Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Sam's Town Quickie

Note: This is sort of a two-parter, although the poker in the two parts will be unconnected with each other, so each part more-or-less stands alone. 

This took place the day after the tag team tourney I talked about last time (here).  Lightning was still and town, and had arranged to help fellow blogger FlushhDraw with a medical procedure he had scheduled for the day.  He was gonna hang out with retired blogger Stump (Chris) who was driving Flushh to the appointment.  All this went on while I spent the afternoon slaving away at work from my hotel room.

Late in the afternoon I finally heard about their day and their evening plans.  The medical procedure went fine, Flushh was feeling well and they were all headed over to Sam's Town to play in their 7pm $40 tournament. Lightning sent out a tweet to that effect, asking for anyone in the vicinity to join them.  OK, I thought, I didn't have any plans for the evening, why the hell not join them?

It turned out that by the time I found out about this they were already at Sam's Town having some fine dining.  So I was on my own for dinner.  I ate in my room and then headed out to god's country, I mean Sam's Town.  I took my life in my hands by trusting the Waze app to get me there.

You've probably never heard me talk about Sam's Town on the blog before—unless you read my Ante Up columns, because I have talked about it there.  But truth be told, I had never played poker there before.  Sam's Town is way out on Boulder Highway, a good long schlep from the Strip.  It's actually beyond Henderson.  It's part of the Boyd group, same folks who own Orleans and Gold Coast.  It is most definitely a locals casino.

Back in the early days of my Vegas trips, when I was going there with my pal Norm like three times a year, Norm and I would occasionally venture out that far.  Because it was so off the beaten path and strictly for the locals, it did have lower betting limits than the Strip casinos, which is what we were always looking for.  But honestly, there was never really any reason to go there once we had seen it once or twice.  I recall that whenever we did go there, we noted that we immediately lowered the median age of the patrons in there by about a half (but to be fair, we were much younger in those days!).

Once I started playing poker, I knew they had a poker room but never felt compelled to make the drive to check it out.  The main cash game is 2-6 limit, not exactly my game.

But how could I resist playing with those three clowns?  Besides, I had never met FlusshDraw before and it seemed like high time to do so.

It turns out that from the Strip it's pretty much a straight shot heading east on Flamingo to get there, so simple even Waze couldn't screw it up.

Due to human error, I missed the first turn into the parking area from Boulder Highway and ended up at the back of the property.  I headed for the first parking structure I saw and it turned out I parked about as far away from the poker room as I could and still be in Clark County.  If I had walked from Bally's it wouldn't have been much more walking.  I certainly didn't recall how damn big the place was.  I was surprised by the size of it. BTW, the parking structure I missed by turning in the wrong place is right next to the poker room.

Now walking in and through the casino was an interesting experience.  I swear, it didn't seem like I'd gotten there by car, it was more like I'd taken a time machine.  It reminded me of Vegas from 20-30 years ago.  It was nothing like the Vegas Strip casinos of today (well, if you ignore the slot machines, the gaming tables and stuff like that).  Just a totally different vibe than I've experienced from a Vegas casino in years.

I eventually found the poker room and was fairly exhausted from the walk. I wondered if I could take Uber to get back to my car.  I noticed Chris sitting at an unused poker table talking to a rather large fellow, who I assumed was FlushhDraw.  I said hello and met Flushh.  He is a really nice guy and told me a little about his procedure.  Chris and I caught up as well.  They pointed out that Lightning, problem gambler that he is, didn't want to waste any time just sitting and talking when he could be playing and was indeed splashing chips at the only game they had running, a 2-6 spread limit game.

It's actually a really nice poker room, much nicer than you'd expect for a poker room out in the hinterlands.  Eleven tables, nicely spaced apart.  And the room is well run.

When I went over to register for the tourney, I noticed the name of the woman who was running things and taking the money for the buy-ins, Kay.  I realized that this was poker room manager, who I have been dealing with via email and telephone since I started working at PokerAtlas.  Seeing as how I'd never been to Sam's Town since I started this job, I'd never met her.  So of course I introduced myself.  It always nice to meet someone in person you've been working with only electronically until then.  I even had my brand new business card to give her.

Before the tournament started, I tweeted out this:  "Playing Sam's Town $40 donkament with @flushhdraw , @AbramskiChris and @lightning36 . Keep me in your thoughts and prayers."  Well I thought it was funny.  It did get me 12 "likes."

The $40 tournament started with 5K chips and had 20-minute levels.  A $5 staff bonus got another 2K chips.  Not exactly the deepstack tournament I like.  You'll note I rarely play tournaments at that level.  Just not enough play for me.  But with a month in Vegas planned, I'd have plenty of time to play the kind of tourneys I prefer.  This one I was playing for social reasons.

They got a very good turnout for a Tuesday night—five full tables and there were alternates (they weren't staffed for more than five tables).  But the cash game did close down because most of the players in it were playing in the tournament.

Flushhdraw and I were at one the same table, and Lightning and Chris were together at another table.  My notes were quite sparse.  I wrote about a hand during level 1 where I raised preflop with Ace-Jack, c-bet, got called, and had to give up.  That was it until level 3 when it all fell apart.

Down to $5,950, I was in the small blind with Queen-9 off and completed.  The flop was 9-8-x, two of a suit.  I bet $600 and it folded to Flushh, who shoved his last $2,800.  Hmmm…..I figured he knew I had a hand there, and that he wouldn't be risking his tournament life without a pretty good hand himself.  So I decided there was no way he couldn't beat my top pair, mediocre kicker.  He must have a better kicker to go along with his 9, or perhaps two pair?  9-8 was very possible.  So I folded.

Note: Before the evening was over I asked him what he had and he told me Ace-8.  Ouch.  I said, "I thought you had a better hand than that!"  He replied, "I knew you would, that's why I did it.  I was desperate."  Well congrats, sir, on being a better poker player than me.

I still had chips to play with and we were coming to the first break. The next hand would be the last hand before the break.  On the button with King-Queen suited (hearts), I saw just about everyone but the Pope limp in front of me.  So I raised to1K (not sure what the blinds were, I no longer have the blind structure).  As soon as I raised, the guy on my immediate left said, "I knew that was coming."  Huh?  How did you know that?  Cuz I lost the last hand?  I still wasn't desperate. I wasn't gonna raise with 7-deuce there.  How did you know I was gonna get a good hand like King-Queen suited?  Weird.

I got 4 callers. The flop was King-high.  It checked to me and I bet $2K.  Not sure why I just didn't shove there considering the size of the pot but I didn't.  The last guy with cards called.  After a blank turn, he led out for 2K more and that was more than I had.  Of course I called.  Of course he turned over Ace-King to take the pot and bust me out.  When I showed my hand after we were all-in, that idiot next to me said, "I knew you were desperate." 

I didn't say anything to him.  But what a jerk.  It's not like I was raised preflop with garbage.  King-Queen suited is a raising hand, right?  And then I had top pair, second best kicker.  Nothing in my play indicated I was desperate.  This guy was clearly clueless.  Maybe that's why Flushh likes this tournament so much—the players are so bad.  Too bad on this night and I didn't get the cards to take advantage.

I was the first of the four of us to bust, but none of our group cashed. But Lightning was the last to bust out and then imagined that we made a last longer bet.  We hadn't.

Well, I have more to say about this evening, but I'll save that for next time so I can get this posted now.  Come back in in a few days for more of my Sam's Town report.  (Now posted, see here).

Thursday, August 23, 2018

There's Gotta Be a Better Waze to Get There

Back to my June Vegas trip.  The night after the story I told here, Lightning and I planned to play in a Tag Team Tournament at Golden Nugget.  It was an idea that would have never occurred to me—I always think of poker as an individual game—but Lightning noticed the tournament a few weeks before he headed to Vegas and asked me if I would be interested in being his partner.  Sure, why not?  Sounded like fun. I had nothing else planned for that evening. I'd have probably played somewhere with him that night anyway. Why not team up?

I worked from my hotel room that day, while he played poker on the Strip.  At the designated time, I picked him up and we headed downtown.  It turned out that the drive to the Nugget was the most exciting part of the evening.

You see, they are currently doing road construction on virtually every street and every freeway in Clark County.  That's not news.  In the umpteen years I've been going to Vegas (almost always by car), I'm used to driving on streets that are being torn up for roadwork.  The most predictable thing in Vegas is not me losing with pocket Kings, but that 95% of the streets I drive on will be in some state of repair (or disrepair).  It's something my buddy Norm and I observed from the start of our Vegas trips many years ago.  They are constantly working on the streets.  Every street.

I've often said that I am certain that every single resident of Las Vegas must work for the Nevada Dept of Transportation, otherwise there's no way they could be tearing up so many streets at once.  I've also said that if anyone can tell me of a street in Vegas that is currently not undergoing roadwork, let me know, and I'll go drive on it even though it won't get me where I'm going, just so I can experience what it's like to drive on a non-torn up street.

Anyway, I'd heard that they were in the middle of a massive redesign of the I-15, the main freeway that goes North/South thru Vegas, that is just a mile or so west of the Strip.  I think it was underway when I was there last, back in December, but since I never went downtown that trip, and the fun didn't start until you got close to downtown, I didn't really have to deal with it.

But this time I had planned on hitting the Nugget multiple times, and I knew I'd encounter this roadwork.  The first time I went there, it was daytime, and of course I used Google Maps to guide me there. Google Maps is a godsend in L.A. traffic. Sometimes I use it to just go a few miles in case it can give me an alternate route that avoids traffic jams.  I was kind of expecting it to tell me to take surface streets, but no, it told me to take the normal route on the 15.  And so I did and boy, what a mess.  The traffic mid-day wasn't too bad, but the freeway was just a massive fustercluck.  There were construction vehicles everywhere, closed lanes, and traffic cones everywhere to guide you through the temporary lanes they had set up.  Those traffic cones are always fun because Vegas can be windy as hell and they tend to get blown all over the place, like into your lane of traffic.

And since the whole freeway near downtown was being redesigned and the traffic had been rerouted into these temporary lanes, Google sometimes lost me.  Ever have the experience of Google Maps telling you to turn on a street to get on the freeway when you're already on the freeway?  Well that happened to me several times.  "Turn left on Charleston for the onramp to I-15."  I was driving past the Charleston exit on the 15 at the time.  It didn't give me confidence that it was giving me the best route. Or that it would know if a road it wanted me to take was actually closed due to construction.

But I made it to the Golden Nugget and I made it back to my hotel.  My next trip downtown was a couple of days later. This time I insisted that Google give me a route avoiding the freeway.  Actually I think it would have anyway—it was later in the day, during rush hour, and even without road construction the 15 likely would have been too jammed to drive on.  But I had decided after my first trip downtown that I was going to use surface streets from then on to get to the Nugget. But I was in for a surprise.  Because every single street I was directed to drive on was being worked on.  In most cases, every side street was reduced to one lane in either direction with traffic cones rerouting traffic worse than the freeway was rerouted.  I swear I didn't drive on a single street that didn't have traffic cones, not to mention construction rigs halfway blocking traffic.

Getting there was bad enough, but coming back was a nightmare.  I was directed to streets I'd never been on before and they were all being worked on.  It was dark and hard to see the traffic cones and temporary road signs.  And then….well I was driving on what should have at least been a four lane street and half the lanes were closed, being worked on.  I came out of a tunnel to a traffic light and it sure looked I could just keep going in the lane I was in, which was obviously normally the left lane of traffic going in the other direction.  The light turned green, and I started driving straight ahead.  And out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign way, way over to the right that said, "Thru traffic keep right."  I hesitated and guessed that I had to go that way….way to the right of where I was going….to drive on the correct side of the road.  As I did, so, I realized I was correct and if I hadn't moved over at the last minute I would have been driving on the wrong side of the street!  Scary.  Later, because of the temporary signs and such I missed my turn and ended up getting lost in a part of town where you really don't want to get lost in late at night.

I was pissed.  So I did what you would expect me to do.  I went on Twitter the next morning and tweeted a few choice, semi-nasty comments to the Nevada Dept of Transportation.  I said:  "So I tried getting to Downtown Vegas via surface streets yesterday. Driving conditions were every bit as horrific as on the I-15, perhaps even worse. Way to go, @nevadadot , way to go."

They actually responded and advised that traffic will only get worse without these "much needed improvements."  I felt like telling them that I don't live in Vegas and will be long gone by the time they are finished—and I know that as soon as they are finished, they'll be starting some new project that will be even worse. They suggested I download the Waze app which has up-to-date traffic conditions.  I told them I was using Google Maps.  And they said that Waze was much better for navigating the Vegas streets during this project, it has more current info.

BTW, I did try to research what exactly this work on the 15 was going to accomplish. It was such a mess I was hoping that they were at least adding two lanes in both directions.  But no.  I may have missed something but as best I can tell, all they are doing is adding a single High Occupancy Vehicle lane in each direction.  I will stay off my soap box and let the reader decide if the havoc they are wreaking is worth that "improvement."

I guess I got off on a little tangent there.  Sorry, that is so unlike me.  Anyway, that whole story is explain that when I drove Lightning to Golden Nugget that Monday night, I was using Waze for the first time.  Since it had been endorsed by NDOT, I was sure that it would give me the perfect route and that there would be no issues.

Heh heh.  Now, we were playing a 7pm tournament so once again I was driving in rush hour traffic.  And therefore Waze told me to take surface streets—the 15 was a parking lot.  At first it guided me to the same torn up streets that Google Maps had directed me to a few days earlier.  But then, it did something brilliant.  It had me drive north on Las Vegas Blvd.  Guess what?  Las Vegas Blvd was the only street in the entire county that didn't have any road construction.  It was perfect.

I should mention Las Vegas Blvd is actually the Strip, except once you get north of Sahara, it's not the Strip any more, it's just LV Blvd.  Ordinarily I avoid driving on the Strip at all costs, but once you get to where it's no longer the Strip, there's no inherent reason to avoid driving on it.  In this case, it was great.  Now since it was rush hour there was still a lot of traffic on it, but the absence of traffic cones was a a relief.

So I was driving north on LV Blvd, as per Waze.  And I know that I am a few blocks east of the downtown casinos, at some point I am going to have turn left and go west to get where I'm going.  And sure enough, at some point, Waze tells me to turn left at the next street.  So far, so good.  I oblige, and after a block it tells me to turn right.  So soon?  I wasn't that close to downtown.  But I follow orders and then it tells me to turn right.  Huh?  Not only that, it says after I turn right, I should turn right on LV Blvd.  What?  That would send me in exactly the opposite direction of where I was headed, and right back to where I came from.

I knew that couldn't be right so I kept going north on this street I was on.  And it kept telling me to turn right at every street, just so I could turn right again at LV Blvd.  I started arguing with the damn Waze lady. I'm sure my dear, late mother would not have approved of the language I used talking back to the Waze lady. This was certainly amusing Lightning, who also realized that what it was telling me was nonsense. In fact, he said he thought I was about to throw my phone out the window out of frustration with the stupid app (see here). Now, I suppose, under different circumstances, if we hadn't had a specific time deadline, I might have considered following the Waze app's nutty instructions just to see if somehow they really had a great way to go where I was going that was totally counterintuitive to everything I knew about the layout of Vegas.  But not this time. I ignored the bitch, finally shut the app down, and found the Golden Nugget on my own.

The second worst poker player in Vegas that night

The actual tournament went about as well as using the Waze app.  It was a $200 buy-in ($100 each), 20-minute levels and an unusual format.  The teams had to switch players every 20-minutes.  Well the first player started with 5K chips, and when the players switched at level 2, each team got an additional 5K stack.  The reason for that format was so that each player on the team would be ensured of playing some.  There was no chance of the first player busting the team out in the first level before the second teammate would get a chance to play.

The Worst Poker Player in Vegas

 The problem with the tournament was the logistics of it.  The 20-minute levels were very quick and at the end of each level, every single player at every table had to get up, to be replaced by his or her partner.  That actually took a minute or two (or more) away from actual playing time.  It was sort of a mess changing partners, the partners had to hang close to the table but the set up of the tournament area in the ballroom was designed for normal tournaments, not tournaments with twice as many players as seats.  The tournament set up was actually quite comfortable for normal tournaments.  But it was highly congested for the tag team event. Players moving into and out of their seats were constantly bumping into each other.  It was a real Chinese fire drill.

I had spoken to Andy, the manager of the poker room, before the tourney started.  He told me the logic behind the separate starting stacks.  I also asked him if it was ok for partners to hang around when they weren't playing and watch the action. He assured me that it was ok, even expected.  That didn't stop the person actually running the tournament from announcing at every break that players not playing had to clear the area.  Fortunately, no one paid attention to this and they did nothing to enforce it.

With the levels effectively like 15-minutes, it was really important to score early and we couldn't do that.  Lightning wanted me to play level 1 (because I am the more experienced live tournament player).  I managed to win one small pot.  Lightning ran well on level 2 and got our stack up to $12,300.  But I didn't catch a single hand on level 3 and then Lightning donked off a ton of chips on level 4. 

I moved into level 5 left with a stack of only $5,900, pretty much shove or fold mode.  I shoved pocket 6's and didn't get a call.  But when I shoved King-Jack off I ran into pocket Jacks and didn't hit my three-outer.  We were done.

Fool that I am, I used Waze to get back to the Strip.  It told me to take the 15 and I was glad to do it….as messed up as it is, I learned the hard way the surface streets were even worse. I think NDOT's actual goal is to make Vegas traffic worse than L.A. traffic and they are well on their way to succeeding. 

It was a fun night, worth taking a shot with a different type of tourney.  Wish we'd lasted longer though.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Good Beat

Had one of those dreary poker sessions on Saturday in Ventura (it was 2/3 NL).  Rarely got playable cards, and when I did I couldn't catch a flop to save my life.  A few low pocket pairs and missed a set every time.  Virtually no Broadway cards (well, not two of them together anyway).  I think there was only one pot I won outright.  And I'm gonna tell you about it.

In the big blind I had Queen-10 offsuit.  No one raised so I checked.  Hmm…I guess that's two Broadway cards, isn't it?  Pardon me if I don't get too excited about Q-10 off.   Four of us saw a flop of Queen-6-5.  The small blind checked so I put out a bet of $5.  That's basically a pot-sized bet because after the rake and the promo drop, there was $6 in the pot.  Everyone called.  Well, maybe my top pair lousy kicker wasn't in good shape.  The turn was another 6.  This time I checked behind the small blind and the others checked too.

The river was yet another 6.  And then the small blind, a gentleman who had enough years on him to be able to call me "Sonny," put out a bet of $25.  Hmm…..did he really have the case 6?  I couldn't believe I wouldn't have heard from him before then if he had a 6.  Surely he would have led out on the turn with trip 6's, no?  And pocket Kings or pocket Aces seemed even less likely.  I thought I was good, but I decided not to raise in case he was playing a monster in some odd way.  I called and the others folded.

He turned over…..pocket 5's. "Full house," he said proudly. Yes, indeed he did have a boat.  In fact he had that on the turn.  Fives full of sixes.  And on the river that turned into 6's full of 5's.  His problem was that my two pair on the turn had turned into a bigger boat, 6's full of Queens.  The river saved me and screwed him.  Hey that's poker.  As the dealer pushed the pot to me, he was confused and started to protest, reminding the dealer that he had a full house.  So of course the dealer explained to him that I had 6's full of Queens to his 6's full of 5's.  Honestly, I think he still thought his hand was 5's full of 6's.  Maybe not.  He still look bewildered.  I said to him, "Sorry man, the river really did you in." 

My first reaction was boy, did he blow that by slow-playing it. But a lot of people slow-play sets. So maybe that's a standard play?  Except that it was a limped pot, there was only six bucks in it to start, don't you have to start getting money in there?  With that flop, and with no one raising pre, you can't be sure of anyone betting, so best to bet yourself, no?  Yes, you might just take it down there for all of $6, but you gotta try, right?  I believe the flop was rainbow so he's not really worried about draws.  When three people put $5 in there, maybe that's a good place for a check-raise?  Or do you want to keep everyone in there?

And then when he turned the boat, he checked again.  Again, under the right circumstances, it might make sense to check the boat.  But still a small pot, so maybe put some money in then?  Now here's where I'm wondering if maybe he was planning to check-raise and I messed things up by checking?  I think that's a viable option but honestly, based on the way he played all day, I'm not sure this guy was ever gonna check-raise. So I really can't say if this guy was just the nittiest player ever or if his well thought out plan was foiled by no one betting there on the turn.

But it was nice to get a "good beat" rather than a "bad beat" for a change.  Even if it was a modest sized pot.  Reminded me of two things.  1. Don't slow play and 2. Sometimes the river is actually your friend, not a nightmare.

The rest of the session wasn't a nightmare—no bad beats.  Just nothing good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How Not to Come in After Missing the Blinds

Saturday I was at PC Ventura and saw a player do something so dumb I couldn't believe it.  Maybe there's an angle here I'm missing, but I don't get it.

This guy had been table for awhile, at least an hour that I had seen.  I know I have seen this guy before so he was no novice. He certainly understood the basic rules of the game. He wasn't a particularly noticeable player.  He was neither a maniac nor a nit.  H didn't seem like the type of player who couldn't wait to get his gamble on, just your pretty average 2/3 player there to for an afternoon of poker, hoping to hit a big hand or two and walk away with some profit.

Anyway, he left the table for awhile and missed his blinds.  By the time he got back, he would have naturally been under-the-gun. As the dealer readied the shuffle, he put a $5 chip in front of his stack.  The dealer started to say something, then stopped himself for a second.  I could tell the dealer was wondering if he should say something.  I actually heard him mutter to himself that he shouldn't speak up, but then realized there was no harm in saying something, this wasn't giving him advice.  Note: I didn't recognize the dealer and I tend to think he was a new dealer, that's why he hesitated.

But speak up he did and he told the guy, "You can wait one hand and just post the big blind then."  That's exactly what I was thinking, of course.  Then the dealer added, "Or you could straddle for $6 if you want to come in now."  Again, that's what I was thinking.  I've seen many players come in after missing their blinds by straddling in that exact same situation.  The player looked at him like he was nuts, as if to say, "Is there anything wrong with coming now, and not straddling?"  I guess he didn't see the problem.

The guy actually said, "No, this is fine. I can come in now for $5, right?"  The dealer acknowledged he could do that so he broke his $5 chip into ones and put three in front of him and put two in the pot as dead money.

Of course it's not a lot of money but how does this make sense?  Why not wait one hand and just come in on your natural big blind and save the five bucks?  The way they do comps at this place, he wasn't losing anything (they come around once an hour to scan your card, he wouldn't be losing a few cents of comps).  And two of those five bucks is just dead money you're giving to whoever wins the pot, it's not even a bet anyone has to cover.

Conversely, if he was so eager to get back into the game that he couldn't wait one more hand to see some cards, might as well toss another buck on the $5 chip and straddle, that way you have last action preflop.   Now I'm not a fan of straddling, but in this situation, if you want a hand that badly, this makes more sense than posting $5 just for an UTG hand, right?  You know, I think one time at MGM I straddled in that type of situation so that I would be eligible for a drawing that was about to take place, I didn't want to be disqualified by having a missed blind button.  But again, there was no penalty for this here.

It's hard for me to believe the guy didn't understand what he was doing was making no sense, he surely had played enough casino poker to get it, I would have thought.  I suppose he may possibly have been trying to make sure he was eligible for the bad beat jackpot if it hit that hand.  It was up to $35K. 

But that too would have been stupid.  Say he sat out that one hand, and that was the hand where the jackpot hit at our table.  And he'd be beating himself up something silly for not getting a table share.  Except that simple logic dictates that if he had decided to play that hand instead of sitting it out, everyone at the table would have gotten different cards and the jackpot wouldn't have hit then.  Right?  In fact if he had made the choice to sit out the hand and that's when the jackpot hit, I'm sure the other players would have given him some money, especially since someone would have pointed that if he taken a hand there it wouldn't have hit and he was actually responsible for the rest of us getting some nice jackpot money.

I have no idea if he was thinking about the jackpot when he decided to come in for $5 or not.  I'm just throwing it out there as a possibility.

As for the poker for me, it wasn't anything to write home about.  I didn't win a pot for about 1-1/2 hours.  No, I take that back.  There was one pot where I had limped in with a suited Ace and there was no raise and it was five-handed and no one bet any street and by the river there was a straight on the board. All five of us played the board and got $2 back, so a net loss of a buck.  Actually, the player in earliest position got an extra buck and it must have been that the small blind folded because that's the only way the math adds up.

Finally I won a hand, completing from the small blind with Queen-9 off.  It was mult-way and the flop was Queen-5-4.  I bet $6 and had one caller. The turn was a Jack and my $10 bet was not called.  Monster pot there.

I limped with Ace-6 of clubs and it was five ways.  The flop was Ace-6-3, two spades.  I bet $10 and it was 4 ways.  The turn was the third spade and it checked around.  The river paired the 3 and this time I went against my nitty nature and put out a $20 value bet.  One player called but she didn't show after I flipped my cards over.

I called $17 with 8-7 of hearts.  I expected other callers but it was heads up.  The flop was 9-7-2, one heart (the 9).  I called $15.  The turn was another heart and it checked around.  The river was another heart.  This time I bet $25 but he mucked right away.

I had been down about $150 and ended up losing only around $30, so it was a decent comeback.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

He Had a Horseshoe Implanted Up His...

This was a fun session from the beginning of my second week in Vegas in June.  And by "fun" I mean I had a profitable session (even if ever so slightly).  But it was also fun because Lightning was there.  This was the early part of his week long Vegas visit and the first time I'd seen him during it.  You can read about this session and his entire trip beginning here.  At least, that's his version.  Wherever our stories overlap and possibly conflict, you can always count on my version to be the accurate one.  Also making an appearance was Lightning's pal Mike an old-time poker blogger.  I ran into Mike a number of times during that week but I think we only played one hand against each other the entire time.

Now Lightning had been tweeting and texting about his good fortune ever since he had arrived in town. He seemed to dragging monster pots every few minutes. I heard a rumor that Bally's had to send out for more bills when he cashed out after his last session. One of his stories was that he had flopped a set of Aces and had two aggros push all-in against him.

Now I had gotten to the Mirage before him and he was sent to a different table but transferred over to mine before he had played much at the other one.  In fact I'm not sure if he had even taken a hand.  So on his first hand at the table, after the guy on my left opened to $15 and another player called, Lightning three-bet.  In his blog post he said he made it $40 but my voice notes say $60, so not sure how much but the guy called.  The flop was 10-high, he checked, Lightning bet $60, the guy check-shoved, Lightning confidently called and flipped over pocket Aces, only to see the guy flip over pocket 10's for top set.  Lightning said, "That's not good."

But of course, the turn was an Ace!  And the river was a blank and Lightning had a double up on his very first hand.

Seriously, who gets Aces on his very first hand of a session?  And then, who turns a set of Aces after getting all the money when he's behind on the flop?  And who gets a double-up on his very first hand?

As he was stacking his chips, I tweeted, "Playing @MiragePoker with @Lightning36. Since I last saw him, he's had a horseshoe implanted up his ass."

It was kind of a wild table, especially at the beginning.  There were these two guys  who I think were from England, both extremely aggro.  They appeared to be buddies and they liked to play at each other.  If they were both in a hand the pot would get huge.  Also the guy who hit the set of 10's against Lighting was aggro.  As such there were a lot of big pots and all lot of all-in pots.  I was mostly a spectator for this as I was card-dead.  And the big raises and re-raises kept me from playing more marginal hands that maybe I would have played at a different table. 

One hand that got my attention before Lightning joined me was a hand where the two Brits got it all in on the flop (maybe it was the turn) and all they each had was top pair, which was an Ace.  One guy had a King kicker to win it, the other guy showed an Ace but didn't show his other card.  There were no good draws and the two stacks were both $200 or more.

I had pocket Jacks and one of the aggros made it $10, I called and four of us saw the flop. It was Ace-Queen-x and it checked around.  The turn was a blank and this time I bet $20, only the aggro who raised preflop called.  The river was another blank, I checked and he checked.  My Jacks were good and he said he missed his draw.

I limped with pocket 6's, there was no raise and four of us saw the flop, which was 6-4-2.  I bet $8 and someone made it $16.  I just called not wanting to scare him off. It was now heads up.  The turn was a deuce giving me a boat.  I checked, expecting him to bet so I could check-raise but he checked behind.  I bet $25 on a blank river but he folded.

I called $12 with pocket 7's and it was heads up.  The flop was Jack-7-x, two clubs.  He c-bet $15 and I made it $40.  He folded pocket 9's face up.

By the way, although these last two hands were one right after the other in my notes, I'm pretty sure there was a fairly long time between them.  I didn't flop sets that close together..

I limped in from late position with 7-6 clubs.  The flop was 10-7-6.  Lightning led out for $5 and Mike called.  I made it $20 and they both folded.

I raised to $8 with Ace-Queen and saw a pretty favorable but scary flop, Ace-Queen-Jack.  I bet $20 and nobody called.

There was one good hand—probably my favorite hand of the night—that got lost in my notes.  When I was recording my voice notes the next day, I realized most of the details were missing.  Haven't had that happen in awhile, I am thinking that somehow I highlighted my notes for it and wrote over them. This was one of the early hands at the table. So I don't have the details but I called a raise from one of the aggros with pocket Jacks, it was multi-way (including Lightning).  The flop was Queen-Queen-x and there was no betting.  No betting on a King turn either.  On the river I think there were three spades or three clubs in addition to the overcards.  This time the aggro bet $27 and my inclination was to fold since there were so many ways I could be beat.  Lightning folded and I started thinking more and more about it.  I realized he didn't have a Queen, he would have bet earlier streets. I decided there was a decent chance my Jacks were good and I called.  He said, "I hope you have nothing, Ace-high."  He showed an Ace.  I showed my Jacks to take the pot and got a few "nice calls" from various players.  I wish I had complete details because as I am recreating it now it doesn't seem like such a tough call.

Anyway, I had to take off and call it a night.  I ended up booking a $50 win, not much but it broke a losing streak.  It was only $50 because the aggros made it expensive to play drawing cards. So I was happy grinding out the small win, unlike Lightning who had the horseshoe right where he needed it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

It Makes You Wonder, Doesn't It?

My friend Don texted me this tale the other night, something he had just witnessed while attending a Stevie Wonder concert at Park MGM (yes, he doesn't spend all of his free time playing poker).  He thought my readers, particularly those of you who are fans of a particular kind of popular post, would find it of interest.  So thank you Don, and I'll let Don tell you what he saw at the concert.

Directly in front of me are two "older" Indian gentlemen (late 40s-early 50s) and two attractive, twenty-something ladies, one African-American, one Asian.  I'm sure the show cost the Indian gentlemen quite a bit since they weren't just paying for the tickets but also for their companions' time.  So, all show the guys are clearly into the music and the ladies are sitting there bored, posting on Instagram, not clapping, not singing, not dancing, nothing.  Then the last song starts and they both start rocking out.  What song did Stevie Wonder play to elicit that reaction from two "escorts" you ask???

I can't make this shit up.

Monday, August 6, 2018

I'm Not Gus Hansen

Saturday I had a session out in Ventura.  The game was 2/3 NL, the buy-in was $300 and of course I got accused of being Gus Hansen.

Yes, Gus Hansen, the famous poker pro from Denmark.

It was a bit of a shock because I don't usually get confused with a Danish person.  Or for that matter, a professional poker player.  Or even a good poker player.

Well, technically, that's not quite true. I have been told on multiple occasions I look like Gabe Kaplan. I think Gabe was once considered a professional poker player, but I'm not sure he is any more.

But it's kind of irrelevant because the person who asked me if I was Gus Hansen was not referring to my physical appearance but to my poker skills.

Let me know when you stop laughing. The guy was just messing around because I won a pot from him.  I think.

He was a bit of maniac as a player and a bit eccentric as a person.  A middle-aged European (perhaps on the high side of middle age), I'd definitely seen him before but it had been a good long time since I'd played with him and my memory of him was vague.

But when I got to the table he was playing quite aggressively, with frequent and large preflop raises and some big bets on the later streets and, at least initially, a reluctance to fold.

When he lost all his chips (calling off his stack on a draw that he missed), he quieted down a bit.  And since he had been there for awhile before I got there, I have no idea if he had perhaps rebought more than once before I showed up.

But the good news is that I won some pots and after the second or third he said to me, "Who are you?  Gus Hansen?"  I just laughed.  Then he asked, "Do you know who Gus Hansen is?"  I said of course I did.  I have no idea why he picked Gus Hansen.  I'm sure nothing I did resembled his game, and I certainly don't look like him.  It was strange but mildly amusing.

The picture below is not Gus Hansen.  I thought of including a pic of Gus with this post, but then I thought my readers are sophisticated poker fans who know what Gus Hansen looks like (in case you don't, you can click on the link to Gus's Wikipedia page that I provided).  I'm sure there must be a Danish person my readers would rather look at than Gus, handsome as is.  I chose Danish swimsuit model Nina Agdal.  Hey, when you do your own poker blog and write a post about Gus Hansen, you can use a picture of Gus Hansen. I do things my way.

I won a small pot with top pair, top kicker, then I was dealt Ace-9 on the button.  A few players had called $7 and since I had position I called too.  Then the small blind made it $23.  Two others called before it got back to me.  I decided to come along.

The flop was Jack-10-8, rainbow.  The small blind bet $25 and it folded to me.  Pretty easy call with the open-ender.  The turn was a beautiful 7.  This time the small blind checked and I bet $60.  He tanked and folded          

I opened to $15 under-the-gun with two Queens. I got two callers, including my European friend.  The flop was Jack-high and I bet $40.  Both players called.  Another Jack hit the turn.  This time I checked.  It checked through.  The river was yet another Jack.  There was no way either of them had the case Jack, I thought.  I would have heard from them when I checked the turn.  So I led out for $55.  Next to act, my European friend counted out chips.  At first I wasn't sure if he was going to call or raise, because the way he stacked out his chips it looked like he might have wanted to match it and put out a bigger bet.  But he didn't act and then he tanked forever.  I didn't think this guy was the Hollywooding type so I was not really worried he was putting on act trying to induce me to call a raise with him sitting on quad Jacks.  I could sense the fellow next to him was eager to fold.

Finally European man did fold, and the fellow next to me instantly mucked.  As I started stacking my chips, he said, "Did you have an Ace or better?"  I just smiled.  "I almost called.  I had a 4." (There was a 4 on the board).  I just nodded. I believe this was the moment he asked me if I was Gus Hansen.

I suppose after this next hand I should have asked him if he was Phil Ivey.  In the big blind with King-Queen off there was no raise and I just checked.  The flop was King-5-3, and I led out for $10, two calls including the European.  The turn was a 6 and I bet $20, both called.  The river was a 4. Four to a straight out there, I checked.  He counted out $75 and bet.  Back to me.  I convinced myself that he was betting that much because I checked the river and he was trying to steal it. But I also knew that this guy plays a wide range and could show up with anything.  I just couldn't find the fold, and actually, I really thought I was making a good call.  But he flipped over pocket 4's, for a rivered set. Jeez.  He pointed out that he was open ended on the turn. I'm sure Gus Hansen wouldn't have made that mistake.

Then I got pocket Aces in the big blind.  There were a bunch of limpers, nobody raised.  So I added $20 to my $3 blind. I got two callers  The flop was Ace-3-3.  Yahtzee!  I figured when you flop a boat, especially with pocket Aces, you have to slow play it, so I checked. No one else bet.  By the way, the European wasn't in this hand. The turn was the third club and I was of course hoping someone had a flush.  The small blind led out for $25, fortunately.  Did he make his flush?  I wasn't sure whether to call or raise.  I decided to just call hoping the third player would come along.  Fortunately he did.  The river was a blank but this time the player on my right checked.  Damn.  I obviously had to bet, so I put out $50.  The first guy folded instantly, the other folded after a few seconds.  Bummer.  I guess he didn't have a flush.  Maybe he was just trying to steal it because I checked the flop?  It was still a nice pot but of course I was hoping for more.

I'd had a long day before I even got to the poker room so I was ready to wrap it up.  I opened to $15 with Ace-Queen suited and got just one call.  The flop missed me but I took it with a $25 c-bet.

Soon thereafter I racked up and the European asked me why I was living so soon.  I just shrugged and said to him, "When I see Gus Hansen I'll say hello to him for you."  He laughed.

I booked a $125 win, which was cool, but not nearly as good as Gus would have done.