Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Evening with Lightning & Vook

This was the night I met some long-time poker pals for food, drink and poker.  Fellow blogger Lightning had arrived in Vegas the night before. I also learned that Vook was in town for a business conference as well.  I wrote about Vook's exploits here when he cashed in the main event at the WSOP on his first try.

We had agreed to eat at Tap, the sports bar located right next to the MGM poker room.  Vook introduced us to two of his buddies, Andrew and Mark, who are now Vegas grinders.  The five of us had a great conversation over our beers and food.  And we had plenty of time to converse because the service was just awful.  Usually the service at Tap is good to semi-decent but this night we had a terrible waitress (or perhaps, a decent waitress on her worst night ever). She got the order wrong, didn't bring the right drinks, never came back to ask how everything was or to ask if we wanted more drinks....and there was no ketchup for my burger.  I asked the food deliverer (not the same as our server) for some but it never came.  Andrew or Mark (can't remember) got up and took a bottle off an empty table or I'd still be waiting for it.  At the end of our meal, it also took a really long time for her to show up with the check.

We talked a lot of poker of course.  Mark and Andrew play 2/5 almost exclusively when they play NLH (they also play a lot of PLO).  They were telling us how crazy they play when they do play 1/2 because they don't take it seriously.  They'll 3 or 4 bet with garbage, or maybe just five-bet shove with 7-2 offsuit.  When we finally got to the poker room, Lightning and I ended up at one table and Vook, Mark and Andrew went to another table, vowing to wreck havoc on any nits that happened to be stuck there.  Vook later came over to us and confirmed they were playing wild, so Lightning and I both decided we were ok with the game we were at.  It just didn't seem +EV to us to play at a table with two professional 2/5 grinders and a guy who had cashed in the main.

After a seat change, I was sitting to Lightning's immediate left.  We kept chatting it up while getting updates from Vook's game. 

I saw Lightning get lucky with his typical bad play.  He cracked someone's pocket Kings by calling a raise with Queen-8 (I think it was suited) and flopping two pair (I think he felted that guy).  He also hit a flush playing 10-6 soooted and won another big pot.

Speaking of the dreaded pocket Kings, early on I got them in late position.  There were a couple of limps and then a raise to $12 in front of me.  I made it $32.  The initial raiser called.  I bet $35 on a low flop and he called.  I bet $50 on a blank turn and he called.  When an Ace hit the river, I checked behind and took the pot when he showed pocket Queens.

I lost some money back to the same guy when I had Ace-Jack on a Ace-King-6 flop.  Turned out he had raised preflop with King-6.  I said to Lightning, "You guys are all winning with such bad hands."

At one point the table got very short-handed.  I think we were down to five players.  And Lightning was the small blind and I was the big blind.  It folded to Lightning and he put in a buck to complete.  I said, "You don't want chop?"  He said, "No, let's play."  Harumph.  I've seen Lightning chop with others routinely.  Suddenly he doesn't want to chop with me?  I checked. So the board was mostly bricks and it went check-check on the flop and turn.  The river was a 10, however, which gave me a pair (I didn't note, nor do I remember, what my other card was).  To my surprise, Lightning led out with a $5 bet, which I quickly called.  He instantly mucked his hand without showing and said to me, "You bastard."  I said, "You were the one who didn't want to chop."

I called Lightning's raise to $7 with King-5 of hearts on the button. We were heads up.  I called his $12 on the flop with a flush draw.  A King hit the turn and we both checked.  We both checked when the river paired the board with Jacks.  He showed pocket 8's and I took some more of his money.

In the big blind I had two Aces.  There was a raise to $12 and a call, so I made it $50 and didn't get a call.

I had Jack-9 of diamonds in the big blind.  There was a limp and then a raise to $12 and I decided that if he got one call, I would call too.  A guy looked like he was a thinking of re-raising, but he just called.  I called and the limper called.  The flop was Jack-Jack-x. I checked, but the preflop raiser checked too.  However, that guy who I thought maybe wanted to 3-bet preflop shoved his last $41.  There were two players behind me so I just called, hoping one of them would call as well, but they both folded.  The last two cards were bricks, and he showed pocket Aces!  That's what you get for trying to be tricky.  Had he three-bet preflop, I would have sent my hand straight to the muck.

Since I was expected to work the next day, I couldn't stay too long and took off with a small profit.  When I said goodbye to everyone, Lightning took some pictures, one of which is below.  That's Lightning on the left, Vook in the middle and yours truly on the right.

It was a fun night of eating, drinking, poker and bullshitting with old and new friends.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The $12,000 River Card

I guess you could call this post a follow up to my previous post (here) because the main point of it is to tell you a story about the pyramid promo I discussed there.  It's a happy story, but sadly, it doesn't involve me—I just heard about it.

This took place the night after my last post took place.  By this time I had heard that for the previous week, ending Wednesday at 1PM, the very top prize in pyramid promo had been hit, and it had progressed to a cool $12K.  I also learned that the dealer who dealt the big winning hand was my pal Heather, who's been appearing in my blog posts for almost five years.

I was getting ready to quit for the evening when I saw Heather was about to push into my table. So I decided to stay for her down.

I immediately asked about the big promo-winning hand and she confirmed that she had dealt it and that it was a good story. She proceeded to tell me about it.

It was like 2 or 3 AM, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, and there was just one full house remaining to be hit.  And since the pyramid hadn't been completed for a few weeks, the prize was up to $12K.  The hand needed to win the prize was Jacks full of 6's.  Note: It would appear that the story I told last time, about the guy winning $6K for Jacks full of 4's, would have been the second to last hand of the pyramid, and must have hit just a few hours before this one.

When Heather came in to deal at that table, she recognized one of the players as not only one of the regs at MGM, but as someone she had played with recently at Golden Nugget.  So the player asked her if she was going to play in the main event of Golden Nugget's GPS series, which was going on at the time.  Heather said no, she didn't think so, it was a bit out of her price range at the time ($570).  So the reg said to her, "Well, if you deal me the winning hand for the full house promo, I'll buy you in to it."  She laughed and said, "O.K."  A real long shot of course.

Heather dealt her down and was talking to the reg all the way through.  On the very last hand of her down, it was heads up and the other player was all-in and the reg called.  This was on the turn.  So the reg turned up his cards and he had a set of Jacks.  One of the cards on the board was a 6.  The reg said, "Come on Heather, you gotta do this.  Remember, I'll buy you in if you do it."  Heather said to me, "no pressure, right?"  Well, not like she had any control over it.

So she peels off the river card and yes, it is indeed a 6.  The entire table erupted.  Heather calls the floor over to confirm the hand and the reg doesn't wait for his payout.  He takes out his wallet and hands her six hundred dollar bills.  And he says, "You don't have to use this for the main event if you don't want to."

How cool is that?

Spoiler: I saw Heather after the main event at Golden Nugget took place and she didn't play.  She had other uses for the money.

The poker for me this night wasn't nearly as exciting.  Early on, I made a full house that didn't qualify for the promo.  I called a raise with pocket 10's and the flop came Ace-Ace-Ace.  I called $17 on the flop and there was no more betting.  The last two cards were both 3's.  The other player said, "I'm playing the board."  I said, "I'm not," and showed my 10's.  I was fairly certain that it didn't qualify for the promo (even though Aces full of 10's was still on the board) but I asked anyway.  I mean—I made Aces full of 10's with a pocket pair in my hand, and both cards played.  But no, you have to have a pocket pair of the three-of-a-kind used to make the boat.

Later I was down to about $90 and from the big blind I called $12 with Jack-10 of hearts.  The flop was 8-7-6, two hearts.  In fact, a 9 of hearts would have given me the straight flush. I called $23.  The turn was a red 9, but it was diamonds, not hearts.  I didn't think I could bet less than a shove, so I shoved. He folded.
Later, now down to about $80, I woke up with the dreaded pocket Kings in the small blind. There was a raise to $7 and two callers.  So I just took half my stack and added it to the $1 small blind.  Nobody called.  Hey for me with Kings, that's a great result.

I ended up booking a small loss.  No promo money for me this time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Pyramid And The Maze

This was a mid-week session at MGM last month.  I had a few good hands then things went sour for awhile.  Then my night was saved by the full house promo they have.

Unfortunately, I lost most of the notes I took this night.  This was the second time since I'd arrived in town that my usually reliable system for taking notes on my cell phone during play failed me.  After it happened this time, I knew I had to come up with another way of keeping notes.  My method at the time was to simply open up a new email message in Gmail and keep updating the "draft."  But it turns out that you can have multiple windows of the same draft open, so if you're not careful about which one you're using and add a paragraph to the message that isn't the latest, it will save that one and other notes you made in the other window will magically disappear.

So I finally figured out that I should open up a Google Doc and that automatically saves it each time you enter something new.  And it won't let you have more than one window of the same doc open at a time, so that solves the problem I was having.

But on this nite, I have no notes for the majority of the session and did a pretty bad job recalling hands the next morning.  Now, before I tell you about the one hand worth mentioning, I have to tell you about the Full House promo MGM is running.

At the time, it was called the Progressive Pyramid (since changed) and it paid out for making certain full houses with one of three designated pocket pairs (it changed each week).  The three-of-a-kind for the boat had to be the player's pocket pair along with one card on the board.  Then every possible full house you could make that way with each pocket pair would win a prize, but once a specific full house was hit, it was no longer eligible.

The designated pocket pairs were picked at random each week, starting Wednesdays at 1 pm.  Say the pairs were Queens, 7's and deuces.  The first person to make deuces full of Aces, or Kings, or Queens, etc, would win a prize.  Once deuces full of Aces was hit though, the next person to make deuces full of Aces would get nothing.

The prizes started at $100 and moved up the pyramid until the last of the 36 hands was hit, which had a big pay day (starting at $3K).  Any spots on the pyramid that didn't hit by 1pm the following Wednesday would increase by the value of that spot on the pyramid.  So if the final spot didn't hit one week, the next week it would be worth $6K.

This being a Wednesday night, the board and the winning hands had just been reset earlier that day. That meant that the next winning prize would be $100.  However it also meant that virtually all full houses for the three designated pocket pairs would be eligible.  You can see that on a Tuesday night, when the payoff might be $3K or more, there's just one or two specific hands left that you need to hit to win.

For this new week, the boats you needed to win were Aces full, 9's full and deuces full.  Fortunately, I had looked at the display when I came in and knew which hands were potential promo winners.

So down about $100, I was dealt pocket deuces.  I limped in with a bunch of other people and saw a flop of 10-8-4, rainbow.  I figured I was done with the hand, but no one put out a bet.  The turn card was a deuce, giving me a set.  One of the regs led out for $8.  I was about to raise when I remembered the promo.  It wasn't a long shot, but I figured I'd chase the promo.  I had a strong feeling that the guy who bet just did so to try to steal it and wouldn't call a raise.  So I decided to just call.  There was one other caller.

Well the river was a 10, pairing the board and filling me up.  I couldn't see the display from my seat but I was pretty sure that only one deuces full hand had been made and taken out of play—and what were the odds that it was deuces full of 10's? The player who bet the turn checked and I bet $15.  But both players folded.

So I flipped over my hand and asked, "Does this qualify for the promo?"  Sure enough, it did.  I'd won $100 for the full house promo.

That triggered a story from the guy next to me.  He said that the previous night, he won $6,000 for another guy at his table.  Apparently from the previous week's hands, there were only two left, and the person who hit the next one would get $6K.  This guy knew what the remaining winning hands were, and on a board with a Jack on it and a pair of 4's, he knew that if someone had two Jacks in his hand, his Jacks full of 4's would win that $6K prize.

He was in the hand with the guy, and he folded to a bet.  The winner of the pot was just about to muck his cards when the other guy said, "I hope you have pocket Jacks."  The other guy said, "Why?"  "They're worth $6,000."  The guy had no idea what he was talking about, knew nothing about the promo.  "What?  Get out of here."  "Yeah, yeah....there's a promo, if you have Jacks full of 4's, you'll get $6,000."  "Are you serious?  Really?"  "Yeah, just show them."

So the guy turned over his cards and he had pocket Jacks and won $6K.

If the guy was telling the story honestly (and who knows), I figured the winner should have given that guy a pretty big share of the money, since if he hadn't said anything, he would have gotten nothing (other than the pot).  So I asked him if the guy gave him anything.  "Yeah, he gave me $100.  Same thing he gave the dealer."

Hmmm..What do you think?  Was that the right amount?  A case could be made for splitting it 50/50, no?  Of course, there are tax implications so that wouldn't fly and I can't imagine anyone giving away three grand like that.  But since that guy sitting next to me was almost totally responsible for the guy's windfall, maybe $100 wasn't enough?  I dunno.

Anyway, I ended up down $100 for the night, but with the promo money, I left the poker room with same total cash on me as I started.

But I didn't make it back to my hotel without incident.  As I've mentioned before, I frequently park at NYNY when I play at MGM and this was one such time.  When they converted to pay parking, they added a extra entrance/exit to the NYNY parking structure from the third level of the structure.  It doesn't give you access to the Strip, it accesses Frank Sinatra Drive (which is actually very convenient for me).

So I got in my car and headed towards that back exit.  And then I finally experienced something I've been fearing ever since I heard about paid parking.  For those that don't know, at all these places on the Strip that now charge for parking, it's pretty much self service.  There isn't some geezer in a booth to take your ticket and your money (think Mike Ehrmantraut in Better Call Saul).  They just have gates and a machine that will open said gate if you make the machine happy (by either inserting a ticket that shows you paid already, or sticking in a qualifying MLife card).  There's an option at the gate to pay with a credit card, but not with cash—and they strongly prefer you take care of payment before you get to your car at one of the conveniently located kiosks near the elevators of the garage.

When they first introduced paid parking, they hired a bunch of parking attendants that hung around the gates and even at the payment kiosks to coach you thru the experience.  Now that they've been doing this for awhile, there are still attendants in the vicinity—sometimes.  Sometimes not.

So as I turned toward the exit gate I planned to use, I saw there were two cars in front of me waiting to exit.  I didn't pull up to the second car, I waited a bit to make sure the gate was working and everything was flowing smoothly.  This particular exit only has one gate for entering and one for exiting and I didn't want to get stuck in a big mess, waiting for cars behind me to back up if there was an issue.

Apparently there was an issue.  The gate was not opening.  I have no idea what the problem was but the car was just stuck there.  I waited for a minute or two, surely the guy would figure it out or an attendant would show up to help out.

But no, nothing happened.  I saw the second guy's back up lights come on.  Fortunately, I was far enough away from him.  But then I saw the guy at the gate try to squeeze out of his car (his car was up really close to the machine).  I knew then this was a disaster in the making.  Was the guy unable to pay?  Did hs MLife card not work?  Was he a scammer?  Or was the damn gate just broken? I had no idea and I wasn't about to stick around to find out.  I had left myself enough room so I could turn back into the third floor of the garage and get to the other exit, so that's what I tried to do.

Except that the entire third floor of the garage was closed to parking for this particular night.  In fact, the way I turned was blocked off by several traffic cones.  No problem.  I just got out of my car, kicked one of them aside, and got back in my car and drove thru the empty floor of the garage. 

But those weren't the only barriers.  When I got to the place where I thought I could easily take the down ramp to the first floor (and the other exit), I found that it was blocked off too, and this time by wooden barriers that I couldn't just kick out of the way.  Holy shit, I was stuck there.  Meanwhile I could see a bunch more cars backed up at that exit gate that wasn't opening.

I drove around the floor two or three times trying to find a way to get to the down ramp.  With the barriers, it was beginning to look like it wasn't possible—although I had seen that if I had tried to go that way in the first place, I would have been able to do it, so there had to be a way.  I was thinking that because I had broken thru the traffic cones I had somehow entered no man's land from which there was no escape.

I was about to just park the car (illegally, I suppose, since the whole floor was closed to parking) and walk into the casino and tell security that someone was stuck at the gate and I was trapped in their damn parking garage when I saw another car drive around and find the down ramp.  Aha!  I could see what he did and that solved the maze for me.  I took the same route.  Fortunately, I'd also noticed that he had gone down using the down ramp and not the up ramp—which was a mistake you could easily make from where we were approaching it from—and found my way to the other exit, which was not particularly backed up.

And got the hell out of there, cursing the lovely corporate suits at MGM Resorts for wasting 20 minutes of my life because of their damn paid parking scheme.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Some Thoughts On The Main Event

For the first time in, like forever, I watched a whole lot of the WSOP main event this year.  Although one of the things that got me into poker was seeing some televised poker, I really haven't spent a lot of time watching the game on TV since I actually started playing myself.

I did watch some of the November 9 coverage last year, mostly because I was recovering from my triple by-pass and I didn't have a lot of other things I could do to keep me busy or entertained.  Even so, the time of the coverage meant I didn't see all that much of it, and missed the critical moments of the coverage, including the final hand (hey, I couldn't stay up forever, I needed my sleep). 

But this time I watched a lot, including the entire final table.  I kind of surprised myself with how much I watched.

I definitely feel the change in the way they covered it on TV had a lot to do with my watching so much. I really liked the fact that they had live coverage on ESPN or ESPN2 virtually every day.  So much better than the canned, tape delay shows of hands months after they took place.  It kept me interested in following the progress of the players.  I didn't subscribe to PokerGo, but watching a few hours of the main event every day kept me interested and enhanced the stories I was following online.

When the final table started Thursday night, I was familiar with all the players and the big story lines.  And thus watched every bit of it.

So first off, congratulations to all the final 9 and of course most of all to Scott Blumstein for an incredible main event run.  He is a worthy champion and bracelet winner.

Blumstein played great of course. To my non-expert eye, however, I think the best player at the final table, and certainly of the final three, was Benjamin Pollak, but what do I know?  He just couldn't get the cards to cooperate.

And runner up Dan Ott picked a terrible time to become totally card dead, didn't he?  Once it was heads up, Blumstein seemed to get the better cards time after time after time.

I will say I think Ott made one of the worst plays at the final table, when he shoved with King-9 after Pollak's shove.  As  soon as I saw his hand after Pollak's all-in, I thought to myself, "No way he's calling, he has to fold."  Of course, he did indeed shove.  All the commentators agreed that it was a bad play on Ott's part.  Lay it down there, hope Blumstein calls and knocks Pollak out, and get heads up without risking another chip.

But no, he shoved, Blumstein called both with Ace-Queen, and Ott managed to get to showdown with the best hand when a King hit the flop.  I tweeted this out at the time:  "Ott's all in there was terrible yet he was rewarded for it. #skillgame. #WSOPMainEvent."

Just my opinion of course.

And what can I say about the awesome John Hesp that hasn't already been said?  The 64-year-old Englishman was a delight to watch, and made for some real entertainment.   Everyone is saying he helped bring back fun to poker.  It was so refreshing to see someone just out there having a great time playing, wasn't it?  No doubt he was good for the game.  Hopefully the sheer joy he exhibited while playing will become contagious.

I had a couple of observations watching so many hands.  The first was that, for long stretches, I wondered why everyone at the table was playing like me!  And by that I mean nitty.  Seriously, I saw a whole lot of really, really tight play. They were folding hands that I would play!  I dunno if it was the pressure of such a big moment, or if my style of play is catching on.  I kind of think it is the former.

The other thing is that, well, everyone was card dead!  I mean I couldn't believe how many bad hands there were.  It just seemed like there were very few premium hands delivered to the players.  Take the first night.  We saw pocket Queens dealt three or four times in the first couple of hours (and every time to Hesp if memory serves), but I remember thinking that it took forever for someone to wake up with pocket Aces or pocket Kings (once each on the first night I'm guessing).  And I don't think anyone ever had pocket Jacks.

And once heads up play started, as Norman Chad pointed out, there were no pocket pairs to either player for almost the entire run of it. It was only the second to last hand that pocket 6's were the first pocket pair dealt. I don't recall a whole lot of Ace-Kings either.

It seems when I play a tournament, I'm seeing pocket pairs, and even premium pairs, shown by players all the time.  It struck me as odd.  Maybe it's because in a tournament I play in, I don't see all the cards and am maybe assuming they have big hands when they don't.

Whenever I do watch TV poker, I try to use it as a learning experience as much as possible.  I was happy that I correctly predicted what Antonio Esfandiari would say about a situation a lot of the time.  When I couldn't (or guessed wrong), I would listen carefully to his explanation and try to make a big mental note of it.

That said, I'm not sure how much I will be to incorporate into my game.  The issue is, he is basing his thinking on opponents playing at a certain level—a level high enough to run deep into the main event.  I'm not sure most of the players I face in the $125 tournaments I play are using the same thought process these players were.  When Antonio explains why a bet or a check means a player couldn't have X, I know in the games I play, there's at least a 50/50 chance the player could exactly have X.  Still, it was great to hear the thinking of a successful pro.

Oh, and what was with all the ridiculous slow play of some of the players, Damian Salas in particular?  I don't mind taking your time in a tough spot, but Salas seemed to be stalling, sitting there tanking on no-brainer plays.  I mean, if you have 7-2 and there's been a raise and a three-bet, couldn't you just fold instantly instead of taking 10 seconds to stare into space before the inevitable fold?  Seriously, that's bad for the game.

Anyway, this was definitely the most TV poker I've watched in a short period ever.  And I really enjoyed it, and maybe it brought my enthusiasm for poker back some.

Good show, WSOP and ESPN. 

Oh, and how about that deuce on the river?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Rude Maniac

On this particular Sunday night—the Sunday night of my first weekend in town—I found myself at the Mirage for some 1/2. There, I encountered one of the most annoying players I've played with in awhile.  I have to give this bastard a name, so I'm going to call him "Appendix," because, let's face it, he needs to be taken out.

He was annoying in so many ways.  Yes he played like a maniac, but there's so much more.  When I first got to the table he was away from it, and there were open seats.  For the first hour or two the game was constantly short-handed, and his numerous visits to the sports book didn't help.  He was gone at least for the first 20 minutes I was at the table.  Then he came back, posted his missed blinds, played two hands, won them both and took off again.  This time he was gone for at least half an hour.

All the time he was gone, I was upset that he was gone so long because of the table already being short-handed.  But once he returned and stayed awhile and played some hands, I began to long for the time when he was absent.

He was super aggro, open raising to $20 or more an awful lot.  Sometimes he'd only open to $15, but never less.  Oh he did limp occasionally and even folded preflop once in a while.  But that wasn't the norm.  And of course, he'd three-bet a lot. 

He had a short stack when I got there, managed to have to rebuy and then started building it up.  You know how it is—some maniac starts raising with and playing garbage hands and gets on a heater and starts hitting everything in sight.  Well that was Appendix this night.  He also won some pots on pure aggression, although once we saw how often he was playing bad cards he got called down a lot.   But during this stretch, he always seemed to catch the card he'd need to win the pot on the river.  You know how it is, he'd shove with bottom pair playing something like 9-4, get called, be way behind to the caller and then catch his second pair on the river when he needed it.

He managed to get his stack to over $1,100 at one point.

He was sitting next to me, but at least he was on my right.  A bunch of players who were originally stuck on his right asked to move to the other side of the table whenever they could.

But he was making the game difficult.  Oh sure, having a guy like that, creating a lot of action can be profitable, especially if you catch a hand and he pays you off in a big pot.  But I was extremely card dead all night.  There was no making a move against this character.  You had to have a hand and then value bet the hell out of it (or, even easier, call all his big bets).  And it was very costly to play any speculative hands as long as he entered a pot.  And if you had a decent but not nutish hand, he always seemed to catch the second card he needed to win when called.

Actually the game wasn't that good anyway.  His big bets were inhibiting a lot of the action from the other players.

In addition to being a maniac, he was very rude too.  For one thing, he was one of those guys—and I seemed to constantly run into them this trip—who liked to sit sideways, taking up my space at the table, kind of locking me into my seat, getting his shoes on me or rubbing his leg up against me.  Why does that last thing never happen when a hot girl is sitting next to me? Why can't people keep their legs and feet under the table, in front of their own chair?  Or he'd put his feet on the bottom ring of my chair, which annoys me (I don't like people using my chair to rest any part of their body—again, there would be the "hot girl" exception to that).

Also, he was an obnoxious winner.  When he won a hand, either at showdown or when his bet wasn't called, he tended to shout "Ship it!" or, "I got you, I got you!" as if he was rubbing it in.  One time on the flop, he re-raised all-in against a guy who then went into the tank and finally folded.  Appendix had three-bet preflop on this hand.  The other guy must have folded a pretty good hand, so after he folded, Appendix showed his cards—3-2 offsuit, which hadn't connected with the board in any way whatsoever.  And so he said, "Well, I did have the best hand preflop."  The other guy was not amused.

I would have asked for a table change but I knew it wouldn't fly because our table was always short-handed.  Finally when the table did fill up and there was actually a wait list, I was about to go up and ask for a table change when the clown asked to borrow my phone charger.  I should have told him where to go, and in fact I did say to him, "Well, I'm about ready to leave the game," but he said he just wanted to try it because his didn't work.  So I lent him my charger and delayed my exit from the game.  It turned out my charger didn't work either—he said it didn't fit his phone (although I had already noticed he had the exact same phone as mine).  He finally borrowed one from the podium and then finally figured out that the USB port in front of his seat was not working.  So he asked if he could try my USB connector and he ended up using that one.  So I not only had to deal with his legs and feet getting in my way but his phone charger cord too.

Also, his buddy was at another table and they were talking and he was bragging to his buddy that he had all these chips....and he was threatening his buddy that he was gonna move to his table and take all his chips.  So I held out hope that maybe he'd move so I wouldn't have to.

But then, he got into a hand with a fairly new player at the table.  The new player bet, and Appendix shoved.  The new guy tanked for quite a while and finally called.  I think this was on the river.  The new player showed his hand—two pair.  And Appendix mucked without showing, claiming he had a pair of 6's and saying he was sure the guy would think he "had it" and would fold.  The new player only had around $150 and Appendix started the hand with over $1,100 so it wasn't a very big hit. It was the first sizable pot I'd seen him lose and he didn't seem upset.  Nevertheless, as soon as the hand was over, he went up to the front and grabbed a couple of racks, took them back to his seat, and started racking up.  He played no more hands.

One of the players who'd been there a long time said, "Oh, you can't take it, huh?"  Appendix said, "No, it's just that I gotta go to a Strip Club with my buddy."  As he was about to leave, he had to get the phone charger out of the USB port I was sitting behind.  Without any warning, he reached in front of my gut and pulled the charger out, and brushed his hand against my stomach.  He didn't hurt me, but it was such a final act of rudeness not to say excuse me first—I could have easily slid back so wouldn't have had to have touched me. Anyway, he was gone.  No one was really sorry to see him take his big stack and leave with it.  Instead, there was a audible sigh of relief from almost everyone at the table.  He was just that much of an asshole.

After he was gone, the dealer said, "He's in here every day, pissing people off.  He raises with 6-deuce, whatever and rubs it in when he wins." 

Earlier, I was amused when one of the players at the table answered his phone (while in the middle of a hand), saying "Joe's Bail Bonds."  I thought, now that is just so Vegas, isn't it?  And for 15 minutes he had a conversation with an associate about some new client who needed to post bail for a domestic violence change (the client was female, for what it's worth).  Joe was mostly concerned about whether or not his potential new client had enough collateral.

There was only one hand of note for me, it took place after Appendix took himself out.  The game had gotten pretty nitty at this point and I was down to about $100 or so.  In late position I limped in with pocket 9's.   Six of us saw a flop of Queen-5-3, two diamonds.  A guy led out for $5 and everyone called.  So, for $5, I decided to call too.  It was a long shot, but it was cheap to see one more card.

Good decision.  The turn card was a 9 of clubs, putting a second club out there.  The guy who bet the $5 checked, but another guy bet $20. I remembered watching this guy call the flop.  He was playing with his chips and I really thought he was about to raise.  Had he done that, I wouldn't have called.  But it seemed like at the last minute he decided to just call.

I wanted to raise, but I didn't have as much money to raise as much as I wanted to and I thought a shove there was unlikely to get a call.  So I bet $50, which left with me ~$50 behind.  He tanked forever and finally said, "OK," and called.

The river was a third diamond.  He checked.  I decided to play it safe and not bet.  I honestly didn't think he'd call me unless he had caught a flush.  So he turned over Queen-3 and was really surprised to see my set.  "I was gonna raise the flop but decided to slow play it, the game was so tight.  I shoulda bet."  Yes, he should have.  Glad he didn't.

I managed to break even for the session after four hours.  When I left, I was on my way to the parking garage when I noticed these boobs walking perpendicular to me.  Well, they were actually attached to a blonde woman.  She was nice looking, wearing a summery dress that was fairly conservative except for the fact that it was wide open on top and her jumbo after-market ta-ta's were practically falling out of it.  I didn't immediately suspect working girl because the dress didn't seem sexy enough (if you ignore the cleavage).  It was neither short nor tight—just extremely low-cut, the kind a lot of ladies visiting Vegas might wear.  Thus, at first glance, she just didn't seem like a hooker to me.

But she stopped in front of me and said "Hi."  Random blondes with big tits don't just say "hi" to me unless they want to sell me something.  I said "hi" back as I tried to keep walking but I guess she didn't hear me. "You can say 'hi.'"  So I said hi again, this time louder.  By now she was thinking she had my interest but after that, I moved fast and just kept walking.  I dunno why I was so anxious to get away from her.  I think maybe if I chatted with her bit I could have possible gotten a better hooker story than I did.  Oh well.

And that was that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Day at the Movies

This post will have nothing to do with Vegas or poker.  And you know what?  After the way I felt upon returning from Vegas last week (see here,  if you've forgotten), I very well may start doing more and more off-topic posts,  We'll just have to see if the burning desire to talk about poker and Vegas returns.

In the meantime, I'm gonna tell you what I did on Saturday, my first weekend back home after my return from Vegas.  One thing I didn't do was play poker.  Really had no great desire to do that after spending over a month in Vegas playing a whole lot of it.  So in the afternoon I went to the movies and saw the newest Spider-Man movie, which is called "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I don't think it was quite as good as the first Tobey Maguire Spidey (the one co-starring the fetching Kirsten Dunst), but it was probably the second best Spider-Man movie to date.  Now, that first Tobey Maguire film just shocked the hell out of me—for years they had been making disappointing if not outright awful super-hero/comic book movies.  That first one was not only a great comic book movie, it was a great movie, period.

Comic book movies have been better lately—or at least they haven't been as consistently awful as they had been for the longest time.  Certainly the first Avengers movie was terrific, and of course The Dark Knight was a classic (but so different in tone from the Marvel movies that it's hard to compare them). And I can report that while I was in Vegas I saw the new Wonder Woman movie and really enjoyed that as well. 

This new film sets Spidey up to be part of The Avengers now that the movie rights to all the Marvel characters have been straightened out.  No Spidey origin tale was spun, although it was briefly mentioned that Peter Parker had been bitten by a spider—but surely anyone seeing the movie already knew that.  And a lot of familiar Spider-Man characters are either missing or very different (no way was Aunt May as hot as Marisa Tomei in the comics!).  But the portrayal of Peter in high school kid struggling to be accepted is perhaps the closest to the original comics yet (at least, as I remember them).

Michael Keaton as the villain, The Vulture, does a fine job.  Although everyone is pointing out that Keaton went from playing "Birdman" to the Vulture, I am more amused that he long ago played Batman in two movies—you know, including the one where Jack Nicholson played The Joker.  So Keaton went from playing one of DC's most iconic super-heroes to playing a villain to Marvel's most iconic character.  That's show biz.

I thought it was a fun ride, and hopefully they can keep that going in future films with this version of Spidey. 

Actually, the main reason I am even discussing the movie is to ask this burning question:  Doesn't everybody know to stick around through the credits of every Marvel movie by now?  Hasn't the word gotten out?  I'm talking about the "kickers" that virtually every Marvel movie has in the closing credits.  You know this right?  So why did 99.5% of the audience at the theater I was at get up in unison and exit the theater as soon as the first credit appeared on the screen at movie's end?  I can't believe they don't know.

Spoiler warning:  There's actually two kickers.  The first one presents what seems to be an important piece of information that I assume will have major significance in a future Spider-Man movie.  And everyone at my theater missed it.  The second kicker, at the very end, was just a funny gag—but certainly worth hanging around for.

I don't get it.

Anyway, so much for Spider-Man.  Later that evening I was checking thru my DVR and was reminded that while in Vegas I had recorded something off ESPN that I wanted to watch—it was a 30 for 30 documentary on the Lakers/Celtics rivalry.  Actually I only recorded one part but fortunately the whole thing was available On Demand.

It was called Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies.  I guess it debuted during the NBA finals last month.

When I started watching it, I thought it was only two parts and intended to watch just the first part.  I was riveted (even though I knew exactly how all the games ended).  I just couldn't turn it off.  And when part 2—which all along I was thinking was the last part—ended with the humiliating 1984 NBA finals (the one that the Lakers gave away in 7 when they should have swept), I nearly screamed.  That was the most painful memory I have as a sports fan.  They couldn't end it there, could they?

Well they didn't.  I finally noticed that there was a third part, and so, even though it was well after 1AM, I started watching the final part and didn't stop until the whole thing was complete.  I got to bed at 3AM—later than I had been getting to sleep while I was in Vegas.  But the third part was the best part because of course the Lakers finally got their revenge on the Celts.

I highly recommend this documentary.  Of course, as  I longtime diehard Lakers fan, I am exactly the demographic they are going after (same thing for diehard Celtics fan—assuming such vile creatures exist).  But I think most neutral basketball fans would find it highly entertaining and informative.  Even non-basketball fans would probably enjoy it. 

It is really well done.  And it is it totally neutral in its approach, it's 50/50, half Lakers, half Celtics.  Of course many players from the 80's gave them in-depth interviews—Magic, Bird, McHale, Worthy, and many others.  Prominent sports writers who covered the teams chime in.  The film is co-narrated to give two different points of view.  Ice Cube narrates from the Lakers fans' point of view, and Donnie Wahlberg gives the Celtics fans side.

It goes beyond basketball, talking about how race played a part of the rivalry. The claim is made that all white people—if they weren't otherwise committed to one team or the other—rooted for the white team (the Celtics).  And similarly, all black people outside of Boston were pulling for the Lakers—the black team.  I'm not sure how true that was but it sure was interesting to think about.

One thing that it made clear—Magic and Bird together, coming into the league at the same time, each going to one of the two marquee franchises in the sport—quite literally saved the NBA.  How many of you remember that in the early 1980's, NBA playoff games were not shown live—they were on tape delay, shown after the 11PM news because they couldn't get ratings. Magic and Bird, the Lakers and the Celtics, turned that around, and then set the table for Michael Jordan a few years later.

Anyway, it is extremely well done and worth watching, even if you don't care about either the Lakers or the Celtics.

Worth staying up to 3AM for, in my case.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bloggers Night at Planet Hollywood

I might as well get to this brief session I had at Planet Hollywood on the last Friday in June.  Special guest stars were TonyBigcharles, VegasDWP and Lightning.  In fact, it was only because I knew the three of them were all there that I even went there.  Otherwise, I would have spent that part of the evening in my room, quietly sobbing.

You see that was the day—or evening, I should say—that I had planned to play in the Giant over at the Rio—the only pokering I did at the WSOP all summer.  I suppose I will do a separate post about that experience one of these days—but today is not that day.  Suffice it to say that I didn't get to play in the Giant nearly as long as I had hoped to.

Even before I had unceremoniously busted from that event, I had learned through texts and social media that that the aforementioned trio were all at Planet Hollywood—and in fact, were all at the same table. As it happened, I'd had a much more hectic day before the tournament than I had planned (starting time was 7pm) but I felt fine until that critical moment when I ran out of chips.  Suddenly, almost at once, all the energy completely drained out of my body.

I staggered to a bench in the WSOP hallway and checked my phone to see if the gang was all still there.  They were.  But for awhile, I couldn't drag my ass off the bench.  I was really too tired to play any longer.  I know that if I had remained alive in the tournament, the adrenaline would have kicked in and I would have been fine, but once I was done there, I was really out of it.

I was pretty sure I'd skip PH, but somehow, as I started driving out of the Rio, my car inexplicably headed toward the Strip and towards Planet Hollywood.  And I realized that tired as I was, I wanted to be sociable for a change.

By the time I parked and took the long walk to the poker room, I was almost in a zombie like state.  I knew I was in no shape to think, so I vowed to nit it up even more than usual and play almost nothing but nuttish hands.  I'd just be there to shoot the breeze with my buddies.  If I happened to get Aces, I'd hope they wouldn't get cracked.

I arrived and found the table.  Tony, DWP & Lightning were sitting next to each other in seats 3,4,& 5.  I said hello.  Tony greeted me with a long explanation of what he meant in a recent post of his where he seemed to blame me for all the spam comments his blog has been getting lately (as has mine).  Maybe it was because I was out of it, but I didn't follow Tony's explanation.

As an aside, he's sure right about the spam comments, they've been totally out of control of late.  So just recently I switched the setting on my blog so that you have to verify you're a human before it will accept the comment.  Fortunately it's one of the less intrusive kind of verifications—you just have to check a a box. I hope that won't inconvenience anyone too much.

Anyway, after Tony gave his explanation to me, he returned his undivided attention to his phone, and, as far as I can tell, barely looked up from it for the rest of the time that I was there.  Seriously, I didn't see him say a word to anyone the rest of the time I was there.

So I went to the podium to put my name on the list.  It was a long list, but there were lots of games running (the room was packed) and it didn't take all that long for my name to get called.

The guy took me to a table which was not the one the boys were at.  I asked him, "Can you put me on a table change for table 6?"  He said, "You want to play at table 6?"  Yes, you could certainly take that inference from what I had just then said.  "We have a seat open there, let me take you there."  Nice.  And thus I joined the party.

The open seat was seat 9 (the game is 9-handed).  So I was far from Tony and Lightning and not really that close to DWP. And at this hour of the evening (11:30pm I suppose), Planet Hollywood is one of the noisiest poker rooms around.  The poker room is not really separated out from the casino, and is near the "Party Pit" where they have loud music and go-go dancers dancing behind the pit tables.  And a whole lot of people walking by, talking, screaming, shouting and just generally acting like they're in Vegas.

I don't believe that PH has a nightclub ala Hakkasan, so I had forgotten that despite that, in the evenings it is a damn fine place to, um, "people watch."  There were scores of very attractive young ladies wearing outfits that would encourage their fathers to send them to a convent if they ever saw them (regardless of whether or not they were Catholic).  Sadly, my back was to the main pathway for these young ladies, so I didn't get to enjoy the show nearly as much as DWP & Lightning must have (I left out Tony because he was too into the game he was playing on his phone to ever look up).

So I didn't really accomplish the main purpose of my trip there—to chat with my friends.  But then, I may have been too tired to carry on much of a conversation anyway.  But as best I could tell, DWP and Lightning weren't talking to each other much anyway.

The main dynamic at this table was that there was a loud-mouth European sitting on my immediate right, and a very chatty, bubbly young lady sitting immediately on DWP's left.  The young lady had reddish brown hair (or perhaps it was brownish red) and was cute in sort of a "Plain Jane" way.  But she had a whole lot of personality.  She was clearly having a good time.  And most of the time, all I could hear above the casino noise and music, was the aforementioned woman and the obnoxious European on my right bickering, bantering, blathering and generally talking to and at each other non-stop.

Sitting between these two was a rather quiet guy who never-the-less seemed to be enjoying himself.  He may or may not have been with the Plain Jane gal, I never could quite tell if they were a couple or if they just met at the table.  I guess he was talking to both the girl and the obnoxious guy but the other two were so loud and so boisterous—and were talking non-stop—that I really couldn't hear anything he said.  (Edited to add:  Please be sure to scroll down and read the comment from VegasDWP giving a lot more detail on the three characters I just introduced you to.)

I only mention the quiet guy because he figured into the big hand of the night.  At least it was the big hand that I witnessed during my brief time there.  It didn't involve me, but it did involve VegasDWP.  Since I wasn't involved, I didn't take contemporaneous notes, so I'm basing my retelling of this hand based on voice notes I made a day after it happened.  I may have some of the details wrong.  If I have anything significantly wrong, DWP can correct me in a comment.

I believe DWP raised preflop and both the quiet guy and the obnoxious guy called.  Others may have called as well, but after the flop they became irrelevant (assuming they ever even existed).

The flop came Ace-high, two clubs.  The non-club card was 4.  DWP bet and the quiet guy shoved.  Now I had noticed when I get there that DWP had a healthy stack of at least $400.  The quiet guy had considerably less, probably less than $200 but not by much.  Now the obnoxious guy went in the tank, and he agonized verbally for a good long time before he finally said, "OK, let's gamble," and shoved himself.  I guess his stack was in the neighborhood of the quiet guy's stack.

So it went back to DWP who also went in the tank.  He did so a lot more quietly than the obnoxious guy.  But finally he said something like, "I'm feeling good....I call."

I'm pretty sure they all showed their cards at this point.  DWP had Ace-King (no clubs).  The quiet guy had 4-3 of clubs.  So a pair, a flush draw and possibly a straight draw (not sure about the straight draw).  The obnoxious guy had 10-6 of clubs, so a bigger flush draw than the quiet guy.

The turn was a harmless Queen of hearts, but the river was another 4, giving the quiet guy trips and the pot.  DWP reacted stoically, the quiet guy seemed happy but was still rather quiet but the obnoxious guy was acting as if he won—he was really happy, even though he lost.  He said, "I love that.  Look at that, I lost the biggest pot of the night," and he was laughing.  I think he just loved the gamble that both he and the quiet guy had exhibited.

Later, I guess maybe when the obnoxious guy was away from the table, DWP told the girl that I was a famous writer and that I'd be writing about this game—and about her.  So that's the main reason I even mentioned her in this story—I didn't want to make a liar out of DWP.  The girl, by the way, didn't seem the least bit interested in the fact that I was supposedly a famous writer.

Then he said to me, "Rob, when you write about that big hand, please try to make me look good.":  I said, "Yeah, of course.  Hell, you were ahead when you got it all-in."  He replied, "that's right, I was."

As it happened, I only wrote down one hand that I played.  It turned out that Tony was also in the hand.  From the button, I limped in with Jack-10 suited.  I was too tired to think about raising there.  There had been a few limpers, and I think four of us saw the flop.  Tony was either the big blind or had limped in under-the-gun.

The flop contained two of my suit (I was too tired to even note which suit it was).  Tony led out for $5 and I called, and we were heads up.  The turn was a blank and I checked behind him.  I hit my flush on the river.  Tony checked, I bet $10 and Tony folded.  Real exciting, huh?  I think it must have been the only hand I won.

Did I mention I was tired?  Also, I was developing a nice headache, I guess from the noise of the casino and also from having the obnoxious guy talking loudly in my ear for the past hour.  So when the seat on Tony's right opened up, I didn't bother to move to it because I knew I was basically down to my last orbit.

And thus when the big blind came around again, I racked up, said goodbye and took off.  I had just enough strength left to make the long walk to my car and then drive back to my room.

It was nice to see everyone—at least to the extent that I did in my drowsy state.