Thursday, March 29, 2018

Guest Post: Norwegians Invade Venetian (Part 2)

Here's part 2 of guest-blogger Eivind Brenne's report on his recent visit to Vegas to play the Venetian Deepstacks.  You can find part 1 here.

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Here we are again. Just over 2 months after our last trip to Vegas. Work in the Oil & Gas sector had not really picked up yet after the low season in the North Sea. Again, our minds were drifting off to Vegas and FM pointed out that he would soon turn 50 years and could play in the senior’s event next time at the Venetian DSE. As it turned out, such an event took place just two days after he turned 50 in the January DSE. He called me from his house in Maine and said he was planning on taking a short trip down to Vegas to play in the senior’s event. The day after I gave it some thinking and called him back and told him. “No way you are going to Vegas alone. I’m coming with you!!” Ohh crap. I had just promised my buddy to go to Vegas with him without even asking my wife. So, I found a good opportunity when we were having dinner at a restaurant in Bangkok and mentioned this. She looked at me and said sure, why not? Then my daughter of 5 years said “NO can do!” (With a slight smile). “You can only go if you buy me lots of toys.' So, we logged onto EBay with my phone and started browsing for her favorite toys and we chose some and shipped them to FM’s house in Maine, so he could bring them to Vegas for me. Then I asked my daughter if I now could get a “visa” to go to visit my friend FM. “Granted” she said and gave me a pretend “visa” stamp on my hand. Awesome!

I am blessed to have such a nice family when I want to go to play some poker. My wife knows that I never over spend money on poker or gambling, and that the rest of my time I spend with my family taking care of our child.

Actually, this reminds me of a story a few years earlier when my buddy FM called, and we started talking about our next Vegas trip. I’m not sure I should tell you this story, but here it goes. In the aftermath I’m not really proud of this. That time, I asked FM on the phone “When should we go to Vegas again?” "How about tomorrow?" FM said. "Hmmm. I’m going to have to get back to you on that one. Give me 5 min." My wife had already gone to sleep about 30 minutes prior to this. I snuck into the bedroom and asked my wife if she was sleeping. Not yet she said. Listen, I said……. You know my buddy FM called and we ended up talking about our next Vegas trip. Ok she said. "When are you planning to go?" Ehhhh, tomorrow. A brief moment of silence occurred, and she finally said yes. Not an angry yes. Then she said. “I’ll drive you to the airport tomorrow. As I closed the door to the bedroom I started thinking. “Did I just wake up my wife and asked her if I could go to Vegas tomorrow???" Almost shocked at what I really did, I grabbed my credit card and booked the trip. Ok, judge me whoever wants to J

Back to January,2018. I booked a ticket with the same Chinese airline. Hainan Airlines, to be more specific. This time I got a real good deal for a business class ticket, so I took them up on the offer. The 3 hours of customs lineup were still fresh in my mind from my last trip. The day of the travel finally came, and I really enjoyed the trip to Vegas. On the flight from Beijing to Vegas in a brand new 787 Dreamliner, I was treated with a 7-course dinner and unlimited drinks served by very attractive Asian flight attendants. 

Hmmmm, no, they did not really look like this, but in my mind they did.

After we landed I was the second person out of the airplane and I started walking very fast. No way I’m going to be last in the queue this time! I came to the immigration check point and no one was there!  A lady that was preparing the queue system said. “You are too early” The immigration staff has not yet arrived to handle your flight. Ohh my. This time I was too early. Then I hear a gentleman sitting in the green card slot saying, "Come over here, I’ll get you through." I thanked him, and he asked me what I was doing in Vegas. "I’m here to play poker." "Ohh really, I play poker too."  He told me he knew many dealers that worked at various casinos around Vegas. We had a friendly chat about poker and I told him I will be playing at the Venetian mostly. "Ohh,  then say hello to my friend Bobby that works there as a dealer." I said I would do that if I saw him. (Obviously, Bobby is a name I gave the dealer for this blog, not the real name). Just as he let me through to pick up my luggage, the 400 tourists from the cattle class showed up to wreak havoc just like last time. The only difference now was that I was already through immigration. I got my luggage immediately as it had a “priority” tag on it. Customs gave me no problems and I was out of the terminal in record speed. I took a shuttle bus down to the domestic terminal where I had to wait for FM this time. We did not book a rental car this time as we were staying at the LINQ, and it’s just a short walk down to the Venetian. What’s even better, it’s just a few hundred meters away from In-N-Out Burger!!

This time we just checked in, took a shower and headed out for a burger as usual. We decided to do the same as last trip and kick it all off with an Aria tournament. However, this time we made it to the 1pm tournament as the DSE did not start until the day after. We played there a few hours with no success. When we entered the Aria poker room we saw that the US Poker Open had started just a few days later. We decided to drop by a few days later and see if we could spot some poker celebrities. More on that later.

I’m going to break it to you early. This was a trip filled with bad beats and bad luck. We must have used all the good poker mojo on the previous trip where we won two tournaments in a row. Anyhow, the rest of the first day we played some cash at the Mirage and at the Venetian.

The main event for this DSE was the $1,100 MSPT (Mid States Poker Tour) that had two starting flights. We definitely wanted to play in this one! There where daily satellites for this tournament and we played them all. Again, the bad beats were just stacking up. The story goes like this: All in and ahead… Then our opponent hit his two outer and draws out on us. Nonstop this went on until the day before the senior’s event. This was on a Thursday I believe. FM managed to win a ticket but could not play in Day 1 as he would play in the senior’s event that day. No problem, he was booked into Day 2. I played my last satellite (I thought) and the story repeats itself. Bad beat, bad beat, bad beat. Crap, I need to change poker rooms for a while. FM looked forward to playing his first seniors event. He was thinking. “This should be easy money to play with those nits”. Ohh boy, was he wrong. The game was hyper-aggressive. The older gentlemen were not afraid to put their chips into play. And in good old fashion of this trip he was all in and ahead only to be drawn out on.

I decided that enough is enough. I need to try something else. I checked out the PokerAtlas app on my phone and found out that they were running a $50k guarantee, two starting flights tournament at South Point Casino a bit south on the strip. I think the buyin was $250. I grabbed a taxi while FM was still waiting for the senior’s event to start. Once I sat down at the table at South Point, I quickly understood that this was a room filled mostly with regulars. I think I was the only one who did not know the name of all the dealers. Anyhow, the regs were all nice and the play got under way. I did not last long and was out during the third level. I texted FM and at that time he was also out of the senior event. We agreed to meet at the Aria poker room just to have a look. Once we got there the room was packed with action. All tables were full and a $10k PLO event was going on. There were cameras, lights, PokerGO and there was Daniel Negreanu sitting at the table right in front of us. He was chatting it up with the other players on his table as he usually is. What a nice guy that is! Just on another table, Justin Bonomo was sitting with his pink hair and a big stack. The more we looked around, the more poker celebs we spotted. Several of the big names of Poker After Dark were there as well. Wow, this was so cool. Up until now, we had only seen them play poker on TV. Now they were there just in front of us. We hung around for a while soaking up the atmosphere. We kept looking around for the Poker Brat, Mr. Phil Helmuth, but he was nowhere to be seen. Not sure he played any of those events at all.

We eventually grabbed a taxi back to Venetian and sat down and played some 1-2 cash. I noticed that they had added an extra last satellite to the program. FM already had a ticket, so he continued to play some cash, but I took yet another shot to win a ticket to the $1,100 MSPT the day after. This satellite was on temporary tables right outside of the poker room as the room was packed with MSPT Day 1 players, senior event players and another tournament currently going on. Not to mention all the cash action during these events. Before I busted out of the last satellite, FM had already called it a night and headed back home. I busted out long before any tickets were awarded as usual. I texted FM when I walked back home and told him my plan for tomorrow. Alright, I said. I could not let him play alone in the $1,100 MSPT tournament tomorrow. I will buy in I told him. He thought it was a good idea and I went to bed to get some sleep. When I met him in the reception area of the LINQ the day after he handed me $550. Why, I asked. We share all the wins he said, and he had technically won $1,100 for the ticket. What a nice gesture!  

On Saturday we played the second starting flight of the MSPT. Ohh, I forgot to say…first, we had another nutritious breakfast at a place I think you know by now. A massive field came along for the last starting flight. On Day 1A I think they got just under 400 entries. On Day 1B they got almost the double. First place prize money turned out to be just over $108k! I got a quiet table at the shielded area by the cashier counter. The starting stack of this tournament was 20k. As play kicked off I had a good feeling for the first time of this trip. I accumulated some chips and hit some flops. Once the ante kicked in there was a bust out and we got a new player. A fairly young guy, clearly experienced. He immediately said hello and started chatting up another guy on our table. It turned out the guy that was already on our table was one of the guys managing and commenting on live streams for the MSPT. However, on this day he was playing poker instead. It was impossible not to hear what they talked about, but the guy that works for MSPT kept talking of all the success of the new young guy that came to our table. He had won several MSPT’s before and had several big cashes in various tournaments in L.A.

Did anyone say Hyper LAG? The new player was definitely a LAG. Hyper LAG I would say. He opened 100% of the pots that were not already opened. I did not see him fold one single time if the pot was not opened. He did not open huge, but min raised all the time. In the beginning he was running over the table. Then I got involved in a hand with his buddy. I can’t remember all the details, but I flopped a gutshot. I made a continuation bet and got called. The turn put the second spade on the board. I fired another bet and I was called again. Damn…. Then the third spade hit on the river and I made a pot sized bet as a bluff. My opponent tanked for a while but eventually folded. After that, I decided that someone had to play back on our LAG. I started raising him in position with a wide range. I got folds most of the time and an occasional call. If he called, I fired a large bullet on the flop that ended the hand. This went on for a while and I kind of took away his revenue stream. He turned over to me and said. “Are you going to continue raising all my opens?” “Yep” I said. We both laughed a bit and I did just that.  

One nice hand came up a little later where the LAG opened, and I decided to just call this time. I held T9 suited in clubs. The flop came J-8-7, one club. Wow, what a flop! I c-bet just like I usually did and got a call. The turn brought a low card and I bet half the pot. I was quickly called again, and the pot was now of a decent size. The river brought the second club on the board and more straight possibilities in the eyes of my opponent. This time a threw out a single 5k chip and the LAG tanked for a while. He ended up calling and mucked in disgust once he saw my flopped straight. Sometime later he told me that he had pocket Aces. Those can be hard to lay down, I know all about that.

I continued to build my stack and had a real good feeling. Then I got a text from FM. He was back at his hotel room!! What? He had just busted out and taken his worst bad beat of this trip. He raised with pocket Queens and got 3-bet. He 4-bet and his opponent 5-bet all in. He called, and his opponent showed pocket 5’s! Alright, way ahead and the flop brought another Q and FM almost started to celebrate right there. Here is the catch. There were two diamonds on the board and one of his opponents 5’s was the 5 of diamond. Then the turn and river were runner runner diamonds!!!! He could not believe it. He flopped a set of Queens against a pair of 5’s and ended up busting to runner runner flush with a single 5 of diamonds. Poker can be a bitch some time. His exact words in the text message was: “Busted. Home licking my wounds”.

Ohh well. I continued to play and had a bit more than twice the average. This was just before the dinner break. I looked down at pocket Kings. The dreaded pocket Kings as we all know Rob calls them. The guy to my right opened the pot and I 3-bet. He 4-bet, I 5-bet and he pushed all in. Hmmm, could I be up against Aces I thought for a while. Antonio Esfandiari was in a similar situation against Tom Dwan in a recent Poker After Dark episode. (Check it out here. It did not end well for Antonio’s Kings that time. As I had most of my stack already invested, I felt I had to go for it. When I 5-bet I was hoping I was up against A-K. I pushed my stack in and sure, he flipped over pocket Aces!! Crap! We had more or less identical stacks. I started getting up and grabbing my backpack ready to leave. I stood behind my chair and saw a flop with all low cards appear. Should I have said “One time, I need my one time now”? Nhaaa, I don’t believe in that stuff. As lightning from a clear sky, a beautiful K appeared on the turn. I was fist pumping and suddenly my opponent was in disgust over seeing that King. I said to myself. “Rob… Those Kings are not so dreaded as you keep telling us they are." Then another player at the table told us that he folded an Ace preflop, so my opponent only had one out!! One single out, the last Ace in the deck. I was so sure I was going to get a double up and a very, very playable stack with a great chance of bagging chips for day 2. It felt like an eternity before the dealer dealt the river and I enjoyed every millisecond of it even though it took only a few seconds. And then……WHAMBOOOZA…… THE LAST ACE IN THE DECK HIT!!! I was floored. I could hardly stand. The whole table went “Whooooooooaaaaaaaa. That’s sick, dude”. Alright Rob, I should have listened to you after reading countless stories about the dreaded pocket Kings. 

Once the dust settled and the dealer was finished counting the chips I had less than one ante behind. I could do nothing but laugh of the whole situation. When I finally thought I had a chance after so many days with bad beats I was shot down with a bazooka. With my less than one ante left, I was all in before the automatic shuffler was even finished shuffling the cards. Once I got my cards I did not even look at them. Two guys ended up all in, so my chances were slim. I flipped over T8o. There was an 8 on the board, but the guys going all in had premium pocket pairs. I wished my table all the best for the rest of the tournament and sent a text to FM. He immediately called me and could not believe what he just read in my text. Actually, he was on the way to In-N-Out to buy me a burger for my dinner break as the breaks are quite short on the DSE. Ohh well, I slowly walked towards In-N-Out and sat down at a table with FM. We could do nothing than smile and shake our heads in disbelief. Did anyone say shake? Yes, the Chocolate shake at In-N-Out is the best shake in Vegas.

We started to walk relentlessly around not really knowing what to do next. We ended up at a cash table at Harrahs and immediately had the waiter bring us a Budweiser. Man, that Budweiser tasted good and worked like some kind of medicine for the bad beats we had that day. After a couple of more Bud’s we called it a day and went to sleep. We woke up a bit early on Sunday and decided to head downtown for the 11am Sunday tournament at the Golden Nugget. No more Venetian for this trip we said that morning. And get this, we did not have the nutritious breakfast at you know where that morning. Instead we had a couple of sizes of pizza in Fremont street instead. (The real reason we did not have an In-N-Out breakfast was actually because they had not yet opened when we woke up!)

We bought in to the $125 tournament and took our seats. I was immediately card dead and could not get any traction. I was shortly thereafter shot down in flames and busted out. No, I did not re-enter. Instead I grabbed a Bud light and watched FM battle it out. The hours went by and FM was in the money. Sweet. He ended up heads up with a nice lady and after some heads up play they decided to chop. They each got $1,500 and gave $100 to the dealer’s tip box. FM handed me $700 and we walked outside. It could be worse. We finally made some money that day. It was our last day in sin city for this trip.

Somehow, we ended up back at the Venetian just before 7pm. I tried hard, but I could not resist buying in on the last DSE event of the trip. The buy in was the regular $200 for the 7pm events. It was a roller coaster ride, but we managed to be on the right side of the coin flips enough times to last all the way to the bubble. As there were two tables, it was hand by hand. One grueling hour went by with hand by hand play and the blinds kept eating up my above average chip stacks. Finally, the bubble burst and we were both in the money again. FM busted out shortly thereafter and received the min cash of $393. I ended up with the same fate shortly after FM busted out and took the last of the min cash for a mighty $393. Ohh well, after a week of being brutally beaten up by the deck of cards, cashing sure felt like heaven! We went back to our hotel and packed our bags for an early departure the next day.

Once again I found myself in a brilliant business class seat of a 787 Dreamliner and started thinking…… Did it all change that last day of poker? Had our poker mojo returned? Did we finally see the light in the end of the bad beat tunnel? Do they have In-N-Out Burger in Bangkok? Very interesting questions indeed. I do not have an answer to those questions until our next poker trip is due. All I can tell you is they do NOT have In-N-Out burgers in Bangkok!

As it looks like right now, we are hoping to go to Vegas again during the WSOP this year. I can hardly wait!! In the meantime, I have to start looking around for a cheeseburger detox program.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Guest Post: Norwegians Invade Venetian (Part 1)

Allow me to introduce Eivind Brenne. A few days ago, Eivind messaged me on Facebook and told me he was a long time reader of my blog, and asked if I would be interested in publishing a guest post about his recent adventures in Vegas. He gave me a few details about his trips and I of course said yes.  When Eivind sent me his write-ups I was very impressed, and I present the first part below.  The second part, about a follow-up trip, will be presented in a couple of days.  Eivind always visits Vegas with his fellow Norwegian buddy FM.  Enjoy!

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First of all, thanks to Rob for letting us write a guest post for the best poker blog on this planet!  As we have a lot of ground to cover, this will end up as a two-part post covering two visits to the Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza (DSE).

Let’s start with some background data. We are two Norwegian guys who absolutely love poker. We also work together in the oil & gas industry, so this leaves us with some room to play poker between the work sessions offshore. We try to be in Vegas 2-3 times a year and lately we have grown into big fans of the DeepStack Extravaganza at the Venetian. I live in Bangkok where gambling is highly illegal, so Macau and Manilla are my close by choices for poker. My buddy, let’s call him FM, has a house up in Maine so he can hop on his Harley and drive down to some local poker rooms if he wants. However, nothing beats Las Vegas! There is something magical with this town. I can’t describe it. The feeling of coming up the escalators at McCarran Airport and seeing the huge “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign gives me goose bumps every time.

Before we kick off, let me throw out a few teasers of what we are going to cover in these posts: Two Venetian tournament wins, Heads up with a poker pro, the mother of all bad beats with the dreaded pocket Kings, DanielNegreanu, the $1,100 MSPT tournament and In-N-Out Burger.

The first trip took place in October last year during the October weekend DSE at the Venetian. I booked my trip with a Chinese airline that flew directly from Beijing to Las Vegas. I put all my money into my bankroll for this trip, so I decided to fly in cattle class. Not that bad actually, but once we got to Vegas I was almost the last person out of the airplane. On this day the customs and border control decided to check all passengers arriving from China. I immediately started to regret leaving the airplane as one of the last passengers. I ended up waiting 3 hours in customs queue. The problem was that most of the Chinese passenger did not speak a word of English and needed a Chinese interpreter. My buddy arrived at the same time but had to sit outside the rental car center for 3 grueling hours waiting for me. Once there we got our rental car. As we decided to use all our money for poker play, we had booked a midsize car from Hertz. It was cheap and not much of a car.

Oh, did I mention the car we had on a previous trip to Vegas? Those days were before the collapse in the oil & gas industry so we treated ourselves with a Ford Mustang GT500 booked from Hertz. Excited about the car, we came to the Hertz counter and the lady there asked us. “By the way, would you be interested in upgrading to the Ford Mustang Penske GT?” She shoved us a picture and it took us about 10 milliseconds to hand her our credit card and say YES, YES! Boy, what a monster that was. Specially tuned Mustang for Hertz only, 650 horse power with an automatic gear box. My buddy FM got the pleasure of driving it first. You could hear the car rev up from two floors down in the parking house. Driving out from the rental car center FM decided to see what it was good for and floored it as we were coming out of the first 90 degree turn from the rental car center towards the motor way. Holy crap!! We almost spun around, and white smoke could be seen in the rear mirror. We desperately fumbled around to find the traction control button and clicked it as soon as we found it. It stayed on for the reminder of that trip. See below for some pics of that beauty.

Let’s snap back to reality for this trip. We got the keys to our red Hyundai with a whopping 78 horse power. As we cruised down Las Vegas Boulevard with the windows open, all that was forgotten. We checked into our downtown hotel, grabbed a slice of pizza from one of the famous pizza shops on Fremont street and headed up the strip. As the DSE did not start until the day after we arrived, we decided to have a warmup session at Aria playing in the 7pm tournament. Nothing to report here. We busted out long before the money and called it a day.

Well rested we headed for the Venetian the day after. As soon as we handed the valet parking attendant our car keys and a couple of bucks, we headed over to In-N-Out Burger for a nutritious breakfast. A double cheese burger, cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake were what we needed before the poker marathon started that day. Back to the parking at the Venetian again…when I said we gave the valet parking attendant a few bucks, that was tips, not parking fee. The Venetian is right now almost the only casino that does not charge for parking.

First off was a $200 tournament at Noon. We played for about 5 hours and did not cash. Off again to In-N-Out Burger to reload some energy before the 7pm $200 bounty tournament. We sat down, and I had a fairly good run in the early levels. Once the antes kicked in our table broke and I was moved to a new table. Immediately I noticed a player there that was very competent in handling his chips and played solid poker. A bit later I found out that his girlfriend was sitting two seats to his left, and he was coaching her. She did play solid poker as well, and we soon found out she worked as a dealer and floor at another strip casino. Once I was moved to this table, I went card dead for a long time. The girlfriend of the good poker player seemed to build her stack slowly and was well above average stack. Down to about 15 bb, I looked down at a couple of ladies. It had been a raised in front of me, so I thought about it for some seconds and pushed all my chips in the middle. The girl I mentioned before went into the tank and started talking to herself about odds and that she was supposed to call with her hand. Eventually, she called and flipped over A-J off. My Queens held up and I was up to about 30 bb. After this I won some small pots and worked my stack up to about 35 bb when the following hand occurred. I was dealt A-Q suited and raised first in. The girl looked at me and re-raised me. I had seen her raise with a wide range before, so I decided to 4-bet. She thought about it for a while and pushed. At that point I was pot committed so it was an easy call. She had pocket 9's for a classic coin flip. Right there on the flop I hit my Ace and she did not improve. As she was packing her stuff and wishing her boyfriend good luck I stacked my chips and had nearly 80 bb in front of me. Time to play some serious poker! The final table came along, and the bubble busted. They paid 9 places and the top was $2.851. Each bounty was $50.

At this time, I had the second biggest stack on the table and opened up my range to take advantage of the smaller stacks. My buddy FM busted out before the money and was railing the final table together with the girlfriend of the good player. They started talking and FM shortly found out that the good player was indeed a very good player. Actually, it was not until later that we found out on the Hendon Mob that he had $7,9 mill in online earnings and $2,7 mill in live earnings. He had finished top 100 two time in the WSOP main event. His biggest cash was over $500k. He was truly a poker pro. However, he was a very nice guy and was not a complete maniac. Let’s call him NPP for Nice Poker Pro. At around 4am, I was heads up with NPP. I was thinking. “Crap, I knocked out his girlfriend earlier.” He was not interested in making a deal as he thought he could outplay me. He was probably right in believing so. I had a 4:1 chip advantage when we started heads up play. I was expecting NPP to really crack up the aggression, and indeed he did. I decided that the only way I could defeat him was to do the same. We were both playing very aggressively for about 30 min before I found out that he was very good in putting maximum pressure on me when he judged me as weak. I decided that I had to capitalize on that and decided to set a trap. A few orbits later I looked down at A-K off. I looked on my cards for a while pretending to be weak and casually threw out a call only. My trap had worked! NPP insta-pushed all in and I insta-called. When I insta-called NPP said something like, "Ohh, you got the goods?" I flipped over my A-K and he flipped over A-7 off. No one improved, and I took down the tournament with Ace high! As a gentleman that NPP was, he shook my hand and said, “well played sir.” I thanked him and said “likewise.”

My friend FM and I have a deal that we split all the winnings on our trips to Vegas to smooth out the variance of poker. I cashed out  a bit over $3k (Including some bounties) and gave $1.500 to FM. It was now 5am in the morning and we stopped by Carl's Jr. drive in before we headed to bed. I could not sleep for a while as adrenaline still rushed through my veins. We decided to skip the Noon tournament the day after and go straight for the 7pm $200 tournament again.

This one was a bit different as it was rebuy tournament. If you bust out you could rebuy for $100 for another full stack. You could also rebuy if you were at or below the starting stack of 12k chips. Obviously, I re-bought as soon as I sat down and had a good 24k stack to start play with. We quickly realized that it’s going to be fireworks around the tables with this kind of structure. Boy where we right. The maniacs kept playing even crazier than they usually did, and they rebought plenty of times. FM and I were kind of sitting back a bit playing it a little bit tight until the rebuy period finished. I think we made a good choice and we ended up chipping up a bit in the first 6 levels. Now after the rebuy ended play tightened up a bit but it was still quite crazy. I was moved to a new table and had one good hand quite early on. I turned quad 9’s and got some chips form my opponent. The guy I played with in that hand usually bet all streets, so I decided to check on the river. To my disappointment he checked back! I showed by quads and he patted his shoulder for not betting again on the river.

After my quads, I went insanely card dead. I was not playing a single hand for two hours. Just bleeding chips. One of the new guys at my table asked me why I did not play any hands. The guy sitting two to my left said jokingly “He only plays quads”. Then, an older gentleman to my right from Italy tangled with the big stack. Preflop there was a raise and a call by the Italian. The flop contained a deuce and there was some hefty betting going on. The turn brought the third flush card onboard, and straights were certainly possible. More betting took place and the river card put an open ended straight draw out there. His opponent pushed all in and the older gentleman tanked for quite some time. Eventually, he folded his cards face up. He had pocket deuces for a flopped set. At least, that was what he thought he had! Immediately after he folded his deuces face up another player at the table said: “Dude, you folded a boat!!” The Italian man went ballistic. He did not see that the board paired on the river. He was beating himself up badly and the table talked about nothing else for the next 30 min.

Later, the Italian man’s mistake turned out to be an advantage for me. First, I doubled up with a low pocket pair for a playable stack. Then I got it all in against the guy that took the Italian guy's chips. I had J-J and the other guy called with A-T. He did not improve, and I now had another decent stack. Sometime later I tangled again with the same guy. We ended up all in and I had A-K off. The other guy had A-Q suited. Nice, I said to myself. Our stacks were almost equal, and the winner of that pot would be the chip leader. Right there on the flop a Queen hit. Ouch… I started thinking that sure, I could not win two tournaments in a row. This was just the poker gods correcting the odds. I took it with a smile and started to get up. The turn brought a J and I now had a Broadway draw. Sure, I would not hit the 10 on the river I thought. The dealer dealt the river and BOOM. A beautiful 10 of clubs hit. I sucked out to take the chip lead. Ohh my budda, I started thinking. Could I really take down another tournament the day after the first win? I peeked at the screens and saw the first price was now $5,098 after they had counted and added the rebuys. FM was still in the game as well, with a decent stack. Shortly thereafter, the last two tables broke, and the final table was set. I was in Seat 9. A seat I quite like as I can relax my feet there. This tournament was played 9 handed. FM was in seat 6. He had a playable stack and was not yet in shove mode.  Some guys busted out and we were two away from the bubble. They paid 4 places today. The min cash was a decent $1,133. This was due to the inflated price pool from all the rebuys. A few orbits later I had added a bit to my stack as I again took advantage of my stack size and raised bigger preflop to steal the blinds and antes.

Then, a hand started that saw one guy knock out two players. Bingo! We were both in the money! A few hands later FM 3-bet a guy and got 4-bet. After some consideration he called. FM held J-T suited in hearts. The flop came 8h-9h-Jx. What a flop! FM now had the mighty open ended straight flush draw with top pair. FM was going nowhere with that monster draw and they ended up with all the chips in the middle. FM now had half the deck in outs with two more cards to come. His opponent tabled the dreaded pocket Kings. However, FM had to improve to win. Sadly, we all know the story. Everyone around the table said. “Too many outs man… Too many outs!” Indeed, it was. He did not improve and was all out. He cashed out $1,133 and again he was on the rail waiting for me. As a joke he came over and said. “Are you going to take it down again?” Sure thing I said with a laugh.

My opponent knocked out the third guy and that took us to heads up play. I was on cloud 9 and could not believe that I was sitting heads up again just 24 hours after my last heads up match. This time I felt a lot better. Loaded with experience from my last heads up play I started with a slight chip disadvantage. Not by much though. I felt I had the older gentlemen under control. Ok, let’s call him OG for older gentleman. OG was far from a nit, and knew he had to open most of the pots when heads up. I kept raising him a lot and slowly took a slight chip lead only by cranking up the aggression. From earlier I saw that OG pushed with medium cards some time. Then I look down at a beautiful hand. It was A-K suited in diamonds. Sweet I thought. I raised to 3x and OG only called. The flop came all low cards with one diamond. Immediately, OG announced “All in”. Wow I said. There were no real draws on the flop and he did it so fast I smelled a bluff. I went into the tank for a while and started looking at him. OG was like a statue. He did not want to make eye contact, so I started talking myself into calling as I was more and more sure he was bluffing. I did have two overcards and backdoor equity to improve with two more cards to come. I closed my eyes and threw in a 5k chip and announced “Call.” He flipped over his cards. Q-J offsuit! I could not believe I was actually ahead on the flop. The dealer dealt the turn…Brick….Then he looked at our cards and prepared the river. Another brick! Whohoo. Again, I had won my second tournament with Ace high. OG looked at the board and looked at the dealer and said. “So that’s it then?” Yep said the dealer, that’s it. OG was far from unhappy as he cashed out $3k. FM came over to me and we simply could not believe that exactly 24.5 hours after I beat NPP heads I had done it again. FM handed me his $1k payout and I went to the cage to cash out my $5k. I was $102 below the limit where they would withhold tax and I had to fill in all sorts of paperwork. This is because they deduct the $200 buy in from the $5k tax limit.

With my pockets full of cash, we went to pick up our red Hyundai that was in the valet parking. Again, we had no other choice than to stop at Carl's Jr for a burger on the way home. When we were waiting for our burgers, I handed FM a tad over $3k back for 50% of the profit we had that day. As it turned out, the Carl's Jr. attendant had messed up our orders and gave us two lousy hot dogs instead. I did not notice that until I came back in my room and opened the box. Well, with a big smile on my face, I ate my hotdog and enjoyed yet another sunrise over Las Vegas Blvd.

After the burger… Ehh, I mean hotdog, I was lying awake and could not sleep. Finally, I got some sleep and we came in very late to Venetian the day after. That was it. We played in DSE events for the next 5 days but did not cash or final table anything else. We had lots of fun playing some cash games around the strip and continued to enjoy our In-N-Out burgers.

That’s it for part 1. Part 2 has some nasty bad beats, Daniel Negreanu, the dreaded pocket kings, the $1,100 Mid states poker tour, and you probably guessed it…. even more In-N-Out burgers!

Stay tuned….

Part 2 has now been posted and can be found here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Not Very Nice Little Session


In three letters, that best describes my most recent session out in Ventura.  Got seated in a 1/2 game right away.  Bought in for the $100 max.

For the first hour, I perfected the art of folding.  Card dead in the extreme.  Didn’t get a pocket pair.  I was dealt an Ace twice, once with a deuce, once with a 9, both unsuited.  I got a King once—with a 5 (also unsuited).  I did see Queen-Jack off once—by the time it got to me it was already a three-bet pot, so I folded it.  Suited connectors? Mythical creatures to me.  I don’t think I even got a suited one-gapper.

Just from posting blinds and such I was down to around $70.  Then I finally saw a pocket pair.  Jacks, to be exact.  Under-the-gun, I made it $8. A couple of players called.  Then a guy with a big stack bumped it to $25.  He hadn't been out of line since I'd been there.  I probably should have folded.  But I hadn't had a hand worth playing all day.  In that case, considering my stack, I should have shoved.  But I went ahead and just called. So did the other two who had called my initial raise.  Pretty big preflop pot for this game.

The flop was all low cards—I think it was 9-high, and pretty dry.  It checked around to the three-bettor and he put out $60—more than I had. I would have folded if an Ace hit the flop, and probably a King.  But with the overpair, the size of the pot, and the fact that I only had $39 left, I figured I might as well call.  The others folded.  The board bricked out.  He showed pocket Queens.

I rebought for another $100.  Soon thereafter, I got my second pocket pair of the day.  This time it was Aces.  After a limp or two, I made it $10.  Again, it was four-ways.  The flop was Jack-high. A guy donk-shoved $37.  I shoved back.  The others folded.  The board bricked.  He showed Queen-Jack.  It was the first pot I'd won all day.

I know I won another pot—a small one.  For some reason I didn't write it down.  I think it was a big blind hand because I sure wasn't getting any cards, except the two aforementioned pocket pairs. 

I had about $130-$140 when I got my third (and last) pocket pair, this time 7's.  Ah, lucky 7.  I was in the big blind.  A guy made it $18 after a limp or two.  He had a big stack and had just won a pretty big pot.  Next guy called the $18.  He too had a big stack.  Worth noting, the guy on my immediate left had limped in under-the-gun.  He too had me covered.  Based on his semi-maniacal play all day, I was 99.9% certain he was gonna call the $18.  So I figured my potential payoff if I hit my set was definitely big enough to call the $18 and set-mine.  I did just that, and indeed the guy on my left called.

So four of us saw a flop of Queen-7-2, rainbow.  Nice.  I checked, confident that the preflop raiser would bet.  He did—$40. Two players folded.  I just called, setting the trap.  The guy on my left folded, which was somewhat surprising.  The turn was a blank and I checked, expecting the guy to bet again.  This time he bet $60, almost my remaining stack.  Of course I shoved.  He snap called and immediately turned over pocket Queens.

As I said in the beginning, Ugh.

I didn’t hit my miracle one-outer.  I decided to call it a day.  Clearly this wasn't my day at the poker table  You might even say my session was a big bust.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

All Guys Are Premature at Some Point

Remember the great guest-post from @AvoidOddLaw about his successful run in the Venetian tournament?  Well, you can find it right here.  As you can see, I played in that tournament too.  I haven't written about it myself until now because I didn't have a particularly great run.  Or to put it another way:  @AvoidOddLaw cashed, I didn't.
But there were a few interesting floor rulings and one bit of salaciousness that took place at my table that I can tell you about. I do love a good "woman said" story, after all.

The first thing about my table that I'll mention is the guy to my immediate right.  He had this deep, rough, gravelly voice.  I didn't care about that, but what I did care about was that the entire time he was there he had this cigar either in his mouth or his left hand.  It was unlit of course—smoking in strictly forbidden in the poker room—but he managed to keep poking my hand with it as 10-handed tables are a bit cramped. Also, when he had it in his hand, it sometimes blocked my view, making it harder to see where the action was in front of me or even see an opponent's chips.  I had to strain to look around the damn cigar on occasion.  What's with that?  What does anyone get out of holding an unlit cigar (either in his hand or his mouth)?  Since I've never smoked, I sure don't get it, but you do see people walking around with unlit cigars. Frankly, if you are going to ban smoking (which of course I approve of), I think you should have a rule that cigars are to be put away while you’re in the poker room.  No carrying around unlit cigars while playing.  Aren't there pouches or carriers for those things?  Or at least he could keep it in his shirt pocket (and I don't recall if his shirt even had a pocket).  As it was, I got poked by the damn cigar dozens of times, and yeah, I could get a faint whiff of it every now and then, though of course it wasn't nearly as bad as if he had lit up.

Can anyone explain to me why anyone would do this?  There's gotta be more to it than just for the fun of annoying other people, I would think.

As I said, there were some interesting floor rulings.  At one point, on the river, it was three-handed.  The first guy checked, the second guy checked.  At this point, the first guy, thinking the action was over, started to expose his hand, revealing one card.  The dealer stopped him and pointed out that there was still another player left to act.  But since the guy had exposed one of his cards the dealer immediately called the floor over.  The floor said to finish the hand.  The third guy bet, and the other two players folded.  Then the floor penalized the guy who had exposed his hand by making him sit out the next four hands.

Wow.  I thought that was a bit harsh.  It was clearly a mistake on the player's part, I really didn't think he was shooting any kind of angle.  He just didn't see the third player had cards.  This was fairly early in the tourney and I guess it wasn't really that harmful to the guy, but I dunno, I just felt it was a bit heavy-handed.  And the guy actually had penalized himself by showing his hand.  But I do know they are very strict regarding the rules at Venetian.

Then, when the blinds were 75/150, someone raised and the action was on the small blind.  He had three green chips out there for his small blind.  He announced "raise," and he took back the three green chips and then put back some more chips—a $100 chip and three $25 chips.  Then he put out a bunch of big chips for a big re-raise, like $4K or so.

The dealer was confused.  "What is that?  You made two motions. That's a string bet."  The guy said, accurately, that he had announced "raise."  But what was the $175?  The guy explained he was first putting out the big blind then he was putting out his raise.  Except that the big blind was $150, not $175.  Again, the floor was called.  Obviously he meant to put out $150 and then put the raise out, but he screwed up. Of course, since there was already a raise out there, putting out just the big blind didn't make a lot of sense either.

The floor said, "If you had put out $150 I'd allow it. But you put out $175…that's nothing. You can only min-raise."  The player was really pissed, but he went ahead and min-raised.  The original raiser called.  On a Jack-high flop, the other guy bet, the guy who could only min-raised shoved (perhaps on tilt) and the other guy snapped called.  He had a set of Jacks.  The guy who couldn’t count to $150 showed only the dreaded pocket Kings. But he got his revenge.  A King on the river saved him.  It actually worked out really well for the guy because the first guy might very well have folded his pocket Jacks if the guy with Kings had been allowed to make his big raise.

But the guy with the Kings was still upset.  He actually went over to complain to the floor person and missed a few hands while he was kvetching.  I didn't hear the conversation but he didn't seem any happier when he returned to his seat.

Much later in the tournament, the guy on my left was in a hand with Carol.  You remember Carol, don't you?  She was in that big tournament (also at the Venetian) that I cashed in last year (see here).  The guy shoved and the action was on Carol.  She was tanking and the guy starting yapping.  After a few sentences, he said, "Well, obviously I have an Ace.  So the question is, do you think you have a bigger Ace?"  Well, as soon as those words came out of his mouth, he caught himself and, before the dealer could speak up, he called himself out!  "Oh, wait, I shouldn't have said that. You can't talk about the hand. Floor!"  Yes, he actually called the floor on himself!  He said, "I'll guess I'll get a penalty."  The floor person was walking right by and came over immediately and the guy actually explained what he did to the floor.  Well, they let the hand play out—Carol folded, and the guy took the pot. 

Then the floor ruled—and gave the guy a five-hand penalty. The guy was surprised it was so severe. "Don't I get any credit for turning myself in? The dealer hasn't said anything."  I think the dealer was about to but he beat him to it.  I don't recall what the floor said but the five-hand penalty stood.  Again, seemed a bit much.

Now for the salaciousness.  At one point, and older (and totally humorless) gentleman folded out of turn.  The female dealer gently warned him, saying, "You're premature."  This got a bit of a giggle from most of the table (except the player who folded out of turn) and one of the other players defended him, saying, "It's the first time."  And the dealer replied, "No it's not."  That got a bigger laugh and one of the players said, "Oh, do you know this guy?"  She said, "No, I don't know him. But he's a guy. And all guys are premature at some point." Much bigger laugh.

After that, every time she asked for the blinds, saying "You're little, you're big," we all giggled, reading it in the most suggestive way possible.

There was a guy with a beard and at one point Carol got into it with him a little and said something about "cutting it off."  This lady dealer said, "Oh, Lorena Bobbit?" Carol said, "No, no, no.  I meant his beard.  I didn't mean anything like that."

As for the poker, I lasted to level 9.  I won't enthrall you with a bunch of stimulating hand histories.  I'll just leave you with the last hand.  This one was bothering me afterwards for some time.  I was down $24K when the level started, blinds were 200/600/1200. I'd lost some antes and possibly a round of blinds by the time this hand happened. I looked down at Ace-King off and there was one limp in front of me.  Now, I was close enough to $19K (which is an "M" of 5) to have just shoved there.  Frequently I do just that in such a situation.  But I decided I still had one more move left before it was shove-or-fold.  I raised to $4K.  Two players called, including Carol (who, from the first time I played with her, always seems to call me.). They both had me covered. The flop was King-Queen-10, two hearts.  Did I mention that I had the Ace of hearts?  With top pair/top kicker, a gut-shot to Broadway and a back door nut flush draw, shoving seemed obvious.  So I did.

The guy shoved instantly. Then Carol snap called. Gulp.  The guy had King-10, Carol showed Jack-9.  Yikes.  So I definitely needed help. A Jack or running hearts (but Carol had the Jack of hearts and the guy had the King of hearts). The turn was the 7 of hearts, giving me a bunch more outs…..but the river was a brick and my tournament was over.  Basically, I was a Jack off.

All the rest of the evening, I kept thinking I was short enough that I should have just shoved with Ace-King there.  Neither would have called.  That's not just results-oriented thinking.  I considered it at the time, and in the past, I've definitely shoved instead of just raising in identical situations. I need to go back to shoving sooner, rather than later.  What do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Shark in Guppy's Clothing—Revisited

I was recently reminded of this post from several years ago and when I read it, I felt nostalgic.  This is my favorite type of post to write, and I haven't really had the opportunity to write up many like this recently.  I miss these kind of stories. 

What happened was I came across something doing my real job that reminded me of this post, and at the same time made me realize that I had a follow-up to my original post that I never reported to you.  So enjoy this trip down memory lane and then be sure to check out the new epilogue to the story at end.

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =

You all remember Alicia, right?  She’s the terrific poker player I ran into a few years ago at the Aria tournament.  The story of our first encounter was told here, where I used the pseudonym “Veronica,” Eventually I wrote an article about Alicia for the online magazine ADANAI which you can find here.

Well, this is the story of my encounter with another terrific female poker player.  And it has an eerily similar ending to the time I met Alicia (oops, sorry, I should have given a spoiler warning).  Maybe one day I’ll write a magazine article about this woman too.  I’d like that.

This story took place exactly one week after the big tournament score at Binion’s that I described here.  And at the same tournament, the 2PM Deepstack at Binion’s.  In fact, before the tournament started, a young bloke came over to me to say hello.  It was Leeds, the lad who took first place last week.  We chatted briefly and I asked him how many more tournaments he had won since I’d seen him last.  He said he hadn’t played another tournament since. This would not be the last time I saw Leeds before he returned to the U.K. (I assume he’s back now).  I would run into him and his father later this very day, a story I told here).  Apparently he and his dad like the same two poker rooms I do.

I was getting settled in to my seat (7) when I couldn’t help noticing an extremely attractive young woman approaching our table, seat card in hand.  I can’t say I was unhappy when she took seat 9 at my table (this tournament plays 9 handed).  She was really cute, and her figure got my attention in a way that readers of my blog might expect to get my attention.  In addition, her sweater was low-cut enough for her to be working the Jennifer Tilly effect just a bit. 

I was pretty happy about this turn of events.  I can think of worse things than sitting across of a pretty face for a couple of hours while playing poker.  I didn’t recognize her, at least not from this tournament.  As the day wore on, I started to think it was entirely possible I had seen her in other venues once or twice, but I wasn’t sure and I know we had never really played at the same table together, tho it was possible I’d seen in a poker room or two. 

I’m going to call her “Lois.”  She had a Superman bobblehead doll that she used as card protector.  So I’m naming her for Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane. 

I certainly wasn’t the only guy at the table to notice Lois.  Two seats to my right was an older guy I’ve played with a million times before at this very tournament.  He’s a regular so I’ll just call him Reg for short.  Reg was very interested in chatting up Lois. 

It turned out that Lois was perfectly fine with chatting with Reg.  And me too.  She soon revealed herself to be an absolute delight, a real doll, very nice, very friendly.  And from the conversations we were having about poker, a very knowledgeable and experienced player.

As the session wore on and we could all see she was really tough player, she mentioned that she had played a lot of poker all over and had some big successes.  At the WSOP, she had played only in the Ladies event, but hoped to change that this year.  She had had a few big scores at the DSE’s at the Venetian in the past.  And she had once placed 2nd in the Main Event of a WSOP circuit event held in the Midwest a few years back.  For that, she took home over 6 figures.

One of the dealers did recognize her and asked her what happened to her other card protector.  Apparently it was some kind of fish trinket.  She said a guy had stolen it.  That’s awful, a few of us noted.  Then she said that the guy claimed to have found it, but he was sure he had stolen it.

“Why would he do that?” I asked.

“Because he wanted my number.  He knew he’d run into me again in a poker room somewhere and then he could get my phone number.”

And in fact, he did run into her and told her that he had her fish.  “Did you give him your number?”

“Yes, I had to.  I wanted my fish back.”

Then I asked a question that was surely none of my business.  “And did you go out with him?”

She said she did not.  I expressed relief.  “Good. He sounds sleezy.”

She still uses the Superman bobblehead even tho she has her fish back. I said to her, “You know, I’m not sure that, as a poker player, you want to be associated with a fish.”

But she disagreed.  “No, no…that’s exactly what I want.  I want people to think I’m a fish.”

By this time I knew that she was definitely not a fish.  I conceded that this was not a bad image at all.

Then she said that one time on the 2+2 forums someone described her as a “shark in guppy’s clothing.”  She explained that she was wearing a summer dress at that event.

It was because of Reg that I learned her name.  After the first break, he came back and claimed that he was sitting next to a woman at a slot machine that was her spitting image.  He thought it was her.  So he asked her name and the woman was surprised. “What?”  So Reg said, “Wasn’t I just playing poker with you?”  The woman assured him he was not.   So Reg told Lois that her twin was out there playing slots.  She laughed and then said, “It’s Lois, by the way.”  Except instead of Lois, she gave us her real first name.

Reg had ordered a “Virgin Mary” from the waitress.  When she came back, she apparently had both a Virgin Mary and a Bloody Mary on her tray.  She picked up one to examine and said, “Let’s see… this your virgin?”  Lois said, “Yeah….that’s the only virgin you’ll find in this town.”

I had a blast talking with Lois—about her life and about poker.  She would comment on the hands that other people were in (after the fact, of course) and even guess as to what the odds were for a particular player.  Then she would look at her poker odds calculator to check and she was always within a few points. 

She would even give me a little free after-the-fact-advice from time to time.  I found this most interesting because helping out other players is not usually something a good player wants to do. Lessons are extra.

She wasn’t giving tips to any of the other players.  And all her advice was sound, it wasn’t like she was trying to hurt my game.  So I can only assume either she didn’t consider me any kind of threat to her getting into the money, or….she liked me.  Actually, I think that was it, really.  We were having quite the nice conversation all through the tournament.

And once again people had noticed me taking notes and were starting to comment about it.  At one point, Lois also gave me a poker hint to put in my book. Something like, “Put this in your book….don’t shove against a guy who’s running super hot.”  Earlier, she had asked me what I was writing in my book about her!  I kind of shrugged and then was about to say “Until I learned your name, I was referring to you as ‘Beautiful Girl’ in my notes.”  However, either I chickened out or something distracted me right as I was about to say that, and then the moment was gone.

Early in the tournament, who should join the tournament and be assigned to our table by none other than The Bubble Bitch (see here).  This was now just a week after her dramatic exit scene.  No one mentioned anything about that—at least while she was still there. 

And speaking of The Bubble Bitch, on a more recent visit to Binion’s, Audrey came over to discuss that post.  When she read it, she was dying to know who The Bubble Bitch was.  She had a very strong hunch as to the identity but wanted to be sure.  I hadn’t been back in awhile so she finally realized who the T.D. on duty would have been and asked him to confirm her suspicions.  She had totally nailed it.  She had identified The Bubble Bitch from my description of her behavior.

For brevity’s sake (since I’m so good at brevity), I’ll refer to The Bubble Bitch as BB from now on.  BB wasted no time in making more friends.  As last time, she was an aggro maniac.  And so she shoved on a flop even though she had plenty of chips if she had wanted to play it safer.  But the guy next to her called.  He was another regular and of course had some experience playing with BB before.

It turned out that BB had 10-9 and there was a 10 on the board.  That was it.  She had top pair, weak kicker and had gone all in.  But the other player only had Ace-King and had nothing on the board….no pair, no draw.  By the way, it was actually a third player who had raised preflop, neither one of them had.  So BB had called a raise with 10-9.  Anyway, BB was ahead until the other player hit a King on the river.

We all found that hand very interesting.  BB didn’t say anything to other guy at first, but she was shooting daggers at him with her eyes.  You could see the faint hint of smoke coming out of ears.

The rest of us couldn’t understand the hand at all.  Well, I understood the shove—that’s BB.  I had seen her play like that just the week before.  But the guy calling her shove with nothing?  WTF?  He had a shorter stack and so he didn’t bust BB out, but of course, if he hadn’t gotten lucky on the river he would have out of the tournament.

BB and the other guy were in seats 1 & 2, on the other side of the table from Lois and me.  And everyone on our side of the table was quietly expressing our disbelief.  Somebody said, “I don’t understand the call.”  And Lois said, “I don’t understand the shove or the call.”

Well BB and Seat 2 started overhearing our conversation so finally BB started commenting on the guy’s call herself.   And the two of them started arguing for a bit.

This caused a reaction from another woman at the table, a mature woman who was from New York originally—complete with NY accent and NY attitude.  While the other two were bickering, New York Lady (NYL) turned to our side of the table and said, “Oh, she’s so mad at him.  She wants to pull down his pants, take him over her knee and spank him.”

Someone said “He might like that.”  I think it was me. 

Everyone was laughing about NYL’s line about the spanking and Lois said to me, “Put that in your book.”  Of course, I did.

Anyway, her own comment about the spanking got NYL started.  “When she’d pull down his pants, he’d be wearing….what is it…..not briefs….not Speedos….”

“Tidy Whities?”  I was trying to help her out.

“Yes, that’s it.  Tidy Whities!”

She did not look like the kind of woman who would be talking about spanking men or men’s underwear.  But she was just getting started.

This got NYL telling the story of how she took her granddaughter to “Thunder from Down Under” for her 21st birthday.  That’s a Chippendales-type show at the Excalibur where male dancers get almost completely naked (for a post about a show where there’s no almost about it, check here).  I did find that a bit strange. I’m thinking that, when I was 21, it sure would have been weird and more than a bit uncomfortable to see a strip show with my grandfather.  But times have changed, I guess.

Anyway, NYL took her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s best friend to the show to celebrate her big day.  Then she went on to explain that the girl’s best friend was in fact a guy.  But as she said about him, “He likes men.”  She went on to declare that gay guys make the best friends.

Of course she described the finale of the show. “At the very end, with their backs to the audience, they all pull their bottoms off.  But they don’t turn around…..damn it.

She went on for at least a minute complaining about the fact that the guys didn’t turn around and reveal their…well, their true personalities.  She felt cheated. What a randy grandmother!  We were all laughing at her kvetching.

I’m not going to discuss many hands because I didn’t cash. But one I want to mention was in the 5th level with the blinds at (300/600).  My initial $20K stack was down to $18K or so. I raised to $1,800 with Ace-10 of hearts.  Good ol’ BB shoved for $6,500.  Assuming it folded back to me, it would have been an easy call for me, knowing BB was almost definitely shoving light.  And if she happened to have woken up with a good hand, well, I’d still have almost 2/3’s my stack.

But it folded to Reg, who was the big blind.  He thought and thought and thought for a long time and finally called.  Damn.  At the start of this hand his stack was similar to mine.  If I shoved, he’d likely call, feeling pot committed.  I considered him a fairly tight player, not a maniac. 

I didn’t want to put my tournament life in play against two players, one of whom (Reg) could easily have a better hand than I did.  I never really considered calling.  It was either fold or shove, but I just didn’t want to shove against Reg with only Ace-10.  My stack was about an M of 20.  I decided to play it safe and fold.

So they flipped over their hands.  BB showed Ace-5 offsuit, which was actually better than I thought it would be.  But Reg flipped over Queen-Jack offsuit.  WTF?  How the hell could he call $6,500 with Queen-Jack?  I thought he was a much better player than that.

The flop made me ill.  It was Ace-10-x.  Ugh.  Nothing else of consequence hit the board.  BB took it with a pair of Aces, 5 kicker.  If Reg had folded like he should have, I would have won with 2 pair.  If I had called or shoved, I would have gotten a lot of chips.  Ugh.

I was so surprised and more than a bit pissed.  I did something I don’t normally do—I told everyone what I folded.  I explained that I couldn’t call with Reg calling, assuming he had a much better hand than he did.  I came thisclose, I mean really close to saying, “I would have called but I had no idea Reg was such a bad player.”  Knowing Reg’s sense of humor, I know he would have enjoyed that, and laughed.  But I thought better of it.

But thinking about it later, the next day, I kind of figured out maybe why he called.  He knew that BB was a maniac and that Q-J was beating her shove-range there.  But that doesn’t explain why he did that in a pot where I had raised.  He’s played with me enough to know I’m not raising with a hand nearly as crappy as BB’s range.  I guess he was rolling the dice.  He figured I’d likely fold, and if I had a big pair or AK, so be it.

Sometime soon after this, BB did indeed bust-out.  This was much earlier in the tournament than the previous week, a long ways from the money, and she managed to leave without making a scene this time.  But we started talking about her inasmuch as her aggressive play and her verbal jousts with Seat 2 had made an impression on everyone. 

The dealer confirmed that she was a dealer somewhere in town, or at least had tried to be.  He claimed that one time, she had an audition at one of the bigger rooms on the Strip.  The manager ended it within 5 minutes.  She spent the entire five minutes ordering everyone around, so the manager told her, “This audition’s over.  You don’t have the right attitude.”  Shocking!

After that, I decided to tell everyone at our table the story of her exit last week, which of course everyone thoroughly enjoyed. 

By level 9, I was more than a little bit desperate. I shoved with Queen-Jack and the player to my left snap called.  He had me covered but not by that much.  He flipped over pocket Aces. Ugh.  Blank flop.  Jack on the turn.  Queen on the river.  Nice suckout for me.  The guy was now talking about being dead, but both Lois and I gave him the old “chip and a chair” speech.  In fact, this guy had a decent chip stack back by the time I busted.

And then something bad happened.  Lois was moved to balance tables.  As she got up, she told me she enjoyed playing with me and asked my name.  I not only told her but gave her a card with the blog’s URL on it and whispered that this was the real reason I was using the notebook.  She said she would check it out.  I told her she was a delight.

Anyway, I ended up helping the guy whose Aces I cracked make his comeback.  We were both all-in, I had shoved with Ace-Jack, he had called with Ace-8.  And he hit an 8 on the river.  I guess I had that coming.  And I doubled him up again when I shoved with Queen-10 and he called with Ace-Queen, which held.

My table broke and I was sent to the table where Lois had been moved to.  With an M of less than 5, I had Queen-Jack of diamonds.  First in, I shoved.  Lois was the big blind and called, turning over Ace-10.  A Queen hit the flop.  But then an Ace hit the river.  I was done.  Just like with Alicia, I met a terrific female poker player in a tournament and got busted by her.

As I got up, she said, in maybe the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard, “You’re not mad at me, are you?”  I said of course not, she had made the right move.  I told her again what a delight she was.

I hope I run into her again. 

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =   =

Epilogue (new):

Well, just a few months after I published this post, PokerAtlas received an email with some minor corrections to our listings for a couple of Vegas rooms.  That email was forwarded to me since that's my responsibility.

I noticed the name on the email.  It was the real name of the Lois that is the subject of this post.  Now, her real name is a rather common name, so it wasn't definite that the writer was the same person I played with a few months earlier.  So, I timidly emailed her back, and after thanking her for the corrections (which I confirmed were correct), I asked if she was the same "Lois" that I had played with at Binion's that time and described enough of the interaction so that she'd remember.  I knew it was a long-shot that even if it was her, she'd respond, but in fact, she responded almost immediately and confirmed that she was that enchanting young lady I met back then.  She said she hoped to run into at the tables again some day.

Well, of course, I decided to tell her that I had written about our memorable encounter and sent her the link to the post about her.

She responded within a day, saying, "Very interesting read!  I'm flattered."  She went on to say that she had recently played a few Venetian Deepstack events, finally tabling two of them.  Also, she was planning to play in a few big events that summer, including the WSOP main event for the first time.  Then she added, "if do make it deep in the Main, you are certainly welcome to write an article about me :)"

I told her if she made a deep run in the Main, I could write about her in Ante Up (though now that I think about it, I probably couldn't do that).  Sadly, I have not heard from her since then, nor have I run into at a poker table anywhere.  According to Hendon Mob, she last cashed in a tournament in late 2017, but that wasn't in Vegas.

Well, who knows....maybe this summer will be the time I see her again.