Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Post Christmas Miracle with Pocket Kings

Maybe I'll tell you how I got to this point in the session somewhere down the road (and maybe I won't).  (Edited to add:  Well I now have told you about the earlier part of the session and you can find it here But for now, let's talk about last night's hand at Planet Hollywood where I looked down and saw the oh-so dreaded pocket Kings staring me in the face.  I had about $370 in front of me (up from my $200 buy-in).  There was an under-the-gun straddle for $5 (at PH, that's what the UTG straddle is—the button straddle is $10 and they start the action UTG—ugh) and a call.  I made it $20 with the dreaded hand.

A fairly new player to the table re-raised to $70.  He was a middle-aged Asian man and I don't think he had a played a hand to this point, but then you couldn't draw any conclusions from that as he had been there for such a short time.  Still, he was older than the typical "Crazian" though I have certainly seen maniacs of his particular ethnic persuasion (not to mention every particular ethnic persuasion) his age and older before.  He had about $240-$250 when the hand started.  In other words, he couldn't stack me but if I did lose to his all-in I would no longer have a profitable session.

It is well-documented here that I have my issues with pocket Kings.  My own personal Kryptonite hand, as it were.  A lot of people have problems playing them, I've learned.  Most non-readers of this blog refer to them as "Ace Magnets."  But they seem to haunt me more than they haunt everyone else (or maybe I just take it more personally).

I have to admit they have me spooked. I swear I've been burned by them more often than any other poker hand.  And part of that by now no doubt has to do with the self-fulfilling prophecy.  Because of my past results, I seem to automatically play them badly, always make the wrong decision, always make things worse than they need be.

Is that my imagination?  Maybe.  But it's like a baseball player who hasn't had any success against a particular pitcher.  At a certain point, his confidence is shot facing this pitcher, and he strikes out before he even sees the first pitch.  I'm freaked out when I get into a tough situation with those damn Kings….and that always makes the result worst than it might have been.

Sometimes I overcome the fear of them, and play them aggressively (too aggressively?) and that turns out to be the wrong move at that time.  Other times I play them way too passively, and that costs me too.  I can't seem to win.

So…..I hesitated and tanked.  I couldn't find the re-raise button.  Just couldn't do it.  I choked.  I barely found the call button.  But find it I did…hoping that somehow, someway, a King would appear on the flop (two would have been even better).  And if not that, certainly not an Ace.

The flop was ridiculously low.  It was either 3-3-2 or 3-2-2.  All the cards were red (my red King matched the suit of only one card on the board).  I checked and waited to see what the villain would do.

Well, what he did was put out a stack of $100.  And that sent me into the tank.  I didn't exactly see my life flash before me.  It was more like seeing every single time I've lost big pots with KK flash before me (not really, but give me some poetic license). 

I knew if I just called I was committed for everything anyway, so that was never an option (actually, that should have been my reasoning preflop, of course).  It was either fold or shove.

There was little likelihood of that flop hitting anyone who had put in $70 preflop, so it was basically a pre-flop decision.  So basically I was losing to exactly one hand—pocket Aces.  Is that what he had?

What was his range?  Could he have done that with Ace-King, Ace-Queen, Queens, Jacks…10's?  Or was this guy doing that only with only the one hand that beat me?

Somewhere, despite those dreaded Kings staring me in the face, I found the intestinal fortitude I needed to make the move I needed to make.  "Certainly," I said to myself, "He can have Queens or Jacks or even Ace-King here."  And I said the magic words.  "All-in."

When the villain didn't snap call, I knew I was in good shape.  Again, he's not worried about that flop hitting me.  If he had two Aces, he's responding "Call!" in a New York minute.  Instead, he asked to see how much I had, and seemed surprised that I had so much.  Apparently he didn't even realize I had him covered.  But when he saw that I did, he froze….and eventually meekly folded his hand.  Phew!  I guess when I saw him fold, I kind of belatedly wished he had called.  And honestly, since he had put in more than half his stack, it was probably a bad play on his part.  I have to believe he was totally shocked by my move.  And to some degree, so was I!

And when I finished stacking my chips, they looked like this:

So have I finally conquered my fear of pocket Kings?

I wouldn't bet on it.  But I'll take my victories when I can get them.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas--They're Only Candy Canes!

Well, last night was Christmas Eve and I was playing at Planet Hollywood.  A female dealer came to our table wearing a string of candy canes.  They were lighting up, constantly blinking, obviously they were battery operated.  She wore this around her neck and shoulders.

One of the male players at the table commented that the candy canes looked like penises (they did not, unless this guy has a serious medical condition and needs to see a urologist immediately).  She laughed and said something to the effect of, "Well yeah, that's why I wear them….for the guys."

Another player said, "Men like to look at penises?  That's news to me."

The dealer said, "Well, they terrorize men…and I like to terrorize men."

After this, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a candy cane the same way again.  Not to mention eat one.

Not much to say about the poker.  Very first hand I was dealt was of course the dreaded pocket Kings.  I raised to $12, got a call and saw a flop of 9-6-6.  I bet $15 and he called.  The turn was a 9. I checked, he bet $50.  Knowing nothing about this player, I decided to fold.  Too weak?

The next hand I was dealt King-5 (I saw the King first, and was wondering if I could possibly get Kings back-to-back).  Of course I folded.  The flop came King-5-5.

The hand after that, two players went all-in preflop.  They both had pocket Kings (no, neither of them hit a flush).

I'm seeing pocket Kings everywhere.  I wish I had kept an accurate record.  I swear I've been dealt pocket Kings more than every other possible pocket pair combined this trip.  I've had mixed results, actually winning with them a few times (small pots).  The only time I was felted was when a guy called my $45 three-bet with 7-3 suited and caught a straight.  Why wouldn't you call a $45 in a 1/2 game with a monster like 7-3 suited?

An odd moment last night came when the person on my right suddenly found a "missed small button" in front of him even though he had been at the table the whole time.  She also didn't deal him into the hand.  For some reason she was thinking he had missed the small blind the time before (when I was the big blind), but the guy was there the whole time.  There was already action so we went on and thus he missed playing his button.  He was more amused than upset.

Anyway, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.  Enjoy the pics!

Friday, December 22, 2017

I Wonder if He's Still Good Enough to Fold Pocket Kings?

This is a repost.  The reason I'm reposting this particular post is that I've recently encountered the star of this post, "Austin Bluffs", not once, not twice, but three times in the past week or so.  The first time was via a Periscope that the Aria poker room folks did.  He noticed that I was watching and gave me a shout out, forcing me to revisit the post.  I hadn't heard anything from Austin in all this time, since the story you are about to (re) read.  As for the other two times I've run into him, well, I'll save that for when I get around to writing about the events of the previous two nights here in Vegas.

This post originally appeared October 24, 2013, but the event that it referred to happened in July of that year.

Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane!


The other morning, I woke up to the following tweet from someone going by the Twitter handle, “Austin Bluffs”:

“I just recognized you in Ante Up, I laid down KK against you PF at MGM in July, good lay down, right?”

My first reaction was, “huh?”  How the heck am I supposed to remember some hand from July?

I appreciated the fact that somebody recognized me from my little pic in Ante Up and tracked me down.  Actually, I was amazed by it.

I mean, here’s someone obsessing over a hand that happened over 3 months ago.  But hey, as a poker player myself, I could certainly relate to that.  Yeah I could.  In fact, I have a blog where I have a permanent record of hands I tend to obsess over.  When I go back and read some of my early posts, and read about the bad beats, they still piss me off.

But something else surprised me.  He recognized me from that tiny picture.  And not just as, “Oh, I know I played against this guy a few months ago.”  No, no….he looked at that pic, recognized me—and this is key—recognized me as the guy who got him to lay down pocket Kings preflop!  Recognizing me as that guy really impressed me, I have to admit.

I wondered if I had blogged about the hand he was talking about, but I doubted it.  I think if I would have blogged about it, I would have remembered.  

So I tweeted back to Austin for more info on the hand.  Maybe he could explain enough about the hand to trigger my memory.  I tweeted to him:  “Wow. Seriously? You'd have to give me details about the hand for me to try to rack my brain (or my blog notes) to remember.”

I mentioned my blog notes on purpose.  I had no idea if Austin reads my blog.  I couldn’t assume he did.  But I wanted to give him a heads up about it.  Maybe he’d come back and say he looked for a mention of it but I had never written about it.  Maybe he’d start reading it to see if he could find something.

In the meantime, I looked through some of Austin’s tweets.  I found an interesting one on July 6.  He tweeted to All Vegas Poker’s twitter account (and to Las Vegas Michael, the one-time main face of AVP) “pls ask Robert S from your staff if the guy (me) who laid down KK preflop had a good read (AA) on his 5-bet @MGM.”

I didn’t spend too much time analyzing this tweet because it gave me the vital piece of info I needed—the date, or the approximate date—the incident took place.

That meant I could probably find the hand in my notes.  As I’ve explained previously, since around March, I’ve been doing voice notes to chronicle my Vegas adventures, usually recorded the morning after every day of poker/Vegas activities.  And more recently, I started a spreadsheet to keep track of what significant events happened and on which voice recordings I could find them.  That means I avoid listening to 20-40 minutes worth of notes before finding out if there’s anything there worth blogging about.  I can find the stories I know I want to tell easier.  Then, when I do the blog post, I put the title of said post in the next column, so I know the story is done, and I don’t have to review those notes any further. 

The tweet was sent at 6 in the morning, so it was safe to say the hand must have occurred July 5 or before.  I opened my spreadsheet and saw the details I had from that day.  Actually, all I had to look at was the name of the blog post that I had indeed written about that day.

And when I saw what post it was, I almost shit in my pants. 

The title of the post was “Bad Beats & Big Tits” and you can find it here.  I remembered that post very well.  It was about a few really bad beats I took in a couple of consecutive sessions.  And about how I humorously blamed a guy who was sitting next to me both sessions for my bad luck.  At least I was trying to be funny. In that attempt, I went on and on—as I am known to do—about certain physical attributes that the player’s wife was displaying rather liberally. I believe the title of the post will give you a pretty big hint about what that was.

I knew that I didn’t suffer any bad beats to the guy I was “blaming” for my bad luck (also known as the husband of the woman with big tits).  But since I had no memory of what Austin was talking about, I couldn’t be sure that Austin wasn’t the husband of the woman with the big tits.

And if he was, that really scared me.  I’ve mentioned before being worried about some of the subjects of my posts recognizing themselves here and being upset with me for what I’ve written.  The biggest concern I’ve had was Denise, the lovely dealer who I complimented in a very ungentlemanly fashion.  But it turned out, not only wasn’t she offended, she was actually thrilled that I had “tooted her horn”—she was flattered, totally ignoring the tackiness of my comments (see here).

This would be similar, but somehow very different.  The husband of the woman I had written about the way I had this woman might not be so thrilled with my ungentlemanly assessment of his wife’s assets.  He might not find any humor in it all. He might want to defend his wife’s “honor.”

So I may have just suggested to this husband that he search my blog to find the hand he was obsessing over.  And he might find the story of me discussing his wife’s chest instead.


Suddenly I wished I hadn’t sent that tweet to Austin, I certainly wished I hadn’t mentioned the blog on it, and I wasted no time finding my voice notes from the 5th and listening to them.

It was the first time I’d played back the voice notes since I wrote that post, which I did just a day or two after the session. I should point out, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, in order to help me do those voice notes, I take notes of certain hands right at the table, soon after they happen.

So I heard myself on the voice note saying, after I’ve set up the situation, “I guess I’ll read the hands even though nothing really matters but the last hand, because I lost my entire stack on the last hand.  Because poker’s such a good game.  But I’ll read them anyway.”

Yeah, I was bitter.  If you reread that post, you’ll see why.  This was the morning after my set of 9’s got beat, the first hand of that post.

I listened through a few hands, and then I heard myself saying, “Then, the most interesting hand that I can possibly blog about other than the one that f***ed me up the ass.” (yeah, that’s the way I talk to myself in these notes).  I went on to say that I had pocket Aces.  One guy made it $6, another player called, I made it $18, and the guy in seat 9 made it $50.

I breathed a sigh of relief even before hearing the rest.  I was sure this was the hand Austin was referring to.  He must have been the guy in seat 9.  Couldn’t have been the man whose wife had the big ones, he was sitting right next to me in seat 4.  Phew.

I continued describing the hand.  It folded back to me.  I put a stack of $100 right next to the $18 I had initially put out.  It folded back to seat 9.  He tanked.

According to my notes, he said, “I know you got Aces.  I know you got Aces……You got Aces.”  And then he folded.  Face up.  Showing the dreaded pocket Kings.

Now, I’m absolutely sure at the moment that happened, my thought was, “Wow, this is going to be a blog post.  I got a guy to fold pocket Kings.  I found a player good enough to fold pocket Kings (see here).At the time, I was sure that hand would be the main story of the blog post coming from that session.  I mean, there’s the whole “good enough to fold pocket Kings” bit that I’ve discussed several times.  There’s the fact that it was indeed the dreaded pocket Kings (which appear more often in this blog than “boobs mentionings”).  Plus the numerous times I’ve discussed the whole Aces vs. Kings scenario (see here).  And you know, you just so rarely see a guy fold Kings preflop.  It’s memorable.

But of course, the last hand of the night made me forget this hand completely.

Back to my voice notes.  I explained that the guy to my right—who was probably the guy with the large-breasted wife (although this might have been before he showed up)—said, “No, he had Queens.”

Seat 9 said, “Well, then it was a good bet.”

The player to my right said, “Queens or Jacks.”

I just smiled.  I came pretty close to showing, but held back.  I said, “Deuces.”

Player to my right said, “I’m sure you had better than deuces.”

I said, “OK, threes.”

Player 9 said, “He’ll do a forum post on AVP—‘I bluffed this guy out of Kings.’”

Yes, it turned out that my association with AVP had been discussed at the table prior to this. A dealer had mentioned it and so had another player.  I don’t recall if Seat 9 had mentioned that he was a reader/member of AVP before this or not, but he clearly was. 

I just laughed.  In my mind, I said, “No, but I’ll sure mention it on my blog.”  But because of my ambivalence about mentioning the blog at the poker table, as I’ve discussed before, I said nothing aloud.

But clearly, playing this back, Seat 9 was Austin Bluffs.  And that meant Austin Bluff was not the guy sitting next to me who I had made the star of the blog post I’d already published.


My notes went on to say that he seemed like a nice guy and I planned to tell him I had Aces, away from the table, when one of us left.  But he left with a buddy while I was in a hand and I couldn’t get up and tell him that he had made a good lay down.

In the meantime, I received a tweet back from Austin giving me more info.  He said he had written about it the trip report he had filed on AVP, and gave me the link. Somehow, I had totally missed his trip report. The story is here but, without permission, I’ll copy what he said about the hand:

“At MGM, I had KK and 4-bet preflop. The opponent moved all in. He was older and I hadn't seen him get out of line. I knew he had AA and mucked the cowboys face up. He didn't show, but I still am sure he had AA. Before this hand, he mentioned he works for AVP and I saw his name on the Bravo display to be Robert S. I tweeted to AVP to see if I could flush out some info on whether I read his hand right but they are not giving up the info (it's OK, I know).”

Heh heh.  He was wrong that I had moved all-in, but I guess he was right about my not getting “out of line”!  And that I’m “older.” And now I had an explanation for his tweet calling me “Robert S”—he saw that on the screen in front of the dealer.  Which he could see from Seat 9, but not from Seat 4, which was occupied by the guy whose wife—well, you know.

I do wonder why, if he knew I worked for AVP, he never thought to ask my screen name.  That could have given him the opportunity to ask me about the hand many months sooner. 

After hearing my notes, I tweeted back to Austin, “You said, "You have Aces", guy next to me said, ‘No, he had Queens’ I said ‘No, deuces’ and said I'd go on AVP and talk about bluffing a guy who had Kings? THAT hand? Heh heh. Yeah, I had Aces and was gonna tell you when I left but you left first.”  (It was a two-part tweet).  I wanted to put his mind at ease at long last after all these months.

He responded:  “lol, I'll always remember that hand, thanks for confirming my read (or at least making me think I had it figured out)...”

Austin your read was dead on.  It really wasn’t a good lay down tho, because, you know, there was gonna be a King on the river.  At least, the way my luck turned at the end of the evening, that’s what would have happened.

Anyway, in listening to my voice notes just now, it was indeed a memorable hand that I meant to blog about.  But the reason I never did was because of the nightmare finish to the evening.  I wanted to forget that night as soon as I wrote the story of the unfortunate finish.  I did not leave myself a note (on the spreadsheet) to review that session for additional things to blog about it.

But I should have.  And I want to thank Austin Bluffs—I’m assuming that’s not his real name, so I’m using it—for getting me to review this evening and helping me write this blog post.

And by the way, just to be clear.  Austin Bluffs, whatever his real name is, is good enough to fold pocket Kings.