Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Hurry Up and Wait

This took place the day after I dropped Lightning off at the airport, as told in this post.  It was a Saturday and I wanted to play a tournament, but I wasn't sure which one.  It was Seniors weekend in Vegas, so that affected some of my options. The WSOP was running their seniors bracelet events, and most of the places around town were also running seniors events to complement what was going on at the Rio.  So I had really only two options, the 1pm $150 at Golden Nugget or a slightly smaller buy-in tourney at Planet Hollywood.  But by the time I was ready to head out, I had already missed the start of the PH event, and because the buy-in was less, the structure was such that by the time I could make it over there, it'd be so late that I'd likely be coming in with a starting stack that was down to an M level of 10.  That sounded like a bad idea.  But then to me, so does starting a tournament at 11am, which was the case for this PH tourney.

The only reason I was hesitant about the Nugget tourney was that I knew they were also having a big seniors event this day—a $250 NLH event with a $100K guarantee.  The starting time for it was 10am.  And I seemed to recall that this is a big draw for the Nugget and that maybe the space for the 1pm would be limited.  So, worried about the crowd, I rushed like crazy to get there as early as possible.  I made a quick lunch in my room and gobbled it down as fast as I could.  I had to pray that traffic downtown wasn't awful and I lucked out there.  So I arrived at the Nugget at least a half hour before the start time.  Hopefully that was early enough so I could claim a seat at the start and not have to wait around as an alternate, which was a big concern of mine.

When I walked into the ballroom they were using for the Grand Poker Series, I was rather amazed by just how crowded it was.  The room was absolutely packed.  Not only was every table full, it looked like they had managed to jam in a few more tables in there than there were the last time I was there.  And I saw people milling around who I hoped were people waiting for the 1pm tournament to start and not alternates waiting to get into the Seniors event.

But fortunately there wasn't much of a line to buy-in. So I got up to the cashier and told her I wanted buy into the 1pm tourney (I was very specific about that, because they might have still been accepting late entries for the Seniors and sadly, I cannot pass for someone who is too young to play a Seniors event).

And she promptly told me that due to the popularity of the Seniors event, the 1pm tourney had been moved back to 3pm.


So I rushed over there for nothing.

I had to do some ruminating about whether I still wanted to play if it wasn't going to start until three.  For one thing, that would make for a really late night if I made a good run.  For another thing, what the heck would I do for the next couple of hours, waiting around?  And lastly, would they still have a dinner break?  Remember on these (hopefully) long tournaments a dinner break is rather important to me.  She said yes, but because the tournament was starting two hours later, the dinner break would be two hours later also.  I wasn't sure I believed her, so I asked if she was sure there would still be a dinner break and she assured me there would be. 

OK, so I figured I didn't have to decide right away whether to buy into a tournament that wasn't starting for 2-1/2 hours.  So I asked the lady, "Is there someplace I could take a nap for a couple of hours?"  She laughed and said, "Oh, if you can find one, let me know."

Yeah, I was tired—hell, I'm always tired when I'm in Vegas—and if this had been some place near the Strip, I probably would have driven back to my room and tried to take a nap, then see how I felt after that.  But I was already downtown—valet parked, no less—and I wasn't about to leave unless I knew for sure I wouldn't be returning later that day.

So I decided to check out the sights on Fremont Street while I was trying to figure out what to do.  As it happened, there was some kind of classic car show right on Fremont St.  They had brought in a whole bunch of spiffy, cherried up old cars to look at.  I'm not a huge classic car fan, but I have to admit this was pretty cool.  All the cars were in like perfect condition.  Plus, most of them had their hoods open and the engines were all shiny and new.  I mean, this engines were so pristine you could eat off them.  I wondered if these were real engines or just mock-ups. 

Then I went over to Binion's to see how they were doing with their summer series.  Jerry, who runs the room these days, greeted me warmly and told me how busy most of the events were.  They actually didn't have enough tables to accommodate the crowds they were getting for their non-hold-em events (which is what they were mostly offering again this year).  They only had eight tables and he said they could easily fill double that. This day they were running the 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo event, and there were plenty of alternates waiting to get in.  I didn't make this comment to Jerry, but I thought that he was in direct competition with the Seniors event across the street.  Let's face it, virtually everyone who wanted to play 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo was easily eligible to play a seniors event!  I didn't notice any young whippersnappers at the tables at Binion's.

I thought maybe I could play a little 1/2 until the tourney started.  Ha!  I went back to the Nugget and their regular poker room was also completely jammed (needless to say, Binion's didn't have any tables for cash games).  First off, I believe they were actually using some of the tables in the poker room for the tournament (even though there's a pretty good distance between the poker room and the tournament area).  There was not an empty table there and there were 41 names on the list for the 1/2 game.   There were over 20 on the list for the 2/5 game and a similar amount on the list for the 2/4 game.  It was pretty much impossible to play poker downtown right then if you already didn't have a seat!

I managed to kill time until 2:30, so I decided to check back in the ballroom and see how they were doing. I wasn't convinced they were going to be read to run a new tourney at 3.  If every table was still being used, then I would have to think that they might cancel the 1pm altogether or push it back even further.  But 3pm was definitely the limit for me. 

Well when I got back there were some empty tables that they were setting up for a new tournament.  Not a lot, but some.  And I could see they were breaking tables fairly rapidly.  Ok, well I felt pretty good so I decided I would play.  There wasn't a big crowd at registration   So I told her I was buying into the 1pm, I mean 3pm, you know, the $150 tournament.  And she said, "You'll be an alternate, is that ok?"  WTF?  They had at least six tables ready to go for the tournament and it was still a half hour before the new start time.  Damn, I should have bought into it when I first got there.

I asked what alternate number I would be.  She said 72.  72???  Yep.  Oh boy, having just wasted a couple of hours killing time, I'm going to leave now?  Well, as I was talking to her I could hear and see that they busting out of the seniors event really quickly.  I thought that I might not have to wait too long to get it.  I knew if I bought in and didn't get in quickly enough for my comfort, I could get a refund (should have thought of that at 12:30pm).  So I bit the bullet and handed over my $150.  Alternate 72.  I was hoping that I might get in early in level 2 if not before, which wouldn't have been so bad.

The place was still quite crowded and I realized that I could be in for a really long day so maybe I should see about charging my phone a little before the tournament started.  Fortunately I remembered that there was a bank of USB ports over by one of the monitors showing the tournament clock, which happened to be right by the area where the new tournament was going start (see here).

So I went over there and "stuck it in."  I didn't trust that my brand new phone was safe if I just left it there so I stood right by it, unable to sit down. It wasn't a very fast charger so I decided to turn my phone off in order to charge it a bit faster in the limited time I had. I later was informed by my blogging buddy Memphis Mojo that he was playing at the Nugget's senior event right then and he actually saw me standing over there.  He was going to come over to say hi when he was on break but by then I had disappeared.  Too bad.

They started at 3 with six tables….but there were some other empty tables.  Sure enough, almost as soon as they got cards in the air, they called for the first 50 alternates to come and get seats.  Damn, still shut out.  But actually, before all the first fifty alternates got situated, they called the next 10, and soon thereafter, another 10 more, which included me.  So I got my assignment, got my seat, and honestly, I didn't miss more than the first 10 minutes of the first 30-minute level.  Not bad at all.

My luck hadn't been good up until this point of the trip and it didn't get that much better this time.  As I mentioned when I first started writing up these reports from this trip, I didn't cash in any of the tournaments I played, so you already know how this turns out.  But I did have a bit of a better run in this tournament than any of my previous ones.  So much so that I actually made it to the dinner break for the first time all trip.  Of course it was my luck that the first time I made it to the dinner break it was in a tournament that had the start time delayed and thus the dinner break was pushed way back.

So let me explain how the dinner break was supposed to work and how it worked this time.  Tournament was supposed to start at 1pm, there was a regular 15-minute break every 4 levels.  The 40-minute dinner break, however, was an extra break after level 10.  I guess they thought 5:30pm was too early for dinner, and 7:30pm was too late. 

Now, with the later start time, I was absolutely sure that they would just have the dinner break after level 8 this one time, eliminating one of the 15-minute breaks.  This would get the tournament over with a little sooner than otherwise, and would send us on the dinner break at 7:30pm instead of the kind of late 8:30pm.  I mean, there really seemed like no reason at all not to do it that way, right?

In fact, the table started talking about the dinner break and speculating about when it would be and if it would be changed (or cancelled).  One of the ladies at the table said, "They better not cancel the dinner break, I haven't eaten all day and I'm starving."  That sounded like me, but of course, I had medical concerns if I couldn't get a real dinner.  At one point, after the topic had been breached, one of the TD's walked by our table and we asked about the dinner break and if maybe it had been moved up.  He assured that the dinner break was still going to happen, and that it would happen after the 10th level, not the 8th, just as originally scheduled. 

That made no sense to me but I think I eventually figured out why they didn't move the dinner break up.  This is pure speculation on my part, I never asked.  But I assumed the breaks for the tournament were all programmed into the Bravo clock they were using.  Moving that break would have meant reprogramming Bravo.  So my guess is that they didn't have anyone there would knew how to do it, or perhaps just didn't want to bother with the reprogramming.  I have no idea how much is involved in reprogramming the clock, but I suppose it might not be that simple.

Anyway, I guess when I was figuring out whether to play in the tourney, I was just assuming a break at 7:30 but once I knew for sure it was an hour later, I realized that was a problem for me.  I can't go that long without eating, plus one of the medications I must take needs to be taken with food, a decent amount of food at that.  So 8:30 wasn't going to work.  Fortunately, I had remembered to take a few Kind bars with me and at the 15-minute break at 7:30 I gobbled a few of them down and took the pill that would likely make me toss my cookies if taken on an empty stomach.  I had to hope the Kind bars were enough food (apparently they were, I had no stomach issues). 

And then an hour later came and it was the dinner break and now there was another problem with the delayed start.  At 8:30 on a Saturday night, Fremont St. is really crowded.  At least the cool cars had been removed, otherwise there would be no way to move at all.  So it was a real challenge walking in the very crowded street to get up to The Plaza for my Subway dinner (the Kind bars were enough to take the meds with, but not enough sustenance).  So another bit of bad luck because of the delayed start.

Well what about the poker, you ask?  As I said, I didn't make it to the money.  I won't go into many hands, just a few.  In the fourth level I finally hit a really big hand.  In the big blind, I called a smallish raise with 8-7 spades. There was six of us.  The flop was Jack-10-9, so yeah, I flopped the joint. I donked out a bet of $1,500, not sure why I did that—well, I might have been thinking that with so many players the raiser might not have made a c-bet unless he hit something.  The preflop raiser called.  I checked the turn, a harmless 6.  He bet $3K and I shoved and he snapped called and flipped over a set of 10's. Wow.  I dodged the boat on the river and had a real nice double up. 

Later, close to the dinner break, I had to shove Ace-8  I got called by Ace-King.  I would have been gone before the break except I caught a miracle 8 on the turn, and lived to make it to break.

Very next hand a lady opened the pot to $2,100 (which I believe was a reasonable raise) and another lady called.  The first woman was new to the table but the caller had been there the whole time and been playing some unusual hands and hitting them.  She had a big stack.  I looked down at two Aces and figured I had nothing to do but shove.  The original raiser folded but the caller snap called and flipped over the other two Aces!  Now I have seen Aces vs. Aces a few times but this was the first time I'd ever been one of the players with Aces.  My first thought was how the hell could she have just called with her Aces?  I'll never know.  We were both worried about the flush and I actually flopped a back door flush draw but by the turn it was just a guaranteed chopped pot.

I observed that although I had seen that before, I'd never participated in an Aces vs Aces hand myself.  Someone asked me, "Well, how was it?"  I said, "Well… was like kissing your sister."  The lady who folded took exception to that.  "Hey, you got my money—and I would have won!"  Apparently she folded King-Queen and would have hit two pair.  Honestly, except for the suits, I didn't even notice the cards on the board.

By the time I came back from the dinner break to level 11, I was quite desperate and early in that level I had to shove Queen-Jack.  I was snap called by a big stack with pocket Kings and yes, that was dreadful.  A Queen on the flop gave me some hope, but the board bricked out and I was done.  So after rushing to get that overpriced Subway meal at nearly 9pm, I played about 10 minutes more and was done.  Again, more bad luck.

They say better late than never, but it didn't work out that way for this late-starting tournament.

Note, this story took place in summer, but I'm posting it on Halloween, so that explains the pics  below.  Happy Halloween everyone!


  1. He was going to come over to say hi when he was on break but by then I had disappeared.

    Sorry I missed you.

  2. I actually read this post one day earlier than you posted it because of time zone. So all it take is some comments to keep you posting, now I know what to keep you going . Thanks .

    1. That's cool. Of course a better trick would have been to have read it before I WROTE it!

      Yes, it's true, I can be bribed with some positive feedback, I'm a sucker for that.

  3. SCARY long post but I enjoyed it!

    1. Haha...well it had been so long since I'd posted I wanted to make sure I gave you all an old-style lengthy post.

  4. I saw another picture of the Halloween Jennifer Tilly somewhere else. Have you ever met her? She looks like she would be fun to know.

    1. No, I've never met Jennifer tho of course I would love to. I've been a fan of hers before I got into poker and before I knew anything about her poker career.

      We have exchanged a few tweets back and forth over the of the few celebrities of her stature to have ever responded to any of my tweets.

      Our friend AlaskaGal told me that she once sat next to her at a Ladies event and she was really nice.

  5. I think we need a lessons learned list for Rob. 1. buy-in, you can always refund if things change. 2. bring snacks. 3. get plenty of rest. 4. make sure you take care of your friends. Bribe somebody else to bring you your subway at the start of break. Always enjoy reading your posts, would love to see you make your life a little simpler and less stressful.

    1. Thanks for the tips Dianne. Friends? Who has friends? But you know, I could have easily used that two hours I had to kill to get that Subway sandwich before the tourney started and just had it with me, ready to eat at the dinner break. I did think about it, but because I hadn't made a dinner break until then, I didn't want to pay an extra 50% for a Sub sandwich if I wasn't SURE I'd need it. If I had busted pre dinner break, I could have had a nicer and cheaper dinner elsewhere.