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.


  1. I saw the picture on your blog and was racking my brain trying to decide where I recognized the girl from. Then you referenced Mike from Better Call Saul and I realized it was the lovely Rhea Seehorn who plays Kim Wexler on the series.

    I guess if I was the guy who won the $6,000 I would at least feel inclined to give the guy back what he lost to me in the hand. Everything above that is gravy. And I would give the dealer 10 percent of my post tax winnings, I figure I'm paying about 35% total in state and federal taxes, so I'd give the dealer about $400.

    1. Heh heh....YES, you got it. That is indeed Rhea Seehorn from BCS (as opposed to BSC) and she is appropriate for the blogpost because of the reference to Mike (I figured my readers would rather look at her than Jonathan Banks).

      Interesting feedback on giving the guy some of the money. I wasn't going to go down the rabbit hole of how much to tip the dealer, but am wonderif the guy who prevented the winner from mucking his hand deserved a bigger payout. There's no right answer, just something to kick around.


    Some aids for your passion.