Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Quads Again!

This post is for all of you who like to complain that my posts are too long.

This session took place the night after the one I described here did—that was the session where I got quad 4's but due to bad timing I didn't get any high hand bonus for it.  You'll see why  I mention that previous session in a minute.

This time the venue was Planet Hollywood. If it seems like I played Planet Hollywood a lot this most recent trip, well, it's because it was the poker room where I did the best.  My success rate at PH was just a lot higher than anywhere else, so of course I kept going back there.

My very first hand I called $12 with Ace-Queen of diamonds, it was three-ways.  The flop was low and it checked around.  There was a low turn card and again it checked around.  The river put a pair of 6's on the board, still all low cards.  This time the preflop raiser bet $20.  The other player folded.  I thought about it and figured if he had a pair on the flop or the turn he likely would have bet by now.  It felt like his bet was just a bluff. My Ace-high just might be the best hand.  So I called and yeah, as soon as I did he said, "Queen-high."  My Ace was good.

Then I got pocket 5's in the small blind and called $8.  Three of us saw a flop of 9-5-4. The preflop raiser bet $10 and I decided to slow play it so I just called.  I was hoping the other guy would come along but he folded.  The turn was another 5, so that changed my plans.  Instead of betting, I checked and just called his $20 bet.  The river was a Jack and didn't change anything.  Now here I'm not really sure what to do.  If I knew he'd bet again, I'd check and then check-raise.  But I couldn't be sure he'd bet, and I'd feel like a jerk if I didn't at least try to get some more chips from him.  So I bet $40.  Unfortunately he folded.

But I knew there'd be a high hand bonus for the quads, so I flipped my hand over.  I got $50, and they also do a splash pot at the table immediately after someone gets a high hand payout.  Our next hand had $25 splashed on it by the house.  But whoever won that pot, it wasn't me.

How about that?  I'd gone a long time without getting quads and now I had just caught them in consecutive sessions.  Pretty sure I'd never done that before.  And this time I actually qualified for the high hand bonus!

I limped in with Ace-2 of clubs and it was four-ways.  I flopped the flush draw and called $10 and it was heads up.  I didn't note what the cards on the board were but on the turn, I missed the flush but picked up a gutshot to Broadway.  I called his $25 bet.  The river was the Jack of clubs, giving me the nut flush but also pairing the board.  He shoved his last $50 or so.  I called.  He had King-Queen for two pair (or actually, three pair, including the Jacks on the board).  My flush was good. 

Those were the only three hands I won all night, but it was good enough for a $165 profit (including the bonus for the quads).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Parking For Misfits Only

Well it's been a while since I did a post about parking in Vegas, hasn't it?  And since I know it's everyone's favorite type of post, I thought I'd do one today.

Let me interrupt myself to give a rundown on the current Strip parking situation, in case you have not been keeping score at home.  Every casino with a poker room on the Vegas strip charges for parking with the following exceptions:  Treasure Island, Venetian and Planet Hollywood.  If you consider Stratosphere on the Strip (I don't, to me, it's just north of the Strip), then they also don't charge for parking.  Neither does South Point but that's way south of Strip.  Note:  Wynn charges, but they will validate your ticket for free parking if you play 2 hours of live poker or buy into a tournament.

If Planet Hollywood not charging surprises you, well, their parking structure is actually not owned by Caesars (who owns the hotel/casino).  It is owned by the Miracle Mile Shops, that huge, circular shopping center that you have to walk 180° of to get from the garage to the casino. Apparently the owner of that shopping center understands the value of having customers access their business cheaply so they are encouraged to visit and have more money to spend on their actual product, not on a side profit center.  You know, unlike the owners of the casinos.

But don't worry, this really isn't another rant about having to pay for parking on the Vegas Strip.  I've said my piece on that on more than one occasion.  Besides, I have yet to pay even a dime for parking in Vegas. I've still been parking for free.  At least for now.  I know nothing lasts forever.  My current feeling is that the first time I actually have to pay to park in Vegas will be the last time I go there.  This post is more about the peripheral problems caused by the decision to charge for parking—and about the problems caused by the new T-Mobile Arena that opened a year or so ago.  Ostensibly, the opening of that arena was the justification for MGM to get the ball rolling on charging for parking.  After all, every sports arena in the country (over) charges patrons for parking at their venue, how could MGM be the first one that doesn't?

When they built the T-Mobile arena, located behind and between NYNY and Monte Carlo, there wasn't space to build a standalone parking garage for it.  So they use their nearby casinos' garages for parking.  And if you are going to an event at T-Mobile and pay for parking for it, you get charged more than if you were visiting the same casino to gamble or eat or whatever.

So they reserve spaces at the garages of NYNY, Monte Carlo, Aria, Excalibur and MGM whenever there's an event there.  Well the first two are pretty close to the arena, but man, you are in for a lot walking if you park at MGM or Excalibur  If I wasn't familiar with the area and paid $13 to park at MGM or Excal for the T-Mobile Arena and then saw how much I had to walk, I'd be royally pissed.

The real significance of this is that I have to plan out my visits to the corner of the Strip where the arena is located.  I've mentioned that I sometimes park at NYNY when I play at MGM.  But if there's an event at T-Mobile, I want to stay far away from NYNY—the garage will be a mess, traffic will be mess getting in and out, it's much better to just go to MGM—even though it is also used as a parking option for the event.  It's not as popular as the NYNY garage is for the event, and it's a much bigger garage in the first place.  It's messy, but not impossible to deal with.  But honestly, on nights when the T-Mobile is in use, I try to stay away from there entirely and play someplace else.

Which means that before I even arrive in Vegas, I go the T-Mobile events calendar and mark on my own calendar which days they have an event there (and what time, which is also a consideration). 

So, on the particular night in question, the Thursday before New Year's, I checked and saw that there was no T-Mobile event.  The next one wasn't until NY's eve—an afternoon hockey game, I believe.  So I could have parked at NYNY.  I should have parked at NYNY.  But since I wasn't planning on eating at NYNY (one of the main reasons I park there for MGM, the other one being that it really is easy to access the structure, much easier than MGM), I decided to park at MGM. 

So I drove down Tropicana Ave from the west and tried to cross the Strip.  As soon as I did I realized that something was going on.  Although traffic was fine before I crossed the Strip, it backed up immediately on the other side.  It was just the left lane—the one I needed to be in to turn into MGM—that wasn't moving.  Damn.  Something must be going on at MGM?  Or perhaps there was an accident near the entrance to the parking garage?

It added about 20- minutes to my travel time as I inched forward.  And when I finally turned into to entrance for the garage, there were parking attendants directing traffic.  Ugh.  You usually only see that when there is some kind of big event going on.  Although this close to NYE, I wondered if maybe it was just the NYE's crowd jamming everything up.

But no, that wasn't it.  When I finally got near the entrance gate, it was stuck on open, there were attendants right there at each gate (you usually don't see that) and there was a really poorly made, hand-written sign that said,  "Parking: $15."

The attendant was stopping every car and dealing with each one in some fashion.  I wasn't worried about being charged, I knew my gold MLife card would be good for free parking, but I was curious as to WTF was going on.  When I got to the gate, I volunteered to the young  lady that I was there to play and I showed her my gold card.  She said fine and even though the gate was open she put the card in the slot for me (so I would be registered and there and be able to leave normally, I presumed).  But I had to ask.  "What's going on here tonite?"

She said, "The Misfits are here!"

So of course I replied, "This is Vegas.  Aren't there misfits here every night?"

Actually, I only wished I'd said that.  I didn't think of it until five minutes later.

But she said "The Misfits are here" like I was supposed to know what that meant, and even that maybe I should be excited about it.

Will it shock any of you to learn that until that moment, I had never heard of the group, "The Misfits"?  I didn't think so.

Anyway, since traffic around NYNY was light and it wasn't on the T-Mobile calendar, I had to assume The Misfits, whoever the hell they were, were not playing at T-Mobile but were playing in the MGM Grand Garden instead.  For years big concerts and even sporting events were held in the MGM Grand Garden (which, conveniently, is in the MGM Grand).  It still exists but most of the events that in the past would have been held there have moved to T-Mobile.  Why The Misfits weren't playing across the street is anyone's guess, especially since the arena had been dark for a few days before this, was dark this night and wouldn't be used for a hockey game for another few days.

Perhaps The Misfits have a contractual deal with Verizon or AT&T and couldn't be booked at a place with the name "T-Mobile"?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps better.

The garage was much fuller than usual but I was able to find a decent spot on the fifth level.  But I knew instantly that I had made a huge mistake and exiting the garage at the time I most likely would was going to be a bitch.

On the way in, I saw the big billboard for the concert.  The Misfits had apparently sold out the Forum in L.A. and needed to book this extra concert for their fans.  Because the Forum is only like 300 miles away from Vegas. 

So from now on, I know that I have to also note events at the Grand Garden. So I looked at the calendar.  But the next event wasn't scheduled until February, long after I'd be gone, so this wasn't going to happen again.

I did notice an interesting sign for the concert.  Per request of The Misfits absolutely no cell phones or tablets or computers were allowed in the venue during the performance.  So maybe that's the reason for not using T-Mobile.  Perhaps T-Mobile didn't want to host a concert where cell phones were banned?  You know, because that's how they make their money?

Anyway, after playing poker I saw the casino was just loaded with Misfits fans exiting the concert.  The place was packed.  I waited inside the casino an extra hour or more before I braved going to my car, hoping the traffic would thin out.  Fortunately the club was open so I wasn't exactly bored sitting around inside the MGM.  But I guess I didn't wait long enough.  Even at 12:30am the garage was plenty busy.  And then, I saw that the traffic for exiting the garage was backed up all the way to the fifth level, the one I was on.  Perhaps it was even backed up higher.  The hell with that! Before getting in that line of cars, I backed up and found another way to get to the lower levels.  Once I got down to level 3 there was a parking attendant directing me to an exit.  It was actually the same exit I would have gotten to from the fifth level but I somehow managed to avoid the crowd.  I guess I kind of cut in but I was only following the attendant's instructions.  Yeah, that's my story anyway.

I still had to wait a good long time to exit.  There were three gates for exiting and all of them were backed up.  Again, the gates were stuck in the open position and there was an attendant at each gate.  They were taking turns letting traffic from each gate out to get to the actual exit onto the street.  The problem here was that traffic from the street was preventing people from exiting quickly. There were just too many damn cars leaving the same place at once.

Now here's the thing.  Once it was one lane's group of cars turn to leave, they all just drove through….no paying for parking, no putting in the MLife card to confirm free parking….no nothing.  Every single person who left the structure at that time just left without paying attention to any parking fee.  WTF?

I admit I have a perhaps morbid curiosity with how this whole thing works.  Was this somehow a "parking loophole"?  A way to get free parking if you knew about it in advance?

Here's what I mean.  I assume there were three groups of people using the garage that night.  People like me, who are entitled to park for free.  Concert goers who (if they didn't also have an upgraded MLIfe card) presumably paid $15 up front for parking.  And other people who just happened to go to MGM that night to gamble, go to the club, eat at a restaurant, whatever.  These are people who presumably didn't pay $15 up front because that's more than the normal $12 for 4-24 hours of parking would be.  So I'm assuming that they would have somehow gotten a ticket and then had to pay to get out.  Perhaps they pulled into the garage at 4pm before the attendants showed up.  Perhaps when they told the attendant they were just there to play so the attendant got the machine to give them a ticket. Whatever.

Now I did see a bunch of people trying to figure out the kiosks before getting to my car so I know there were people who had tickets and had to pay.  But once they got to the gates, they were given a free pass?  Well of course most of them probably heeded the signs that said, "Pay for parking before getting to your car."  But those gates also have ways to accept payment as you leave (credit card only).

So if you were waiting to pay at the exit gate, did you beat the system and park for free?  I repeat, there was no one or no closed gate stopping anyone from leaving and no one paid at the exit.

Not that I'm crying for MGM if some people got free parking that they shouldn't.  Of course not.  I just find it interesting.  I mean it's hard for me to believe that MGM management hasn't made certain that they squeeze every last parking dollar they can out of their customers.

Anyway, as a result of exiting the MGM without having to insert my MLife card, the next time I visited MGM, I couldn't use my card to get in.  It said something to the effect that I was already inside!  If I had tried to park at a different MGM property first, I might have been told I was at the wrong car park!  I had to take a ticket, but then when I used my card to exit, the balance of nature returned and all was suddenly right again in MGM's parking world. But that did make me wonder why the attendant I encountered when I entered the MGM bothered to put my card in the slot for me.  It just needlessly complicated things.  And backed up traffic getting in.

You know….like charging for parking in the first place.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Yes, It Is English Only At The Poker Table

Over a year ago, I got upset when a dealer wouldn’t warn a player about speaking a foreign language during the poker game.  You can find that post here.  Well on the night I'm about to tell you about, I found out that there are still some poker rooms, some dealers, and some floor people who definitely believe in enforcing the "English Only" rule.  Ironically, this new story took place almost exactly a year after the earlier one. 

This time the venue was MGM and I had been waiting a bit.  Finally they decided to start a new game and I got my preferred seat (it was a night the club was open so you can figure it out).  There were actually four foreign speaking people at the table, all of whom seemed to know each other, one woman and three men. I'm guessing they were speaking Spanish although I wasn't sure and since I live in Los Angeles, it should be pretty easy for me to recognize Spanish even though I can't speak it.  But honestly, they didn't look Mexican or South American to me.  While the dealer was selling everyone chips and swiping everyone into Bravo, these Spanish-speaking  folk were talking to each other in (presumably) their native tongue.  The dealer diligently told them that once the game started, it would be English-only.  The guy who spoke the best English said, "Right, whenever we have cards, we'll only speak English."

The dealer corrected him.  "No, it's not just when you have cards.  Any time you're at the table it's English only."  Hmm….not sure I heard that strict interpretation before but ok.

Anyway, the very first hand of this new table, the woman flopped a straight flush.  Yeah, she had Ace-3 of clubs and the flop came 5-4-2 all clubs.  Better for her, two of her buddies each flopped flushes.  I think she felted at least one of them.

Now, even though I wasn't in the hand, this turned out to have affected me.  The room has a high hand promotion. The four highest hands between 4PM and 10PM win money--$300 for first, $200 each for second and third and $100 for fourth highest.  I had already noted that the four hands on the board by the time we started (at around 8:30) were two different people with quad 9's, quad 7's and quad 3's.  So this put her in first place and knocked quad 3's off the board.  In order to be eligible for a high hand payout, you would need to beat quad 7's (or get quad 7's with a better kicker than the hand already made had).

So a short time later I had 4-3 of diamonds in the small blind.  There were a bunch of limpers so I threw in a buck to complete.  The flop came Queen-4-4.  I checked/called $5.  It was down to four-ways.  I was planning to bet the turn, but then I saw that it was another 4, giving me quads.  So I checked.  I called $20 and it was three-ways.  The Jack of spades put a third spade out there on the river.  This time I led out for $30.  I got one call but he mucked when I showed my 4.

It had been quite a while since I've gotten quads, so that was nice.  Now, I wasn't sure what the rules were for the high hand promo—did I need a pocket pair for my quads to count?  But then I double checked the board and it didn't matter.  The fourth best high hand was quad 7's so I was out of luck anyway.  But I figured I would check to see if it would have counted.  I asked the dealer who, disappointingly, had no clue.  "Ask my boss."

So when the boss came around for the rack count, I asked him.  Yes, it would have counted.  But my hand would have been quad 4's and a 3, not quad 4's and the highest card on the board.  Both my cards had to play, in other words.  If I had made quads with a pocket pair, then my kicker would have been the highest card on the board, but if you only make quads with one card in your hand, you have to use your other card to complete the hand.

So let's review.  After a long drought, I finally got quads.  I even got quads in a room where there's a high hand promotion going on.  I even qualified for that promotion despite using only one card from my hand to actually make the quads.  And yet, I still managed to miss getting paid any bonus money for my quads.  Just bad luck….bad timing, really.  You have to get your quads at the right time. 

The only other memorable hand from this night, for me, was flopping a set of 8's in a limped pot.  I got my $6 flop bet called by everyone (three players) and my $20 turn bet called by one.  But he folded to my $35 river bet.  By the time I left the game, I was able to book a solid $10 win.

But let's go back the woman who flopped the steel wheel.  By now two of her three friends had left the game but the other guy was still there, the guy who was most fluent in English.  He was also the most aggressive player at the table.  He loved to open pots for $20.  Anyway, apparently these two had been spoken to at least one other time about using "English Only" at the table.

So on this hand, I believe it was on the flop, she led out with a bet.  And this older guy shoved.  It was a sizeable amount (maybe close to $200) but because she had won that big straight flush hand, she had him covered at least 2-to-1.  And here's where things got interesting.

She tanked for quite a bit.  I had gotten the impression that she wasn't a very experienced player.  Finally she said something softly—in Spanish.  Her buddy, who wasn’t in the hand, said something back to her in Spanish.  The dealer spoke up immediately, "No, no, English only."  The guy was about to explain what they were saying when the player who was all in pitched a fit. "One player to a hand….they were warned before, several times."  The other guy said, "We weren't talking about the hand."  The player in the hand said, "We don't know that!"

He was very upset and the dealer asked him if he wanted her to call the floor and he said yes.  So the floor came over and heard everyone out.  The lady's buddy said that she had asked how much more to call and all he did was tell her how much.  Nothing else. 

So the floor said that this hand would be completed—obviously there was nothing that could be done about the illicit conversation.  But that after the hand was completed, the two Spanish-speaking players would have to leave.  Not just the table, but the room.  The guy asked if they could just go to different tables.  No, the floor said.  They were welcome to come back tomorrow but they were through playing there that night.

I was surprised.  I didn't expect him to be that hard-assed.  Not that I am saying the punishment was too severe, just that I was surprised.  I don't think I'd ever seen a player kicked out of a room for violating that particular rule.  Have you?

Anyway, the lady eventually folded.  I'm sure the guy who took the pot thought that he was cheated out of some of her money.  Perhaps.  My own best guess is that the guy was telling the truth about what they said during the hand.  But who knows?

Do you think the punishment fit the crime?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Here's What Happened Before I Got Those Kings....

Remember my post right after Christmas (here) about my success with pocket Kings?  Well, that hand was the last significant hand of a profitable session.  At the outset of that post, I said that maybe I would get around to telling you how I got to that point at some time in the future.  Well guess what?  With this post I get around to it.

The venue was Planet Hollywood and although it started out as a full table when I joined, it thinned out fast, eventually getting down to three players, at which point I said I didn't want to play three-handed.  However, just then a couple of more players joined and eventually the table filled back up.

One of the new players immediately bonded with one of the remaining players over their excessive drinking habits.  The new fellow actually didn't order a beer because "I don't want to get another DUI."  Well, the other guy told the story of how he had gotten a DUI while he was still on probation for his previous DUI.  And he had gotten into an accident and had to be hospitalized that time.  Since he was arrested, they hand-cuffed to his hospital bed.  He couldn't even go to the bathroom because he was cuffed to the bed.

He said he had his license suspended for three years, so he had to ride a bike everywhere.  This was in Vegas.  I believe he had moved to Vegas for his job and his recreational activities consisted of drinking beer and playing poker.  He went on to say if it happened now it would be no problem, he'd just take Uber everywhere—you don't really need a car.

It was all a big joke to him, but I dunno, I don't think DUI's are all that funny.

When we were four-handed I opened to $6 with Ace-Queen on the button.  One caller and the flop was Ace-King-x. I bet $10 and he called.  I checked a blank turn and then bet $15 on a blank river.  He called and he mucked when he saw my hand.

Despite that monster pot, I had managed to drop down to about $120 (from a $200 buy-in) when the key hand of the night took place.  I was in the small blind with pocket 5's and there was an UTG straddle.  A bunch of people called the straddle and then the button made it $10.  I called and it was six of us to the flop.

The flop was a classic case of good news/bad news.  It was 7-6-5, two spades.  So I flopped bottom set on a ridiculously coordinated board.  I admit that I'm really not sure exactly how to play it in that situation.  Especially when it is six-handed!  I checked, assuming the preflop raiser (or someone else) would bet.  Sure enough someone did.  There was a $25 bet and two other players called.  I guess I'm supposed to check-raise there?  But I wimped out.  I considered the possibility that one of them could have 9-8 and I'd be behind.  Not to mention the possibility (probability?) that someone had a flush draw.  Even if I check-raised all-in there, I'm not getting anyone with a flush draw to fold—and I'm certainly not getting anyone with the nut straight to fold.  I know that you actually want a flush draw to call you (and miss, of course), but I could still be behind a made straight and then be drawing to a full house in order to win the pot.  And the math was such that I really couldn't raise anything other than a shove.

I still have a vivid recollection of a bad night a few years back when I flopped and set of 10's and the board had three consecutive cards and sure enough, the guy who took my money had flopped the straight.  I know I wrote about that but I can't find the post. (Edited to add:  Nick found the post and put it in the comments, see below--that post is here) Of course, shit happens in poker all the time.  Cooler hands happen.  But I definitely was thinking about it right then.

The turn card was really bad—a spade (it didn't help the straight but I didn't note the denomination).  A different player bet this time--$25 again.  Again I just called and three of us were left.

The river was a brick and I checked.  So did the other two players.  That was surprising.  I figured a straight or a flush would bet there.  I was prepared to call my stack off if necessary.  So why didn't I lead out with a bet?  Well, I assumed with that board I would only be called by hands that beat me.

I was the first one to show and the other two just mucked their cards!  My bottom set was good.  Phew.  OK, I'm not proud of my play but it was a rather nice ~$235 pot and put about $300 in front of me.

So tell me folks, how should I have played that hand?

Later, I called $10 on the button with Ace-4 of clubs.  It was five-ways.  I flopped the flush draw and called $25 and we were now heads up.  I hit the flush on the turn.  This time he checked and I bet $35.  He folded.

With pocket Queens I made it $15 after a few limpers.  It was four ways to a flop that was King-high.  I took a shot and bet $35.  Amazingly enough, no one called. 

And that's how I got the $370 I had when I got the Kings.  After that Kings hand, I played another orbit or two and decided to call it a night.  I booked a $340 win. I didn't play well, but you know, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Poker and Boobs

The night after I played in the Neeme/Owen meet up game (here), I returned to Westgate to play in The Trooper's game.  The Neeme/Owen meet up games are irregularly scheduled, but Trooper has his game at Westgate scheduled for every Thursday night.

Again I phoned ahead to get on the list and again there wasn't a seat available when I got there.  There were two full tables.  I immediately found Tim, aka Trooper, and went over to say hello.  I'm not sure I'd seen Tim since the Linq closed its poker room.  He gave me a warm greeting, shouting "Robvegaspoker!"  He asked if I came from California.  Yes, but not that night, I'd been in Vegas for almost a week. And at Tim's table, I noticed AustinBluffs, who I had sat next to at the other Vloggers' game the night before

Before I got into a game, I helped myself to some chocolate chip cookies proved by the poker room.  Later, Tim brought in a pizza, and I confess I had a piece.  As I write this, I realize that I forgot to mention that at the Neeme/Owen meet up game the night before, they had sent out for a bunch of pizzas and I had a slice or two (or more?).  Thanks to everyone who provided me with free food at the Westgate over these two nights.

Actually, one of the floor people was sitting in at the other table and gave me his seat, so I got into a game fairly quickly, but not at the table Tim was at.  Our table was pretty quiet, except for one player who talked basically non-stop.  I'm going to call this player "Petey" because that's what Tim called him.  I have no idea if that's his real name or a nickname bestowed upon him by Tim.

Petey didn't let the fact that he wasn't at Tim's table stop him from carrying on a lengthy conversation with him from across the room.  Apparently, Petey and Tim were acquaintances from before.  I wasn't sure if Petey had been to previous Trooper games at the Westgate or if perhaps Petey had just run into Tim at a poker room in Vegas.  Petey was obsessed with Tim's coffee drinking habits.  He wanted to know how much Tim spent on coffee a month.  He even came up with an over/under figure on it.  I don't recall what it was.  Tim gave him a figure which Petey thought was too low and Tim went thru the numbers with him to show him how he was wrong.

After I'd been playing for at least an hour (maybe more), Tim and his fellow vlogger pal Pure Aggression switched tables so Tim ended up at my table.  And after a seat change by another player, Tim ended up seated to my immediate left.

I think they were doing bomb pots at the other table but we couldn't get unanimous agreement to have them at our table, mostly because Petey vetoed the idea.  He claimed poverty.  Since I continued to be card dead, that was ok by me.  One of the (many) things Petey was talking about was that he had to leave soon to go to a movie.  When he finally did leave, I asked him what movie he was going to see.  He said Jumanji.  I dunno why, but everyone thought that was funny.

Tim said he hadn't gone to the movies in like forever.   So I said, "You know, they have sound now."  The dealer for some reason thought that was hilarious.

The two guys on Petey's left and my right, a couple of older gentlemen, just happened to be there for poker and didn't know who Trooper was—or for that matter, what a vlog was.  Petey explained it to them.  He said there were other vloggers but Trooper was the biggest.  Tim corrected them.  "I'm not the biggest, but I was the first."  They asked if Trooper's vlog were all about poker and he said not really.

Later, he told the table that I had a popular written blog. "He's robvegaspoker….he has a blog about poker…..and boobs."  The dealer (same one who liked my "movies have sound now" joke) said, "Boobs?  Why didn't you tell me?  Now I'm interested."

Tim mentioned that he is leaning towards getting away from poker.  "I'm getting a new hustle."  He didn't elaborate.  People were guessing.  I guessed pimp or stripper, but he said no.  I think I may have also guessed if that he was going to become a woman, that too was incorrect.

We talked a lot and Tim spent some time trying to talk me into changing the blog into a vlog.  "You gotta do video, that's where it's at.  No one reads any more.  I don't read."  I said, "Yeah, well, I have a face for writing."  He said, "Well do audio then.  Do a podcast."  I said, "Well, you can't do boobs on audio."  Tim replied, "Sure you can.  You can talk about the sound they make, like when they're flapping around."  I said, "Motor-boating?"  Yeah.

Soon after Tim joined our table, there was some commotion at the table he left.  There was some kind of dispute between two players and loud words were exchanged, some threats were made and eventually one of the players was booted out of the room.  I don't think Tim got any of that on his video though.

Also, Tim and Petey got off on some weird tangent on advanced mathematics.  They were trying to figure out what a trapezoid was and how it differed from a parallelogram.  Then the discussed planes.  It was not typical poker table talk, that's for sure.  Fortunately, debates/discussions like this don't have to take too long these days, with everyone having Google in the pocket.

The game was 1/3 and as I mentioned, I was card-dead again.  My stack dwindled down until I was short-stacked, and I was debating whether or not to add-on.  So I got pocket Aces in the big blind and raised to $15.  There was one or two callers.  The flop was low and I bet $25, got one call.  The turn paired the board (7's) and he donked out a bet.  It was almost my remaining stack so I shoved and he snap called.  Now, earlier in the evening I had noticed that a player was paid for $50 for having his Aces cracked.  I had forgotten they had this promotion until then.  Lucky for me I saw it then.  By this time, I knew if I got my Aces cracked I'd get $50.  So I was in a no lose situation.  Either my Aces were good and I'd win the pot, or they were no good and I'd at least get $50 for my troubles.  Once I had bet the $25 and been called, it only made sense to commit my stack there with the Aces.  The river blanked and of course he showed 7-6 for trips.  But I showed my hand and got the $50 promo money.  I probably wouldn't have played it any different if I hadn't know about the Aces cracked promo, but I wouldn't have known to show my hand to get that promo money otherwise.

I'm pretty sure that this was the first time I was ever paid for hitting an Aces cracked promotion.

I added $50 out of my pocket so I could have a little more money to play with, but it was pretty clear this wasn't going to be my night.  I should have left then but I was enjoying the conversation too much.  But I was at my cut-off there, I wasn't going to dig into my wallet again.

Which explains the hand you can actually see me play in Trooper's 360 video from this table, which you can find here. It's near the very end of the video. I was down to $15 and I had pocket 7's.  I shoved, first in.  Three people called and I just watched the rest of the hand.  The flop was Jack-10-8, two spades.  When the turn was the Ace of spades, I think you can see on the video that I checked my hand to see if one of my 7's was a spade and sure enough it was.  So the 9 of spades on the river gave me a flush (and also a straight, I didn't notice that til I watched the video myself).  Was it good enough?  Actually it was.  One guy had a straight another guy had two pair, I'm not sure what the third guy had but my 7-high flush was good.  I didn't realize that Tim had likely recorded the hand until he came back to the table.

I returned to losing and cashed out a few chips.  It was a fun time but again, just couldn't get any cards.

The "regular" video that Trooper made of this game can be found here.  Thanks to Tim and to the Westgate for sponsoring these games, they are great fun and great for the Vegas poker community.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Shouldn't the Dealer Have Told the Floor This?

This takes us back to my first Saturday in Vegas last month, my first full day in town.  Also the first poker I played this trip.  I decided to spend the Friday night I arrived in town seeing The Last Jedi, which premiered that day (or, more accurately, the evening before).  I determined I had to see it right away before it got any more spoiled for me.  You see, some dick on Twitter tweeted out a spoiler that morning.  It wasn’t a dick I follow, but somebody I do follow thought it would funny to retweet that dick's spoiler tweet.  I was not amused.

 Thus, my first poker of the trip took place at the $340 tourney at Venetian, a tournament I've mentioned before—I really like that one. I guess I'd like it even more if I ever cashed in it. Well, ok, I did cash in it once, but that was the two-day version of it.  The single day version of it has yet to be a winner for me and this time was no exception.

I arrived about half way into the first level and the very first hand I was dealt was the dreaded pocket Kings.  Guess how it came out?  OK, it wasn't a total disaster.  An Ace hit the flop and I was able to get away from them fairly cheaply.  A few levels later I got my second pocket pair of the day.  You got it, Kings again!  This time I flopped the second nut flush draw on an all-spade board.  My c-bet took it down.

I lasted to the 7th level, but by then I had a really short stack, definitely fold or shove territory.  They broke our table and I moved to my new table with my pathetic stack.  I recognized one of the players at the new table.  I had actually seen him walking around earlier so I knew he was playing in the tournament.  It was successful pro and WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller.  I had actually seen his picture posted on Twitter once or twice recently as the winner of some low buy-in Venetian events.  I've stated before that I don't recognize a lot of poker pros but I immediately recognized Dan.  That's because I once spent an evening watching him play against our pal MemphisMOJO when they were playing for the Seniors bracelet back in 2014.  I wrote about it here.

I wasn't thrilled having a bracelet winner at my table, as I'm sure you understand.  Worse, he was one seat over from me on my left.  Ugh.  I didn't say anything to him—in a situation like that, I'm always looking for some clever way to acknowledge that I know who they are instead of just saying, "You're Dan Heimiller, right?"  It didn't happen while I was playing. And honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to kick him for making that bad call and knocking MOJO out of the Seniors event back then.

Meanwhile, with my short stack, I looked down at pocket 6's in early position.  It folded to me and I thought I had to shove.  The guy on my immediate left shoved too—he had me covered by a ton.  He said to me, "I'm giving you protection."  Everyone else folded and he showed Ace-Jack.  I survived the flop and the turn.  But not the Jack on the river.  I was done.

For some reason, I felt compelled to say hello to Dan.  During the brief time I was at his table, he had spent most of his time looking at his phone, not really engaging with anyone.  I got up from my seat with all my stuff and waited for him to fold the next hand.  Then I said that it was honor to play with him, however briefly, and put out my hand.  He shook it and just said thanks.  I added, "You're a great player."  He pointed to his stack, which was on the short side and said, "Well you can't tell by my chips."  And with that I took off.

Later that night I was playing cash in another room.  I won't mention which one because I don't want to get anyone in trouble if I'm right and the dealer make a procedural error.

My results in this cash game were unremarkable.  I somehow managed to lose only $20 while continuing to be card dead.  There were no hands worth reporting on.  Well, none of mine, anyway.

But something interesting did happen.  This particular room has high hand bonuses and the payout for a Royal is $500.  The pot must be $20 to qualify for any high hand bonus.

There was a small, heads up pot.  A player who was fairly new to the table made a bet on the turn and didn't get a call.  The dealer flipped the board cards over and started pushing the pot to the player who had bet.  That player struck me as either a newbie poker player or perhaps just a newbie at playing in a brick and mortar poker room.  Anyway, he turned over his cards, which were the Jack-10 of hearts.  I hadn't been following the action much but I had noticed at one point that a Royal was possible on this board.  The turn card was the Queen of hearts and the flop contained the Ace and King of hearts.  At least, that was my memory.

The way the player turned over his cards without saying anything, I'm really not sure if he did it because he knew about the bonus or if he just wanted to proudly show his Royal.  After all, if I was in a room that didn't have a bonus for it, I think I'd show a Royal if I had one anyway (note:  I have never had a Royal in any kind of real poker game).  The dealer apparently hadn't paid much attention either.  He looked at the two exposed cards, froze, and then said, "Was this a Royal Flush?  What was on the board?"  A few of the other players, including me, confirmed that it was indeed a Royal. By now, however, the board cards he had turned face down had gotten confused with the muck.  But he seemed to have two stacks of four cards each that were isolated.  He turned over one stack and it was all black cards, definitely not the board.  He turned over the other stack and sure enough, the Ace, King and Queen of hearts were all there, with some other random card.

But then he had to make sure the pot was big enough and that was a big deal for him.  He counted the pot--$17 he was about the push to the player with the Royal.  There were two dollars in the rake slot about to go down the chute and another buck right next to the slot for the promo drop. Yep, $20 exactly.  And then, he even re-created the betting action mentally to confirm the $20.  Again, he convinced himself it was $20 and thus qualified for the $500 bonus.

He called the floor over.  I expected him to show the floor the Royal but also explain that he had had to turn the board back face-up because he had flipped it over before he saw the player's Royal cards.  But that didn't happen. Instead, he went into a long explanation about the pot and the rake and the jackpot drop and how it all totaled $20.  He repeated this at least twice to the floor.

But at no point did he ever say anything about having to flip the board back face up to verify the Royal.

Is that ok?  I mean, I would think for his own sake he would want to make sure the floor knew that.  I actually wondered if, upon hearing this, the floor would call surveillance and have them verify that the board was what he "re-created" before paying out the $500.  But the dealer didn't mention it.

My thought is, he could easily get in trouble for it.  If someone looks over the footage and sees what he did, they would confirm (or worse, deny) that the Royal was made.  Wouldn't they want to know that he had pointed this out to the floor?  Would he get in trouble for trying to cover up what he did?

Or….is it a case of them routinely checking the tape on any high hand bonus payout so he didn't have to call it to his floor's attention?  I only thought of that when I was writing this up just now.  I don't know how it works.

All I know is if I was that dealer, I'd sure as hell cover my ass by letting the floor know exactly what happened. I would think if you're a dealer and anything out of the ordinary happens—especially if there's a bonus involved—you'd want to let the floor know. If somebody in surveillance did see it, they could easily think that maybe the dealer was cheating for the player to get him the bonus.  And if somehow, we were all wrong and the player really didn't have a Royal Flush, oh boy.  I said that I thought the player was a newbie. I can't recall if he won any other hands this way previously—it's at least remotely possible he turned over his cards because he thought he had to to claim the pot.

Can you imagine if they gave the guy the $500 and then later someone noticed the tape, saw what the guy did, examined it further and saw there was no Royal?

Maybe it's nothing.  But I thought about it a lot.  Any dealers/floor people out there think this was handled poorly by the dealer?  Or is it standard?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where and When? The Tony Bigcharles Game

This post concerns the famous (and infamous) Tony BigcharlesI'm sure most of you follow his adventures to at least some degree.  If you have no interest in Tony, you can skip this post and come back in a couple of days.

So if you do follow Tony, you know he just now returned to Las Vegas.  He left Toledo (via Detroit) very suddenly, mysteriously leaving behind his clothes and luggage (and who knows how many pizza turners).

Whenever Tony relocates, it's fair to wonder how longer he'll remain in his new "home" this time, and where he'll go to next.  He never stays one place very long, as we all know.

So I started thinking someone should start a pool to bet on where Tony moves to after he inevitably tires of Vegas, and of course, how long will that be?  Sadly, I don't have the time or the desire to set up an actual pool for this, you know the kind where people bet actual real money on this and someone holds the money until Tony leaves town and we have a winner.

Besides, with two factors involved (where and when), it might be difficult to determine a winner.  What if one person nails the date but a different person gets the location and nobody gets both.  Who wins?

If someone wants to do this as a real pool, be my guest.  But for now, I just thought I'd throw this post up here and let people give their best guesses in my comments section below.  There's no cost to play--and also no prize for the winner(s).  

So just post your best guess as to when Tony will leave Vegas.  And also where he will go when he does.  Actually that could be tricky.  Sometimes Tony makes very short stops on his way to his next "permanent" location.  If I'm not mistaken, last time (before this) he returned to Vegas, he couldn't catch a flight at the right time (or right price) to Vegas so he flew to Phoenix, spent a day or two there, and took a bus into Vegas.  So I'd say he has to stay at least a week at his new location for it to count.  I think that's fair,no?

Again, this is just for bragging rights, no prize, but feel free to guess away.  Does Tony leave Vegas next month, or March (give a specific date, person closest wins) or even later?  Is his next home Reno?  Los Angeles?  Louisiana?  Toledo?  Louisiana?  Some part of Florida?  Give it your best shot.

Note:  If you are wondering about this picture below and what it has to do with the subject of the post, I will remind you that it is well known that Tony hates girl-on-girl action.  So it seems appropriate, doesn't it?  I mean, I could have just posted a pic of TBC himself, but I'm sure everyone (but Tony) will agree this is better.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Andrew Neeme/Brad Owen Meet Up Game

In my most recent Ante Up column (here) I talked about how the new Westgate poker room is working with Vegas Vloggers (i.e., video bloggers) to promote games.  Well, as it turned out, vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen (both mentioned in my column) were hosting one of their Meet Up Games (see their Facebook page here) on the first Wednesday I was in town, the Wednesday before Christmas.  Once again, Westgate was the host.  But unlike their usual meet-up games, this one was going to be 2/3 NL instead of 2/5 NL.  That made it very appealing to me.  I really couldn't pass this up.

I arrived a bit late and all the tables were filled.  They had five tables of 2/3 ready to roll before they even started.  They could have easily had a sixth table going, but there was an issue with the sixth table.  There was some kind of lighting fixture hanging over it and apparently security insisted they not use that table until the fixture could be removed.  I assume it was interfering with the cameras.

So I had to wait. Fortunately, I had called in to get on the list, and I was near the top.  As they started getting cards in the air, I was walking around the room and looking for familiar faces, I assumed I'd see more than a few people I knew. But no, I recognized only one, aside from Andrew and Brad, who I had never met before but of course recognized them from their vlogs.  The familiar face was my friend Donna, who I've been running into in poker rooms for at least five years.  It was Donna who gave me the title of the blog post here and she's been written about in several posts over the years. I said hello, and I also saw her warmly greet Andrew; obviously they were pals. 

Well, I didn't have to wait long to be called.  And wouldn't you know it, the available seat was the one immediately to Donna's right.  I took my seat, said hello again and got settled in.

Almost immediately the fellow on my right said to me, "Are you Robvegaspoker?" (except he used my real last name).  I was taken aback, looked him over, said yes, and he replied, "You blogged about me."  I really didn't recognize him, but I played a wild hunch.  "Would you be Austin Bluffs by any chance?"  He laughed and said he was.

Who is Austin Bluffs?  Well, if read this recent repost (here) you know and you also know why I thought to repost that story.  Or part of the reason.  The reason I thought of Austin that night was because of something that happened on the day before I drove to Vegas, while I was packing.  Aria was doing a live Periscope.  I was watching it.  I actually made a comment to them while they were live (I think it was about their innovative Big Blind Ante).  And for a second I saw someone else who was watching say something like, "Robvegaspoker?  You blogged about me."  I didn't have time to react and it really wasn't of interest to the guys doing the Periscope or the rest of the audience so I didn't respond.  But I took notice of it and remembered to research it later that night, after I was done packing. I did see the comment long enough to see the name "Austin Bluffs."

When I researched it, I found my old post and remembered the story.  I considered it worthy of a repost whenever I needed a post and didn't have time to finish a new one.  So, when this seemingly total stranger said I blogged about him, he was the first person that came to mind and I was right.  But there's no way I ever would have recognized him from that one night of poker we played....he didn't really become noteworthy to me until several months later, when I got his tweet.

So this was one of two incredible coincidences.  First of all, running into Austin twice within a week's time—once online, then once in person— after having no contact at all with him for over four years.  And like me, Austin doesn't live in Vegas.  He was just visiting, heard about the meet-up, and showed up.  And because my face is plastered all over the internet, he recognized me.

The second coincidence is that my seat at the game was immediately on his left.  Furthermore, as I said, Donna was immediately on my left.  So I was sitting between the only two people in the room that I know, just totally by the luck of the draw!  I mean, is it a small world, or what?  (Despite that, I wouldn't want to paint it). 

Donna heard this and said, "You blogged about me, too."  I acknowledged that I had.  Actually, I've mentioned her several times.  I mention again how much I liked her "duck and a schmuck" name for the King-deuce hand.

So I got to spend the evening catching up with Donna, and also chatted quite a bit with Austin.

There were two "crazy" additions to the normal game of hold'em for this game.  One was "bomb pots."  Every time a new dealer pushed in, everyone at the table would put up $5 for the first hand.  That was part of the pot and there was no preflop betting.  Everyone saw the flop.  So the pot started at $45 (if the table was full) then the betting on the flop, turn and river was the same as always.  So you didn't really want to get pocket Aces when it was a bomb pot cuz you couldn't bet anyone out of the pot preflop, and you'd be facing 8 other hands that all would see the flop.  This was actually kind of fun as a change of pace.  I wouldn't want to do bomb pots more often than once every half hour and I wouldn't want to play in a game that had them regularly.  But it was a nice change of pace.

The other thing was "The Button Game."  Whoever had the button had to put $5 on the button—literally on the button.  When the button passed, the next person on the button put another $5 on it.  That money, however much it grew to, could only be won by the player on the button if that player won that pot.  Then it would start all over at $5.  I think during the time I was there, the largest amount I saw the button prize grow to was $50.

Apparently each table was making up their own rules regarding these side bets.  So someone suggested that we do $10 bomb pots, which I think we did once.  Someone at the table suggested $25 or $50 bomb pots.  That was getting a bit ridiculous.  We went back to $5 bomb pots.

They even let us make up our own rules about straddling.  The Westgate doesn't normally allow the button straddle (yay!) but for this game, if no one objected, they allowed it (I didn't want to be the spoilsport, so I didn't object).  But it was up to us to decide if they did it the "right" way (first action is UTG) or the "wrong" way (first action is the small blind).  They decided on the wrong way.  Since the people who wanted to button straddle were far enough away from me so that it would affect me when I was the blinds, I didn't offer my opinion that the way they were doing it was wrong.

The problem with the game for me was that I was extremely card dead.  Totally, horrifically, card-dead.  It was appalling.  I think I won only one pot all night.  It was with Aces.  I opened to $12 and had three callers.  The flop was King-Queen-x rainbow and I bet $25 and got one call.  The turn was a 10 and we both checked.  The river was deuce and my $35 bet went uncalled.

That was it.  I didn't lose any big pots—I just didn't get enough good cards to put much money into any pots. It was awful.  So of course I didn't win any bomb pots or any button bounties. 

Those side bets were fun, but they did contribute to my losing my money faster than I otherwise might have. I had to call it a night.  A losing night.

Although Andrew and Brad were switching tables periodically, neither of them made it over to our table.  So before I left, I made it a point to go over and introduce myself to them, and to thank them for hosting the game.  I have to say, they are both super-nice guys.  They thanked me for doing some retweeting of their tweets about the game.  I told them that I mentioned their games at the Westgate in a soon-to-be published Ante Up column.

After taking off, I realized they would both be perfect subjects for Ante Up profiles.  So a few days later I contacted them and they both graciously agreed.  You should be seeing their profiles in Ante Up (and here) in the coming months.

It was a fun night, but man, I wish I could have seen better cards.