Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene - March 2018 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room by now. 

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WYNN: Stephen Buell of Las Vegas topped a field of 743 players to take home $65K in the Wynn Signature Weekend event Jan. 28.  Las Vegas’ Wendy Freedman claimed $53K for second and England’s Barry Isaacson earned $32K for third. 
The buy-in was $600 and the prize pool was $389K, easily surpassing the $250K guarantee. All tournaments in this brief series used the big-blind ante format, where the big blind posts an ante each hand, a format that is rapidly gaining popularity.
VENETIAN: The March Extravaganza runs March 12-18, offering $400K-plus in guarantees. The main event is a $600 SuperStack event with three starting flights beginning March 15. Players start with 20K chips and 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K. A one-day $400 PLO event with a $12K guarantee is March 15. Players start with 12K and play 30-minute levels.
The Venetian’s second Deep Stack Extravaganza of the year will run March 26-April 15. The event with the biggest guarantee, $250K, is $250 with five starting flights beginning April 10. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels on Day 1, 40-minute levels on Day 2. The final 10 percent of each flight will be in the money, with the final 5 percent advancing to Day 2.
The first of two starting flights for a $1,100 DoubleStack tournament with a $200K guarantee is March 28. Players start with 30K chips and play 40-minute levels. A $600 DoubleStack event has three starting flights beginning April 5. Again, players start with a 30K stack and play 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K.
Two of the tournaments are using the big-blind ante format. The first one is March 27, a one-day, $400 SuperStack with a $35K guarantee. Players start with 18K chips and play 30-minute levels. The same tournament runs April 4.
A $250 Omaha/8 tournament with a $7K guarantee runs April 1. A $250 PLO tourney with a $7K guarantee runs April 6. A $400 seniors event with a $25K guarantee runs April 5.
More than $1.2M in prize money is guaranteed over the course of the series.
On the cash-game side, the room has a high-hand and splash-pot promo running March 1-May 13. Between noon and midnight, $400 will be awarded every half-hour to the highest hand of that period. Between 12:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m., a table will be selected randomly every half-hour for a $100 splash pot.
WESTGATE: Vegas’ newest poker room will host the Heartland Poker Tour (March 29-April 9). The $1,650 main event offers the first of its three starting flights on April 5. Players get 30K chips and play 40-minute levels. The final table on Day 3 will be live-streamed on Twitch on April 9.
A $350 Monster Stack event with three starting flights kicks off things March 29. Players get 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. A $1,100 two-day event starts April 1 as players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels. There are also a few $200 events and plenty of satellites.  
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The World Series of Poker Circuit returns March 22-April 2. The $1,675 main event offers a $500K guarantee and starts March 30. A $365 event with a $150K guarantee starts March 23. 
A $250 seniors event runs March 29. A $365 PLO event is March 26. A $2,200 high roller is April 1.
STRATOSPHERE: The room at the north end of the Strip has revised its tournament schedule. The regular tournament is $75 for a 10K stack and 20-minute levels. This runs every weeknight except Wednesday at 7, and Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m. The 7 p.m. tournaments on Friday and Saturday feature a $1K guarantee.
Wednesdays at 7 p.m., the room offers at $100 bounty event, same details but there’s a $25 bounty. For all tournaments, players can get an extra 1K chips for registering at least 15 minutes before start time.
Frequently, the room will replace one of the afternoon tournaments on the weekend with a $125 Stratstack tournament, which starts players with 20K chips and features 30-minute levels. All tournaments serve free pizza to the players at the first break.
TREASURE ISLAND: The new regular tournament is a $50 rebuy tournament and is offered three times a day, at 12:30, 6 and 10 p.m. The starting stack is 5K. For the first four 15-minute levels, rebuys for 5K are available for $20, whenever a player is at or below 5K. There’s an optional $20 add-on at the end of Level 4 for 15K.  
On the first and third Thursdays of the month, the 6 and 10 p.m. tournaments are replaced by the new Magnum T.I. event.  It starts at 7 p.m. and has a $125 buy-in. Players start with 30K chips and play 20-minute levels.
There is an optional $15 add-on for $15K chips after the 10th level, when registration closes. The poker room is adding $500 to the prize pool.
Players can earn a free entry into the Magnum T.I. tournament by finishing in the top three of the weekly leaderboard, which tracks the players with the most cashes in the regular tournaments. Also, players can get a free entry by playing 20 hours of live poker in the room during a week.
The room is continuing its Get Paid To Play program. Players will be paid $40 for 10 hours of live play in a week, up to $599 for 60 hours of live play.
The main cash game is $1-$3 NLHE with a $100-$500 min-max buy-in.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Vegas Hooker Attack—"Trick Roll"

Special Guest Post
By "Anonymous"

Introduction:  The guest post was submitted to me by a long-time reader of this blog after his recent visit to Vegas with his buddy.  I am only posting this with the understanding that his identity, and the identity of his friend, be withheld.  However, I totally trust my source and am quite confident that that the narrative you are about to read did indeed happen.
Every year, millions of men visit Vegas, and more than a few of them seek female companionship of the "by the hour" type.  This is a reminder that such activity is illegal in Clark County, where Vegas is located.  I thus present this as a cautionary tale.  And  I'd like to thank Anonymous for this "word to the wise."
Take it away, Anonymous…..

This accurate account of a Vegas Hooker Attack—"Trick Roll"—is NSFW.
During a recent trip to Vegas for poker and other activities with my good friend, he had what turned out to be a wildly violent encounter with a local "working girl."
Please keep in mind that the buddy I'm describing is not a young man, and is one of the kindest and most non-violent people I have met, yet he really likes the ladies and is a bit of a "horn dog."  On our second day in town, we had both played poker tourneys and cash games most of the day and I had a dinner date that nite with my caddy. So we split up about 7pm, and he continued to play cash games.  I have never seen this man drink any alcohol away from the table, but he does consume mass quantities of beer while playing his favorite game.  His drinking never seems to affect his play, even though his speech sometimes becomes a bit slurred after about 20 or more beers.  I knew he was heavy into the beers this night, and when he phoned me in a bit of a panic at 3am, I became very concerned for his welfare.
We both have been visiting Vegas on and off for the past 25 years, and the following is by far, the wildest true story I have ever heard.  It begins with him walking from one strip property to his hotel—an undisclosed property, which cannot be identified for obvious reasons. He had a winning session and was feeling no pain as he strolled to his hotel. As he passed a few shops and bars, a tall, attractive young female, with short skirt, and massive boobs, smiled and motioned to him as he passed by. He stopped and she approached, asking him what he was up to.  He related that he was just making his way back to his hotel, and she became very friendly, asking him if he wanted any company on his way back. Even though he was a bit apprehensive, he said she was so hot that he couldn't turn her away. 
When they got close to the hotel entrance, she suggested that he walk ahead and they should go in a side entrance to avoid security.  She followed him into the elevator and began groping his crotch on the way up to his floor, as they were alone in the elevator.  As they walked to his room she was telling him she was about to rock his world. He had no idea who would get really rocked a bit later.  When they entered his room, he told her she could not use her phone in the room at any time, and she agreed.  He told me he had heard stories of hookers going into the bathroom, calling their pimps or partners to set up robberies of their victims.   So, that's why he had her turn her phone off and leave it in her purse.
They discussed her fee and he said he would pay 50% now, the rest later. She said no way, so he laughed and gave her the full amount. She immediately pulled up her mini skirt to expose her shaved monkey and fine ass, then pulled up her tight top to expose those massive hooters, and sat on the bed beside him, saying, "take it off baby."  He disrobed, leaving on his socks and a baseball hat only, and laid back on the bed.  She began rubbing his leg, then asked for more money. He told her she had agreed to the original price and that he couldn't pay any more.  She told him she would need more money to get busy.. He refused and that's when things went crazy wild.  
After a short argument, he asked for a refund and she immediately pulled her clothes together and attempted to make her way to the door. He said he jumped up and said she had to give his money back, and she began reaching for the door.  He caught her at the door as she was opening it, and grabbed her purse to retrieve his money.  At this point she began screaming and scratching and swinging wildly at him.  She caught him under the eye with a sharp finger nail, and he said at that point he lost his cool and began to defend himself.  He put a foot to her torso and slammed her away from him, while holding onto the purse, still trying to retrieve his money. He later told me he wasn't going to let this bitch roll him.  Her body hit the opposite wall outside his room, but she didn't go down and charged at him again, swinging wildly.  This time he pulled a "Ray Rice" and decked her with a single punch; she hit the floor with blood coming out off her nose and mouth, clearly stunned. He recovered his money, dropped her purse beside her, and turned to re-enter his room, only to discover that his door had closed and was locked, and he was standing in the hallway, totally nude except for his socks and a baseball hat, with a bloody hooker lying on the floor in the hallway.
The hooker wasn't out cold for long and began to stir around on the floor. He kicked her phone down the hallway as she was attempting to get up. She had discovered that she wasn't going to be able to "trick roll" this man and had paid a heavy price for the attempt, so she fled.  He immediately took off his socks, covered his junk with them, and went down the back stairwell looking for security.  He exited the back stairwell onto an empty loading dock, ran down the dock and entered an unlocked door into a receiving area, and yelled for security. Someone way down the hallway saw him and called for security. They showed up a few minutes later and he told him he had been locked out of his room after an attempted robbery.  He was now surrounded by about 4 or 5 security guards and someone brought him a towel to wrap up with, and later, a robe.  After about 15 minutes of questioning, they escorted him back to his room, and let him in so he could dress.  He had told security that he wanted to move out of that room, because he thought the girl may have her pimp return to kill him.  They stood in his room as he packed up and told him he would have to come down to the security office and be interviewed by their staff and the LVPD. 
My buddy said he overheard the guards on the radio, saying that the female had called the LVPD and wanted to press charges against him.  She must have been new to the area. Hotel security had him fill out a long detailed written statement, beginning when he first encountered the hooker, and describing everything in detail.  He said he wrote so much, that he had to request a second page from them. After about 15 minutes, the LVPD showed up and entered the office. They checked him out, noticing the scratch under his eye that had bled a little, and asked if he wanted medical attention. He told them no and that hotel security had asked him as well.
The officer was a female, so my buddy thought he may be in deep shit, depending on what the hooker said to them. After a brief questioning, they asked him if he wanted to press charges against the female. They said the hooker wanted to press charges for assault and kidnapping, and if he was charged, he would have to bail out and come back to Vegas at a later date for court, and that the minimum charge would be solicitation for prostitution, a misdemeanor.  They warned him that this happens all the time in Vegas, and hookers always try to trick roll their marks,  My buddy told the police officer he just wanted it to end tonight and not press charges.  He said they interviewed the hooker in a separate room and she decided not to press charges either.  So the female officer told him she would give him a break this time since he did not even have a speeding ticket on his record, and they would let him go.  She warned him again, that if a young female smiled at him again, to look the other way and keep walking to avoid trouble in the future.  My buddy thanked the female officer profusely and left the office.  Hotel security told him he was being evicted from the property that night, and would have to find another hotel.  They wouldn't let him catch a taxi on property and escorted him off property. They also told him the hooker was being trespassed, meaning that she would be arrested if she ever set foot back on the property.
My buddy walked down the strip dragging his bag and procured a room at another location at 3am, and called me with the bad news.  He said he was still a bit shaky, but felt lucky that he avoided being locked up for the night, or longer.  He said the hooker was surely out of commission for a while, and she probably wouldn't be attempting to roll anyone in the near future, due to receiving that beat down in the hallway.
Moral of the story—if you are ever in Vegas and looking to rent a girlfriend, head out to Pahrump, about 45 minutes away, where its, LEGAL and SAFE!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Lesson in String (Bet) Theory

Here's that other incident I wanted to tell you about from my most recent session.  The rest of this day is reported here.  By the way, I'm a little surprised that on that post, almost none of the comments were about the guy's antics in calling the clock on me so soon.  I thought that was the most interesting aspect of the story.  Yet everyone ignored that and instead seemed to comment on how I messed up a hand with Kings again--as if that is a surprise.  Oh well.

I mentioned the guy on my right took his sweet time to make his bets. Remember, at this game they only use dollar chips. Before he got to the table, the previous person in that seat string bet a couple of times. He would count out his chips in front of him before he actually bet, and have them in several stacks, then frequently would put one stack out at a time even though it was pretty clear that he meant to bet all the chips in front of him. It was technically a string bet. He never stated that he was going to raise or what he was going to raise to.

Well it was odd, but the guy who replaced him in that seat did the exact same thing! There must have been something about that chair. This is the guy who took forever to make a bet—he would count out all his chips and have them in several stacks and then put them out one stack at a time instead of pushing them all together out in one motion.

I never said anything because I know what the rule is in this room. I wrote about it here and here. The player has to call out the string bet—the dealer never will. So I had that in the back of my mind, knowing that I might have to call him on it at some point, if it was to my advantage. On the other hand, if it was to my advantage that he make the full bet, I would keep my mouth shut. I suppose that's angle shooting to some extent, but that's what's encouraged by the house rule.

So I had pocket Queens in late position. Some guy had opened to $4. Although by this time there had been some pretty big preflop raises, that was still a pretty common move, the $4 bet. The reason is, if everybody limps in and there's only four players, that's $8 in the pot and $6 of it will be taken by the rake and the jackpot drop. So you're playing for $2. So, sometimes it makes sense to raise to $4 just to build a pot.

I was going to re-raise if it didn't get raised in front of me, but the guy on my right held up the action to figure out what he was going to bet. He did his thing cutting chips for some kind of raise. He counted out and stacked some chips and he had two piles that he was going to put out—one stack was much taller than the other. It looked to me like one pile was $12 and one pile was for $4. So he put out the $12 stack if that's what it was, and then he put out $4 additional, and then it  was on me.

This guy was a slow player, but he certainly wasn't a maniac, and I assumed that if he made a bet like that he probably had a pretty big hand. Maybe Ace-King, maybe Kings, maybe Aces, maybe Jacks. So I was content to just call. The string portion of the bet wasn't enough for me to make it an issue. I asked he dealer to confirm what the bet was and it was $16.

Now as I was putting out my chips to call, a lady who had already folded spoke up. “Isn't that a string bet?” she asked.  To my surprise, the dealer said yes it was a string bet and that he'd have to take back some of his bet. The player was obviously surprised because he had done the exact same thing several times before and had never been called on it. I was surprised because that lady wasn't in the hand and it was my understanding that only a player could call another player on it, and she really wasn't a player because she had folded. So the string bet didn't affect her at all. But the dealer was confused further by the fact that I had obviously already called the bet (after she herself had told me how much the bet was).  So the dealer said that she had to call the floor over. The player who had made the comment about the string bet apologized profusely and said never mind, she didn't want to pursue it, forget about it. But the dealer insisted that the floor had to get involved at this point.

Thus, everything was held up and the floor came over and tried to understand the problem. The player explained that he had been doing that all day, but the floor told him that didn't matter now that he was called on it. The trouble was that the dealer wasn't sure exactly how much the original bet was before he added to it. The floor man said that he would have to look at the tape to determine what was going on. This delayed things even further and was actually getting kind of silly. Fortunately it didn't take long for the floor man to come back with an answer. But his answer didn't make a lot of sense to me. He said that the tape clearly show that he put the bets out in two motions. But nobody was disputing that. The dispute was how much he put out first. I think he actually made a legitimate raise to $12 and then added $4 to it. But the floor ruled that since he made two separate motions, his bet was merely a call and not a raise. That was just crazy.  But the ruling stood.  Therefore I had all my options open to me. I could call, I could fold (not very likely), or I could raise. At this point I didn't want to raise as that would give the guy an opportunity to come over the top.  So I just called. It was three ways.

The flop came Ace-high and the guy on my right bet only $5. I decided that was low enough for me to call, even though I was probably losing to Aces. The third player folded. The turn was a blank and this time he bet $10. I figured I could call the $10. It was still less than he originally wanted to bet preflop, so I was thinking he really didn't like the flop or the turn that much. But when another brick hit the river, he announced all-in. I had him covered, but not by much, and I wasn't about to stack off with my Queens on an Ace-high board. I folded.

But I have to admit I was as confused as hell by what happened. I had thought that only a player facing a bet could call a string bet, and the way it sounded they had changed that rule. I asked the dealer and couldn't get a comprehensible answer.

So when I got a chance I went over to the floor person and asked about it and he explained that no, they hadn't changed the rule. The dealer will never call a string bet, that is still the policy. However, what I didn't understand was that any player at the table that had been dealt in can call a string bet. Even if they already folded and they're out of the hand, they still can call a string bet.

To me that's the worst of all possible worlds. I mean, I can actually understand how sometimes it might be beneficial to the players to be able to call it themselves, if they're involved in the hand and there might be a situation where you would want to call out of string bet and then be another situation where you wouldn't.

Suppose in this situation, I had pocket Aces instead of pocket Queens, I would definitely not want to call the string bet cuz I would want his extra money in the pot when I raised him, and if he folded, I've got a few extra bucks. And if he's got pocket Kings or Queens that he wants to call me with, I'm putting a lot of money in the pot as a favorite. So it would have really pissed me off if some lady who isn't in the hand were to call out the string bet and take some money out of my pot. I mean if the dealer isn't going to enforce the rule why let some random person who is not involved in the hand enforce it? And in this case, it was especially weird because I don't think the lady knew that was the rule was the house wouldn't enforce the rule, it was up to the players. How she missed all the other times this guy had done the same thing I don't know. She had been there almost as long as he had.

Whatever it was an interesting interpretation of a rule which I think is bad to begin with.

I ended up breaking even for the day, but I got a couple of weird stories out of it, at least.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Clock-Tease

Last Saturday I went to Ventura again. There were two rather bizarre situations regarding rules that happened at my game. I'll end this post with the telling of the first one, and then I'll report on the second strange thing in the next post.

As luck would have it, my arrival to the room gave them enough players to start a brand new 1/2  game, so they did.  I bought in for the $100 max.

The game started quietly enough. After one player limped in, I raised to $7 with Ace-Queen off.  Only the limper called. The flop was all low cards, and as I reached for chips to bet with after she checked, she immediately mucked.

I limped in with 8-7 of clubs and a guy made it $11. It folded back to me. I know I probably should have folded, but I decided to make call.  The flop came Queen-10-9. I checked, expecting him to c-bet, but he checked behind. The turn was a blank and again it went check-check. But the turn was a 6, giving me the straight.  I bet $20, expecting him to fold. But he went into the tank and finally made the call. He didn't show when he saw my straight. Another player—an Asian no less—said he also had 8-7 and had folded because $11 was too much. I felt like saying to him, “You're a better player than I am,” but I wasn't sure how it would be taken, so I kept quiet.

With pocket 10's, I raised to $4.  That's a fairly common raise size in this particular game. I got four callers and the flop came Queen-10-X.  A lady donked out $4. It folded to me, I made it $12, and it folded back to her. She tanked for a while and then folded and I took the pot down.

I got pocket Jacks in the small blind and there were many limpers, so I made it $12. I got two callers. The flop was 10-high and I led out for $20.  The lady on my immediate left shoved for $23 and the other player folded. As I was grabbing my three dollar chips to call, I looked at the dealer and said, “Should I think about this for awhile?” A few players laughed and the dealer said to me, “Well, I'm sure some people would.” I would have made that joke under almost any circumstances, but there was actually some context to it. The player on my right had been taking an inordinate amount of time to figure out his bet sizing whenever he wanted to raise. He would count his dollar chips and recount them and restack them. I was actually losing patience with this guy, and I could tell the dealer was too. I'm sure the dealer was thinking of this character when he gave his response to my joke question. We’ll get back to this slow player in the next post. The board blanked out, and my Jacks were good. She showed Ace-King and said she was trying to get lucky. Hmmm, I'm thinking she probably should have just shoved preflop after my raise, but what do I know?

I guess I was up about $60 or so when the fireworks began. I looked down at my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings. I was in late position, and before it got to me it was raised to $7. Now the player who had raised had just gotten to the table. I'm pretty sure I never seen him before in my life. He looked really young, but later he said that he had been playing poker for 15 years and he sort of made it sound like he was a grinder, not just a rec player—but that was after this happened. He didn't really look old enough to have played poker for 15 years. In fact when he said that, a lady said, “Oh you must have started playing when you were 10 years old.” He laughed and thanked her for the compliment. But at this precise moment I hadn't heard him say a word and he'd only been at the table for a few minutes. This was either his first or second hand and he had bought in for the maximum $100.

At first glance though he did sort of give off the appearance of a grinder. There were no sunglasses, but he did have earbuds. The thing that made him look unusual to me was that he was wearing a wool hat. It was an absolutely picture-perfect 72⁰ Southern California day outside, making the hat seem a little ridiculous. Let's call this guy “Wool Hat.”

It folded to me and I wasted a little time in taking a $20 stack, adding a buck to it, and pushing forward a bet of $21. There were a few players left with cards and they all quickly folded. As soon as it got back to Wool Hat, he started talking.  “I just got here.” Huh? What the hell does that have to do with anything? I didn't say anything at all. I think it was at this point that I heard him say for the first time, “Are you sure you want to do that?”

What am I supposed to say to that? Obviously I can't take the bet back, in fact, I said that.  He must have repeated each of the lines I've just quoted at least once maybe more. So after the second time he asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that, I said to him,  "They won't let me take the bet back.” In hindsight I wish I had thought to ask the dealer if I could take the bet back. Then when the dealer said of course not, I'd go back to the guy and say “Sorry, I tried."

I don't know what game he was playing, but it was just kind of weird that he was acting like he was taking it so personally that I had three-bet him. Had he never been three-bet before?

Anyway, he did call and we were heads up.  And then, as he put his chips out to call, but before the dealer put the flop down, he said, “Check in the dark.”

The flop was 10-9-8, rainbow. I checked behind, which was probably my first mistake. I have to admit his little act had me confused. I had no idea what kind of player he was but certainly a set with any of those cards was in his range, and for all I knew any two pair there was possible as well. Hell, he might have had Queen-Jack and flopped the joint. I even considered the possibility that this character could possibly have played Aces this way just to set a trap.
The turn card was another 8. He checked, this time not in the dark. I bet $20. Rather quickly, he announced “all-in." Here's where it gets interesting. Before I had at any chance at all to react to is bet, he said, “I'll give you 30 seconds to act before I call the clock." Then, as soon as he said that, he corrected himself and said, “45 seconds.” Well thanks for that concession, pal.  BTW, in all my years of playing poker, I don’t think anyone has ever called the clock on me.

WTF? I wasn't really bothered by that as much as baffled. I knew I would get enough time to make a decision, but it was really weird to threaten to call the clock that soon. But I ignored it and started thinking about whether or not I was going to call. At least I started to, but then the dealer interrupted. He said to the guy, "You can't call the clock, only I can call the clock, and I'll only call it when he's had enough time to act.”

Now I was really confused. A player can't call the clock? Only a dealer can call the clock? The dealer's never supposed to call for the clock. This particular dealer is not a kid and has been there since I started playing there. He's a solid dealer. After I thought about it a bit, I realized what the dealer was trying to say was that the player couldn't call the floor over for the clock unless the dealer first thought that I had enough time to act. Although that isn't right either, is it? I think if a player calls for the clock the dealer must immediately call the floor. But then the dealer will be asked by the floor if he thinks the player had enough time to make a decision, and in this case the dealer would say that no, I didn't have enough time to make a decision. Of course I was going to get 45 seconds before that even happened so it all was kind of moot.

So my interpretation of all this is that, although I don't really like this kind of table talk and never have, I wasn't all that bothered by this guy's schtick, but the dealer really was. I think the dealer just took an immediate disliking to this guy's whole act.

Of course, Mr. Wool Hat wasn't going to take that quietly. He started arguing with the dealer about whether or not he could call the clock and the dealer would have none of it. The dealer said that I have to be given adequate time to make a decision and that he was trying to intimidate me with his comment about calling the clock.

Wool Hat denied he was trying to intimidate me but finally quieted down, and it was on me to make a decision.  I almost spoke up and said that the guy's talking wasn't bothering me and that I didn't feel intimidated, but I decided not to say anything. I really wasn't that distracted by all this. I was distracted by the fact that I was in another pickle with my least favorite hand. Again, I had no information on this guy. A guy raises his first or second hand at the table, it could mean he's trying to create an image for himself. It could mean he's a aggressive player. Or it could mean that he got dealt a really big hand.

He started the hand with a hundred bucks so his bet was about $79; it was almost $60 to call. I had him covered. One of my big weaknesses as a poker player is that I really, really, really hate losing to assholes. Once I have determined a player is a jerk, it bugs me five times as much to lose him as it would be to any player that I didn't think was a jerk or actually thought was a nice person. I know that's bad to admit but it's true. At first I was amused a little bit by his act about my initial three-bet. But when he gave me a time limit of 30 seconds that he pulled out of his ass, and then “graciously’ gave me a additional 15 seconds. I decided that this guy was an actual dick. Thus it would have bothered me tremendously to give this guy a double up. Not because of the money it would have cost me, but because of the money he would have won.

And of course there's the other issue…it was pocket Kings. You know my history with pocket Kings of course. So calling there and losing (if I lost) would have been a double whammy on my psyche. Doubling up a dick with my kryptonite hand would have really taking its toll on me.  I can't be sure, but I think I would have been more likely to have called if I had Queens or Jacks.

After I deciding I was going to fold, I waited a little bit just to make him wait. I actually considered waiting so long that he really could have legitimately called the clock on me, and then waited for the floor to come over, waited for him to count down to the final second, and then mucked. Or even better, not even fold, just wait for the time to run out and for the floor to kill my hand. But I decided I didn't want to put the rest of the players through that. So I folded.

Wool Hat didn't show, and he stacked his chips. As soon as I folded, I started regretting it. I decided that he most likely had Queens or Jacks and that I was ahead. Of course if he had Jacks, he had an open-ender. Well that's what I was thinking for an hour at least. But after watching him play longer and seeing some of the hands he was showing down, I realized he had a much wider range than that. I don't think I ever saw him fold to a three-bet, not that there were that many. And it looked like he could open raise with any two cards, especially if one of them was an Ace. It was very possible there that he had Ace-8. Or 10-8, or 9-8. Or Queen-Jack. Or even 7-6. Or Aces.

Of course if he had a boat or even trip 8’s, would he really have shoved on the turn? Well I don't think so but maybe he would have thought that his move would look so much like a bluff that I would call.

Anyway after the hand, he couldn't let go of the dealer's comments about his calling for the clock. He asked the dealer for clarification, saying he was interested in the rules and didn't want to violate any. But the dealer wasn't particularly forthcoming. So we all noticed that when the floor person happened to walk by, he got out of the seat and had a talk with him. I could only hear bits and pieces of their conversation but he was obviously trying to get an interpretation of the calling for the clock rule. I don't know what he was told. But when he came back to the table he seemed to be satisfied and never mentioned it again.

The irony is that after this incident he seemed like a pretty decent guy after all.  He was never any trouble after that. He had friendly banter with the players on either side of him, and also with a player across the table who he got into it with in several big hands. I heard him say that he's mostly a tournament player and that he was just playing 1/2 for fun. He was telling the guy on his left hand histories from some of his tournament runs. I really don't know why he was acting so odd that very first hand, but he seemed like an okay guy after that. And I have to admit that maybe the dealer exacerbated the problem by his comment about not being able to call the clock, which obviously is incorrect.

I'll tell you about the other weird incident from this game in the follow up post, which is here.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Easy Game

I went out to Ventura a couple of Saturdays ago to play some poker for my first session since getting back from Vegas. I was playing 1/2 with a $50 minimum buy-in and a $100 max.

The highlight was a questionable move on my part which somehow paid off. I was down to $69 when I limped in with Ace-5 of clubs. The guy behind me made it $10 and there was a call, so I called. I recognized the player who raised. He's a regular and very aggressive.  I knew he usually plays bigger games. I was pretty sure he was waiting for a seat to open at the 3/5 game. I figured if I caught something he would pay me off.  I also had the other player involved to give me better odds. It seem like a worthwhile risk.

I didn't write down the specific cards, but I flopped the flush draw. I checked and the initial raiser bet $30.  The other player folded. With only $59 left, I really didn't have enough money to get paid properly if I called and hit my flush. But it was close and I felt pretty sure that I’d get a double up if I hit my flush. And it's hard to double up in this game. So I leaned towards staying in the hand.

Once that was decided, it was only a matter of whether I should call or just shove. If another club came on the turn, I really figured that this guy was likely to pay me off, but I understood that there was a chance the third club would scare him. On the other hand, I didn't really think I had much fold equity. From what I knew about this guy, there was almost no way he would fold if I shoved. I guess maybe if he had made a continuation bet with total air, then maybe he would fold. But otherwise he was going to call, and then I get my double up if I actually hit my flush.

Since I was pretty much committed to risking everything on the flush draw, I decided to go ahead and go all-in. Of course he wasted little time in calling me.

Well the board bricked out, and I was left with nothing but Ace-high. Neither one of us was eager to show our hands, but I finally did. I said “I just have Ace-high.”  To my surprise, he stared at my hand for a few seconds, and then said “You're good.” But he kept staring at my hand, and finally said, “Oh, you bluffed, huh?”

I didn't respond. I guess he’d never seen a semi-bluff before. Whatever, I was certainly delighted to win the hand and get a double up with Ace-high. He later said he had King-Jack and missed his straight.

Easy game.

I couldn't stay in the black for the rest of the session. I was down a little when I got pocket 8's. A lady with a big stack raise to $10, I called. Then the guy on my immediate left shoved his last $20. The lady called so I figured I would call too.  The flop was 9-high, the lady checked and I checked behind. The turn put a second 9 on the board.  This time the lady bet $14.  I didn't think the 9 helped her at all, and I thought she probably had an Ace-King type hand. Of course if I had folded there and that's what she had, she wouldn't get any money unless her AK could also beat the all-in’s hand. But she might have figured that the short stack’s hand was weaker than my hand. Anyway, I called.

The river was a blank and this time she checked. I checked behind and sure enough she showed Ace-King. So I took the side pot but the shortstack showed pocket Aces.

With pocket Queens I made it $8 after one player limped in. Only the limper called. The flop was Jack-10-9, two  diamonds. I bet $15 and he called. The turn was the King of clubs and I bet $20. He tanked for a while but then folded.

I called $6 with pocket 5’s and it was four ways. The flop was 8-7-5 with two clubs. The preflop raiser shoved his last $19. I called and it was heads up. The turn was the third club, but the river was an 8, filling me up. He didn't show.

I was able to leave with a small profit and call it a day.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Bride Shot Craps (Revisited)

With Valentine's Day approaching, I thought I'd reprint this post from a few years back that really dates back something like 30 years.  Enjoy!

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Seeing and hearing all the commercials for Valentine’s Day coming up, I was reminded that quite a few times the past few years I’ve found myself in Vegas for Valentine’s Day.  This has been more do to coincidence than any specific reason.  This year I will not be there on V-Day.
One observation I made while there on this day is that you see an awful lot of couples who pick this day to get married.  At least in Vegas.  Now, it is not unusual to see a bride, a groom, bridesmaids and allegedly best men walking through a Vegas casino any evening, particular on a weekend night, but you just see a whole lot more of this on Valentine’s Day.  I would say on average I’ve seen at least half a dozen brides traipsing thru casinos every V-Day I’ve been there.
It’s actually a good deal for the guy.  It makes one less date he has to keep track of.  He might forget his anniversary.  He might forget Valentine’s Day.  But forgetting both?  Much less likely.
Thinking about brides walking through casinos reminds me of a story that is probably now almost 30 years old.  Yeah, I’ve been going to Vegas that long.  It was so long ago that the first time I saw a bride in a wedding dress walking through the casino, I did a double take.  Eventually, I got a bit used to it, but then one night I saw something that really caught my eye.
This night, I saw a lovely young couple at what appeared to be a hot craps table.  The young woman was throwing the dice, and there was a lot of screaming and cheering going on.  Apparently the young woman was having a nice roll.
She was dressed rather unusually for shooting craps.  She was wearing a tight, very low cut, strapless white wedding dress (including train).  Next to her was a good looking young man in a very nice tuxedo, with the bow tie undone, hanging from his neck.  It was pretty obvious that within the past hour or so these two had said their “I do’s” to each other. 
And now they were at the craps table?  Clearly a quintessential “Only in Vegas” story.  I stopped and watched, and if I had a camera and it wasn’t forbidden to take pictures in a casino, I definitely would have snapped a photo.  The scene really tickled me.
I watched a few roles.  The bride was quite the looker and the dress was designed to show off her considerable assets.  When I heard the stickman shout, "They're coming out!" I wrenched my neck to get a better look--but he was talking about the dice, dammit. 

I was thinking what an unusual way to spend a wedding night!  And it certainly occurred to me that, well, I truly wondered if this was the best use of their time.  This was long before I started playing poker, and I played craps a lot and enjoyed it.  I enjoyed shooting craps as much as the next guy.
Still, looking at the bride in her tight, sexy wedding dress, I had to wonder what was wrong with the groom.  He had just been given a license by the state of Nevada to, ahem, consummate his relationship with this lovely young bride.  Indeed, he was legally obligated to do it.  I’m pretty sure pretty much every man in the vicinity—myself included—could think of a better way for a man in his shoes to spend this evening than gambling.  And remember, right there on the craps table, there is that big space that has the word “come” right on it, in case he needed a hint.
The stickman had the same thought, apparently.  While withholding the dice from the bride as the dealers were paying off bets, he turned to the couple and said, “Considering the way you’re dressed, isn’t there something else you two should be doing right now?”
I think he was actually speaking to the guy but the bride answered (get used to it, fella).  She laughed and said, “We’ve been living together for three years.  Believe me, it’s no big deal.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene - February 2018 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room by now. 

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SOUTH POINT: There’s a $50K guarantee for $250 with two starting flights, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, with Day 2 on Feb. 3. Players get 10K chips and play 30-minute levels. You can enter both starting flights and if you qualify for Day 2 in both flights, you’ll receive a bonus payout. If 10 players or fewer qualify twice, they’ll each get $1K. If 11 or more players qualify twice, they’ll split $10K.
Qualifying for the Spring freeroll begins Feb. 1 and runs through April 30. Players need 120 hours over the three months to qualify and are eligible for bonus payouts for additional hours played. More than $190K in prize money will be awarded.
VENETIAN: This month, the room offers a loyalty-rewards promotion. In addition to the standard $1 per hour in comps for live play, players will earn additional comps for a minimum of 25 hours of play during the period, starting at 50 cents for 25 hours, with an additional 50 cents for every increment of 25 hours up to 250 hours. For 250 hours of live play or more during the month, the extra reward is $3 per hour.
BOULDER STATION: Bill Levy is the new manager. He’s been with Stations for five years and at Boulder for more than three years, recently as a day-shift supervisor.
The most popular game here is the $4-$8 Omaha high with a half-kill. The minimum buy-in is $40 and the action is wild. Always running is a $2-$4 limit game with a $20 mini.mum buy-in. A $1-$2 NLHE game with a $50-$300 min-max runs during busier periods.
Levy is intent on offering exciting promotions. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, the hold’em games award $500 for flopping quads. Wednesdays and Thursdays award $25 or $50 for Aces Cracked. Four Flush Fridays offer $100 for making a flush in each suit. Sundays offer $200 for the high hand of the
shift three times a day.
The Omaha promos are varied, too. On Mondays, the highest hand wins $500. Progressive payouts for Steel Wheels are offered on Wednesday. High hand of the shift is worth $200 on Thursdays. On Sunday, the highest hand is worth $500. There’s also an Omaha bad-beat jackpot and payouts for royals ($100-$300).
There also have been having drawings during Vegas Golden Knights games, giving away $100 to a random hold’em player and a random Omaha player after the Knights score.
RIO: The World Series of Poker Circuit visits Feb. 16-27. The $1,675 main event has a $1M guarantee, with the first of its two starting flights Feb. 24. The opening event is a six-starting-flight $365 event with a $250K guarantee beginning Feb. 16. It has unlimited re-entry. A $2,200 high roller wraps up things Feb. 26.
ARIA: The U.S. Poker Open runs Feb. 1-9. This is a series of high rollers. In addition to two $10K and three $25K NLHE events, there’s a $10K PLO event Feb. 2 and a $25K Mixed Game Championship on Feb. 5. The $50K main event is a three-day event beginning Feb. 9. The player who wins the most money during the series will be named the U.S. Poker Open Champion and will receive the U.S. Poker Open Cup.
WYNN: The Wynn Classic runs Feb. 19-March 11. New this time is a $3,150 two-day NLHE event that starts Feb. 28. The $1,600 championship event has the first of three starting flights on March 1. It has a $1M guarantee. Most of the other tournaments have buy-ins of $400 or $550 with guarantees of be.tween $25K and $250K. A $400 PLO event with a $25K guarantee runs Feb. 20.
ORLEANS: A new eight-game mix tournament runs Wednesday nights at 7:05. Players start with 15K chips and play 20-minute levels to start, going to 30 minutes beginning with Level 5. The games are NLHE, PLO, deuce-to-seven triple draw, Omaha/8, limit hold’em, stud, stud/8 and razz. The games change every six hands. This is the only regularly scheduled tournament of its type in Vegas.
BELLAGIO: Ryan Tosoc of Chicago won the WPT Five Diamond Classic in December, taking home nearly $2M. Alex Foxen of New York took second for $1.1M and Michael Del Vecchio from Las Vegas grabbed $762K for third. The $10,400 event drew 800-plus players and had a prize pool close to $8M.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

"I Think That's a Tell"

The Saturday before Christmas I headed to Aria to play in the $240 Big Blind Ante tournament.  I documented my initial reaction to that tournament here.  By the way, the big blind ante format is catching on and will likely be coming to a poker room near you soon.  Wynn tried it out for their Signature Weekend just recently, and will be using it for most of the events at their Winter Classic next month.  The Venetian is trying it out in some of their DSE events coming up.  And here in L.A., Matt Savage has been trying it out in some of the events at the current L.A. Poker Classic.  I'm pretty sure it's here to stay.

One thing I don't like about $240 on the weekends at Aria is the starting time, 11AM is just too early for me.  I had to pack a lunch and eat it on the first break, which is a pain.  But after seeing how good the structure of the tournament is, I decided that I could get there closer to Noonish and still get more than enough play.  That way I could eat lunch before getting to the Aria, much better for my meds schedule

So for my return, I arrived fashionably late—around 11:50, so about half-way through the second level. And wouldn't you know it, they had just filled the 30th seat so I was the first alternate.  Having to wait once I got there was making me question my thinking that it would be ok to arrive late.  However, the TD assured me that once they got a few more alternates they'd open another table.  Sure enough, just a few minutes later they opened a fourth table, using the alternates and also taking a player or two from each existing table   I received my first hand with just 4 minutes gone in the third level so it wasn't so bad.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any success in the tourney.  I didn't last very long and there were not a lot of interesting hands to talk about.  I know that doesn't always stop me from talking about them anyway, but this time it will.

I just want to focus on one amusing situation that occurred when I was getting short stacked but still had enough chips to actually play with—I wasn't quite down to fold-or-shove territory but I was in a position where I had no choice but to take a little bit of risk to try to get my stack up to a respectable level.

So on the button I had Ace-6 off and it folded to me. The blinds for this level were 300/600 with a single ante of 400.  I decided it was a good spot to steal so I made it $1500.  Now the small blind was the big stack at the table.  But he hadn't been overly aggressive.  This time he started fumbling with his chips, but before he acted, the big blind, oblivious to the fact that the guy on his right hadn't acted, suddenly pushed out all his chips.  He was a short stack.  His bet was a few times my bet I guess but a fair amount less than I had. 

The dealer spoke up immediately, "No, no, no…he hasn't acted yet," pointing to the small blind.  Then to the small blind, she said, "You didn't see that."

But the small blind knew exactly what that meant.  "If I just call, his bet stands, right?"  I don't believe the dealer answered but it didn't matter.  The small blind said, "I call."

The big blind pushed all his chips back out.  I dunno if the thought occurred to him to try to not shove at that point.  I don't know if he realized how screwed he likely was. But he didn't ask the dealer if he had to go all-in.  He might have at least asked to see if he could get a friendly ruling. Maybe he figured his hand was good enough to shove with no matter what.  But I knew exactly what the small blind's comment meant.

The action was back on me and I said to the small blind, "I think that's a tell."  Everyone at the table laughed.  Now, the small blind probably shoved too many chips for me to have seriously considering calling if it was just heads up.  But the small blind's comment made it crystal clear that he wanted to raise my initial bet, but knowing the guy would be obligated to shove if he just called, just called.  So he had really caught a break with the guy betting out of turn.  There was no way I was messing with the big stack with a lousy Ace-6 knowing if I called the big stack would put me all in.  So after making my joke, I folded.

Of course the small blind called the big blind's shove and showed Ace-King.  The big blind showed Ace-9.  He didn't improve and he was gone.  I assume that if he had been paying attention and waited for the small blind to raise me, he would have folded.  Oh well, that's what you get for not paying attention, right?

I busted out a few hands later.  I had to shove with 8-7 of clubs when I had a chance to open the pot.  Unfortunately the big blind (a big stack) decided to call with pocket 6's.  I whiffed and was done.

One thing I want to mention about this big blind ante format is, you have to be aware of who is overly defending their big blind because they also post a big ante.  Here's what I mean.  It's pretty standard in a tournament to open a pot to ~2.5x the big blind, especially early in the tournament.  Sure you see all kinds of opens but that's more or less what the good players do unless they have good reason to change it up.  I think that's come down in recent years, it was probably 3X a few years back.

The big blind is typically the player who will most likely call a raise like that since he already has an investment in the pot.  So he has to decide if his hand is worth risking an additional 1.5 blinds to make the call.  But, with this format, instead of posting a relatively small ante, he or she actually had to post an ante that was pretty close to the size of the big blind.  With that extra investment, is that BB more likely to defend?  Really, they shouldn't be….they have to come up with the same amount of chips as in the old method to make the call.  But psychologically, will that bigger ante they posted make them more committed to the pot?

It will vary from player to player so you have to pay attention and see if it appears they are defending the big blind too often.

I do enjoy the big blind format, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it more once I cash in one in a tournament using it.