Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Do You Know Who I Am?"

Part 2 of 2

Part 1 is here and I assure you that you have to have read part 1 in order for this to make any sense.  We pick up right after we left off

As I got to level 8 (100/400/800), last level before my "dinner break", I was only at $12K and as such I was still desperate.  And as said level progressed, and my stack dwindled with no opportunities for a score, I was clock watching.  The big blind was heading my way.  Now in a perfect world, I'd play the big blind and the small blind before break time.  But for sure I wanted/needed the blinds to pass.  I was hoping the timing would be such that I could get a head start on the break, maybe miss a hand or two so I could use the restroom and still have time to eat and take my meds.  Or if I played both the big and small blinds before break, I wouldn't feel the need to rush back to not miss a hand of the next level.

As you may have already noticed, we do not live in a perfect world.  The big blind came to me slowly as players seemingly took forever to make their decisions.  I don't know if they were really taking a long time or it just seemed that way cuz I was watching the clock so intently. Whatever, it was obvious I wasn't going to get my wish and I had to post my big blind in the last few seconds of the level.  Well, at least I'd only have pay the new, bigger small blind to start the next level. Of course, this meant I was stuck there until the big blind hand played out, or at least until I folded.  Worse, as soon as the dealer dealt about two cards off the deck, I heard the announcement that the break had started!  The timing couldn't have been worse.  Instead of getting an early start on the break, I got a late start.  Yuck.

I looked down at 10-9 offsuit.  Well, no way I'm going to be playing that hand out of position.  I should have just gotten up before the action came to me, but that is improper etiquette and technically a rules violation (acting out of turn).  So I waited patiently, knowing someone would raise and as soon as the action was on me, I'd bolt out of my chair and head for the restroom.

And wouldn't you know it, it went limp, limp, limp… one raised.  First hand in I dunno how long no one raised.  So it came to me and all I had to do was check to see the flop. Not sure how many limpers there were but there were a lot.  Incredible.  Anyway, the flop came 9-9-X!  Wowzers.  I didn't really spend much time thinking.  With my stack, I'm not sure I could have bet anything smaller, but under the circumstances, wanting to end the hand ASAP anyway, I shoved.  Fortunately no one took long in deciding to fold and I took down the pot.  I suppose my eagerness to leave the table might have cost me some chips if I would have been able to figure out a way to bet smaller and get a caller but that was not in my interest at the time.

Well now they pushed me the pot and I had a bunch of chips to stack.  I suppose I could have left the pile there but I think that's rude so I made a quick attempt to neaten my chips a little before rushing to the Mens Room.  Actually, since they were doing a color up, I had to make sure I stacked all my $25 chips no matter what. Yeesh.  So after taking care of business, I found an empty table in the mezzanine and shoved a couple of Kind bars down my throat, then had a package of Peanut Butter & Crackers.  Meanwhile I had my phone and was looking at the Bravo clock on it, seeing how close it was to the end of the break.  I decided I had enough time for one more package of Peanut Butter Crackers and then took my meds and rushed to the tournament area.

Now, if you've looked at a clock on Bravo, you've seen that warning that the clock on the app is not the official clock and it is only approximate, right?  Well, they don't lie.  According to the clock on the phone, I was a few seconds early but as I got back into the London Club I saw that tables were dealing cards out.  Dammit.  I got to my table and saw that just as I pulled my chair out, the dealer was taking my hole cards away.  I said, "Wait, I'm here," before he pulled my cards into the muck.  But he said, "Sorry, you're too late."  Even with the last card off the deck rule, I had been a few damn seconds too late.  Oh well.  And then he took the blind that had been posted for me.  It was then I noticed it was not the small blind of $500—it was the big blind of $1K!

Then I located the button.  It should have been with the player on my immediate right.  Having played the big blind last hand before break, I was now the small blind.  But instead, the button was still two seats to my right.  That meant that they had not taken my ante and small blind, but they had taken my ante and another big blind—a new, bigger big blind ($1K, up from $800).  Well this was not right, not right at all.  I think it was then I noticed that during the break a new dealer had pushed in.

The betting action was starting and I spoke up immediately.  I pointed out that the button had not been moved and I was the big blind last time, and shouldn't have been the big blind again this time. I explained to the dealer,  "I was the big blind last time, that's the only reason I played that hand! "  The dealer shrugged and said he had just pushed in during the break and that's where the button was.  Obviously the previous dealer had forgotten to move the button.  Well at first it seemed like the dealer was going to ignore me and said, "Well, there's been action," but then he thought better of it and called the floor over (perhaps because of the way I was adamantly protesting).  Fortunately the floor was nearby and showed up almost instantly.  And after hearing what happened and with me insisting that I had been the big blind last time, he said, "Well, it has to stand, there's been too much action."  I'm not sure what action there had been, but at least one player had entered the pot, not sure if there was a call yet.  But then another player spoke out and said, "Well, the action happened after he spoke up.  There wasn't any action before he noticed the button was wrong and told the dealer."  I believe there were also some other players confirming that the button was in the wrong postion.

The floor said, "Oh, it wasn't until then?"  A few players said that was correct, and the dealer more-or-less agreed.  Frankly, I'm not sure if that was right or not but whatever.  The floor then said, "In that case, take the cards back, misdeal."  And with that, everyone returned their cards to the dealer and he moved the button to where it should have been all along and a new hand was dealt, and I only posted the small blind, as I should have all along (and also got to look at my hand). Amazingly, none of the other players complained.

I was surprised the player on my right didn't notice the error.  He was in the hand when I got the trip 9's, even commented as he folded (the final fold), "You have a 9, huh?"  And he was an astute player who had helped an inexperience dealer out with some payouts previously.  He had to remember that he was the small blind already and should have now have been the button.  But only after I spoke up and reminded him did he recall and agreed that the button had not been moved.

Meanwhile the guy on my left hadn't returned from the break so missed the whole brouhaha and thus forfeited his big blind with the re-dealt hand.

Now I have a confession to make.  For the tiniest part of a nano-second, when it was looking like I was going to lose the argument, it did flash in my mind to do something I've never, ever done in a poker room dispute.  Was I willing, for the first time ever, to go with the "Do you know who I am?" gambit?

Now, I'm not a big deal in the Vegas poker community, not by a long shot.  But I am somewhat known in it.  Because of my work, I have personal relationships with most of the poker room managers in town.  And certainly I would say I have good relationships with the managers (and tournament directors) of any room that runs a big summer series every year.  Most of them appreciate what I contribute in terms of helping promote poker and also promoting their individual rooms and games.  I never, ever have felt the urge to use my relationships with these folks to gain a favorable ruling in a dispute, or even get priority seating in a busy room.  I always felt that it would totally wrong to ever try it, unethical, and inappropriate.  And besides, whenever I've seen other people pull crap like that (like saying, "Do you know who I am?"), I always felt they were acting like assholes.  And I try not to act like an asshole.

Well, like I said, it did occur to me that I could ask the floor to get the TD involved, because I knew he was there (in the main tournament area) and because he knows me well. So I could perhaps identify myself and who I worked for and they would have probably have asked the TD to come over. But for the reasons I've just explained, I never seriously considered doing that.  Besides—it would be totally unfair of me to expect a different, more favorable ruling just because of who I am.  If the guy's ruling was right, it was right whether I was Fishy McFisherman or Phil Ivey.  And I'm sure PH wouldn't have changed the ruling because it was me, nor should they have.  The only reason I even contemplated it for the nano-second I did was due the unfortunate circumstances that found me a tad late getting back to the tournament—the short breaks, the lack of a dinner break and specifically the very long distance between the tournament area and the rest rooms. So they would have told me, "Sorry the last dealer apparently made a mistake and didn't move the button, but it was your responsibility to get back in time to catch it."  And I would have had a few "yeah, buts" to respond with, but it wouldn't or shouldn't have changed anything.

The other thing I will point out is that, the button mistake did not just affect me.  In the original dealt hand, everybody had the wrong cards, right?  So that was something that needed to be corrected.  Plus a guy would have gotten to play the button twice in a row, obviously not fair to everyone else.  And my neighbor to the right would have posted an extra small blind (and at a higher level).  So it was out of whack for all of us, though I was paying the heaviest price—posting a big blind twice in a row the second time for a hand that had been mucked without my ever seeing it.

Anyway, I was definitely prepared to let it go and just be unhappy about it when the guy reversed himself.  I'm grateful he made what I believe to be the right ruling, and am also grateful to whoever it is who spoke up and said that I had pointed out the goof before there was any action.

Well, the new hand was uneventful for me, we played on and I remained card dead an looking for a hand to shove with.  I lasted a couple of more levels, and even got the dreaded pocket Kings.  My shove was uncalled.  That was definitely one time I wanted to get called and take my chances with them.

Level 11 (200/800/1600) I started with $18K chips, still desperate.  I looked at Ace-10 off, under-the-gun, and made the easy decision to shove.  It folded around to the big blind, who called with pocket 9's.  The flop was all bricks and then I was put out of my misery by a 9 on the turn.  I was drawing dead, and I was done.  This flight had gotten 234 players they were paying 29 (the top 12% cashed, and the top 6% advanced to day 2).  I couldn't tell for sure, but I estimated there were about 80 players left when I busted.

Another tournament disappointment, and probably a bad overall decision for me to play this particular event since the logistics of it were just not designed for someone like me.

Oh well, live and learn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It's a Long Walk to London

Part 1 of 2

Intro: When I finished working on this one, it turned out to be just a bit too long for a single post, so even though part 1 is basically all set-up for the main thrust of my tale, I've decided to run it in two parts.  Hopefully I made the set up worth your time, and you'll come back for the main event in a few days.

Time to get back to my summer in Vegas.  This may be the last tournament I discuss, although I can't be sure until I listen to my voice notes about the others.  Another unsuccessful run, but there was an "incident" in this one that is worth my time telling you about.  I mean, I did almost make a scene.  Perhaps I actually did make a scene, but for about a nano-second I contemplated really stirring things up.

But of course, because it's me, I can't just get to that point in my story without setting it up and explaining how exactly I came to be in this particular predicament.

Planet Hollywood was running what they were calling the "Low Roller."  These were multi-flight events (two flights a day) with a $250 buy-in and a $200K guarantee.  The levels were 30-minutes and the starting stack was 15K.  The one I was finally ready to play was on a Wednesday & Thursday (day 1's) with a Friday day 2.  The starting times for the day 1's were 11am and 4pm.

For my convenience, the day 1 flights did not have a dinner break (but they did have a 30-minute break on day 2).  I think I've made it clear how much I prefer playing in tournaments with dinner breaks but if you don't recall why this is important to me, you can go back to this post here.

Now there was no absolute necessity for me to play in one of these events.  I certainly could have skipped it and played something else.  But after reviewing the feedback I got to that post I just linked to, I decided I could be a little more flexible and try to play in tournaments that clearly weren't designed with me in mind.  I decided that this tournament was worth putting my newfound flexibility to the test.  Despite the odd starting times and the lack of a food break, I would try it.  You may not think it's much, but for an old fussbudget like myself, well, I was proud of myself for trying.

But which flight to play?  The trouble with the morning flight was that it was sort of a double-whammy. It had a way too early-start time plus the lack of a food break.  I can't eat lunch early enough to be at a poker table at 11.  So I would have to bring a lunch and, presumably my dinner too.  Ugh.

But the 4pm flight….well, all I'd have to bring is dinner.  I could fix myself a nice big lunch (basically a normal dinner for me) and thus a crummy dinner wouldn't be so bad.  It'd be a late day for sure, but having only one crummy meal was worth it to me.  Having proved to myself that I could take my meds with just a few protein bars (see here), I stuffed my pockets with both Kind Bars and some of those packs of Peanut Butter & Crackers.  I felt I was good to go.

Well, almost.  I had to deal with the tournament breaks, and this was an issue.  Now, when I first started working in the poker biz and entering tournaments into the PokerAtlas database, it seemed like all tournaments pretty much had standard breaks.  You know, 10-minutes every six levels, or 15-minutes every four levels, or similar.  Maybe one of the breaks would be a dinner break but otherwise it was pretty standard.  But the last few years, tournament directors have gotten creative.  Like sometimes the breaks are 10-minutes and sometimes they are 15-minutes—in the same tournament.  And maybe the first break is after four levels but the second break is after another five levels and then maybe the next one is after three more levels or six more levels or whatever.  As an aside, entering tournaments with mixed up breaks like this makes my job a lot more difficult.  Our database is set up assuming the breaks are always the same length with a single tournament and also the same number of levels apart.  When they mix and match like this, I have to enter a lot exposition into what is supposed to be a simple data form.  Frankly, it's a pain and I do sometimes wish the tournament directors would just make up their minds and stick to a simpler format.

But…..of course I'm sure they have very valid reasons for doing this, and I'm sure that reason is not just to mess with me.  Seriously, these TD's all have difficult jobs and I'm sure they are trying to present the best possible product to their customers and that's why they do this.  Besides, if it takes me longer to enter a tournament this way, well, that's job security.  I am actually grateful that they make it as complicated as they possibly can.  Thanks, guys!

I guess I got a bit off on a tangent (for a change).  Getting back to the subject at hand, the point is that this tournament had both 10-minute breaks and 15-minute breaks.  Just my luck, the break after the first four levels would only be 10-minutes and the one after level 8 would be 15-minutes.  And to defend the fine folks at Planet Hollywood (and I love you guys, honest!), I can tell you that the longer breaks were because those were the breaks where they had to do the color-up, so they needed more time.  It wasn't just a random decision.

The thing is, waiting to eat until the second break, the one that was 15-minutes, would be pushing it for me, not just my meds schedule but also going that long without food.  But I would prefer to have that extra five minutes if I was going to eat and take my meds. If only the first break was 15-minutes, I could have eaten at 6, but alas, that wasn't the case.  I remembered this in time to partially solve the problem by grabbing a slice of pizza before the tournament at the Pin-Up pizza place at PH.  I was able to pay for the slice with my Total Rewards points, and trust me, that pizza was worth exactly what I paid for it.

It seemed like I had everything covered until I saw the location of the tournament for this particular flight.  Now, they use the mezzanine for the Goliath series, and it's a huge area on, well, the mezzanine overlooking the casino, which is in front of the hotel's convention space.  The nearest restrooms are in the convention area and it's a pretty good hike from the poker tables.  I was naturally expecting the tournament to be held in this mezzanine area.  But when I bought in, I was told this particular flight was being held in something called the "London Club."  And they pointed me away from the mezzanine, into a hidden area (well, it looked hidden to me).  I was early but went over to check it out and I could see that this was much, much farther away from the restrooms than the area I was used to.  I had to assume there were convenient restrooms nearby, because the hike to the restrooms I was familiar with from this new tournament area would seemingly take an entire 10-minute break by itself, not even counting the time necessary to take care of business.

I'm not sure if I ever saw a sign saying this was the London Club, but I did see a sign indicating that I was approaching the "Diamond Lounge." I dunno if this used to be the Diamond Lounge or if maybe if the tournament series had temporarily taken over the Diamond Lounge.  Regardless, the area for the tournament was very nice but very far away from those restrooms.  I happened to notice a guy in a suit who looked like he might be a tournament director (but not one I recognized).  I asked him if there were restrooms in the area.  He said something like, "Let me see if they've unlocked the restrooms," and he disappeared into the back (farther away from the main area).  Much later, I saw him the area and he walked right by me without saying a word.  I assume he was going to ask someone about getting those nearby restrooms opened up, but I never saw him again. 

I thought to myself, well, if the restrooms are really that far away, they are going to have to adjust the break times for our flight.  Right?  Well no, they didn't.  I guess it wouldn't have been fair to other flights (presumably the morning flight was held in the regular tournament area).  But I have to say, if I had known about this location, I would have most likely skipped the tournament.  The concession I made over the dinner issue was my limit, but having to practically run to the restrooms (with my chronic bad back issues) would have made it a bridge too far.

Indeed, when the first break came, they announced that the only restrooms available were in the convention area, a nice little hike away.  Amazingly, I was actually able to make it to the Mens Room and back during the first (10-min) break without missing a hand.  Luckily, there wasn't a line in the Mens Room, which as you know, frequently happens during breaks in a big tournament.

Meanwhile, I had to worry about how I was going to shove my protein bars and Peanut Butter & Crackers down during the second break and hit the Mens Room.  I mean, you really didn't want to visit the restroom except during the breaks, because you'd miss too many hands. 

And how did that play out?  Well, let's find out.  I'm not gonna talk about many hands, as you all know by now, I didn't cash. But level 3 had a interesting hand.  I was down to $13,700 and the blinds were 25/100/200.  I limped in with pocket 6's and five of us saw a flop of Queen-6-x.  I bet $500 and had two callers.   The turn was another 6, giving me the wonderful dilemma of how to play quads.  One of the two guys left was an aggro so I checked hoping he would bet.  In fact he did--$1,325.  I just called.  The river was meaningless and I wasn't sure if I should bet or not.  I decided to bet and put out $1,700.  I was hoping that was small enough for him to call if not raise.  He indeed called and when I flipped over my hand, he said, "I thought you might have that."  Really? Glad it didn't stop you from calling.

We flash ahead to level 7 (75/300/600) for a crucial hand.  Down to $7,100 and desperate, I looked down at Ace-Jack of hearts.  The big stack at the table opened the pot to $2K.  Another guy called.  I shoved.  I think I would have done it under any circumstances considering my tournament situation, but I was also thinking, well, if I bust here, I can still have a decent dinner.  Anyway the big stack called but the other guy folded.  The big stack had King-8 of spades.  Wow.  Once he called I assumed he'd have a better hand than that.  The flop was nice.  Not one but two Aces, but one of the three cards was a spade.  The turn was also a spade giving him the flush draw.  But he whiffed on the flush and I had my double up.

And that's where we leave part 1.  I'll post the rest of the story, where we get to the "incident," after Thanksgiving (now posted here).  And speaking of Thanksgiving, here's hoping you all have a great one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bad Beat Stories Aren't Always Sad

On Saturday I ventured over to Ventura for some poker.  I almost didn't go.  You've no doubt heard about the fires here in Southern California.  Well, the fires were conveniently located between the poker room and me.  Before I even thought about going, I confirmed with Google that all possible roads to get me there were indeed open.  But with the 101 closed near the area where I would catch up with it, I knew there'd likely be more traffic for me getting there.  And I'd get to see plenty of smoke on the way there and back. But the winds were calm that day and I didn't think it would get any worse while I was out there.  In other words, I figured I'd be able to drive back.

I knew I wouldn't play long.  I woke up later than usual, left later than usual and of course did indeed have more traffic than usual.  And I also wanted to leave fairly early, because of increased traffic and just in case things did worsen.  Really, I shouldn't have bothered going out there.  But I really needed to get out of the house and do something somewhat social.

So I arrived late but caught a break when they started a new 1/2 game within a few minutes of my arrival.  The very first hand, I was the big blind and looked down at pocket Jacks. But it folded to the small blind and he asked if I wanted to chop.  They say there are three ways to play Jacks and they're all wrong.  Well this was a fourth way….chop the blinds with them.  I think that way's the winner.

I had seemingly gone a long time without winning a pot—and rarely playing one—when I got Ace-4 of diamonds in the big blind.  Someone had raised to $6 and with a suited Ace I called, even though it was just heads up.  Hey, that was the best hand I'd seen since the Jacks.  The flop was Ace-Jack-X and so I led out for $8.  He folded.  Monster pot there for my first one of the day.

Then I got the dreaded hand a few orbits later.  There were some limpers so I raised to $8.  I know that's small but it seemed like the right bet for how the table was playing at this point.  I guess it was too much. No one called.  But for me to take down a pot with Kings uncontested is a big win.

It wasn't my day.  That was pretty much it and it looked like I'd be going home in the red for the day.  I guess I was down to about $55-$65 and wasn't about to rebuy as I wanted to get on the road.  I wasn't getting cards, and when I did get something playable, I wasn't connecting with the flop.

As I was thinking about whether this was my last orbit or not, I looked down at pocket Queens.  I raised to $6 and got four callers.  The flop was 10-9-3, rainbow.  I c-bet $10 with my overpair.  Only the guy on my immediate left called.  The turn was an Ace.  I checked, and he bet $15.  I considered folding.  But I also thought there was a good chance he didn't have the Ace and that he bet because I had shown weakness by checking.  Maybe he only had a 10, or a 9?  I figured if I called, he might check the river and get me to a cheap showdown.  So I went ahead and called.

Well the river was rather nice—a Queen. I glanced over and he had his hand near his chips and I thought he might be eager to bet.  So I took a chance and checked.  He put out a bet, I'm not sure what it was and I didn't ask, but I guess it was around half my remaining stack.  I looked at my chips and realized I really couldn't raise without jamming so I moved all-in.  Yeah, I knew that King-Jack or Jack-8 was possible, but I really didn't think either was very likely.  Ace-10 or Ace-9 seemed more likely.  Anyway, he snapped called and as I showed my set of Queens, he flipped over pocket 10's!  Oh man, did I suck out on him!

I mean two-outers are fun, when you hit them, right?  I kind of half-heartedly apologized while I dragged in the pot.  Set-over-set is bad enough (if you're on the losing end) but for me to get it on the river when he was crushing me on the flop and the turn—ugh.  I mean "ugh": for him.  For me it's great.

Of course been on the wrong end of that situation has happened to me plenty of times.  Hell, if you play poker, it's happened to you plenty of times.  That's poker, right?  A bad beat in your favor is really a good beat, right?  Of course, it's just human nature to forget all about hands like these next time you run into a few bad beats in a row.  And the worse thing would be for someone to tell me, next time I whine about a bad beat,  "Well, it evens out.  Remember that time you rivered the set of Queens against a guy's set of 10"s?"  I might be tempted to tell someone who did that precisely where to go.  In the meantime, I'll just enjoy this "good beat",  thank you very much.

I stayed another orbit and a half and was actually able to book a fifty buck profit based on that lucky hand.

Since this post is relatively short, let me close it with a little note I received from my buddy Don—a slice of Vegas life and a "woman said."  Here goes:  "Riding down the escalator towards Cromwell and I hear the woman behind me say to her friends about someone else, 'Well that's classy. You can't buy class.' Said woman is about 50 pounds overweight, wearing yoga pants and a crop top, drinking some cheap iced alcoholic beverage from a straw out of a plastic cup, and has a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. I think 'yeah toots, but if they tried to buy class, then it's a hell of a lot more effort than you made.'"

I responded that she's got class she hasn't even used yet.

Now, you may wonder what the pic below has to do with anything.  Well, the young lady below is exposing her tummy much like the woman in Don's story was.  Of course, this woman doesn't look (to me, at least), to be quite as overweight as the one Don described.
So I am really running this pic because it was obviously taken at a recent Lakers game, and you all know how much I love the Lakers.  Yeah, let's go with that.


Friday, November 9, 2018

"She Doesn't Know Where Those Bills Have Been"


Seems like I keep getting distracted whenever want to write a blog post.  I was just about ready to start a new post for you, but it will be rather complex and time-consuming to write (might even be a two-parter), so I don't know how soon I'll be able to get that written and posted.  That means it will be too long between posts.  So I thought I'd do something I haven't done in awhile--a repost.

The story below was one of my earliest blog posts, published late 2011, when the blog was barely a month old.  As such, you will see that my game of choice back then was 2/4 limit hold'em, and I reference a casino I referred to as "BSC."  I trust you all can remember what that referred to. Yes, this story was written and took place before I started playing no limit poker!  

You will note that there's no actual poker content in this post, even though the story took place at a poker table.  This was actually the kind of story (i.e,, "provocative" or as I like to say, "salacious") I started the blog to tell, and my favorite type of post, and honestly, stories like this have been few and far between the past few years.  i miss them.

This particular story actually has one of the highest number of page views of any of my posts.  So why am I reposting it now?  Well, because I don't think most of those pageviews came from my regular readers.  You see, sometime after the original post ran, a certain website that had nothing to do with poker posted a link to it, and that got the post a whole lot of traffic.

What was the topic of the website that linked to it?  Well, it was an site devoted to interracial dating.  There was a forum there and one of the topics had to do with a white guy who was into watching his girlfriend (or wife) having sex with a black man.  Somehow this guy found my post through an web search and it got him real exited at the thought of taking his lady to the strip club I mentioned and watch her get serviced by a black male stripper.  He posted the link and asked if any of the members of the site knew if that was possibly at this club!

The odd thing about this is that, nowhere in my post did I ever say that "Freddy" was African-American.  As it happens he is.  But I didn't mention in the post, yet somehow this guy assumed he was--or perhaps he was just hoping he was.

The other thing I once noticed was that at least one (or perhaps more than one) person found the original post by searching for "do the black male nude dancers have big dicks at the Palomino Club?"  Again, how did Google search assume I was talking about a black stripper?  Of course, my post doesn't answer this pressing question.

By the way, I guess I should point out that since this was originally reported seven years ago, it's possible that the "facts" I presented have somewhat changed.  Who knows?

Anyway, hopefully you enjoy this trip back in time!


About two weeks ago I got involved in one of the most unusual conversations I’ve ever had at poker table or in Vegas generally.  It started at my normal 2/4 game at BSC.  Sitting immediately to my right was Cindy, a forty-ish Midwest housewife and mother of two grown kids (that’s how I figured her to be forty-ish; she looked younger). 

Cindy and her husband came to Vegas for one of their regular visits to, among other things, play poker, both of them.  And Cindy didn’t come to play poker to sit quietly at the table, no sir.  She was one of the chattiest people I’ve ever encountered at a poker table.  So I learned about her kids and how she can drive around 45 minutes from her hometown and go to a poker room and that she also plays a lot of home games with friends.  She talked pretty much non-stop. It got close to being too much talk, but she was such a pleasant, nice lady it was ok.  Despite all these facts I learned about her, what she mostly talked about was poker....she commented on every hand, every hand she had, the play of every hand of the table.  She was real friendly and talked with everyone nearby, and basically spoke a book about poker during the evening.  

After an hour or so, a young, athletic-looking fellow came to the table that I vaguely recognized.  I saw the name “Freddy” as first on the list when he took his seat.  I started to remember Freddy….played with him a few times before at BSC.  My memory was that he is now a local, came to live in Vegas a while ago, perhaps a year back to train for his athletic career.  I’m pretty sure he I remember him saying he had gotten a job shining shoes at the Airport to make ends meet while he trained and waited for his athletic career to blossom.

After Freddy had been at the table for some time—and hadn’t been doing well, pokerwise—I started notice something unusual.  Twice I noticed the dealer asking a chip-runner for more chips and then counting out a boatload of singles to buy them with.  At one point I even commented, 'What, did someone break into their piggy bank?"  Not long later, Freddy ran out of chips once again (he was having as bad a night as I was) and this time I noticed he was buying $40 in chips in forty one dollar bills.  Yeah, he gave the dealer forty singles and was clearly the source of all the singles the dealers kept getting rid of.

This helped me remember Freddy.  I assumed he had all those one dollar bills from getting tips at the airport, shining shoes. Made sense to me.

Boy was I wrong.  The next time he bought more chips (like I said, he was having a tough nite of poker), the dealer—who clearly knew Freddy—said to him, "I guess you worked last night?"  I was still thinking shoe-shine so I didn't pay much attention but I guess he said yes. Cindy heard this, noticed the one dollar bills and said to Freddy, who she had been chatting with like all of us on this side of the table, "Oh, are you a stripper?"  I actually didn't hear her say this, I wasn't paying attention. Cindy told me this a few days later when we were laughing over this incident. She was just joking, or so she thought.  But Freddy looked kind of sheepish, kind of uncomfortable, and then reluctantly said, " a matter of fact.......yes, I am."  Freddy started filling in a few details before I started tuning in.  I think I first noticed when I heard the words "Palomino Club."  So Cindy got some details I hadn't heard.  But all of a sudden I noticed Cindy was pumping Freddy (so-to-speak) for info on his nude dancing career.  Once I figured out what Freddy was talking about, I knew I was gonna have a story worth re-telling and got involved in the conversation.

I asked Freddy directly....."You're a nude dancer?"  Yes.  "At Palomino Club?" Yes. It's in North Las Vegas.  "I know, I've heard of it.  But I didn't know they had male dancers there." They do. They have males dancing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  The rest of the time is just girls, but on those nights it's both.

I was shocked to say the least.  Of course, it had been well over 20 years since the last time I was there. And I can assure you the only people taking off their clothes at that time were women.  So I said, "What is it, like a Chippendale's show?"  Freddy laughed, said, "not exactly" and then Cindy said, "Oh no, this is a lot more than Chippendales.  There's full male nudity." Now I have to assume that Cindy had already gotten this info from Freddy before I tuned in, although I suppose it is possible that Cindy had more firsthand knowledge of this show! But I doubt that.  I said, "full male get totally nude?"  Freddy said yes, there's full frontal male nudity on these shows, and yes, he get's completely naked on stage.  He went to explain that the Palomino Club was the only place in town that had both alcohol and full frontal nudity.  I said I knew that but I thought that was only women, I didn't know they had guys dancing naked. He repeated that they have the shows on the weekend for women to enjoy the nude male dancers. 

Wow. I don't remember if it was Cindy or me who asked if he does lap dances.  But the answer is yes, he does.  They have private booths for that. Cindy knew what that could possibly lead to, so she asked him if any actual "sex" was ever involved. He explained that there are rules and that of course it is not allowed, but if "some of the dancers want to break the rules and they get away with it....."  He was totally third person discussing this but if I had to guess, he's schtuped his share of gals in the private booths.  He said they have to be careful because you can see the booths’ motion and figure out what is going on.

Cindy asked, "If you're totally naked, where do they put the tips?"  He laughed.  Most of the tips come when they are dancing before they get totally naked.  But.....when they dance they sweat and the dollar bills stick to their sweaty skin.  Also there are girls who are basically "tip runners" who pick up the tips for them.  She asked if the dancers are on as a group or individually.  He said some of the guys work in two man teams but he always is a solo act.

I asked if only women were allowed into the show or if guys were allowed to watch them too. Cindy agreed that it was an excellent question.  The answer is that guys are allowed only as part of a couple (and the other member of the couple has to be female, it can't be two guys). And then sometimes the couple will want a private or lap dance.  He says a lot of the guys who come in are turned on watching their girlfriend or wife interact with the nude male dancer in the booth.  And if the dancer wants to interact with the guy too....well that's up to him.  Freddy indicated that he wouldn't do that.

I had to ask....what is the age group of the women who come to see this show?  He said it is mostly women in their 30's, but it is really all ages, some gals in their twenties, middle-aged women and some are grandmothers or older......Of course he said there were a lot of bachelorette parties, divorce parties, things like that.  He also said something that really surprised me....a lot of the female strippers who work there come in to see the guys.  They are the best tippers!  Then I asked if these women customers were usually attractive or usually not so attractive.  He said there are all types but there are plenty of good looking women who enjoy the show.  

If Freddy seemed sheepish at first, by this time he was totally uninhibited talking about this. Cindy was saying that she felt there was nothing wrong with what Freddy was doing.  "You're young, you’re athletic, You're good looking.  Why not?"  Then she went to say, "You know, would a parent approve of this for their child?  I guess not but there are worse things you could be doing.  I mean, my daughter is gorgeous.  She could easily be a stripper. Would that be my first choice?  I guess not....but it wouldn't be so terrible.  It’s honest work."

Cindy went on to mention some Showtime reality show I'd never heard of, "Gigolos" which supposedly features real Las Vegas gigolos and has full frontal male nudity (Cindy was quite adamant to point that out....I guess she is a fan of the show).  She said it shows the guys and the “agents” who are really pimps who set up their "dates" and such.  She said most of the guys were not very good looking and that was surprising to her.  Now at that point I wanted to say something like, "Well if the show has full frontal nudity they must show you what the women are really paying for...."  but I held my tongue.  Freddy said that some guys do make "dates" with the gals (and the couples) and he was very clear to only talk in third to what they charge for in-call service, well they have to be careful because at Palomino Club it is a lot of locals.  If the guy accepts a low rate, word gets around (that they can be rented “cheap”) and it ruins their reputation.  The guys who work some of the clubs closer to the strip, which he has also worked in the past, have an easier time accepting a low rate from some tourist gal because the word won't get around.  He mentioned Treasures and Sapphire Club as places he's worked as a male nude dancer.   

This discussion of the show “Gigolos” led to a brief detour about “swingers.”  Cindy said, almost disappointedly, that you never really know anything about your neighbor’s sex lives.  She said, "I mean you never really know who's having sex.  I don't think anybody in my Midwest neighborhood is having sex, but who knows, maybe they are!"  By “having sex” she clearly meant outside of marriage (wife-swapping, hookers, gigolo's, illicit affairs).  I had to bite my tongue to avoid saying something like, "You mean, you're not having sex with your husband in back home?" but I thought better of it. I knew what she meant.

During this discussion a regular dealer was replaced by a fill-in I’d never seen before. He was mum during all this but at one point Cindy said to him, "Quite a conversation you are listening to, isn't it?"  He just smiled.  "How are you able to keep up on the game with all this unusual discussion going on?"  He said he has the ability to multi-task.

By the time the next dealer had come in, the topic had been pretty much exhausted. One of the regular female dealers took over and she had heard none of this discussion. But then Freddy need to buy in for more chips, which meant he counted out more single dollar bills.  As the attractive female dealer picked them up off the table to count them, I leaned over to Cindy and said, "She doesn't know where those dollar bills have been."  Cindy laughed and said she was thinking the exact same thing.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- November 2018

Here's my latest column for Ante UpOnce again, the individual column has not appeared on the Ante Up website yet.  In fact, they still haven't posted last month's column over there.  No idea what's going on.  Anyway, below is my column as it was submitted, when you pick up the mag in your local poker room (should be there now), it may be a bit different.

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The Green Valley Ranch Poker Room has revised its tournament schedule.  A new feature of the schedule is The Leaderboard.  Points are awarded for cashing in most of the tournaments.  The top 10 point earners from October 1 through December 31 will be awarded a share of $20K in prize money, with the top prize being $8K. Players will also be awarded "frequency points" for just entering (based on the amount of the buy-in).  Players who accumulate 250 or more frequency points will be able to participate in a $50 buy-in tournament in January that will have $20K in added prize money.  Additionally, players who flop quads or better in a tournament will get a voucher for a free buy-in for a tournament of equal value.

As for the schedule itself, it's not just hold'em.  A $120 PLO event takes place on Sundays at 5 p.m. On Tuesdays at noon there's a $60 Omaha 8/B tourney. And Fridays at 4 p.m. a $120 HORSE tournament is offered.

A $60 Ladies NLH event takes place Thursdays at 11:15 a.m.  Seniors get their chance Wednesdays at 11:15 a.m.  A "casino industry night" re-buy tournament is offered for anyone with a casino employee badge Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. Mondays and Fridays at 10:15 a.m., an $80 NLH tourney is offered. A $50 NLH tournament runs Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.  There's a $120 NLH offering Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m.  No Limit turbos take place at noon on Sundays and 6:15 p.m. Thursdays. An $80 bounty tournament is available Mondays at 6:15 p.m.  A $120 "Steep Stack" takes place Saturdays at 3 p.m.

The Steep Stack features a 25K starting stack.  Most of the other tournaments start at 10K in chips.  The levels for all tournaments are 20-minutes, except for the turbos, which are 15-minutes.

Among the room's promos is a "Good Beat Jackpot."  To qualify, Aces full of 10's or better must be beaten by quads or better.  Both cards must play. A unique feature is that the winner of the pot gets the biggest portion of the jackpot: 40%. The loser of the hand gets 20%.  The rest of the players at the table share the remaining 40%.  The jackpot fund starts at $5K and $500 is added every week until it hits.

VENETIAN: Sam Vizza of Chicago won the $1,100 MSPT event at Deep Stack Extravaganza III in September, taking home a prize of $52K.  California's Eyal Al Revah claimed $38K for second and Minnesota's Alex Winter received $36K for third. The event drew 315 players, resulting in a $307K prize pool, easily surpassing the $250K guarantee. 
Deepstack Showdown runs December 5-16.  An $1,100 DoubleStack tournament with two starting flights begins on December 7. The starting stack is 30K, the levels are 40-minutes and it has a $150K guarantee.  There's a $3,500 event beginning December 14.  It plays out over three days and has only one starting flight, but players can enter through the first two levels of day 2.  The starting stack is 40K, players get 60-minute levels and the guarantee is $500K. 

A $400 Seniors event runs December 6.  There's a $400 limit Omaha 8/B beginning December 7 and a $250 PLO8 event December 15.  The other afternoon NLH events are in the $400-$600 range.  The evening events are all $200 buy-ins.

WYNN: The daily tournaments all have increased their starting stacks to 15K.  Also, all of the tournaments feature the big blind ante. Guarantees have been added to all dailies. Monday through Thursday the $140 buy-in has a $5K guarantee.  The Friday and Sunday $200 buy-in has a $10K guarantee. Each of those offers 30-minute levels. The Saturday $230 buy-in has a $30K guarantee and 40-minute levels.  That one has unlimited $200 rebuys for 15K any time a player is at or below 10K in chips.  There is a single optional $100 add-on for 7,500 chips until the start of the seventh level. 

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The WSOP circuit arrives here November 14-27. The first of two starting flights for the $1,700 main event runs November 24.  The tournament offers a $500K guarantee and one re-entry is allowed. 

November 15 is the kick-off date for a six-starting flight $400 event with a $200K guarantee.  This tournament offers unlimited re-entry. A $2,200 high roller event is on November 26.  A $250 Seniors event runs November 24. There's a $400 PLO event on November 20. 

MGM: The room has revised their daily tournaments.  At 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., the buy-in is now $100 and the starting stack is 25K.  The levels are 20-minutes and these tournaments now have the big blind ante.  The daytime tournament has a $2K guarantee and the evening version has a $1K guarantee. 

The 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. tournaments are $65 buy-ins for a 15K starting stack and 15-minute levels. This tournament has no antes.  They both have a $500 guarantee.

BELLAGIO: The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic runs November 29 – December 15.  The $10,400 main event begins December 11 and runs five days.  There are three $25K high roller events, December 8, 10 and 14.  A $100K high roller runs December 15. Two $10K PLO events run December 5 and 6. Two $1K Seniors events run November 29 and December 4.  There are a few $1K and $1,500 events as well.

GOLDEN NUGGET:  Golden Weekend is November 23-25. The highlight is $200 buy-in event on Saturday, November 24 with 30-minute levels, a 15K starting stack and offering a  $100K guarantee. Friday and Sunday the 11 a.m. tournaments are $150 buy-ins with 15K starting stacks and 30-minute levels.  The guarantee is $10K on Friday and $15K on Sunday.  Each evening of the weekend offers a $110 buy-in event with 20-minute levels, 10K starting stacks and $5K guarantees.