not that many hands were lost.

As such, I won't attempt to do a complete report of hand histories, I'll just talk about a few.  Unfortunately one of the best ones was deleted from notes and I tried my best to recreate from memory the next day.

The starting stack was $15K and the levels were 30-minutes (40-minutes on Day 2).  It was like the 3rd or 4th level and I wasn't quite in shove-or-fold mode (the tourney had a nice structure) but my chip stack was getting worrisome.  I limped in with pocket 6's, and someone with a big stack made a reasonable raise.  There were a few callers before it got back to me so I thought a call was the right move.  The flop was Ace-7-6 and I believe it was rainbow.   The preflop raiser was the big blind and so he led out with a pretty big bet.  It folded to me and since his bet was so big, there was no real option to raise without shoving.  So I shoved. I knew unless he was just c-betting with total air, he'd have to call, which I obviously wanted.  And so he did.  He showed Ace-8, the board blanked out and I had a much needed double up.

The last hand of level 7, with the blinds 75/300/600, I had pocket 3's in the big blind.  An early position player made it $1,700 and he got two callers.  Once again, I thought I had pretty good odds to call there even though my stack was very much short (had I not been the big blind there, I think I would have folded rather than limp in).  The flop was Ace-10-3, rainbow.  I checked, expecting the preflop raiser, who had the biggest stack at the table and had been having the rush of his life catching cards, to bet.  But he checked, dammit.  However another player bet—it was at least $4K, didn't really matter cuz I knew what I was gonna do.  Next guy folded and I shoved.  The preflop raiser asked for a count. It was something like $10,700.  He called.  The guy who led out on the flop folded and the preflop raiser showed the dreaded pocketKings. In this case, he dreaded them more than I did.  The board bricked and I dragged a big pot, bringing me to over $30K. 

For the next level, all I could do was steal some blinds and antes raising with Jack-10 suited and and Jack-7 suited (that was an open from the cut-off).

I got to level 9 (200/600/1200) with $33K.  And then I spewed some chips.  In the small blind I had pocket 7's.  There was one limper, I completed and the big blind checked.  The flop was Ace-6-6.  I checked, the big blind checked and the limper bet $2K. Hmmm….it seemed to me like it might just be a steal attempt since it had been checked to him. I figured I'd take a flier for $2K so I called. The big blind came along as well.  The river was a blank and it checked around, and I still thought my 7's might be good.  After another blank, I checked and the big blind bet, but only $3K.  The next guy checked and I thought about it.

The big blind was an older gentleman, had only recently been moved to the table and hadn't been too active.  Part of me was saying, "Nit, nit! He's got a boat."  But another part of me was saying, "He's a wily veteran of the game, he saw everyone check the turn and he's trying to steal it."  And the $3K was a really small bet compared to the pot.  So I decided to call.  He showed 8-6.  Ugh.

I figured I had one more raise left before I went to shove-or-fold move.  So with King-Queen off I opened to $3K and had two callers.  The flop was Queen-high, two low cards, uncoordinated.  The big stack led out for $5K, I think. He was one of the blinds. The other guy folded and I didn't think I had any choice but to shove.  I'm not folding top pair, second best kicker at this spot in the tournament.  There was no point in just calling, I'd be committed and it would all be in by the river anyway.  So I shoved.  He turned over Ace-Queen.  And I was out.

Sigh.  I thought it was a tournament worth trying, even though the circumstances weren't ideal.  I had two big hands when I flopped sets, but otherwise, was just too card dead to make a deep run.

On the plus side, I was able to head back to my room to take a much needed nap.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Do You Always Look So Happy?"

This dates back to one of my last sessions from my April trip to Vegas.  Don't panic—I've still got plenty of tales from that trip to relate to you one of these days.  I've just been slow in getting to them.  Actually this was supposed to be my last night in town, but I extended the trip for a day to attend Mike's birthday party tournament the next night.  Mike's birthday is the day before mine, and you can read more about these games here.  Unfortunately, although I had a lot of fun at that game, we didn't get the right combination of drunk and crazy people at that game for it to merit a write-up.  But the point is, since this was my last "real" poker game of the trip (the birthday event featured a rotation of Crazy Pineapple, Omaha and Omaha 8), I figured it was my last chance to actually win some money.

Earlier in the evening, before the "incident" took place, I heard a very loud, very obnoxious sounding guy with a heavy British accent enter the room.  He was loud and somewhat comical.  He was wearing a silver fedora covered in glitter.  And he kept saying things like, "Send me to the fishies.  Fishies, I'm coming for you.  Where are the fishies? Send me to the fishiest table." He was quite flamboyant.  I actually thought initially he was just putting on the British accent for effect, that it was part of his schtick, but eventually I realized it was his natural speaking voice.

When the dealer at my table heard him (and trust me, you could have heard him if you were at the Mirage) he said "oh no, him again."  He said that he was going to be loud and obnoxious and then probably get his assed kicked out.

Fortunately, he didn't come to my table, he was sent to another table where he greeted all the players with a sweet, "Hello, fishies."  I think he may have also said something about how they would all be donating their chips to him before the night was over.  When he got settled in at his table, you could hear him talking nonstop.

He was exactly the kind of player I hate playing with.  And the fact that he was still in the room later, when I first considered asking for a table change, helped dissuade me from moving.

But you might find this amusing.  Later, he did something to warrant having the floor called over. I heard the Shift Manager say to him, "We love having you here but..." And the obnoxious Brit said, "No you don't.  You've kicked me out the last three nights.  And you'll be kicking me out again tonight."  That was pretty funny.  And guess what?  Sometime later, he was joined by a friend of his. I didn't hear the friend, but I did see and hear when the Shift Manager came back to warn his friend to stop putting his feet on the poker table (the very one they were playing at).  The guy refused to comply and guess what?  The two of them were asked to leave.

As for my game, it was pleasant enough for a good long while. Except for the part where i was card-dead.  I couldn't get anything going even though I felt I had pretty good reads on most of the players.  One young woman was creating a lot of action preflop, but generally slowed down if she didn't catch anything.  Another woman was obviously an experienced player.  I caught her name and researched her to find that she had a few cashes listed on Hendon Mob. The way she was handling her chips she was not only an experienced player but possibly also a dealer or former dealer.  She was tough, but I thought played straight-forward enough that I was ready for her if we battled. The other players were fairly conventional.

Until two punks from Texas showed up. I'm going to have to give these punks names to make it easier to tell the story.  So I'll just make up some names out of thin air.  Let's call them Beavis and Butt-head.  Beavis took seat 7 and Butt-head was in seat 1.  I was in seat 9, near Beavis and with only the dealer between Butt-head and myself.

They were chatty and joking around and they kept talking about how they were just killing time before going to the nightclub.  Not Hakkasan mind you.  They were planning to go to the night club at The Encore.  As the night progressed, they kept talking like their departure for The Encore was just moments away (one more orbit....ok two more orbits). 

They were talking to each other a lot across the table, and Butt-head was making friends with the two people closest to him on his left.  On his immediate left was the husband of the aforementioned experienced female poker player.  And she was sitting on her husband's immediate left.  But the husband was clearly not the poker player in the family.  When he wasn't bullshitting with Butt-head, he had his face buried in a book.  It was actually a text-book that had "Neurology" in the title.  I'm thinking he was a med student.

Anyway, everything was fine until one hand, after a couple of limpers, I made it $12 with Ace-Queen of clubs.  And Butt-head re-raised to $30.  It folded back to me.

Now, both Beavis & Butt-head had been more aggressive than anyone else at the table (well, except for that gal who was aggro preflop and not-so-much after that).  But they weren't close to being maniacs.  And I could scarcely remember either of them three-betting preflop before.  So I didn't think he had a particularly wide three-betting range.

I decided I didn't really want to play my easily dominated hand out of position in a three-bet pot.  And if I did flop the flush draw, with my stack size, I'd likely have to put all of it in play to chase the flush.  So I reluctantly folded.  And since it had been quite a few orbits since I'd actually had a hand to play—let alone one I wanted to raise with—I was kind of pissed about it.

But not as pissed as I came to be a few seconds later when I saw Butt-head pick up his cards, clearly show them to the guy on his left, and then put them face down and muck them.

As the dealer went to sweep them into the muck, I said to him, "Can I see those?"  I sure did want to know what the guy had had three-bet with and whether or not I did the right thing in folding.  Dealers rarely enforce the rule on their own, however.  You generally have to be alert and ask them to do it. 

Well I was alert and I did ask but the dealer swept the cards into the muck anyway.  Now, I know this particular dealer well—he's probably been dealing to me for over 10 years. He's good.  And he knows me (he once shouted out to me by name in the Fry's parking lot).  So I'm going to have to assume that either he didn't hear me or I spoke up too late for him to catch himself from sweeping in the cards.  This dealer does work pretty fast.

Well, that was going to be the end of it.  Nothing I could do, and I wasn't about to make an issue out of it. But then Butt-head said, "Why should you see those?"  Well, I guess it fell on me to explain one of the most basic poker rules to this clown. I replied, "It's show one, show all, that's the rule."   He replied, "No, that's crazy."

I said, "You can't just show them to one person.  You have to show them to everybody."   He said, "I didn't show them to anybody."  Yeesh.  I said, "You showed them to him," pointing to his neighbor on his immediate left.  "Oh, well he's my buddy."

Aha!  That's exactly why the rule is there.  BTW, I am 100% sure Butt-head had never seen the guy to his left before in his life, not that it matters. I said, "You can't do that, the rule is show one, show all."

Butt-head either didn't believe me or didn't want to believe me, and said,  "Well, show me the book where it says that."  Well since you asked....Now, actually, I was pretty sure I had a copy of the TDA rules on my phone, but I thought it would be better to get the floor to come over and explain it to him.

I immediately asked the dealer to call the floor.  It took awhile, and play resumed in the meantime.  I wasn't concerned since I knew I was right.  And it didn't really matter, since the damage was done.  But the guy asked me a direct question, I answered, and he didn't believe, he asked me to show him the rule and I was going to show him.

It turned out the Shift Manager was on break.  So Bill, the floor person came over.  Bill is one of the first Vegas poker people to learn my name, we go back a long way. 

Bill made his way over and the dealer whispered something to him—I didn't hear it.  At this point, I wasn't really interested in pursuing this any further. I just wanted the satisfaction of Butt-head learning that he violated the rule (an apology from him would have been nice but way too much to hope for). 

So Bill explained the Show One, Show All rule to Butt-head as I knew he would.  And then Butt-head said, "I didn't show my cards to him. I just picked them to look at my hand."  Bullshit.  A total lie.  Before I could say anything—and honestly, at this point, I wanted to stay out of it—Bill said, "Well, you have to be careful when you pick up your cards because people can see them and that's not right."  So Butt-head said, "OK, fine, I'll be more careful."

And again, that should have been the end of it.  But Butt-head said one more thing.  "Can you get him a tissue please?"  He meant me.  "A tissue?  What for?"  "To wipe his tears."  Oh man.  That rotten little smart-ass.

I didn't take kindly to that.  I started to speak up, and I was going to tell Bill that he had lied and quote back his "He's my buddy," line.  But Bill stopped me (I think Butt-head was also talking).  He gave the entire table a global warning about being well-behaved and being nice to one another and mentioned something about not wanting to have to ask anyone to leave the room.  I wasn't worried about getting kicked out but Bill's a good guy and I didn't want to make his life any more difficult so I shut up.  Butt-head did likewise.

I was perturbed, to say the least.  My inclination was to just get a table change.  I should have. Whenever I have a confrontation like that, I have concerns that the other person will target me.  It could work out well for me, but I don't like that. And I had to worry if his buddy would take it out on me too.  As for me, it has the opposite effect. I don't target them, I actually try to avoid getting into a hand with them.  Sure, it would be extra sweet to take their chips.  But it would piss me off five times as much to lose my chips to an asshole who I just had a confrontation with than anyone else. 

But, as I said, I liked the other players in the game, and knew them.  At a new table, I'd be starting at square one trying to learn the players.  And that obnoxious Brit was still at one of the other tables and there weren't that many other games to move to.  And finally, and this was really the clincher, Beavis and Butt-head were still talking about leaving for The Encore nightclub any minute.  Like a fool, I took them at their word.

So I hung around and hoped to wait them out.  And so it went for quite some time.  Me being miserable, those two clowns having a good time.  There was no reference made at all to our little kerfuffle.  It didn't come up.  I did raise once and this time Butt-head folded.   But I was distracted by the whole thing. 

I kept thinking about trying to get away from them, especially when I noticed the obnoxious Brit was gone, but every time I considered getting up to ask for a change, one of the clowns said something that made it sound like they were just about to leave.  Maybe I could wait them out.  Even though it was now certainly late enough for them to get into the nightclub, they stayed put.

So I was deep in thought, still debating internally about getting up and asking for a table change.  But the seat next to me opened up and this big, overweight Asian guy with a very deep voice (a smoker's voice, really) came to take the seat.  I didn't know this guy from Adam.  I'd never seen him before in my life, and he'd never seen me.  So as he went to take his seat, he took one look at me and said, "Are you always this cheerful looking?"  I actually looked at him and laughed.  A real laugh.  I'm not sure if it was a sincere laugh because I thought it was funny or it was an instinctual thing to show him I wasn't totally miserable.  But I laughed. I even put a smile on my face.

But I guess that wasn't good enough.  He continued.  "Yeah, I thought all of us were here to have a good time, but I guess not."  Seriously dude?  You talk to a total stranger like this, first words out of your mouth?  Maybe I just got off the phone with someone telling me there had been a death in the family.  Maybe I had just taken a horrific bad beat just as he showed up.

I was near my breaking point but before anything else happened, Butt-head spoke to the deep-voiced Asian.  "Hey, you gotta be careful with him....he's already called the pit boss on me. Don't mess with him."

That was the proverbial last straw.  I didn't hesitate, I didn't say a word.  I was done.  I just grabbed my chips and headed to the podium to cash out.  No, a table change wouldn't be good enough.  I knew I was in no mood to play any more poker that night. 

Bill was back, but I didn't want to talk to him as long as Beavis and Butt-head were there—he was too close to that table, I didn't want them to hear me, or even see me talking to him.  I wasn't upset with Bill at all, I just wanted to vent and tell him that the guy flat-out lied to him about not showing his cards intentionally.  I felt if I got it off my chest I'd feel better.  I knew that Bill would believe me.

So I wandered the casino for awhile, hoping that B&B would eventually make good on their promise to leave for the club.  Fortunately, the club at MGM was open so there was enough nice scenery to keep me entertained—and to distract me from my misery.

But when I returned the poker room about 30-45 minutes later the clowns were still there, and showed no signs of leaving.  So I went back to my room without even having had a chance to unburden myself a little by venting.  I figured I'd tell Bill the full story the next day when I returned for the birthday game, but it turned out he was off.

So I never got a chance to vent to anyone about it—until now, right here. And the fact that I waited this long to write this up means I actually did put it past me fairly quickly, as of course, I knew I would.  But it did ruin my last night or "real poker" in Vegas.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Getting Rewarded for Bad Play

The title of this post may or may not be a bit misleading.  I'm not sure if I was actually rewarded for bad play—in fact I probably cost myself some value along the way—but I'm not proud of the way I played the hands that were favorable to me.  This is not a session I'm going to learn anything from, that's for sure.  But it worked out in the end and variance (or bad play?) has been biting me in the ass lately so I'll take it (not that I have a choice).

This was a session a week or so ago at PC Ventura.  I ended up in the 1/2 game, not the 2/3.  The list for the 2/3 was long, and I was able to get in the 1/2 right away.  Once there, I was just too lazy to move.  But seriously, there were a number of big stacks at the table, and I'd begun to notice that the players sitting behind them weren't the best poker players I'd ever played against.  So stayed there.

Actually, there were an unusual number of females at the table.  All of them were, ahem, "middle-aged" (being very generous here).  And the ladies all knew each other, and were talking about their families and such.  In fact, it kind of resembled my dear, late mother's weekly Mahjong game when I was growing up. I almost, but not quite, felt like an intruder.

An intruder who was card dead, at least at the beginning, after one early pot.  I had Ace-10 off in late position and made it $10 after a limper.  Two callers, the flop was Jack-10-5 and I bet $15 and took it.

For the next 90-minutes or so, I got exactly three playable hands.  All of them were pocket Jacks.  And that was the only pocket pair I saw for that period.  It was JJ or nothing.  I didn't see an Ace with a kicker higher than a 6. 

The first time I had Jacks I made it $8 and it was three-way.  The flop was King-Queen-3, not exactly a good flop for me.  But I c-bet $12 and took it down.

The next time I got Jacks, I was in early position.  Remember, this game is played with $1 chips (and also has a $100 max buy-in, which is what I bought in for).  I started to grab some chips to count out a bet and before I did anything the lady on my left folded her cards.  That started a flood of folds until it got to the small blind just as I put out my raise (I think it was $8).  I think the dealer finally said something about all the out-of-turn folds by the time I got my bet out, and the lady in the big blind, oblivious to this, asked the lady in the small blind if she wanted to chop.  The dealer said they couldn't chop, there was a raise. I dunno, perhaps in their Mahjong game you can chop even if there's a raise. So they both folded and I took the blinds.

I was annoyed with the dealer.  He should have spoken up about the out-of-fold turns right away and put a stop to it.  Not that anyone who folded to a $2 blind was going to call my raise, of course not.  But this way it looked like I was trying to just steal their blinds—I might have done that with any two cards at that point, seeing everyone fold to the blinds—and not that I was making a perfectly legitimate raise considering my hand. 

One more time I got the fish hooks.  I raised to $8, two callers.  The flop was Ace-high.  Despite that, I boldly (or foolishly, perhaps) put out a $12 bet and found out that no one had called my raise with a crappy Ace. I took it down.

After awhile, the unplayable hands I was getting had somehow managed to cost me more than a few bucks.  I had $51 left in front of me.  So I bought another $50 in chips.  That gave me $101, technically one dollar over the maximum.  Honestly, I wasn't sure if the dealer or anyone else would know I had too much money.  But right is right, and I obeyed the house rules even if no one forced me to, and I put a single $1 chip in my pocket.

Shortly thereafter, I was dealt Ace-King off suit in the big blind.  A lady had raised to $6.  It folded to me.  Here comes the start of the bad play on my part.  I just called.  I know, that would have been a perfect spot for a three-bet, but I didn't want to play it out of position.  She likely would have called anything but a huge overbet.  I might have shoved if I hadn't just added-on....she wasn't likely to call a $50 bet and if she did I'd see five cards with a pretty good hand.  But at the time, all I decided to do was call.

The flop was Queen-9-8, two diamonds.  I had the Ace of diamonds in my hand.  I checked and she bet $8.  With overcards and two back-door draws, I decided to float.

The turn was the 10 of diamonds, giving me both a nut-flush draw and a nut-straight draw.  I checked and she bet $20 and I called again.  I think the call is ok with all my outs.  But maybe I should have check-raised?  Or even donked out a bet?  What do you think?

The river was the 4 of diamonds. I didn't have the nuts, a straight flush was possible.  I just didn't think it was very likely.  I mean, if she has it and I lose my stack with the nut flush there, well, that's just the way it goes.

I wasn't sure what to do.  I had a real strong feeling that she would bet if I checked.  And if I led out, it would probably shout that I had the flush.  Having played with her for a few hours, I wasn't sure she'd be concerned about it if I checked.  So I took my chances and checked.  Sure enough, she bet—$40.  Well, I didn't have $80 left to even min-raise, I had no choice but to shove.

She tanked for a bit and then said. "Oh, you've got the Jack?" she saw the straight.  Didn't she see the flush?  It's usually easier for players to be aware of a flush than a straight, especially if there's four to a suit out there.  She tanked a bit more and folded.  She said again, "I guess you had the Jack."

I said nothing of course, but the guy to my right said, "There were four diamonds out there."  She replied, "What?  There were?  I hadn't noticed.  I was worried about the straight."  Yeah, obviously.  I still said nothing.  Should I be upset at the guy pointing out what I probably had?  The hand was over. Does it matter?

I was still stacking my chips when I looked down at my first pocket pair that wasn't Jacks—two 4's.  I limped in and called a small raise by a different woman at the table.  Three or four of us saw a flop of Ace-10-4.  The lady made a smallish bet and I was the only caller.  I was planning on check-raising the turn.  But the turn paired the Ace.  When she made a slightly bigger bet, I panicked, worried that she might now have a bigger boat.  I know, that's monsters-under-the-bed thinking, but I refer you to the title of this post.  I check/called her river bet as well.  All she had was 10-8 for middle pair on the flop.  I was mad at myself for playing so wimpy, and also not having already figured out that she'd raised preflop with such a weak hand.  But then, I did recall at the time that earlier I saw her not open-raise preflop with Ace-King.

Despite that, when she raised again (to $6), I just flatted with pocket Queens from the small blind. I think three of us saw the Ace-high flop.  I called her $8, then $10, then $12 (we were heads up after the flop).  I guess I should have raised, but this time she had to have the Ace right?  So why did I call?  Cuz I'd just seen her play 10-8 as if it was the nuts.  She showed pocket 10's and I took another decent pot.

Well, I may not play well myself, but taking advantage of the bad play of other players is a skill, right?  I know I can't count on just bad oppenents and getting lucky to win.  But for that day, I was ok booking the $85 win.