Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas From Vegas!

Merry Christmas everyone...and Happy New Year.

I apologize for not posting sooner.  Ever since I arrived back in Vegas, I've assumed I would post something announce my arrival and I just never had the chance.  I have no idea where the time goes, especially when I'm in Vegas.

At least I can tell you that I've been getting some much needed new material for the blog.  If you've been following me on Twitter you've seen a few clues about what I've been up to and what you can expect to read about "soon."

So in the meantime, bear with me and enjoy a few very appropriate pics celebrating the season.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Guy Who Wouldn't Chop

This is an evening from my summer trip to Vegas, a couple of cash games.  I played at Venetian and the Wynn on a Saturday evening.

First I played at Venetian in the late afternoon.  It was my first game of the day, it was one of those days where I just couldn't get moving and got a very late start.  The game was rather unexciting, although I did manage to break even without getting involved in any memorable hands.

But the one thing noteworthy was the guy who wouldn't chop.  I was sitting in seat 1 and when the table got a little short handed, it folded to the guy in seat 9, the small blind.  He put in a buck to call.  I talked past the dealer to ask him if he wanted to chop.  He said no.  "You don't want to chop?"  I guess I was surprised.  But he said no.  OK, with my 10-6 off I just checked.  The flop missed me, no betting.  The turn and the river were also worthless.  Every time, he checked and I checked behind.  Finally after he checked the river, I flipped over my hand and said, "10-high."

He immediately mucked without showing.

I guess I wasn't that surprised, but really….what the hell did he have that he didn't want to chop with that couldn't beat my 10-high???  In fact, I actually tweeted out that very question after I stacked my massive winnings for that hand, a whole $3 (of which I had contributed two-thirds).  I actually got a few responses….he was looking for a jackpot.  Maybe it was 3-2 suited?  Or some other hand you could conceivable make a jackpot with.

Well, the only promo they had at the Venetian at the time was the bad beat jackpot.  So yeah, if he made a straight flush, and I made quads—with a pocket pair of course—there's your BBJ.  But of course that is such a ridiculous long shot.  And if he actually wanted to get the better payoff for the BBJ, ie, the losing hand, he really better have a pocket pair himself and hope I get the straight flush.  But of course if he had a pocket pair—even deuces—he'd have beaten my 10-high.

I mean, if the room has high hand bonuses I can see playing if you have a pocket pair or a suited connector.  But just playing for a bad beat?  Really?

But he did the same thing at least two more times.  He just didn't ever chop.  He gave me a dollar twice this way.  The second time I had something like 5-2 and caught a 5 on the river and took it down.  Then finally he put out a big bet on the flop and with nothing of course I folded.

It actually makes no sense to play hands like that, but I guess this guy just never chopped.  Dumb.  In situations like that, if I'm the small blind and the big blind doesn't want to chop, I'll just slide my dollar over to him and think, "If you want this buck so badly, you can have it."  I don't say that aloud, but I try to convey that with my attitude.  I guess I wouldn't do that if there was some kind of promo that made it sensible to play it out.

That's about all I have to say about this session, but as long as I'm talking about the Venetian, I'll give you guys a little heads up.  As I mentioned in my Ante Up column that I just sent off, Venetian is changing their 1/2 game to a 1/3 game in January.  Same buy-in as before ($100-$300).  They are going heavily into promotions too, changing their BBJ back into a progressive one.  And they have high hand promos or splash pots or drawings for next year at least until the summer poker season starts.  And they will be taking a $2 promo drop starting in January.

So after I was finished playing I had some dinner at the Venetian.  And may I just say, as casino restaurants go, CafĂ© Lux at the V is one of the best deals around. I mean even if you don't have poker comps to use, but of course I did (that makes it even a better deal).  But I gotta say, the food is really good and the price is a lot lower than comparable places at most Strip casinos, at least the ones with poker rooms.

Then it was time to head over to the Wynn.  I decided to walk over there from the Venetian.  As I've noted before, I have chronic back issues so this is always a little dicey for me—the walk I mean.  It's not a long walk if you are completely healthy.  But if your back is likely to start hurting you halfway there, it's problematic.  And also, this was in the middle of summer, when its always triple digits heat outside.  Still, I decided to give it a shot.

At least for now, the Venetian still has free parking but Wynn does not.  You can get free parking at the Wynn by playing enough to get your players card upgraded—which would be impossible for me unless I lived in Vegas—or you can get a parking validation for that day's play.  That's better than most of the other rooms on the Strip that charge—they'll actually validate your parking.  To get a validation for poker, you need to play two hours of cash or buy into a tournament.  Note:  while I was in town, they started offering parking validations if you spent at least $50 at the Wynn that day.  Not sure how the validation works for slot play or table games.  But if you're planning on spending any money (non-gambling) money at all at the Wynn in a day, like say you're gonna buy a meal, it's almost impossible not to spend at least $50 there.  I mean, if you go to the gift shop and buy a couple of Snickers Bars, you're pretty much there.  Yeah, it is a bit pricey in there.

But I decided to walk over there so I wouldn't have to worry about playing a full two hours.  If I was running bad, and went thru two buy-ins in an hour, I didn't want to have to keep playing in order to get that parking validation.  Saving the $15 or whatever for parking could easily end up costing you a couple of hundred bucks.  Or, conversely, if I started out real well, and wanted to book a nice win after playing an hour and a half, I wouldn't want to risk losing my profits to save that $15.

When I got to the poker room it was really busy.  Fortunately, I had called ahead to get my name on the list so I didn't have too long to wait.

Just a couple of hands worth discussing.  In the small blind I had King-7 off and completed it in a multi-way pot.  The flop was King-Queen-Jack, two clubs, a suit I didn't have.  I called $7, then $18 on a blank.  The river was a third club and this time the aggressor bet $26.  I dunno why, but I just had a feeling he didn't have much if anything  I played my hunch and called.  As soon as I put my chips out he mucked without showing.  I always find this weird.  When he does this, he's not fooling anyone, it was obvious he was bluffing.  But isn't he at least curious what I had?  I mean, he should show just to get me to show my hand, no?  Oh well, I was happy to take it down without showing.

Later I limped in with King-10 of hearts, under-the-gun.  The way the table was running, I just didn't want to get three-bet out of the pot, so I didn't raise.  The next guy did raise, making it $15.  Three others called before it got back to me.  The pot was going to be $75 if I called so I did indeed call.  The flop was definitely favorable:  10-10-X (some low card). I checked and the preflop raiser bet $30.  When a lady called the $30, I decided to just call, thinking I could get more money if I waited for the turn to check-raise.  But then on the turn, a blank, I checked and the other two both checked behind.  Damn.  Well, the river was really nice, a King. Of course I couldn't afford to check, so I decided to bet small ($40) hoping I could get at least one customer.  But they both folded.  Still, it was a nice pot.

I won a small pot when I called $10 from the big blind with Ace-4 of spades and hit runner-runner flush—no one bet the flop or the turn.  No one called my $15 river bet.

And that was it for the poker.  But I hung around the Wynn for awhile.  I guess I've never mentioned Wynn's version of the Slut Parade. You see, the parades at other venues are perhaps more centrally located, whereas the Wynn's is virtually everywhere.  There's no one central place to get the best view. That's because the Wynn has (at least) three nightclubs spread out over the Wynn and the Encore and once it gets near opening time, there are hot young ladies walking in every which direction in both casinos. It's almost impossible to miss them.  Just stand or sit anywhere and you'll see a boatload of attractive clubgoers pass by.

One of the clubs is actually a beach club, and during the summer, attendees at this club show up in swimwear.  Of course they are supposed wear "cover-ups" over their bikinis, but most of the ladies have said cover-ups open and some forego them altogether.  This means that on a hot night, in addition to seeing plenty of beautiful girls in their club dresses, there are also girls in their bikinis to ogle—I mean admire for their sparkling personalities.

Now, one of the clubs is located fairly close to the poker  room, and wouldn't you know, it's the one with the beach club.  So if you get a seat at a poker table facing the outside of the room at certain hours, well, it can be quite distracting to say the least.

Here's the thing.  I dunno how they do it, but I swear, the ladies that attend these clubs at the Wynn are especially beautiful.  I mean seriously gorgeous.  If I didn't know better, I'd swear the Wynn has folks at every door into the Wynn just to make sure that no female enters unless she is super-model caliber.  No one who isn't at least a 9.7 gets in.  And the 9.7's only get in a slow nights.

The point being that there are worse things to do on a Saturday night than just hang around the Wynn and notice the lovely club patrons.  And if you think I didn't take advantage of this opportunity on this particular night in June, well, you don't really know me.

Eventually I had to make the long walk back to my car at Venetian.  But I had an extra $100 on me from that Wynn session. And I had a smile on my face for other reasons as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Kings AND Aces

Yes, the title of this post is Aces and Kings.  Not Aces vs. Kings.  Been there, done that (multiple times).  I didn't get Aces vs. someone's Kings or vice-versa.  I got Aces and Kings in back-to-back hands (actually, it was Kings first, then the Aces).  So gather around, kiddies, and let me tell you about it.

This happened in my most recent session in Ventura, the 1/2 game with a $100 max buy-in.  The second hand of the session I was under-the-gun and was dealt Ace-4 of hearts.  I limped in.  Next player raised to $7 and four of us saw a flop.  I noticed the King of hearts in the window and got a bit excited.  The other two cards were also red and in fact both hearts.  Flopping the nuts on your second hand of the day isn't too shabby, is it?

I checked, hoping the preflop raiser would continue, but he checked.  However, the only lady at the table bet $8 and I decided to just call to see if one or two others would come along.  The preflop raiser did indeed call and the other player folded.  There was another heart on the turn which I thought might kill my action.  But I decided to check again and see if the lady would bet again.  In fact, she did.  She shoved, but it wasn't much.  Again I just called hoping the other guy would call (or even better, raise), but he meekly folded.  The action was over and the river was a blank and I flipped over my hand at the same time the lady did.  She had Queen-8 of hearts.  Oh well, sucks to be her. 

The best thing about the hand was not the money I made, but that it caused the lady to leave the table, busted.  That was good because she was replaced at the table by another lady. This lady was definitely +EV for me.  She+ had a British accent, tho it was obvious she lived in the neighborhood now and was in fact a reg here.

I went for a long time without getting anything to play.  When I did play a hand, I whiffed the flop pretty badly.  Then all of a sudden I looked down at my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings, in the big blind. Now the details on this hand may be a little off because I immediately got involved in another significant hand immediately after this one—before I had a chance to write my notes on it.  But my best recollection is that someone in early position raised to $8 and a bunch of players called the $8. It was at least three callers, maybe four.  Because when it came to me, I did the math and figured I had to bet $50.

It makes sense.  My typical three bet is 3X, but then I add on the amounts of any callers.  So if it was three callers, it would be $24 plus another $24 for the three callers and you're at $48.  I guess I rounded up—or if it was four callers, I rounded down.  But the bet made sense to me.

Well, this may have been the first time I raised at this table, and it was definitely my first three-bet.  Some of the other players gasped.  One-by-one they all folded and I took down the pot uncontested.  Which was pretty cool because it wasn't a bad pot with all the callers and did I mention it was pocket Kings?  Winning that much with the dreaded hand without having to see the flop works for me.  The other players were saying things like, "Well he didn't want to see a flop," or "He has Aces."  But honestly, regardless of what I had, how much was I supposed to raise there with a hand I wanted to raise with?  Making it $20 would have been ridiculous.

I just shrugged and started to stack my chips.  Of course I didn't say anything to reveal what I actually had.

By the way, one of the players who called the original raise was the aforementioned British woman.  By this time she had established herself as an aggressive player, and had been caught in a few bluffs (never showing the bluff if she could help it, but mucking when her opponent called her and showed like third pair).  She had busted a time or two and had to re-buy.

So I was still stacking my chips when I got my two cards for the very next hand.  I was stunned to see another pocket pair.  This time it was two Aces!  And not incidentally, they were both red.  I couldn't believe I had gotten Kings and Aces back-to-back. I am certain I never got Kings and Aces on consecutive hands before, but I think I may have heard about someone doing it, or maybe even seen it.  It was quite amazing.  Of course, you know me.  My first thought was, well, I had won the hand with Kings, surely these Aces are gonna cost me.  Yeah, I gotta work on my attitude.

Anyway, I was the small blind and my next thought was, well, it will fold to me and it'll be a chop.  But no, someone opened the pot to $4, there was a call or two and then the British lady made it $12, bless her little heart.  It folded to me and this time I made it $40.  It quickly folded back to the Brit who took some time.  I was hoping maybe she'd re-pop it but no, she finally just called.

The flop was 7-7-3, two diamonds.  Well, hard for me to believe she had three-bet with any hand that that flop had connected with.  I put out $60 which I thought was about how much she had left, give or take.  Again she took some time but she put out the rest of her chips, which turned out to be a few less than my bet.  We didn't show.

The turn was another diamond, which made me slightly nervous, but then the river was yet another diamond.  Did I mention that both my Aces were red?  Yes, I believe I did.  So instead of Aces and 7's I now had the nut flush.  I flipped over my hand and the British Lady slow-rolled me.

Well, I guess that's not the right expression.  Slow-roll implies she had the winning hand and took her sweet time to reveal it.  But no, she had the losing hand and took her sweet time to let it go.  What's that called?  A "slow-fold"?  A "slow-muck?"  Anyway, she just sort of froze, held her cards, still face down, in front of her and said, "I was good until the river."  But still didn't show her cards or let go of them.  She didn't look at them herself either.  She just sat there holding them out.  I said, "Show 'em!"  But she didn't.  Finally she just slid them face down to the dealer, conceding the pot.  A slow-fold.

Well, I was perfectly happy to drag the pot, but I did wonder what she had.  The only way she could have had me until the river was if she had a 7 or if she had two diamonds.  The 7 seems unlikely because if she had a 7 she would have called/shoved instantly on the flop.  She wouldn't have thought about it. The flush?  Well she couldn't have had Ace-King of diamonds. King-Queen of diamonds?  Maybe she three-bets with that? 

I totally haven't ruled out the possibility that she was lying when she said she had me until the river.  I mean if she had a flush on the turn, she'd probably have shown it, right?  I think she might have just said that to make herself look better, but who knows.

She had to re-buy again, but she left the table to get more money first.  I dunno if she went to the ATM or perhaps her husband but she eventually came back with $100 more in chips.

Meanwhile, I was quite happy about this turn of events.  Getting the two premium hands back-to-back was really nice, and winning with both of them even nicer.

While she was gone, I got Ace-Jack of clubs, raised to $8 after one limper and didn't get a call.  I bet she would have called!

When she got back, I got pocket 5's and called her $8 raise.  It was heads up.  The flop was Ace-Jack-3.  She put out a $15 c-bet. I couldn't see calling.  That flop really hit her range and though it was certainly possible she didn't have an Ace or a Jack, it didn't make any sense to invest any more money on the hand.  I let it go.  She seemed upset.  "But you always call me."  I just laughed and realized she hadn't been paying attention.  I never called her, I always raised her.  But it seemed to me like she was disappointed she wasn't able to get more of her money back from me.

Then, when she straddled (under-the-gun, for $4), I got pocket Kings again.  Yikes.  Now I felt I was really pushing my luck.  It folded to me and I dutifully made it $12.  It folded back to her and she called.  The flop was all low cards.  I bet $20 and she tanked a little bit but folded.

And that was that.  After a few more orbits with nary a hand to play, I called it a day.  I booked a $120 profit.  I got Aces & Kings back-to-back, and even got Kings a second time.  And won all those hands.  No monster pots, but a $120 profit for a $100 buy-in is certainly favorable.

Now, I'm sure you're all asking, what does the woman depicted above have to do with this post?  Actually, I'm pretty sure no one is asking.  But my pics always tie-in to my stories, even if it's only tangentially.  It's a rule I have. So, this woman is a British model, and my story features a woman from England.  Now I assure you the woman in my story looks nothing like this lady above, nor was she in any way remotely dressed like this.  But I will point out that if she did look like this model, and if she had been dressed like her, I might not have minded losing all my money to her.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- December 2018

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  The individual column has not appeared on the Ante Up website yet.  In fact, they haven't posted the column separately for a few months now, so I guess they have stopped doing that.  Oh well, you can go to the link I've provided and see the whole issue in pdf format.  Here's the draft of my column as I submitted it for publication.

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The Venetian has revised and renamed their daily tournaments.  The new tournaments are called "One Day Poker Tournaments" to differentiate from the tourneys offered during the many series the Venetian runs through the year.  These tournaments are offered at 12:10 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. each day.  They all feature the big blind ante.

Monday through Thursday, the afternoon $150 No Limit Hold'em tournament starts players with 15K chips and has 30-minute levels.  It has an $8K guarantee.   The Friday tourney is a $200 SuperStack that starts with 15K chips, has 30-minute levels and guarantees $20K.  Players have the option of adding on 12K chips for $100 at the end of both the 4th and the 8th level, regardless of how many chips they have. Saturday the popular $340 DoubleStack has a 24K starting stack, 40-minute levels and a $25K guarantee.  Sunday features a $200 re-buy event with a 12K starting stack and 30-minute levels. Players may re-buy an additional 12K stack any time they have 12K or less during the first eight levels.  The guarantee is $20K.

Monday evenings feature a $125 Progressive Bounty with a 15K starting stack, 20-minute levels and a $4K guarantee.  The bounty starts at $10.  When down to 18 players, it becomes $20.  At the final table it is worth $30.  Traditional bounty events run Tuesday and Thursday.  Tuesday has a $200 buy-in, 12K starting stack, 30-minute levels, a $50 bounty and a $9K guarantee.  Thursday is a $125 buy-in, 15K starting stack, 20-minute levels, $25 bounty and $6K guarantee.  A $125 re-buy tourney runs on Wednesdays, with a 12K starting stack, 20-minute levels, a $7K guarantee and $100 re-buys for the first nine levels.  A $200 Progressive Bounty tournament runs Fridays, with 12K starting stack, 30-minute levels and a $9K guarantee.  The bounty starts at $25, increases to $50 when down to 27 players and reaches $75 at the final table.  A $125 SuperStack event runs Saturday and Sunday evenings. Players start with 15K chips and play 20-minute levels.  The guarantee is $4K.

The New Years Extravaganza runs December 20 – January 8.  There are several events with six-figure guarantees, starting with a $340 two-starting flight DoubleStack event beginning December 21, which has a $100K guarantee.  There are three starting flights for the $400 MonsterStack that starts December 27, which has a $260K guarantee.  A two-starting flight version of that event starts January 4 with $100K guarantee.  Another $340 DoubleStack event, also a $100K guarantee starts off the new year on January 1.The total in guaranteed prize pools for this series is $900K.

Deepstack Showdown runs January 14-20.  The highlight is a $250, five-starting flight tournament starting January 15, offering a $200K guarantee. Over $280K in prize pools is guaranteed over the series.

WYNN: Steve Sung, from Southern CA, took home $170K for winning the championship event at the Wynn Fall Classic in October.  Joseph Cheong, also from Southern CA, claimed $111K for second and Russia's Karen Sarkisyan earned $76K for third. The $1,600 event attracted 594 players, resulting in an $854K prize pool, easily crushing the $500K guarantee.

The Signature Series continues through December 10, ending with a $300 Short Deck poker tournament with a $10K guarantee.  A two-starting flight $600 NLH event with a $150K guarantee starts December 6.

CAESARS PALACE:  The recently revised schedule offers five tournaments daily. At 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the buy-in is $125 for a 12K starting stack and 20-minute levels. The guarantee is $1,500. The 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. tournaments have a $150 buy-in for a 15K stack and 20-minute levels, with a $2K guarantee.  There's also a $100 midnight tournament with a 10K starting stack, 15-minute levels and a $1K guarantee.

The main cash games at Caesars are $1-$2 NLH and $2-$5 NLH.  The former has a $!00 minimum buy-in and a $300 maximum, while the latter has a $200 minimum and a $1K max.  The room is starting to run a $1-$2 Big O game on Tuesday afternoons, with a $100 minimum and a $500 maximum.

SOUTH POINT: The room at the very south end of the Strip is offering something crazy in its new 2 p.m. tournaments—Crazy Pineapple, to be exact. On Wednesdays and Sundays, a no limit Crazy Pineapple tournament runs.  For $60 the players get 10K in chips, and play 20-minute levels.  Mondays and Fridays at that time a $60 NLH turbo is offered, with a 10K starting stack and 15-minute levels.  Tuesdays and Thursdays it's Omaha 8/B with a $60 buy-in with a 10K stack and 20-minute levels.  The $130 Stamina tournament runs on Saturdays.  Players start with 20K in chips and play 30-minute levels (the breaks are only five minutes long, that's where the "stamina" comes in).

Mixed game fans have been enjoying the Monday night, $125 H.O.R.S.E tournament at 6 p.m.  The starting stack is 10K, the levels are 20-minutes and there is a $1,500 guarantee. 
On December 22, the room is giving away over $20K in cash drawings.  Winners will be drawn every 20-minutes between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.  Players qualify for tickets from November 23 through December 22 by winning hands in all games that take a jackpot drop.  Double tickets are awarded 8 a.m. – Noon, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. – midnight.  A bonus ticket is awarded for any pot $50 or more.

BALLY'S: The room's "Player Appreciation" tournament rewards players in cash and credits for future WSOP events.  Players must play 10 hours in a two-week period to qualify for the tournament. Top prize is $1,650 cash, plus $200 in WSOP credits, which can be used for any Vegas circuit event or the 2019 WSOP.  Eighty players get paid cash, with WSOP credits going to the top 10.

The main game is $1-$2 NLH with a $100 minimum, $300 maximum buy-in. They also spread a $3-$6 limit game with a $30 minimum

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Do You Know Who I Am?"

Part 2 of 2

Part 1 is here and I assure you that you have to have read part 1 in order for this to make any sense.  We pick up right after we left off

As I got to level 8 (100/400/800), last level before my "dinner break", I was only at $12K and as such I was still desperate.  And as said level progressed, and my stack dwindled with no opportunities for a score, I was clock watching.  The big blind was heading my way.  Now in a perfect world, I'd play the big blind and the small blind before break time.  But for sure I wanted/needed the blinds to pass.  I was hoping the timing would be such that I could get a head start on the break, maybe miss a hand or two so I could use the restroom and still have time to eat and take my meds.  Or if I played both the big and small blinds before break, I wouldn't feel the need to rush back to not miss a hand of the next level.

As you may have already noticed, we do not live in a perfect world.  The big blind came to me slowly as players seemingly took forever to make their decisions.  I don't know if they were really taking a long time or it just seemed that way cuz I was watching the clock so intently. Whatever, it was obvious I wasn't going to get my wish and I had to post my big blind in the last few seconds of the level.  Well, at least I'd only have pay the new, bigger small blind to start the next level. Of course, this meant I was stuck there until the big blind hand played out, or at least until I folded.  Worse, as soon as the dealer dealt about two cards off the deck, I heard the announcement that the break had started!  The timing couldn't have been worse.  Instead of getting an early start on the break, I got a late start.  Yuck.

I looked down at 10-9 offsuit.  Well, no way I'm going to be playing that hand out of position.  I should have just gotten up before the action came to me, but that is improper etiquette and technically a rules violation (acting out of turn).  So I waited patiently, knowing someone would raise and as soon as the action was on me, I'd bolt out of my chair and head for the restroom.

And wouldn't you know it, it went limp, limp, limp…..no one raised.  First hand in I dunno how long no one raised.  So it came to me and all I had to do was check to see the flop. Not sure how many limpers there were but there were a lot.  Incredible.  Anyway, the flop came 9-9-X!  Wowzers.  I didn't really spend much time thinking.  With my stack, I'm not sure I could have bet anything smaller, but under the circumstances, wanting to end the hand ASAP anyway, I shoved.  Fortunately no one took long in deciding to fold and I took down the pot.  I suppose my eagerness to leave the table might have cost me some chips if I would have been able to figure out a way to bet smaller and get a caller but that was not in my interest at the time.

Well now they pushed me the pot and I had a bunch of chips to stack.  I suppose I could have left the pile there but I think that's rude so I made a quick attempt to neaten my chips a little before rushing to the Mens Room.  Actually, since they were doing a color up, I had to make sure I stacked all my $25 chips no matter what. Yeesh.  So after taking care of business, I found an empty table in the mezzanine and shoved a couple of Kind bars down my throat, then had a package of Peanut Butter & Crackers.  Meanwhile I had my phone and was looking at the Bravo clock on it, seeing how close it was to the end of the break.  I decided I had enough time for one more package of Peanut Butter Crackers and then took my meds and rushed to the tournament area.

Now, if you've looked at a clock on Bravo, you've seen that warning that the clock on the app is not the official clock and it is only approximate, right?  Well, they don't lie.  According to the clock on the phone, I was a few seconds early but as I got back into the London Club I saw that tables were dealing cards out.  Dammit.  I got to my table and saw that just as I pulled my chair out, the dealer was taking my hole cards away.  I said, "Wait, I'm here," before he pulled my cards into the muck.  But he said, "Sorry, you're too late."  Even with the last card off the deck rule, I had been a few damn seconds too late.  Oh well.  And then he took the blind that had been posted for me.  It was then I noticed it was not the small blind of $500—it was the big blind of $1K!

Then I located the button.  It should have been with the player on my immediate right.  Having played the big blind last hand before break, I was now the small blind.  But instead, the button was still two seats to my right.  That meant that they had not taken my ante and small blind, but they had taken my ante and another big blind—a new, bigger big blind ($1K, up from $800).  Well this was not right, not right at all.  I think it was then I noticed that during the break a new dealer had pushed in.

The betting action was starting and I spoke up immediately.  I pointed out that the button had not been moved and I was the big blind last time, and shouldn't have been the big blind again this time. I explained to the dealer,  "I was the big blind last time, that's the only reason I played that hand! "  The dealer shrugged and said he had just pushed in during the break and that's where the button was.  Obviously the previous dealer had forgotten to move the button.  Well at first it seemed like the dealer was going to ignore me and said, "Well, there's been action," but then he thought better of it and called the floor over (perhaps because of the way I was adamantly protesting).  Fortunately the floor was nearby and showed up almost instantly.  And after hearing what happened and with me insisting that I had been the big blind last time, he said, "Well, it has to stand, there's been too much action."  I'm not sure what action there had been, but at least one player had entered the pot, not sure if there was a call yet.  But then another player spoke out and said, "Well, the action happened after he spoke up.  There wasn't any action before he noticed the button was wrong and told the dealer."  I believe there were also some other players confirming that the button was in the wrong postion.

The floor said, "Oh, it wasn't until then?"  A few players said that was correct, and the dealer more-or-less agreed.  Frankly, I'm not sure if that was right or not but whatever.  The floor then said, "In that case, take the cards back, misdeal."  And with that, everyone returned their cards to the dealer and he moved the button to where it should have been all along and a new hand was dealt, and I only posted the small blind, as I should have all along (and also got to look at my hand). Amazingly, none of the other players complained.

I was surprised the player on my right didn't notice the error.  He was in the hand when I got the trip 9's, even commented as he folded (the final fold), "You have a 9, huh?"  And he was an astute player who had helped an inexperience dealer out with some payouts previously.  He had to remember that he was the small blind already and should have now have been the button.  But only after I spoke up and reminded him did he recall and agreed that the button had not been moved.

Meanwhile the guy on my left hadn't returned from the break so missed the whole brouhaha and thus forfeited his big blind with the re-dealt hand.

Now I have a confession to make.  For the tiniest part of a nano-second, when it was looking like I was going to lose the argument, it did flash in my mind to do something I've never, ever done in a poker room dispute.  Was I willing, for the first time ever, to go with the "Do you know who I am?" gambit?

Now, I'm not a big deal in the Vegas poker community, not by a long shot.  But I am somewhat known in it.  Because of my work, I have personal relationships with most of the poker room managers in town.  And certainly I would say I have good relationships with the managers (and tournament directors) of any room that runs a big summer series every year.  Most of them appreciate what I contribute in terms of helping promote poker and also promoting their individual rooms and games.  I never, ever have felt the urge to use my relationships with these folks to gain a favorable ruling in a dispute, or even get priority seating in a busy room.  I always felt that it would totally wrong to ever try it, unethical, and inappropriate.  And besides, whenever I've seen other people pull crap like that (like saying, "Do you know who I am?"), I always felt they were acting like assholes.  And I try not to act like an asshole.

Well, like I said, it did occur to me that I could ask the floor to get the TD involved, because I knew he was there (in the main tournament area) and because he knows me well. So I could perhaps identify myself and who I worked for and they would have probably have asked the TD to come over. But for the reasons I've just explained, I never seriously considered doing that.  Besides—it would be totally unfair of me to expect a different, more favorable ruling just because of who I am.  If the guy's ruling was right, it was right whether I was Fishy McFisherman or Phil Ivey.  And I'm sure PH wouldn't have changed the ruling because it was me, nor should they have.  The only reason I even contemplated it for the nano-second I did was due the unfortunate circumstances that found me a tad late getting back to the tournament—the short breaks, the lack of a dinner break and specifically the very long distance between the tournament area and the rest rooms. So they would have told me, "Sorry the last dealer apparently made a mistake and didn't move the button, but it was your responsibility to get back in time to catch it."  And I would have had a few "yeah, buts" to respond with, but it wouldn't or shouldn't have changed anything.

The other thing I will point out is that, the button mistake did not just affect me.  In the original dealt hand, everybody had the wrong cards, right?  So that was something that needed to be corrected.  Plus a guy would have gotten to play the button twice in a row, obviously not fair to everyone else.  And my neighbor to the right would have posted an extra small blind (and at a higher level).  So it was out of whack for all of us, though I was paying the heaviest price—posting a big blind twice in a row the second time for a hand that had been mucked without my ever seeing it.

Anyway, I was definitely prepared to let it go and just be unhappy about it when the guy reversed himself.  I'm grateful he made what I believe to be the right ruling, and am also grateful to whoever it is who spoke up and said that I had pointed out the goof before there was any action.

Well, the new hand was uneventful for me, we played on and I remained card dead an looking for a hand to shove with.  I lasted a couple of more levels, and even got the dreaded pocket Kings.  My shove was uncalled.  That was definitely one time I wanted to get called and take my chances with them.

Level 11 (200/800/1600) I started with $18K chips, still desperate.  I looked at Ace-10 off, under-the-gun, and made the easy decision to shove.  It folded around to the big blind, who called with pocket 9's.  The flop was all bricks and then I was put out of my misery by a 9 on the turn.  I was drawing dead, and I was done.  This flight had gotten 234 players they were paying 29 (the top 12% cashed, and the top 6% advanced to day 2).  I couldn't tell for sure, but I estimated there were about 80 players left when I busted.

Another tournament disappointment, and probably a bad overall decision for me to play this particular event since the logistics of it were just not designed for someone like me.

Oh well, live and learn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It's a Long Walk to London

Part 1 of 2

Intro: When I finished working on this one, it turned out to be just a bit too long for a single post, so even though part 1 is basically all set-up for the main thrust of my tale, I've decided to run it in two parts.  Hopefully I made the set up worth your time, and you'll come back for the main event in a few days.

Time to get back to my summer in Vegas.  This may be the last tournament I discuss, although I can't be sure until I listen to my voice notes about the others.  Another unsuccessful run, but there was an "incident" in this one that is worth my time telling you about.  I mean, I did almost make a scene.  Perhaps I actually did make a scene, but for about a nano-second I contemplated really stirring things up.

But of course, because it's me, I can't just get to that point in my story without setting it up and explaining how exactly I came to be in this particular predicament.

Planet Hollywood was running what they were calling the "Low Roller."  These were multi-flight events (two flights a day) with a $250 buy-in and a $200K guarantee.  The levels were 30-minutes and the starting stack was 15K.  The one I was finally ready to play was on a Wednesday & Thursday (day 1's) with a Friday day 2.  The starting times for the day 1's were 11am and 4pm.

For my convenience, the day 1 flights did not have a dinner break (but they did have a 30-minute break on day 2).  I think I've made it clear how much I prefer playing in tournaments with dinner breaks but if you don't recall why this is important to me, you can go back to this post here.

Now there was no absolute necessity for me to play in one of these events.  I certainly could have skipped it and played something else.  But after reviewing the feedback I got to that post I just linked to, I decided I could be a little more flexible and try to play in tournaments that clearly weren't designed with me in mind.  I decided that this tournament was worth putting my newfound flexibility to the test.  Despite the odd starting times and the lack of a food break, I would try it.  You may not think it's much, but for an old fussbudget like myself, well, I was proud of myself for trying.

But which flight to play?  The trouble with the morning flight was that it was sort of a double-whammy. It had a way too early-start time plus the lack of a food break.  I can't eat lunch early enough to be at a poker table at 11.  So I would have to bring a lunch and, presumably my dinner too.  Ugh.

But the 4pm flight….well, all I'd have to bring is dinner.  I could fix myself a nice big lunch (basically a normal dinner for me) and thus a crummy dinner wouldn't be so bad.  It'd be a late day for sure, but having only one crummy meal was worth it to me.  Having proved to myself that I could take my meds with just a few protein bars (see here), I stuffed my pockets with both Kind Bars and some of those packs of Peanut Butter & Crackers.  I felt I was good to go.

Well, almost.  I had to deal with the tournament breaks, and this was an issue.  Now, when I first started working in the poker biz and entering tournaments into the PokerAtlas database, it seemed like all tournaments pretty much had standard breaks.  You know, 10-minutes every six levels, or 15-minutes every four levels, or similar.  Maybe one of the breaks would be a dinner break but otherwise it was pretty standard.  But the last few years, tournament directors have gotten creative.  Like sometimes the breaks are 10-minutes and sometimes they are 15-minutes—in the same tournament.  And maybe the first break is after four levels but the second break is after another five levels and then maybe the next one is after three more levels or six more levels or whatever.  As an aside, entering tournaments with mixed up breaks like this makes my job a lot more difficult.  Our database is set up assuming the breaks are always the same length with a single tournament and also the same number of levels apart.  When they mix and match like this, I have to enter a lot exposition into what is supposed to be a simple data form.  Frankly, it's a pain and I do sometimes wish the tournament directors would just make up their minds and stick to a simpler format.

But…..of course I'm sure they have very valid reasons for doing this, and I'm sure that reason is not just to mess with me.  Seriously, these TD's all have difficult jobs and I'm sure they are trying to present the best possible product to their customers and that's why they do this.  Besides, if it takes me longer to enter a tournament this way, well, that's job security.  I am actually grateful that they make it as complicated as they possibly can.  Thanks, guys!

I guess I got a bit off on a tangent (for a change).  Getting back to the subject at hand, the point is that this tournament had both 10-minute breaks and 15-minute breaks.  Just my luck, the break after the first four levels would only be 10-minutes and the one after level 8 would be 15-minutes.  And to defend the fine folks at Planet Hollywood (and I love you guys, honest!), I can tell you that the longer breaks were because those were the breaks where they had to do the color-up, so they needed more time.  It wasn't just a random decision.

The thing is, waiting to eat until the second break, the one that was 15-minutes, would be pushing it for me, not just my meds schedule but also going that long without food.  But I would prefer to have that extra five minutes if I was going to eat and take my meds. If only the first break was 15-minutes, I could have eaten at 6, but alas, that wasn't the case.  I remembered this in time to partially solve the problem by grabbing a slice of pizza before the tournament at the Pin-Up pizza place at PH.  I was able to pay for the slice with my Total Rewards points, and trust me, that pizza was worth exactly what I paid for it.

It seemed like I had everything covered until I saw the location of the tournament for this particular flight.  Now, they use the mezzanine for the Goliath series, and it's a huge area on, well, the mezzanine overlooking the casino, which is in front of the hotel's convention space.  The nearest restrooms are in the convention area and it's a pretty good hike from the poker tables.  I was naturally expecting the tournament to be held in this mezzanine area.  But when I bought in, I was told this particular flight was being held in something called the "London Club."  And they pointed me away from the mezzanine, into a hidden area (well, it looked hidden to me).  I was early but went over to check it out and I could see that this was much, much farther away from the restrooms than the area I was used to.  I had to assume there were convenient restrooms nearby, because the hike to the restrooms I was familiar with from this new tournament area would seemingly take an entire 10-minute break by itself, not even counting the time necessary to take care of business.

I'm not sure if I ever saw a sign saying this was the London Club, but I did see a sign indicating that I was approaching the "Diamond Lounge." I dunno if this used to be the Diamond Lounge or if maybe if the tournament series had temporarily taken over the Diamond Lounge.  Regardless, the area for the tournament was very nice but very far away from those restrooms.  I happened to notice a guy in a suit who looked like he might be a tournament director (but not one I recognized).  I asked him if there were restrooms in the area.  He said something like, "Let me see if they've unlocked the restrooms," and he disappeared into the back (farther away from the main area).  Much later, I saw him the area and he walked right by me without saying a word.  I assume he was going to ask someone about getting those nearby restrooms opened up, but I never saw him again. 

I thought to myself, well, if the restrooms are really that far away, they are going to have to adjust the break times for our flight.  Right?  Well no, they didn't.  I guess it wouldn't have been fair to other flights (presumably the morning flight was held in the regular tournament area).  But I have to say, if I had known about this location, I would have most likely skipped the tournament.  The concession I made over the dinner issue was my limit, but having to practically run to the restrooms (with my chronic bad back issues) would have made it a bridge too far.

Indeed, when the first break came, they announced that the only restrooms available were in the convention area, a nice little hike away.  Amazingly, I was actually able to make it to the Mens Room and back during the first (10-min) break without missing a hand.  Luckily, there wasn't a line in the Mens Room, which as you know, frequently happens during breaks in a big tournament.

Meanwhile, I had to worry about how I was going to shove my protein bars and Peanut Butter & Crackers down during the second break and hit the Mens Room.  I mean, you really didn't want to visit the restroom except during the breaks, because you'd miss too many hands. 

And how did that play out?  Well, let's find out.  I'm not gonna talk about many hands, as you all know by now, I didn't cash. But level 3 had a interesting hand.  I was down to $13,700 and the blinds were 25/100/200.  I limped in with pocket 6's and five of us saw a flop of Queen-6-x.  I bet $500 and had two callers.   The turn was another 6, giving me the wonderful dilemma of how to play quads.  One of the two guys left was an aggro so I checked hoping he would bet.  In fact he did--$1,325.  I just called.  The river was meaningless and I wasn't sure if I should bet or not.  I decided to bet and put out $1,700.  I was hoping that was small enough for him to call if not raise.  He indeed called and when I flipped over my hand, he said, "I thought you might have that."  Really? Glad it didn't stop you from calling.

We flash ahead to level 7 (75/300/600) for a crucial hand.  Down to $7,100 and desperate, I looked down at Ace-Jack of hearts.  The big stack at the table opened the pot to $2K.  Another guy called.  I shoved.  I think I would have done it under any circumstances considering my tournament situation, but I was also thinking, well, if I bust here, I can still have a decent dinner.  Anyway the big stack called but the other guy folded.  The big stack had King-8 of spades.  Wow.  Once he called I assumed he'd have a better hand than that.  The flop was nice.  Not one but two Aces, but one of the three cards was a spade.  The turn was also a spade giving him the flush draw.  But he whiffed on the flush and I had my double up.

And that's where we leave part 1.  I'll post the rest of the story, where we get to the "incident," after Thanksgiving (now posted here).  And speaking of Thanksgiving, here's hoping you all have a great one.