Sunday, July 29, 2018

"I Used to Read Your Blog"

Two days after playing in that Golden Nugget tournament (see here),  I returned to the Nugget for my second tournament of my trip.  But this was a different tournament.  It was a $200 buy-in with nine starting flights spread out over three days, with day 2 to take place on Sunday of that weekend.  The guarantee was $200K.

What I liked about the format was that if you made it to day 2, you’d automatically be in the money; there was no chance of having to return downtown just to bust out before the bubble broke.  It was also one of those "best stack forward" tournaments.  Players could play multiple flights, and if they bagged and tagged more than once, they'd take their biggest stack to day 2.

The question is, what happens if you do make day 2 more than once?  Do you get anything for that?  Well there are different ways to handle that situation.  The Aria WPT 500 has that set-up and if you qualify more than once, you get the minimum day 2 payment for any stack that you don't play on day 2.That seems logical. I believe I've also seen tournaments where you don't get anything for that extra stack you forfeit.  You're playing multiple flights for sole purpose of trying to get a bigger stack to play on day 2 and that's it.

But when I entered the details for this one into PokerAtlas, I noticed that the players qualifying for day 2 more than once would get a $1,500 bonus for each stack they bagged that they had to forfeit.  I didn't think all that much about it at the time.  I've entered other tournaments with similar arrangements on PokerAtlas.  And I was pretty sure I'd noticed tournaments like that at the Bike.  Just never played one with that type of "forfeited stack bonus" before.

It was only after I played in my flight (the last flight of the first day, so Thursday night), that I started thinking more about that bonus payout.  Now I never came close to having to deal with the bonus payment.  If I had made it to day 2 on my only try, I would have been happy with that.

Instead, I busted out after a few hours.  Sadly, there are no memorable hands to talk about, although I did actually win a pot with the dreaded pocket Kings. Raised preflop, two callers, lowish flop with two clubs.  I had the King of clubs.  My c-bet went uncalled.  Other than that, it was an uneventful bust  out in the ninth level.  I was crippled when I shoved my pocket 10's and a shorter stack shoved with Ace-4.  There was not just one Ace on the flop, but two.  I had to shove with King-9 in the big blind a few hands later and lost to Ace-8 (only one Ace this time).

But sometime later, thinking things over, I was reflecting on bonus payout of $1,500 for qualifying more than once.  I thought about it a lot, and it seemed to me, well, if you're going to give someone $1,500 for a stack he/she isn't going to play, well, the min-cash has to be no less than $1,500, right?  I mean, why should a non-played stack be worth more than a stack belonging to a player coming back the second day to actually play?

Suppose a player does make it to day 2 twice.  He gets $1,500 for the smaller stack and then plays the larger stack.  All that is certain is that stack he is playing is bigger than the one he forfeited, but it could still be a small stack relative to average stack.  He might have just barely qualified twice, right?  Let's say that on the first hand of day 2 he does indeed bust out.  So he gets the min-cash.  How could that be less than the $1,500 he got for the stack he didn't play?  That would be like Chico telling Groucho he gets more for not playing than playing (see here).

But realistically, I couldn't imagine them paying out a $1,500 min-cash for a $200 tournament (even I think that's too much!).  So I eagerly followed the results of this tournament to see exactly what the min-cash was.  When it was over, I saw that it was $425.  Well, on the one hand, it satisfies my own personal "double the buy-in" rule I have in my mind.  That's actually a decent payout for the min-cash.  I couldn't complain about that.

Until I compare it to the bonus payout for forfeiting a stack.  Then, it doesn't make any sense to me.  I'm basically going through this exercise to explain why, when they ran this exact same tournament a couple of weeks later, I decided not to play in it, although I had initially intended to.

This just did not seem fair to me, no matter how much I thought about it. Of course, nobody ever said life, or poker, is fair

I want to make it clear I'm not criticizing the Golden Nugget.  They certainly have the right to establish the rules any way they see fit, and this is not a new concept they just came up with it. As I said, other rooms have run the same format many times before.  But I checked with their series last year and although they ran a very similar tournament then, they did not offer the bonus payment for the second stack.  Instead, the forfeited stacks just got a minimum day 2 cash for the efforts.  The $1,500 bonus was something they added this year.

Now I of course understand the reasoning behind it….they want to encourage more entries, more people to enter multiple times even after they've qualified, not just to increase their stack but to chase that $1,500.  I mean, even if someone was the chip leader of their first day 1 flight, they have an incentive (that they wouldn't otherwise have) to re-enter another flight….$1,500 for $200 is a pretty sweet deal.  So I get that.

But, I wonder how many re-entered after already making it once and did not bag and tag again?  All those people added to the prize pool.  But any player who re-entered and made it again actually reduced the prize pool, right?  That's $1,300 taken away from the prize pool.  Of course, there are certainly no guarantees that anyone who made it once could make it a second time.

And the rules were clearly stated up front.  In fact, since I was one of the very first to see the structure sheet (so I could enter the tournament into PokerAtlas), I knew about this bonus payout pretty much before anyone. No excuse for me not knowing what I was in for.

I don't regret playing it, and at the end of the day I would have been happy to have made it to day 2 and gotten that $425 min-cash.  The Golden Nugget puts on an excellent series each year and I'll be eager to play in their events next year.

But I'm not likely to play in an event like this again (anywhere), just because the bonus payment irks me.  Now I am open to changing my mind.  Perhaps you, my readers, can persuade me that this bonus payment is a good idea.  Thoughts?

Anyway, there were a few other things about the tournament that were noteworthy.  One was a classic "woman said."  Our table was near a bunch of electronics for one of the tournament clocks.  Some player noticed there was a bank of portable USB ports just sitting on table there.  He went over and said, "Are these for charging phones?"  The female dealer at our table said, "No….I don't think so…"  The guy said, "Do you think it will blow up my phone?"  And she said, "I don't know."  The guy said, "Well I'm gonna try it."  And so she said, "Yeah, just stick it in there."  She realized how that sounded, had a sheepish look on her face and said, "I better watch what I say."  So I said to her, "I didn't hear that at all," and laughed, and she laughed back.  Anyway, the guy apparently got his phone charged without it blowing up.

Then there was a player at our table who looked familiar to me but I couldn't quite place him.  Finally at one point he shouted over to me, "I used to read your blog."  Hmm….how am I supposed to take that?  I wanted to say, "Well why don't you any more, has it gotten boring?"  I didn't of course.  By the way, I think you could call that a left-handed compliment.  I just nodded and said, "Oh you recognize me?"  He said yeah, he used to see me all the time at the Saturday Binion's tournament I used to love.  Oh well, that explains why he looked familiar to me.  Then he said, "You introduced me to The Trooper."  Well, sir, I'm glad your time reading my blog wasn't a total loss to you, then.  I tweeted to Trooper what happened and said he owed me a commission. 

But to be fair to this guy, he's not the only person who used to read my blog, apparently.  At least going by the reaction (or lack thereof) to my latest couple of posts, particularly the last one.  That really surprised me.  I mean a story about playing poker with a stripper who was really a hooker, and my buddy texting her about a possible private dance? How could I go wrong?  But apparently I'm losing my audience for such salaciousness.  I mean with "naked" and "stripper" in the title, and the "hooker" label, I was at least expecting a lot of hits from search engine traffic.  But it didn't happen.  Hmmm…I wonder if the search engines have shadow banned me because of my political take on the whole straw thing?  Ya think?

Or maybe I've just lost it.  I gotta tell you, that last post was probably my best story coming out of my recent Vegas trip.  If that was a bust, maybe it's time to retire?

Lastly, I recognized one of my favorite dealers who retired a few years ago.  He was working the series.  He actually came to our table and the two of us had a grand old time catching up.  He was always one of the friendliest, funniest dealers around.  He would joke through his downs keeping us entertained.  Until they forced him to use his real name, his employee badge said his name was "Tip."  You know, as a reminder that he worked for tips.

His favorite joke was, the first time at each table somebody tipped him, he'd take the chip and say, :"Thank you very much.  I want you know to know that this tip is going straight to charity……she's a stripper at the Rhino."

That joke never got old.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Buck Naked / Stripper Tournament

This was the first tournament I played in Vegas last month.  I believe I already mentioned here that I didn't have any success, tournament-wise, during this trip.  So there will be no write ups of long tournament runs ending with a big pay day, or even me complaining about the dreaded min-cash.  But I had a few interesting experiences at some of the tournaments I played before busting out prematurely and this is one of those.

It was the Golden Nugget $150 that they had going nearly every day during the series, with a $20K guarantee.  It started at 1pm and it had a dinner break so it was pretty much ideal for me.

Anyway, the tournament started and of course the tables were not full. I was sitting at seat 6 (out of 10) and the seat on my immediate right (seat 5) was one of the empty seats.  A few hands into the first level, I hear and sense someone taking that empty seat next to me.  I didn't look at him.  And suddenly I hear a voice, "Oh and I'm sitting next to my buddy here!"  I look up and I recognized "Buck Naked."

You all remember Buck Naked, right?  That's the name I gave the author of three guest blog posts three years ago (starting with this one here) .  As Buck explained at the time, he has three hobbies: poker, cars and beers.  Well also, he has an eye for the ladies as you'll see if you check out his guest posts.  I've encountered Buck numerous times in Vegas, often around WSOP time, for obvious reasons.  And wouldn't you know, Buck, who had been in Vegas for awhile by this point, had on this day just checked into the Golden Nugget and decided to play in this tournament.  And by an amazing coincidence managed to be assigned to the seat directly to my right.  What are the odds that two players, neither of whom lives in Vegas but know each other through the magic of the internet, end up sitting next to each other at the same tournament (when there's a bunch of fairly similar tournaments going on around town at the exact same time)?

Anyway, Buck and I spent some time catching up, it had been at least a year since we'd seen each other in person.  But he is a loyal fan of my blog so he was fairly up-to-date with what I've been up to.  And it didn't take Buck too long for him to announce to the whole table, "If you want to read a good blog, this guy has the best blog on the internet (pointing to me)."  Well I was a bit embarrassed but certainly appreciated the kudos.  But it always feel a little awkward whenever someone mentions my blog at the poker table.  He gave the URL but I said, "No, don’t look at it now, it'll make it too easy to play against me."

Sometime later there was a discussion of all the tournaments going on around town and Buck told everyone that I was the expert on the tournaments and knew pretty much everything about every tournament going on in town right now.  A slight exaggeration but somewhat accurate. 

Later, I was a little surprised when Buck missed another chance to give me some props.  One of the guys at the table was talking about playing at Caesars over the weekend.  And he mentioned that on Friday and Saturday night, they line up for their nightclub right in front of and around the poker room.  He said it was quite a sight to behold, all the barely dressed young ladies all lined up for the club. A really great view.

You don't say.

Well by this time I was surely expecting Buck to not only agree but point out that I was indeed the expert on this phenomenon, and had even written a few blog posts about it, and given it a name.  But although Buck agreed that it was an enjoyable experience, he didn't mention my credentials in this area.

I must admit I came close to saying something myself.  I was thinking of saying, "Yeah, I wonder if anyone has come up with a name for those girls lining up like that?"  But I said nothing.

Now perhaps Buck was just being a gentleman and didn't want to bring up The Slut Parade.  You see, there were ladies present.  Almost half of our table, four to be exact, was female.  And strangely enough, all the females were sitting right next to each other.  Seats 7-10 were all women.  The seating assignments were so weird that we kept making reference to it, it was like the men vs the women.  So perhaps Buck didn't want to offend the ladies.

Two of the ladies were rather ordinary but two stood out.  One was an overly chatty Asian lady, who arrived to the table late waiting for a slot jackpot to be paid to her (but her chips were in play).  My goodness did that woman yak up a storm.

The other lady of note was a blonde woman who looked strangely familiar to me.  As soon as she came to the table, sometime after Buck did, I was sure I'd seen her before.  I would have bet anything  that I had seen before playing poker somewhere.  In fact, I was certain that I'd played with her before, somewhere.  I never could place her in a particular room.

As I said, she was blonde, long hair pulled back. Mid-30's maybe (I'm bad estimating ages). She was wearing a loose fitting shirt, nothing even remotely sexy.  In fact it looked like she was not trying impress anyone with her appearance this particular day.  But somehow, despite the loose fitting shirt, I could tell that what was inside her shirt was, well, plentiful.
Anyway, it was a very friendly table and the ladies were all discussing their backgrounds and such and one of them asked the blonde gal where she was from and she said Vegas.  And they asked her what she did for a living and she said she was a dancer.

A dancer?  I dunno why exactly, but as soon as she said dancer I knew she was a stripper.  I mean, I didn't know it for an absolute fact, but I was like 99% sure she was a stripper.  There are other kind of dancers besides strippers, sure.  But this gal didn't look like a ballerina to me.  Or even a chorus girl.  Or a party-pit dancer, for that matter.

A little later there was a discussion about tipping.  The female dealer was saying that it is known fact that men tip better than women (something I've always heard myself).  Well the blonde dancer said that she works for tips, so she overtips.  She'll tip $10 on a $20 pot (she'd already said that she usually plays cash games instead of tournaments, except for this time of year).

Hmm….a dancer who works for tips?  Yeah, that pretty much confirmed to me that she was indeed a professional clothing remover. 

She was a fairly aggressive player.  Thus, she was the first of the ladies to bust from our table.  I saw her rebuy and play at a different table. A few minutes after she was gone, the remaining ladies were discussing her and one of them said (or perhaps asked the others) that she was probably a stripper.  They all unanimously agreed that she was.  And they were totally cool with it, totally non-judgmental.

Now I had planned to cue Buck about my suspicions when she was gone. I thought that he might not have heard the comments about her being a dancer and working for tips.  But I never got the chance before the ladies discussed it.  When I said to Buck, "Did you hear that? I was going to tell you myself."  He just nodded.

Oh, what a na├»ve fool I was.  Let's fast forward to a week or two later when I was playing at the very same tournament.  Guess who was at my table again?  No, not Buck Naked, just the blonde gal who gets buck naked professionally.  Yeah, there she was. Another strange coincidence.  This time she was wearing something a little more revealing and I could see her tramp stamp, her leg tattoos and a little bit of side boob.  If I were an oddsmaker, I'd make it a 6-1 favorite that her chest was not original factory equipment. 

Well Buck was still in town and he had texted me that he had just cashed in a tournament in another part of town.  I told him that our stripper friend was at my table again.  He texted me back that he thought she worked at a certain strip club which he named.

What th-?  How could he possibly know that?  Well, it turns out that Buck had actually had a conversation with the young woman during one of the breaks, introduced himself, and found out where she works.  Yeah, by the time I mentioned to him my suspicion that she was a stripper, he had already had a conversation with her during the break and confirmed it.  He never told me.  You dog, Buck, you dog.

Then he went on to say that she had given him her phone number. Really?  Why would a stripper give some guy her phone number?  Let's just say Buck and the stripper are not exactly close in age. 

By the time Buck and I had gotten this far in our texting, she had already busted.  I mentioned this to him but then I told him that once again, she had re-entered and was sitting at a nearby table (I guess she likes double entry). 

Now when I first heard from Buck he said he wasn't sure what he was going to do, but he was flush with cash from that tournament he'd just finished up.  He was thinking of coming downtown and joining me in the Nugget tournament.  Another possibility was driving out to Pahrump to purchase some affection legally (you know from his guest posts how wild Buck is).  Now he was thinking of a third option…..he texted the stripper to see if she might have some ideas of how he could pass the time.  Strip Poker, perhaps?

I guess he texted her before I had a chance to tell him that she was back in the tourney.  He assumed he wouldn't hear back from her and presumably got ready for a visit to the desert.  But it wasn't long before I heard back from him, telling me that she had responded and wanted to come over to his hotel room for a "private dance."

Oh, is that what the kids are calling it these days?

But she was still in the tournament and wanted to meet up with after (or perhaps another day, if she made a, you'll pardon the expression, deep run).  Buck wasn't going to wait around for what he wanted, and I am also led to believe they couldn't come to terms on what an acceptable fee would be for her private dance.  So to the best of my knowledge they never got together.

And yes, now that I've explained all this, I suppose a more accurate title for this post would be The Buck Naked/Hooker tournament, but I like the way it sounds the way I went with and when I came up with my title, I didn't really intend to reveal all these extra sordid details.  It just sort of happened.

Now, as for the poker, I'll spare most of the sad tale and just get to the last two hands for me.  Card dead the entire day, I started level 8 with a stack of $4,600 (starting stack was 15K). The blinds were 75/300/600 so you can see I was quite desperate.  So I opened shoved 8-7 offsuit.  Yeah, that's how desperate I was.  I think I was in late position so there weren't that many left who could call me.  I was called by Ace-Jack.  Well at least I had two live cards, right?  I didn't see an 8 or a 7 on the flop.  Instead, it came out 10-9-6!  Wow.  Flopping a straight there was pretty cool.  I had gotten my much needed double up.

But I was still desperate, still pretty much in shove or fold mode especially as we were almost done with that level and about to play blinds of 100/400/800.  Buck was the big blind so I was under-the gun.  With pocket 10's it was easy for me to go all-in.  It folded around to a big stack, who asked for a count (I think it was a bit under 8K, not sure).  After tanking a bit longer he called.  Then it folded to Buck who stood up, picked up his chips and announced "all-in."  He too was short stacked, but he had a few more chips than I did.

I was relieved to see the big stack flip over two 6's.  But I was really surprised to see Buck turn over Ace-Queen offsuit.  Really?  Sure that's more than good enough to open shove.  But to get it all in there after a shove and a call seemed a little questionable.  Buck later explained to me that he wanted to "chip up or leave."  So a chance to get a triple up—or be out of the tournament and move on to the next activity—really appealed to him.  I totally understand.  Sometimes when your short like that it's easy to take a big risk because you feel you have nothing to lose.

Anyway, the flop was all bricks, as was the turn. Though the turn kind of scared me—it was a King and when I first saw it, I thought it was a Queen.  No, just a King.  The Queen came on the river.  Yes, it did.  Buck took my chips, got a bunch from the big stack and got the triple up he needed.  And I got…shown the door.  My poker was over for the day.

The next day I heard from Buck.  In that hand where I busted, he was one river card away from being out himself (the big stack would have taken the rest of the chips I didn't have covered).  Instead, that Queen hit and he went on to make a huge, deep run, making the final table.  I think they ended up making a deal when they were down to five or six players and he received around a payout of around $2,500.

Poker, huh?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Like a Boss!

This story took place my second week in Vegas last month.  For reasons that will become clear shortly, I really wanted to get this posted while the WSOP was still going on, but it didn't work out that way.  You know how it goes—you can't always get what you want.  I also wanted to marry Kate Upton, but somehow Justin Verlander beat me to her, the bastard.

Back then, Lightning was in town.  He had been playing poker all day while I was working.  He had arranged to meet up with VegasDWP that evening and play at the Wynn.  So after I finished working, I headed over to the Wynn to join them.

This being the middle of the series (and of course, Wynn had their series going on, the Wynn Classic), the place was really busy.  Lightning and DWP were already playing, but they couldn't get the same table.  So DWP was already on the list to transfer to Lightning's game.  When I finally got called to a game, I told them to put me on the transfer list to Lightning's game as well.

At this point in my trip, I had been pretty much card dead the entire time.  Things didn't change this night at the Wynn.  I was hoping that maybe transferring to Lightning's table would bring me some decent cards finally, but no one was leaving his table, and for a long time the three of us were all stuck at separate tables.

The only table between us that ever had empty seats was my table.  At one point, seat 9 opened up, and I saw a player heading for it.  As he approached, I noticed he looked familiar.  Very familiar.  By the time he took his seat at the game, I realized that this guy was the spitting image of notorious "speech-play" expert William Kassouf. 

You remember Kassouf, right?  The guy who became infamous because of one particular poker hand that was shown endlessly from the WSOP in 2016.  The "show" he put on was so noteworthy that I actually did a post discussing it, which you can find here.  If you just want to see the hand that caused all the fuss, you can find it here.

I was sitting in seat 2, far away from him, but man it sure looked like him.  I wanted to get a second and third opinion, so I texted both Lightning and DWP  that I suspected Kassouf was at my table and for them to see for themselves.  The both did and agreed it did look like Kassouf.

Well initially, I couldn't hear anything he was saying over the noise in the room, but eventually I heard his voice, that distinctive British accent, and I realized that there was a good reason it looked like Kassouf. It was Kassouf!

Now my earlier post about him was quite critical of his schtick.  And I've mentioned in other posts that I rather hate playing against guys who like to talk to me when the action is on me—when players engage in just the type of speech-play that Kassouf is famous for.  You can find a post about that here.  So my initial reaction to having Kassouf at my table was "Ugh.  Can I get that table change expedited, please?"

But I was a bit ambivalent because I'm always on the hunt for good blogging material and it did occur to me that this character could very easily supply me with something to write about.

I had hardly played a hand before he arrived and not much changed after he got there.  I was just so card dead.

Kassouf made his presence felt pretty much immediately.  He opened pots and was betting bigger than what had been the standard opening for this table.  Usually when I play 1/3 at the Wynn, players open to $12 or maybe $15.  It's not unusual though to see smaller openings.  But when there are aggros at the table, suddenly you see openings for $20 or $25.  Kassouf opened for $15 or $20, if not $25.  And until he had gotten there, a lot of the times the pot had been opened for $10 or less.

As soon as he put out his first $20 open, the guy to my left, an older gentleman with a big stack, said to him, "Why are you betting so big?"  Kassouf said, "What?  It's not so big."  I am quite sure that the guy had no idea who Kassouf was.

These two developed a running dialog, mostly with the guy next to me complaining about the size of Kassouf's bets.  But of course that did not nothing to affect Kassouf's bet sizing.  I will say though, that after awhile, when many of his opening raises went uncalled, he pulled back a little and started opening for normal amounts.  To be fair, he sometimes limped and yes, there were times he even folded preflop.

Early on, when he made a big raise after the flop and everyone folded, the lady on my right said, "Oh wow, he must have had a big hand."  The guy on my left said, "No, he had absolutely nothing."  I suspect he was right.  Oh yeah, he was also pretty aggro after the flop, of course.

When the seat to his right opened up, the new player in it raised his first hand.  This really pleased Kassouf.  "Oh first hand, you're already into it?  Yeah, yeah.  Like a boss!"  I of course cracked up but no one else reacted.

There was one time where he really acted like the Kassouf from that WSOP hand.  It was post-flop, perhaps on the river, not sure, and the guy on his right made a fairly small bet.  Kassouf shoved.  It was quite the overbet although the guy who bet originally didn't have anywhere near the chipstack Kassouf had and they were heads up.

The guy went into the tank.  "I don't know….I don't know."  So Kassouf said, "Well, tell me what you have and I'll tell you if you should call…..You can tell me what you have."  Yeah, he really said that.  I don't remember the board, but he said, "Do you have a 10?  If you have a 10 you should definitely call."  Of course this left the guy totally befuddled.  Kassouf kept it up, asking what the guy had, and making suggestions.  "Well if you have a 10 you should call for sure."  He probably mentioned some other cards too, I can't recall.  I believe he also suggested some scenarios where he recommended folding.

But of course it left the poor guy hopelessly confused.  And so he folded.  And then Kassouf asked him what he folded.  He told him, but I didn't hear what he said.  And then Kassouf said, "It was a good fold, it was a really good fold."  Somehow I suspect it was probably the worse fold in the history of poker.

When he got folds he would frequently asked what they folded and always tell them they made good laydowns.  One time a guy told him he folded top pair, top kicker.  Kassouf seemed a little shocked.  "Man, if you laid that down, that's a really good fold!"  Again, I suspect that it was a really bad fold.

Naturally, whenever his bets did get called, he managed to have the goods.  One hand he opened big, was three-bet, he shoved, the guy snap-called and Kassouf flipped over two Kings.  The other guy didn't show and eventually lost the pot.

One of the dealers was telling him about the wild action at the PLO game so he got put on the list for that.  And he was called to it before I was called to Lightning's game.  So that was the end of my evening with Mr. Kassouf.

I had fun when I finally joined Lightning and DWP, but I remained card dead the entire time, so really no hands of mine worth writing about.

As for Kassouf, I have to admit that he's really not a bad guy.  I don't like his poker tactics but he seemed like a decent fellow and was just out to have some fun (and win some money).  Probably a fun guy to have a beer with.  But a tough player to play against and I do think he pushes his verbal tactics a bit too far.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Last Straw—Literally

Well, not literally literally.  But almost literally.  I mean, literally closer to literally than 95% of the time you see people misuse the word "literally."

What the hell am I babbling about?  Well, I'll get to it, but first I gotta do some lead up to it.  Sorry about that, but I figure if you were the type of person that enjoyed poker blogs where the blogger got immediately to the point in a concise fashion, you'd be reading some other blog, not this one.

Anyway, before I get to the point, I have to warn you that I'm breaking my firm policy about never discussing politics on the blog.  I'm afraid I have to get a bit political with this post.  It seems that the forces of the left and the forces of the right are combining to make Vegas less and less desirable all the time.

This time, there may be no saving the Vegas experience for me.

You will no doubt recall numerous posts where I've complained about how they are ruining Vegas.  Almost everything I loved about Vegas has disappeared.  Gone are the cheap rooms, cheap, quality food, inexpensive shows, low limits (at the pit games),  Now there's ever increasing resort fees, ever increasing parking fees (in the good ol' days you could park everywhere for free), a stunning lack of cheap food and the drinks (unless you're playing a live game) are outrageously priced.  My pal Pete Peters  just returned from Vegas and was reporting they were charging $89 for a Bud Light.  I may have that wrong, perhaps it was a bit less than that.  But it was still expensive.

Vegas had done such a good job of souring me on the whole Vegas experience that my visit there that began in early June was my first time back since my Christmas trip. Yeah, I stayed away for almost half a year.

Returning after such a long time (for me—usually I never go longer than two months without a Vegas visit), I admit it was excited to be back at first, especially with the promise of all that great poker.  But it didn't take long for me to be reminded of all the things that have changed Vegas for the worse.

By the time I sat down to play some poker at the MGM on this particular night, I was already feeling mostly negative towards Vegas.  It didn't help that the poker hadn't exactly been going my way since I'd gotten to town.  And so, as I was playing, I ordered a Diet Coke from the cocktail waitress.  Now, I had played at MGM a number of times on this trip previously, but this was the first time I'd order a Diet Coke.  You see I'm trying to cut out caffeine from my diet, and you can't get a caffeine-free, sugar-free soda in a casino.  So I'm ordering water more and more often.  But this particular time, I really felt like a Diet Coke.  So I ordered one.

When the waitress returned with my drink and handed it to me, I saw that there was no straw in it.  So I asked, "Can I get a straw?"  The waitress surprised me with her response.  "We  don't have straws any more.  We're going green."


I was shocked but I still gave the girl her $1 tip.

While I was thinking about that,  my poker playing neighbor in seat 1 (I was in seat 9 on the other side of the dealer) kind of reached around and offered me a straw!  It was Jan, an MGM reg I've mentioned a few times, the first time was here.  It was a plastic flex straw.  I was almost as surprised by this as I was by being told MGM didn't serve straws any more. "You bring your own straws?" I asked her?  She nodded yes, she has to now that they don't serve them anymore.  I said to her, "Pretty soon they are going to arrest you for that."

Anyway, I hesitated for a second because I didn't see where Jan had pulled the straw from.  Did she just have it lying loose at the bottom of her purse?  I wouldn't want to put that in my drink.  I had to hope she had some kind of plastic baggy she carried them around in.  I mean, Jan always struck me as a hygienic person.  I took the straw, thanked her for it, and stuck it in my Diet Coke.

But I was left to contemplate the significance of this.  A no straw policy?  How is this acceptable?  As it happens, I remembered hearing earlier in the year that the California legislature was considering passing a law that would make it a crime (punishable with imprisonment!) for a waiter in a restaurant to offer customers straws for the drinks if the customer hadn't asked for one.  I never heard if that law passed.  It seems a bit extreme.

But at least you could still get a straw!  This MGM waitress was telling me that I couldn't get a straw no matter what (unless I brought my own, like Jan did!).  Can you believe it?  And this is supposed to be "going green."  Plastic straws are destroying the environment, don't you know.

Those damn liberal tree-huggers!  Environmentalist extremists! They are ruining everything.

(EDITED TO ADD:  When I first posted this, I left out one of the great benefits of straws at the poker table.  Most tables have cup holders right in front of you.  So I can lean over and sip my soda without touching the glass.  This is good because usually the outside of the glass is wet from condensation (or from other drinks on the waitress's tray that spilled on them).  Then you have wet hands and are about to touch the cards and the chips).

But wait.  As I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that MGM Resorts (parent company of MGM Grand Casino) was the entity that started the whole "pay to park on the Strip" thing you've heard me rail about at least a billion times.

They are evil, greedy, bastards, right?  Well, they must be evil, greedy Republicans to be so concerned with profit, right?

But it's the same company!  Are they evil greedy Republicans just trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the poor working schlub, or are they liberal Democrat tree-huggers trying to cripple corporate America with their radical environmentalist policies?

I'm so confused.

All I know is this:  It seems that now the left and the right are teaming up to completely ruin my Vegas experience. 

A pox on all their houses!

My assumption at the time was that this policy applied to all MGM properties (ie, Aria, Mirage, Excalibur, etc).  However, I subsequently played at both Aria and Mirage, and they were both offering straws (without asking) in their soft drinks.  Hmm… is it just some renegade tree-hugger at MGM Grand that instituted this?  Do his or her greedy Republican bosses know about this?

Well…..I dunno.  But I can see which way the wind is blowing and I am expecting this policy will spread to the other corporate properties sooner rather than later.  And remember, MGM was the one that started the pay for parking thing, and that spread to almost all the other casinos on the Strip, including CET properties, Wynn and Cosmo.  So it's only a matter of time before the rarest thing in Vegas is no longer a free parking spot, but a damn straw.

Sooner or later, without ceremony, there will be the last straw on the Strip!

Anyway, a few days later, back at the MGM. I saw the full consequences of this new, horrific policy.  Temporarily forgetting about the no-straw policy, I innocently ordered a Diet Coke. When my drink was delivered, I remembered the policy as soon as I saw it did not contain a straw.  And Jan was nowhere to be found.  Oh well.

But there was something in my drink other than the Diet Coke and the ice.  It was a lemon wedge.  I hadn't asked for a lemon wedge in my Diet Coke.  But I made an assumption as to why it was in there.  You see, I know that waitresses will use straws to help them identify the Diet Cokes from the regular Cokes.  Each has her own system but let's say they will put one straw in a drink if it's regular and two straws in if it's Diet.

Of course, now they can no longer do that.  So I also know that some waitresses will use a lemon wedge for this purpose.  No lemon wedge means a regular Coke. A lemon wedge means Diet.  BTW, this was a different waitress from the one who told me about the new policy a few days earlier.

I am not a normally fussy about the lemon wedge in the Diet Coke thing.  It usually doesn’t make a difference to me.  I can notice the ever so faint taste/scent of lemon and it's no big deal.

Now my pal Norm, the one I used to go to Vegas with multiple times a year back in the day, is a different story.  He hates lemons and especially hates them in his Diet Cokes (although he prefers Diet Pepsi).  If he was ever served a Diet Coke with a lemon wedge (or a lime wedge, or an orange wedge, whatever), he'd immediately hand the drink back to the waitress and insist on a "pure" Diet Coke, no fruit.  Sometimes the waitress would offer to take the lemon out of the drink (presumably with a spoon, not her fingers).  Not good enough.  Once that lemon had been in the glass of soda it was polluted beyond all redemption to Norm's taste buds.

We had a third friend who would say to Norm, "You have to tell them when you order you don't want any fruit in it." Norm's response was that he shouldn't have to.  "I don't want an onion in my drink either, I don't have to tell them that!"  But eventually, in self-defense, he started asking for nothing in the drink but the soda he ordered. 

Again, that's not me.  I was never bothered by the lemon.  Until this night at the MGM.  Because you see the lemon was floating at the top of my soda.  And there was no friggin' straw to drink the soda out of.  So every time I sipped the drink, my lips hit that demon lemon wedge.  And worse, the taste of the lemon was also floating at the top of the drink.  So this time I really, really tasted the lemon!  When you have a straw, you're drinking from the bottom of the glass, and the lemon taste hasn't really reached there yet.  Instead of tasting my Diet Coke, it was like I was sucking on a damn lemon!

When the waitress took my next order, I specifically said to her, "….and please don't put any lemon slice in it."

But when it came back, there was a lemon wedge in it!  This is one of the best waitresses they have, so I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that because the room was so noisy she just didn't hear me.

Whatever, I was pissed.  Now the lemon wedge was floating at the very top, and I could have easily just grabbed it out of there.  As I started to do that, I realized then I'd be stuck there at the poker table with a wet lemon wedge in my hand—what was I supposed to do with that?

So I didn't grab it.  As soon as I could, I walked over to the nearest trash can with drink in hand to dump the lemon wedge (which was still in my drink).  But in carrying my glass over there, the wedge had settled down a bit into my drink.  And without thinking, I stuck my fingers into the drink, got them wet with Diet Coke, and then really had to dig deep to get that damn lemon wedge and fish it out of there.  It was actually a bit of a challenge.

Finally rid of the damn lemon, I rewarded myself with a big gulp of my Diet Coke.  Fortunately I tasted only the faintest taint of lemon, I had saved my drink!

But then I realized that I had stuck my fingers, which had been touching both cards and extremely dirty, disease-ridden poker chips, directly into my drink!

"I'm going to die," I thought to myself.

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since this happened, and I am relieved to report that I haven't contracted any disease as of yet.  I may be ok.

But maybe I've been infected with some kind of rare disease with a really long incubation period.  If this is the last post I ever do, you'll know why.  Death by lemon wedge due to MGM's "going green" policy.

Anyway, the new "no straw" policy may just be the last straw for me.  I'm afraid to go back to Vegas now to see the next latest thing they will have done to make the place worse—and less like the place I fell in love with many years ago.

Damn those evil liberal greedy tree-hugging environmental extremist Republicans!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Dreaded Pocket Kings, As Heard on TV

Did you watch ESPN's WSOP coverage Friday night???  Did you miss this?  

Lon McEachern, long time ESPN poker play-by-play man, the voice of the WSOP, used a phrase that should be familiar to all readers of this blog.  Check it out:

That's right, he said, "The Dreaded Pocket Kings"!!!  This was the night after that infamous hand that I discussed last time (here), which was Aces vs Kings vs Kings.

(I apologize for the poor quality of the video, cell phone video taken directly off the screen of a dated TV is not ideal.  Still, you can hear it, right?)

I was involved in something else when this aired live, but my pal Lightning36 heard it and immediately texted me to see if I had caught it too. Fortunately my DVR was recording the coverage and I was able to find the reference in my recording.

Lightning immediately tweeted out the following tweet:

Hey and - please credit with the term you used tonight - The Dreaded Pocket Kings.

I retweeted that myself but to the best of my knowledge they never commented on this, either on the air or on Twitter.

Now even though I never actually copyrighted the phrase, my blog is proof that I originated it, and I will be contacting my attorney, Pete P. Peters, for legal advice in protecting my rights.  At the very least, if no monetary compensation is offered, I should get to do the "Shuffle Up and Deal" at the next main event, right?  Right?

Of course, I'm kidding.  It was an honor to hear my coined term for the dreaded hand on national TV.  Very cool.

In the meantime, how'd you like the main event this year?  I must admit I didn't stay up for the entire heads up final table.  I did have it recorded and watched the last few hands in the morning, after learning the result.  Both of the final two guys played great and it was very entertaining to be sure.  Congrats to Tony Miles and especially John Cynn, a very worthy champion.

All the guys at the end were solid.  Still it would be nice to see a woman make the final table next year.

I'm sure Kate Hoang (below) would agree.  

And whoever makes it, watch out for those dreaded Pocket Kings.....right Lon?