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.


  1. Could you not leave the table anytime to go to the washroom by missing some hand? Surely missing some hand will not affect your stack too much right?
    Thanks for your short post, as compare to your post a few years back, this length is just your warm up.

    1. Thanks, Sethanon.

      Yeah, in a normal tournament, sometimes I do hit the restroom during the tournament, not waiting for the breaks. The problem here was it was so far away I would miss too many hands. I actually thought it was possible that even if I left when I was the button, I might not make it back in time to be there when my big blind was posted for me....especially during those times when the table wasn't full.

  2. Hi Rob You sound like me. Tournament poker is a long torturous route to being with. When you get to a certain age bathroom breaks become mandatory. I have certain friends who have stopped paying tournaments and only stick to cash games. When I play tournaments I bring my food with me for this reason. Have a great Thanksgiving and see you on the felt.

    1. Thanks, Ed. Yeah, I'm rethinking tournaments AGAIN. I'm just not going to play them if they have too many inconveniences. There was a pretty good looking tournament at Commerce just a few weeks ago that I initially planned to play. But as it got closer, I started thinking of it more as WORK than as fun, just too many things I had to work around. I passed.

      Next time in Vegas I'll play a few I guess but only if I can play them more or less on my terms.

  3. I've never had Pin Up Pizza. It always LOOKS good.

    1. It does LOOK good. It looks excellent and the slices are huge. They advertising the biggest slice of pizza around and they don't lie.

      But quality-wise, it is quite lacking. Nuff Said.

  4. You realize it’s perfectly legal to eat a granola bar or crackers at the table, right?

    1. Yes! I meant to explain that in the post, I forgot. I prefer not to eat at the table if I can possibly help it, especially when I am basically eating "finger" food that I will eat with my hands. Very unsanitary. Now I suppose if one is very careful, you could eat the Kind bars without using your figures but I think that is a long shot for me. And the crackers would have to be eaten with the fingers.

      I suppose I should have tried to do it though when I saw the predicament I was in. If I ever find myself in that situation again, I'll break down and give it a try.

  5. Rob has clout. Rob knows the Tournament Director. Rob knows about an issue with the bathrooms.

    Use your clout to get the bathrooms unlocked, today, tomorrow and forever. Do a solid and make poker better for everyone.