Thursday, September 28, 2017

"You Must Have a 6th Sense"

On my first Sunday in Vegas, I got a late start for the day and didn't make it to my first poker session until after dinner (it was an early dinner, but it was after dinner none-the-less).  I got stuck in my room because I had to finish my Ante Up column.  So it was about 6pm or so when I finally got settled into a seat at Planet Hollywood after waiting for about 10 minutes.

This was an unusual game for PH—it was very tame, actually pretty dull.  Usually the games are pretty wild there.  Not this time.

How tame?  Well early on I called $10 from the button with King-10 of hearts, then folded to a three-bet of $25.  Two guys went at it heads up.  There was betting every street and on the river they both got it all-in. They turned over pocket Aces and pocket Kings!. Neither had improved at all and I should mention that there were two Queens on the flop.  I couldn't believe they didn't get it all-in preflop.  The guy who initially raised and then called the three-bet was the guy with Aces!  Very strange that he didn't four-bet, especially since he was the big stack at the table.. And this was Planet Hollywood, a room where you could easily see two players get it all-in with 7-2 and 10-3!  By the way, I'm not so sure I'd be that happy about getting it all in with either Aces or Kings once those pair of Queens showed up

I called $10 with pocket 9's.  It was heads up and the flop was Queen-hi; no 9.  He c-bet $15 and I decided to call in case he was just c-betting with an Ace-King type of hand.  The board bricked out and there was no more betting.  He showed King-Jack and my 9's were good.  The guy was obviously surprised to see that I had called his flop bet.  The guy next to him said to me, "Oh, what a call! You must have a sixth sense."  I thought, but did not say aloud, "No, it's called a float, look it up."

Despite that "monster" pot I was losing as I couldn't catch anything else.  My stack dwindled down to about $85-ish.  Ordinarily I would have added on but by this time the table had thinned out quite a bit.  That's the trouble with playing between 6 and 8 pm.  People start leaving for dinner or evening plans and it takes awhile for the evening crowd to file in.  So people left the table and there were no replacements coming.  I was just about to take off, as it was five-handed, when two new players came, obviously they were buddies and also obviously they weren't experienced at the game.  I thought I'd stick around awhile.  But they each only bought in for $140.  By this time a couple of the players, including a woman who appeared to be a reg, started asking if they could break the table.  The floor said no, she didn't want to start breaking tables so early.  With a short table and no big stacks at the table, I didn't feel the need to buy more chips.  I was just gonna play  another orbit or two to see if more players showed up.  I was actually hoping they'd break the table (or another one) so we could combine and play at a full game.

Anyway, there was an aggro who had come not long before and proceeded to piss away most of his $300 buy-in in pretty quick fashion.  He was down to his last $19 and he shoved, under-the-gun. I had Ace-King of spades in the big blind. I started thinking about raising if there were any callers.    But one of the new guys raised to $50 first.  Hmmm.....I wasn't going anywhere, not with my stack of only ~$85.  And it made no sense to just call.  I shoved.  The new guy snapped called.

The short stack showed his cards: 6-3 of clubs.  Really?  The Spanish Inquisition?  I certainly didn't expect that.  He must be a fan of Grange's now nearly defunct blog. But the other player didn't show so I didn't show either.  I really liked the flop, which had two Aces on it.  After a brick on the turn, the case Ace showed up on the river.  I must say, it had been a pretty long time since I'd gotten quads.

That was a decent double-up, but more players kept leaving the table, and we were back down to five players.  The lady on my right made one more plea to break the table and once again she refused.  There was no reason to stay, four small stacks to fight for pots with.  I decided to leave as a protest to their refusal to break the game as much as anything else.  So I racked up and said to the other players, "I'll make it easy for you.  I'm leaving so they'll have to break the game."  Note: they did have enough seats elsewhere for the four of them, I'm not sure if they could have handled five but we could have drawn for seats and the wait for the odd-man out wouldn't have been very long.

So I took a walk over to Bally's, having dropped $20 at PH.

I had to wait a bit for a seat.  Then, early on, in the small blind, I called $7 with 7-6 of diamonds.  It was seven-way.  The flop was 8-6-6, two hearts.  I checked and the preflop raiser bet $12, there was a call and I made it $30.  They both called.  I bet $40 on a 10, one caller.  But I checked the river, which was another 10.  My thought was that I had the bottom boat on a double paired board, play it safe.  But of course now I'm thinking that someone getting to the turn with a 10 is pretty unlikely.  Anyway,  The guy showed just an 8.  The other guy said he folded an 8 on the turn.

Then I got pocket Aces and after a couple of limps, I made it $12.  Two players called my raise. Then one of the blinds shoved his last $70 and it folded back to me.  To be honest, I'm not sure what the proper play is in that situation.  He made such a big raise, it would be unlikely anyone else would call after I called.  So maybe there's no point in raising?  I dunno.  I guess if one of those two left wanted to play for $70 against my Aces I should have been ok with that.  But I decided to raise instead.  Just couldn't help myself.  You get Aces preflop, you just keep raising until you get a fold or a call.  At least that was my thought at the time, but thinking about now I'm thinking a call would have been better.  Of course it likely made no difference.  What do you think, should I have just called?

Well, I made it $130 and of course the other two players folded. He showed Ace-Queen and groaned when I showed my rockets.  He did catch a Queen on the turn—but no runner runner for him and I dragged the pot. 

I was pretty much card after that so I ended up leaving up $120.  So for the night, I made exactly $100.  I was reasonably happy about that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's Better to be Lucky Than Good

This was a night where I did (almost) everything wrong and managed to have one of my successful sessions ever.  In fact, if you look at the amount I won over the time of the session, it was downright epic.

This was Tuesday night in Vegas, the night after I had played in the Aria tournament (here).  As I mentioned in that post I had been eyeing a few other tournaments to play in.  One of them was a three-day, two starting flight tourney at Venetian.  The first of the two starting flights was that very Tuesday and I originally wanted to play the first starting flight if I didn't run late into the evening at Aria the night before.

Well, I didn't last long enough at Aria to stop me from playing the next day at the V, but I managed to oversleep the next morning, had trouble getting going and ended up deciding to skip Tuesday and see if I could get moving earlier Wednesday to make the second (and last) starting flight.  So I was free for a cash game Tuesday night.  BTW, I'll give you all the details about the Venetian tourney in some future post, but it's a long story.

With the day free, I arranged to meet my buddy Don for dinner.  Don and I go back to the old AVP forum days and he's been featured in a bunch of posts (like here).  Although a recreational player like me, Don is a real student of the game and probably thinks about poker at a higher level than I do.  We had a great discussion over dinner about all things poker, and I was really impressed the way he talked about the game. It was almost like getting a free poker lesson.

Dinner turned out to be at the Shake Shack at NYNY.  The burgers there are good but a little bit pricey for what you get—even considering the place is on the Strip.  When we were finally ready to leave, it turned out that Don wasn't going to be pokering this night, I was on my own.  Under normal circumstances, the easiest thing to do from there would have been to walk across the pedestrian bridge to the MGM, a room I have some familiarity with.  However, the bridge has been closed as part of an upgrade projection since the last few days of my summer trip.  So now it seemed that MGM was actually the least convenient poker room to where we were.  I could have hopped in my car and gone anywhere but I decided as long as I was in the neighborhood, I'd try a room I rarely play in—The Excalibur. After all, it's the favorite poker room of both Mr. Ben and Pete Peters. The bridge from NYNY to Excalibur was open. 

When I first checked Bravo, about an hour before this decision was made, they had two 1/2 NL games going with a couple of folks on the waitlist.  When I checked back as we left Shake Shack, my phone was somehow incapable of loading the Bravo app, but Don checked his and he said they had one game going with a five person waiting list.  OK, I figured I'd give it a try.  If the game was bad or short or whatever, maybe I'd take the tram to Mandalay Bay.

Don had some time to kill so he accompanied me to Excal and continued our chat en route. When we got there, there was just one game going and no list, in fact there was a seat open.  I took the seat.  Don pulled up a chair behind me to observe and keep our conversation going while I played. And it turned out to be great that he did that because he was able to give me some much needed kicks in the ass when I needed them.

I probably should have checked out the game more closely before I took the seat.  There was one huge stack at the table.  By buying in for $200 I immediately became the second biggest stack in the game.

Early on I was the big blind with 5-3 offsuit.  There were a few limpers, no one raised and we saw a flop of 9-5-3.  The small blind led out for $4.  This guy looked like he was auditioning for the part of "Vegas grinder" in a new film.  Hoody and baseball cap, headphones, etc.  He was bundled up and covered almost completely.  It was like he was wearing a burka. 

I called.  Why did I just call instead of raise?  I don't have a good excuse at all.  I'll just say that I was playing my first orbit and I have this weird issue with being aggressive when I first sit down.  I try to avoid it, even when it is called for and certainly to my detriment.  No one else called and the turn was a Jack.  This time the "grinder" bet $10 and I finally found the raise button, bumping it to $25.  He tanked for awhile, muttered something about "two pair" in a very low tone that I don't think I was supposed to hear, and also muttered something like he should have shoved the flop....and then he finally called.  The river was a blank and after he checked I bet enough to put him all-in, something like $40 or so.  He thought for a bit and folded.

Don hadn't seen my cards but he was able to read my notes as I entered them into the phone.  And he whispered to me how bad a play that was, just calling with two low pair.  He reminded me that it would have been so easy for someone to get those two pair cracked with two more cards to come. Of course I knew I was right.  I just basically told him what I wrote above, about being uncomfortable being aggressive so early in my session.  He said, "Get over it," or something to that effect.

Next orbit, when the small blind came around to me, I had Queen-10 off.  I completed and it was another limped pot with 4 or 5 limpers.  The flop was Ace-10-x, I checked and then called $5 and it was four-way. 

The turn was another 10.  I led out with for $25.  The guy who lead out for $5 on the flop put some chips out in front of him.  But it wasn't a call, and it wasn't a raise.  It looked like about $40. The way he did it, I had no idea if he meant to call or if he meant to raise.  The dealer told him he had to make it $50 for the raise.  I didn't get the impression the way he reacted that he meant to raise, but I wasn't sure.  He kind of shrugged and muttered "Oh....ok," and put out enough chips to make it $50.  It folded back to me.  I guess I was confused by what he intended so I only called.  Not really a good excuse I know.   Then to continue my bad play I checked a blank river.  He tanked for a bit then put all his chips in—a bit less than $50.  I called and he turned over 10-9 or 10-8.  I had him outkicked and took the pot.

Don of course saw my hand when I showed it to win the pot, and of course he gave me another kick in the pants.  "You should have shoved on the turn....what if a scare card comes on the river?  And you were real lucky to get all his chips after you checked the river, you should have bet the river."  I just made some vague comment about being confused about whether or not he meant to raise.  Don noticed his strange bet on the turn too, but of course it shouldn't have prevented me from making the right play.

Still it was a nice pot.

Don was also telling me to leave the game.  There was just the one big stack (other than mine, though the other stack was much bigger) and as he said, "Look around the table. Who are you gonna get money from?"

I was definitely thinking the same thing, but I had barely settled in and I seemed to be running pretty good.  So I stuck around a little longer.

Then I got Ace-3 of clubs.  I raised to $10 after a limper and it was three-way.  The flop was 4-4-3.  One of the 4's was a club.  The first player bet $5—but that put him all in.  The big stack called and I called.  The turn was the 2 of clubs.  The big stack bet $30 and I called with my nut flush draw and gut shot.  The river was the 6 of clubs. Damn, if only it had been the 5 of clubs, I would have had the steel wheel, won a high hand bonus and also wouldn't have had to worry about a full house beating me.  So with the nut flush on a paired board, the big stack bet $40 and I just called.

He had a straight, my flush was good.  I dragged the pot, and turned to Don and said, "OK, give me shit for not raising the river."  But he said, "No, no, you played that perfectly." 

I said, "Really?"

"Yeah...what is he gonna call you with?  Aside from a boat, which beats you, is he gonna call you with a straight?  Is he gonna call you with a lesser flush?  Maybe.  But he's probably not gonna call you unless he has you beat."

Well at least I played one hand ok.  Just a hand or two later, the big stack racked up and left.  And Don had to take off.  But as he left, he once again urged me to move on to another game (which meant another room, this was the only game going at Excal).  I said I would probably leave soon.

There was only thing keeping me there for even a few more hands—I was running well.  Really well.  Winning three decent pots, making hands like I was, that's not very common.  And when I'm running well naturally my inclination is to stick around to see if the rungood continues.  Aren't all poker players superstitious? 

But I was contemplating leaving and then the decision was made easier for me.  A few other players took off, and there were no players to replace them.  A table full of short stacks is bad enough, but a short-handed table full of short stacks is really terrible.  So, when the big blind came around, I racked up and left.  I had only played 45 minutes and booked a $235 win.  Thus, my hourly rate for that session was $313, if your scoring at home. So obviously that's my hourly at Excal over the past two years or so, right?  Man, why do I ever play anywhere else?

My original thought was to take the tram to Mandalay Bay and get in a game there.  But as I reached the front of the Excal, I was thinking that maybe I should just call it an early night, enjoy the thought of a $235 profit for 3/4's an hour work, and be rested for the Venetian tournament I planned to play the next day.  So that's what I did. Definitely the most profitable session on a time basis I've ever had.

I know I didn't deserve to do so well, I played bad.  I'm not going to try to learn from my results but from the free lessons Don gave me.  I'm glad he was around to kick me in the ass over my play so you don't have to.  Although I'm sure you will anyway.  Have at  it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

It Was the Best of Kings, It Was the Worst of Kings

I made sort of a last minute decision to go to Vegas for Labor Day Weekend (and the week following).  I usually go then, except for last year when I couldn't go because I had cataract surgery the week before.  But as you know from reading my posts, I have become less and less enamored with Vegas lately.  And after my month-long summer trip ended in early July, I openly wondered how soon it would be before I returned.

As the weekend approached, I was thinking more and more that I wouldn't go.  But somehow the desire for another Vegas trip returned just in the nick of time.  I made some mental adjustments that I thought would help me with my poker. And then I realized that I had just enough comps left that I could keep my expenses down for a "quick" 10-day visit.  So I figured I'd give it a go while the weather was likely to be good and the days weren't short yet.  Note:  In winter, the days in Vegas are actually shorter than in L.A. and I hate it when the sun is gone by late afternoon.  Even in the heat, I like it when the sun is out in the early evening.  Typically, by September, things have cooled down a bit in Vegas so the weather you have to worry about is inside the casinos, where it is winter pretty much all year round.  Note: It turned out for the first part of my trip it was almost as hot as June, and for the second part it was cloudy, windy and rainy. 

So I booked a room and then the only other consideration I had was what to do about tournaments.  I've long felt that I was a better tournament player than a cash game player.  But my recent results seemed to be telling me otherwise.  I'd had quite a dry spell, tournament-wise. The only time I cashed in 2017 was the whopping $40 I'd won at the Bike Mega-Millions in March (see here, if you like).

Thus, anticipating the trip, I debated with myself whether I should even play any tournaments, or I should just stick to cash the whole time.  I did ok during the summer at cash but took a beating at the tournaments.  Of course, with tournaments the variance is much greater. I had two competing thoughts.  The first was, it had been so long since I'd done well in a tournament that I was "due."  The other thought, however, was the old saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

Well I must be insane because after researching the tourneys available to me for the time I would be there, I decided to get back on that horse and try a couple.  As it happened, that first Saturday I didn't play a tournament because of some issues with the room I was staying that took just too long to get semi-resolved.  By the time I was done with the issues, it was too late to play a tournament.  However, I should point out, this decision was influenced by my less-than-overwhelming desire to play a tournament.  Despite the issues, if I had really, really wanted to play in a tournament that day, I could have and would have.

But I passed, and that brings us to Labor Day.  I took advantage of the holiday to play in one of my favorite tournaments—and also one that I've had quite a bit of success in over the years—the Aria 1PM with a $125 buy-in.  In fact, I've already written about one particular incident that took place during this tourney (here).

Since I didn't cash in this tournament, I'm only gonna discuss a few hands of interest.  If you love complete detailed summaries of tournaments, fear not.  I have two more tournaments to blog about and those two will together probably fill out enough blog posts for the rest of the year.

But for this tournament, I'll start with a hand late in level 4. I started that level with a stack of $12,200 where the blinds were 25/100/200.  The starting stack is $10K.  I opened to $525 with my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  There was a call and than a lady made it $4K.  Hmm.  She was new to the table.  Her stack looked to be about the same as mine (which had dwindled down to $10K-ish).

Since it was Kings, I insta-folded.  At least in my mind.  But in real life, I am just about never folding Kings preflop.  Would you have?  That $4K was a big part of my stack (and hers) and I really couldn't see calling.  I guess you could make an argument for it.  Fold on the flop if there's an Ace, get it all in if there's a King on the flop and play it by ear if it's Queen-high or lower.  But I couldn't see that. I had to assume, without any other evidence, that she could be doing that with Queens, Jacks, maybe even 10's and of course Ace-King.

I couldn't really raise without shoving so I shoved.  And the speed with which she announced "call" signaled that I was in deep shit.  Of course she had two Aces.  I started thinking about what I could do with the rest of my day.  Until I saw that beautiful King on the flop. My set of Kings held and I was left stacking her chips and wondering why I hated that hand so much.  I had her covered by just a few chips, it was a nice double-up.

As I was stacking the chips, I started thinking that this was an omen.  A sign from the poker gods.  If I got it all-in Kings vs Aces, and somehow laid a bad beat on the other player—I survived KK vs AA—there's no way I am not cashing this tournament.  I have to cash.  It's been ordained.  It's friggin' destiny.  I owed it to the poker gods to cash.


The woman on my right thru the early rounds was someone I recognized, or at least I think I did. If I'm right, she's a regular at the Aria tournament.  But she didn't say hello to me, so maybe I have her confused with someone else.  Of course, to be fair, I didn't say hello to her either.  She is a mature woman if you catch my drift.  I'll call her "May."

The success with Kings did not propel me to greatness.  Instead I lost chips raising when I could but getting called or raised and having to let the hands go.  So by level 6 (50/300/600) I was down to $8,100.  It was shove-or-fold.  And I was dealt King-Jack off.  May open limped.  This was surprising.  By now she had built up a fairly big stack.  And she had been fairly aggressive since she had gotten a double up with a set of 9's.  I couldn't remember another open limp from her.  That affected my thought process.  If she had raised, I would have folded.  If she had folded, I would have open shoved.  But the limp.....well?  Based on what I saw, I figured the limp was a sign of some weakness.  And I decided that there was no way she would call a shove from me with a hand she had only limped in with.  I was so sure of it I was willing to bet my tournament life on it.  So I shoved.  It folded back to me, she asked for a count, took her time, and then shocked the hell out of me by calling.  Well, so much for that read.

And she flipped over Ace-10 off, which also surprised me. She was in middle position and that's a tough hand to play out of position.  To me, it would have made more sense to raise if she wanted to play it.  Whatever, I was behind but at least I had live cards.  Well, there was a Jack on the flop and another Jack on the turn for good measure, and I had a much needed double-up.

Next level May raised to $1,800 and I called with pocket 10's, we were heads up.  She checked a Queen hi flop.  She bet $2K on a blank, I assumed she didn't have a Queen so I called.  We both checked the river.  I showed my 10's and she mucked, saying she had a 6 (there was a 6 on the board).  I assumed she either had Ace-6 suited or maybe 7-6 suited.

The next hand, the (male) dealer pitched her a card and it somehow flew off the table and hit her, sort of in the chest.  It went off the table and it was a misdeal.  May said to the dealer, "You damn near hit the cleavage with that."  The dealer laughed and said, "Shh....don't give away my secrets."

As I was coming back from the break before level 8, I saw they were breaking our table.  So I got my new assignment just as the level started.  I had $24K with the levels at 100/600/1200.  I opened to $3K the first hand back with pocket 5's but the guy on my left shoved and I had to fold. 

A hand or two later I was the big blind with 8-5 offsuit.  It folded to the button.  The small blind still hadn't returned from the break, so if the button folded I'd get a walk, which would have been really nice since I had such a garbage hand. But the button said, "Oh, I gotta gamble...I'm all-in."  However, he was super short stacked—only $2,900.  When I got the count, I thought about it and realized that for such a small additional bet, and with all that dead money in there, it really didn't make sense to fold. It was just a little more than another big blind ($1,700) to call. His stack was so short he could be doing that with almost any hand, and even if he had Aces it wouldn't have been a terrible call (just a really odd looking one).  So I called.

Well, he really was gambling.  He had 6-2 and it wasn't even suited.  Absolutely nothing hit either one of us, and I busted him with 8-high!  Yeah, I won the pot with 8-high!  Pretty sure that never happened to me before.

I survived that level with $17K and the blinds went up to 200/800/1600.  And early in that level the table broke. We were down to 30 players (93 total players, they were paying 11).  I had just posted the big blind at the old table and now I lucked into the big blind at new table. I looked down at pocket 9's and I figured that unless there was a lot of action in front of me, this would be it.

Well it folded around to the small blind.  Hey, a walk there would have been fine with me.  But the small blind, who had a big stack, added $4K to his SB.  Well, I didn't know this guy at all, hadn't seen him play a hand.  But I figured with his big stack and seeing my short stack, he might do that with all kinds of hands, including total garbage.  It's a smart play, and I've done it myself.  So I shoved.  Unfortunately, he snap called and turned over pocket Kings.  Ugh.  Yeah, that was pretty dreaded.  I didn't hit my two-outer and my tournament life was done.

So the dreaded Kings worked for me beyond my wildest dreams early in the tournament.  But in the end, the burned me, as usual, even though I wasn't the one who held them.

I had played five hours.  The top prize was $2975 and 9th, 10th, and 11th all paid the min-cash of $217.  Not one, not two but three places get less than double the buy-in.  You can bet I wasn't t thrilled when I saw what the min-cash was, you've heard me rant about that.  But at least I felt that I had played pretty well, well enough to consider another tournament or two before I left town.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Can You Tell The Difference....

This was a frustrating night at the Mirage on a Saturday night earlier this month.  It was frustrating because it was a good game and there was a human ATM there and I was just too card dead to take advantage of the situation.

As I was taking my seat, I recognized someone at a table across the room.  It was the one, the only....grrouchie!  I waved to him and I thought he was waiving back.  But it turned out he was merely waiving to the floor because he had just been called for a table change and decided to stay where he was.

I was much too lazy to get up to say hello to him, so I tweeted out that "I spy @grrouchie."  Now I had noticed that our mutual pal Alaskagal was dealing at the table he was sitting at.  Well, although grrouchie didn't notice me, AG did (I had briefly said hello to her earlier when I was there getting my comp for dinner).  She told him, "Rob is here...he's over at that table."  And he must have seen me because he said to her, "Oh, you mean that old bald guy?"  Harummph.  I'm not bald.  Not yet, anyway.  AG was surprised, not realizing he was kidding.  "You never met Rob?"  Anyway, he tweeted out that AG was dealing to him and not me.  At the time, I thought it was in response to my tweet but he insisted he sent that tweet out before he saw mine.

Let me tell you about this human ATM.  The first unusual thing I saw him do was when he was down to his last chip.  He had gone all-in against someone and lost.  Turned out he had the winner covered by a buck—one lousy buck.  The dealer asked him if he wanted to get more chips  and he didn't respond.  So she dealt the next hand and he put his last dollar in blind.  Guess what?  He lost.

Now up until then I assumed he was pretty much finished.  You've seen this, right?  A guy doesn't feel like cashing in his last few dollars so he just plays them until he loses.  He is too lazy or too embarrassed to go to the cashier to get cash for his last couple of chips.  And since he doesn't know when he'll be back (and if he's a tourist it might a really long time) he doesn't want to stick the chip(s) in his pocket for next time.

Well that's what I thought this was.  But to my surprise, when he lost the buck he pulled out his money and bought in for another $100.  WTF?  If he was gonna rebuy anyway, why the well would he play his last buck like that instead of buying more chips first and just having a playable stack in the first place?  I mean, what did he hope to accomplish with that one buck?  A double up?  OK, a triple up?  Yeah, then he'd have three whole bucks to play with.  How many times would he have to shove and win in order to work that one buck up to something he could actually play poker with?  Seemed absurd to me.

Anyway, from that point, I saw this guy just basically give away between $500-$700, $100 at a time.  He would either shove or call a shove and lose every single time.  Seriously.  Now, I can understand the shoving—he was bluffing and hoping to get a call, or perhaps overvaluing his made hand.  But sometimes he would call and the other player would show a rather mediocre hand—and he just mucked without showing.  I was thinking, "Why did you call a shove if you couldn't even beat a hand like that?"  It happened too often for me to believe he was calling with draws (that missed) every time.

I texted grrouchie that I was in a really good game and suggested he join me.  He did, but unfortunately by the time he made it over the game had changed.  A few of the looser players had taken off.  And as for the human ATM, he finally got tired of losing money $100 at a time.  So finally, he rebought for $300.  And after a hand or two, he started playing a little more sanely.  The raises were smaller and he was able to find the "fold" button a lot instead of the "raise" and "call" buttons.  By the time grrouchie sat next to me, he was able to accuse me (legitimately) of misrepresenting the game.  Sorry, man.

Once there, the grouch man proceed to insult an entire European nation.  The most aggro player once he got there was this guy with a foreign accent.  Grrouchie finally asked him where he was from and he said France.  So grrouchie said, "Gee, your head is not nearly as pointy as I would have expected."  The guy was taken aback but I think the language barrier probably saved grrouchie from getting punched out.  He acted like he had no idea what grrouch was talking about (probably because he didn't).  So grrouchie explained that he was making a Coneheads reference.  Well, no wonder it fell flat.  It's a pretty dated reference. I doubt the guy from France had ever heard of the Coneheads.  I mean, has anybody even thought of the Conheads in the past 20 years?  And I'm including Dan Aykroyd in that.

Anyway, there was a female dealer at one point and for some reason she started telling this story about this weird question a player once asked her.  This took place a few years back when the rodeo was in town.  This cowboy had been playing for a few hours and then cashed out his chips.  The lady dealer telling the story happened to be flooring this particular evening. 

So the cowboy went over to her and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?  It's a little's a little out there."  He was obviously embarrassed.  She said to him, "Sir, I've been dealing poker in Vegas for years.  I've heard it all.  Nothing can shock me."  So he asked her, "How can you tell the difference between a girl who's going to the club and just walking and a working girl?"  We all laughed and grrouchie gave his answer which for the life of me, I can't recall. But I'm sure it was both witty and insightful. 

But of course, if you've been reading this blog regularly you know the right answer.  I said, "It's easy.  The hookers are dressed much more conservatively than the club girls."

The dealer thought about that for a second and said, "I think you're right."

Of course I was right.

I played three hours and wrote down only four or five hands.  Looking them over, none of them are worth talking about.  Sometimes that doesn't stop me, but this time it will.  The one hand I got into with the human ATM when he was giving away money ended up being a split pot between the two of us.  Otherwise, won a few small pots, lost a bunch of small pots (or they were small when I folded).  Ended up booking a small loss.  I was just too damn card dead to win or lose a lot of money.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"We Find the Defendants Incredibly Guilty"

This past Saturday I found myself at the Bike in glorious Bell Gardens, CA.  OK, I didn't exactly "find myself" there. That implies I either had a huge epiphany about the very nature of my existence while there, or that I suddenly appeared there without any idea how I got there.  And I know precisely how I got there.  I drove there.  And drove there.  And drove there.

Traffic was miserable even by Southern California standards and it took forever to get there.  And that was with the help of Google maps, which had me take a different route than I normally take. If it took this long with the "best" route that Google could come up, I can only imagine how long it would have taken with my normal route.  It probably would have taken less time to get to the MGM poker room from my house than it did to get to the Bike.  Well maybe not MGM, but perhaps SouthPoint?

When I finally arrived, I had to wait for a seat to open up at one of the two 2/3 games they had going. Finally two seats opened up at one table, and they called me and the second person on the list to take seats.  However, there were two people at the other 2/3 table that wanted to change tables.  So the floor person reserved the two open seats at one table and told me that would get a choice of seats at the table that was full when the two players moved to their new game.

This happens all the time and should be no big deal.  So I waited at the table I was assigned to with my money in hand and watched as the current hand was completed.  I figured the two players would both move to the other table as soon as the hand was over.  But instead, they were both dealt new hands.  Neither player was the button, or the blinds, for that matter.  I didn't understand why they weren't moving if they were so interested in getting away from that table that they had earlier made a formal request to move.  And of course, when they were just now told that seats had opened up at the other game, they both said that yes, they still wanted to move.

So the next hand was completed and both of these two clowns took yet another hand!  And I was standing there like an idiot waiting to sit down and play.  Meanwhile there were two open spots at the other game.  And then a third spot opened up at that table and it was filled by someone who was lower than I was!  So I in essence was skipped over for a seat due to the extreme rudeness and lack of consideration by these two players who had told the floor they were going to move and then stayed in their seats! 

I was just about to find a floorperson to explain what was happening when a couple of players at the other game shouted to her that they were short-handed, and since there was a waiting list why weren't they filling the seats?  By this time my name had actually been taken off the board and I wondered if I was going to get totally shafted.  To be honest, if it hadn't taken me forever to get there, I might have been tempted to just say, "the hell with it," and left the casino.  But anyway, when the other players complained the floor finally took action and told the two players they had to move right then and there or they wouldn't get their damn seat change.

One of them moved and the other decided to stay at the game he was at.  So the floor told me to take one of the two open seats at the table where everyone had left.  If not for the selfishness of the two players, I could have done that 10 minutes earlier and been playing already.

I don't blame the Bike, the floor people are busy and it's hard to keep on top of things like this.  It's the players that are to blame.  Sadly, this is not a surprising experience for the Bike.  There are a lot of inconsiderate people who play there.  Players Casino in Ventura has a much higher class clientèle.  But I don't get it.  If you say you want to move, and you are called to move, why they hell don't you move?  I can see someone playing the button.  But if the button is not on you or about to come to you, get the hell off your ass and move and don't inconvenience the new player and the players at the other table by hanging around.  This is just common courtesy.

Anyway, there was a nonagenarian two seats to my right. For a long time, I just thought he was some random older guy. I didn't recognize him but eventually his voice started sounding familiar.  And people seemed to know him.  OK, so he was a regular at the Bike, no big deal.  But the more I heard the voice, the more it sounded familiar.  And then I heard him mention that he was going to be on television that night, at 10 p.m.

And I realized it was Bill Macy, the actor.  He is most famous for playing Bea Arthur's husband on Maude.  I'm sure I saw every episode of that show.  And as I was thinking about that, it took me some 20 minutes to remember that I had seen him at the Bike before, a few years back.  Initially I couldn't remember anything about that meeting, and I assumed I hadn't even interacted with him.  In fact, my first thought was that I had seen him at another table.  But the more I thought about it, I finally starting thinking that I may have blogged about running into him.

And sure enough, I searched my blog and found the post here where I talked about playing with Bill Macy. It was over fours year ago and I haven't seen him since.  But there he was on Saturday.

By this time he had started chatting up the woman who was sitting between us, who used to live in L.A. but had moved to Arizona and was back in L.A. this weekend for a wedding. They were having quite the conversation.  Bill was interested in finding out why the lady moved to Arizona.  I suppose someone hearing this conversation might have thought that Bill was possibly hitting on this woman but that wasn't the case.  For one thing, there was a huge age difference.  For another, Bill has apparently been happily married to the same woman for over 40 years.  And finally, I'm sure Bill was sharp enough to realize that the lady he was chatting up was, shall we say, playing for the other team.

But I heard Bill tell a few other people where they could find him on TV that night, so I kind of felt he was maybe eager to talk about his career.  I had heard him say that he'd like to still work, but no one will hire him. "I can't get arrested," he said.  I guess there aren't many parts for 95-year-olds.  Suddenly, I remembered that Bill had a very small role—one line, in fact—in one of Mel Brooks' first movie, The Producers.  And it happens to be one of my all-time favorite films.  Note: I am referring to the original 1967 film, not the musical remake from 2005 which no one liked.  Well actually, I liked it, one of the few who did.  But it's nowhere near as good as the '67 original.

As I said, Bill had one line in the movie but it (and his delivery) was very memorable.  The line is, "We find the defendants incredibly guilty."  I guess I should have put a spoiler warning first but seriously, the movie is 50 years old!  And it won't ruin a thing, trust me.  It is genuinely one of the funniest movies ever made.  You can actually find Bill's scene here.

So instead of telling him I loved him on Maude, I said to him, "Weren't you in The Producers?  I still remember your line...."  And he said "Yes, I played the jury foreman. I had one line."  And he started to quote the line.  And to prove that I remembered it, I said it with him.

Mr. Macy was blown away that I remembered.  I think I made his day.  "I can't believe you remembered that one line.  I just can't believe it."  Well, I said, it's one of my favorite movies.  And he proceeded to tell everyone at the table how great the movie was and that they should definitely see it.  Then he made sure to tell him he was talking about the one with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

And then he asked me, "Do you know how I got that part in The Producers?"  Of course I did not.  So he told me.  He said that Mel Brooks had seen him in a play he was in. Being an actor, he not only mentioned the name of the play but the address of the theater in New York (both of which of course I've forgotten).  There was no curtain call for the play so Mel went back stage to see him after and told him that he was making a movie.  Unfortunately, he had cast all the parts but if something else came up he'd try to put him in it.  Well a couple of days later someone from Mel's company called him and asked if he'd be interested in a small part.  He said of course he would.  Bill told me he got $200 for the one line performance and that it was his first movie.

Then he mentioned another movie he was in, Steve Martin's The Jerk.  And he told me his signature line from that film, which was "Damn these glasses."  Of course I've seen the movie many times but I didn't remember that line, but you can find it here.

Anyway, about 15 minutes later, long after we had moved onto other topics, Bill turned to me and said, "I just can't believe you remember that one line. That's impressive."  The women sitting between us agreed with him.

Well, I was actually there to play poker so let's get to that.  The very first hand, I was dealt pocket 5's. I limped in with a bunch of others. The flop came Queen-8-5, two hearts.  Someone bet $7 and I made it $20; only the bettor called. He checked a blank turn and I bet $35 and he called.  An 8 on the river filled me up and I bet $60 after he checked.  He thought for awhile but folded.

In the small blind with Ace-King of hearts, I called $15 and it was three-way.  I checked a King-high flop and called $20.  It was heads up. The turn was a blank and I checked but he checked behind.  I led out for $35 on the river (a blank) and he folded instantly.

Next time I was the small blind I completed with Queen–9 of hearts.  The flop had a 9 on it and two hearts.  I called $10 and we were heads up.  I caught the flush on the turn and led out for $20, he called.  The river didn't pair the board but it did make a straight very likely.  I bet $25 and the guy made it $65.  Damn, did he have a bigger flush?  I thought about it and figured he could easily have the straight.  So I called.  He did indeed have the straight.

I was up almost $200 and it was early.  Then I had the misfortunate of getting pocket Aces.  There were multiple limpers so I made it $18 and got three callers.  The flop was Jack-Jack-8.  I c-bet $30, the player behind me called, and the next guy shoved. He had nearly $300.  I had him covered.  After the last guy folded, I went into the tank.  It was so easy for him to have a Jack there.  Or pocket 8's.  I couldn't see risking so much on a paired board, especially two face cards.  I folded my bullets.  The next guy tanked longer than me but finally folded 10-9 face up.  The shover kindly showed his hand—Jack-10.  I'd made a good lay down and it hadn't cost me that much.

Then I went card dead for over an hour.  At least I was enjoying my conversation with Bill Macy.

Finally I got Aces again.  I opened to $12 and it was three-way.  The flop was Jack-8-6, rainbow.  I made a c-bet of $20 and the next guy made it $40.  Last guy folded.  I called but was obviously concerned.  The turn was a blank and after I checked he bet $50.  Did he have a set?  Two pair?  I thought about letting it go but then I remembered that this was the Bike, and it wouldn't be surprising to see someone play just top pair this way.  I went ahead and called.

The river paired the 6.  After I checked, he checked behind, and then said, "I have two pair."  Well, I did too with the paired board.  He had Jack-rag and his second pair was the 6's on the board, same as me.  I showed my Aces and swept the pot.  The guy said to me, "I played that really dumb."  I didn't respond.

But I do have a question for you.  In that situation, when the guy says "I have two pair," can that possibly be considered angle-shooting?  I recall that back when i was first learning the game, and I heard someone say that, I might think I was beat if I wasn't considering the pair on the board as my second pair.  I mean I know there were a few times when I was starting out that I mucked a bigger pair than the villain had when he said that because I was only thinking of the one pair that I had.

So in that situation, I might have thought, "Two pair?  All I've got is Aces, I'm beat."  And maybe he had Jack-8 and he didn't need the paired 6's to give him two pair, so even if I saw it, I'd muck the Aces even tho I had the better hand.  Like I said, I know I did this a couple of times in my old 2/4 days.  And I've even read articles warning newbies about this—to be careful about that because calling his hand two pair—even though it's accurate—can be misleading to the inexperienced player.  So is it an angle-shooting?

I would never say that—I would never declare that I had two pair in that situation.  But then, I rarely declare my hand, I just show it.  I only declare it if it looks like the dealer is having trouble calling it (which does happen occasionally) .

This being the Bike I thought it might be more likely that the villain was trying something on me, but I'm not saying he was.  Of course, the other player (in this case me) is always responsible for tabling the winning hand.  Any thoughts on this?

Well, I had to wrap it up soon after that.  My new best friend Bill had already left, and I had lost some poker time due to traffic.  I cashed out up $150.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The New Westgate Poker Room

In case you hadn't heard, The Westgate opened a new poker room last month.  Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they re-opened their poker open, since they had a poker room and closed it a couple of years ago. This was kind of a surprise development, as mostly all you hear about these days is poker rooms closing in Vegas.

Well, it turned out that when management at the Westgate decided to get back in the poker biz, they called my bosses and colleagues over at PokerAtlas and asked them to set up our TableCaptain poker room management software in the new room.  It was actually up and running before the room opened.

That was pretty cool.  This is the first Vegas room to use our software.  You might recall that I mentioned that the Bike also uses that software, so I had seen it action a few times before.  That meant that before going over there, on the first Saturday I was in Vegas this month, I checked on the PokerAtlas app and saw that they had a 1/2 game running with a small waitlist.  You can actually open the waitlist on the app and see the names on it.  So if you're on the list, you can check to see how close you are to getting called into a game.  Sweet, huh?  You can also access all this information (including tournament clocks) on the PokerAtlas website too.

Once I saw they had a game going, I headed over that afternoon.  It was definitely on my to-do list for this to check out the newest room in town this trip.

I think the room is in the same location it was when it closed a couple of years ago—a location I never saw.  It was more-or-less part of the main casino last time I played there.  But I had heard they moved it over into the Sports Book (or adjacent to it) before they closed it down.  And now, the room is in the SuperBook (which is what they call the sports book over at Westgate, I believe it's the biggest in town), or at least across from it, near a snack bar.  The room has six tables and is pretty nice for a small room.  It is roomy, that's really nice.  The tables are not jammed together.  But the one minor issue I have is that the games are 10-handed.  I suppose for a small room just trying to build a clientele that's understandable.  They will have trouble getting multiple games going until they get established. 

And before you ask—yes, they still offer free parking over at the Westgate.  At least for now.

They are offering a lot of games—limit hold'em, limit Omaha, PLO—but from what I've seen on the app they are getting 1/2 NL almost exclusively (as you would expect).

The location in the sports book is both good and bad.  It's good when there are lots of sports on and the book is hopping. But late in the evening when there's not much going on in the sports world—even on the West Coast—there won't be much foot traffic near the room to draw from.

And the location of the casino itself is hardly ideal.  They will have to get some local grinders to leave their favorite rooms and give it a try. There of course will be plenty of tourists and convention goers staying at the Westgate to draw from.  But without the regs to get the games going, it will be a struggle.  But they just opened and the word hasn't really gotten out yet.

The Saturday I was there was actually the first Saturday of the college football season.  So of course the sports book was jam packed.  When I got to the poker room there was one 1/2 game going and an single open seat, which I grabbed. The buy-in was $50 min - $200 max.  According to the board, they also offer the same game with a $100 min - $300 Max. Obviously they're experimenting to see what works best for them. I didn't recognize any of the players.  I also didn't recognize any of the dealers, who were all first-rate.  It was a loose game, there weren't a lot of quality players at the table. I didn't get the impression that most of the folks at the table played poker all that regularly.  I figured that one or two of them were locals and the rest were tourists or maybe mostly sports bettors who wandered in from the SuperBook. 

I only took notes on two hands, but both were favorable.  I was the big blind with Jack-9 of hearts.  By this time I had  lost about $60 of my $200 buy-in, not winning a hand.  I flopped the flush draw, with the Ace of hearts on the flop.  I called $10. I think it was three-way.  The turn was the Queen of hearts, giving me the second nuts.  This time I led out for $25.  The guy who bet the flop called, the other guy folded.  The river was a blank and I bet $40.  He tanked forever and finally called.  He showed two pair and I had a decent pot.

Later I had pocket Jacks and opened to $10 and had two callers.  The flop was Ace-10-6, rainbow.  The big blind donked out $15 and I called, the other guy also called.  Yeah, the Ace was a bad card for me.  But honestly with the level of play I had seen in this game I couldn't rule out the possibility that he was donk-betting with just a pair of 10's or even 6's.  It seemed cheap enough to see what happened on the turn.

And lucky me, the turn was the Jack of hearts, the second heart on the board but more importantly giving me a set of Jacks.  Same guy bet $20.  I thought for a bit and then made it $50.  What happened next was apparently the key to the hand.  There was a player behind me who the action was on.  But before he had a chance to act, the first guy saw my bet and asked, "How much is it?  $50?  I call."  The dealer told him to hold up, the action wasn't on him.  So now it was on the third guy, who had just barely $50 in his stack.  He counted his chips, tanked for quite a while and then said, "Well, since I know you're gonna call (referring to the player  who had called out of turn), I'll fold."  The other guy indeed called and it was heads up to the river.

That river was the King of diamonds, not exactly a card I was hoping for.  There was now four to a straight on there.  And this time the guy led out for $50.  Oh crap, did he have a damn Queen?  There were all kinds of Queens in his range...pocket Queens, Ace-Queen, Queen-10, Queen Elizabeth.  You name it.

I started to think of that classic line from the TV commercial, I think it goes something like,  "I don't always fold a set of Jacks, but when I do, there's four to a straight on the board."

But the thing was, he was a loose enough (and bad enough) player to have all kinds of things in his range.  Ace-X, 10-X, who knows.  I figured he must have at least two pair but I could beat that.  I didn't like it but I made the crying call.

And he said, "I just have an Ace."  Whew!  I showed my set and he showed the Ace with a low card.  Not even two pair.  Not even a good kicker.  I was happy to take the pot.

After I stacked my chips, I suddenly remembered the third guy saying that he folded because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  Well, my curiosity was aroused.  So I said, "That hand where you folded because you know the other guy was going to call....would you mind telling me what you had?"

He said, "Well, I would have had a straight."  Holy crap.  I said, "You would have won if you stayed in?"  He said yes.  "But it was for almost all my chips."  Hmmm.

Of course, at the time he said it was because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  At the time, that sounded like, "Well, at least one of you has me beat."  But if he was on a draw....well that is very different.  On the turn, we both had him beat.  But if he hits his straight (as he apparently would have) he'd beat us both.  The only way that fold makes sense to me (and not really) is if he figured that one of us was drawing to the same straight and if he hit it he'd split the pot.  Then he wouldn't have had good odds to call.  But the fact that the other guy was going to call actually gave him good odds to call, right? 

It seems I got real lucky there running into two pretty weak players who accidentally colluded to give me the pot!

Now that I've written this up, I realize I should have played a lot more poker at the Westgate this trip, but as it happens, I never had a chance to return.

I left after a couple of hours with $110 profit.  And I'm happy to report there was about a four person waiting list when I cashed out. 

Nice little room they have there.  I hope it makes a go of it.