Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas From Vegas!

Merry Christmas everyone...and Happy New Year.

I apologize for not posting sooner.  Ever since I arrived back in Vegas, I've assumed I would post something announce my arrival and I just never had the chance.  I have no idea where the time goes, especially when I'm in Vegas.

At least I can tell you that I've been getting some much needed new material for the blog.  If you've been following me on Twitter you've seen a few clues about what I've been up to and what you can expect to read about "soon."

So in the meantime, bear with me and enjoy a few very appropriate pics celebrating the season.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Guy Who Wouldn't Chop

This is an evening from my summer trip to Vegas, a couple of cash games.  I played at Venetian and the Wynn on a Saturday evening.

First I played at Venetian in the late afternoon.  It was my first game of the day, it was one of those days where I just couldn't get moving and got a very late start.  The game was rather unexciting, although I did manage to break even without getting involved in any memorable hands.

But the one thing noteworthy was the guy who wouldn't chop.  I was sitting in seat 1 and when the table got a little short handed, it folded to the guy in seat 9, the small blind.  He put in a buck to call.  I talked past the dealer to ask him if he wanted to chop.  He said no.  "You don't want to chop?"  I guess I was surprised.  But he said no.  OK, with my 10-6 off I just checked.  The flop missed me, no betting.  The turn and the river were also worthless.  Every time, he checked and I checked behind.  Finally after he checked the river, I flipped over my hand and said, "10-high."

He immediately mucked without showing.

I guess I wasn't that surprised, but really….what the hell did he have that he didn't want to chop with that couldn't beat my 10-high???  In fact, I actually tweeted out that very question after I stacked my massive winnings for that hand, a whole $3 (of which I had contributed two-thirds).  I actually got a few responses….he was looking for a jackpot.  Maybe it was 3-2 suited?  Or some other hand you could conceivable make a jackpot with.

Well, the only promo they had at the Venetian at the time was the bad beat jackpot.  So yeah, if he made a straight flush, and I made quads—with a pocket pair of course—there's your BBJ.  But of course that is such a ridiculous long shot.  And if he actually wanted to get the better payoff for the BBJ, ie, the losing hand, he really better have a pocket pair himself and hope I get the straight flush.  But of course if he had a pocket pair—even deuces—he'd have beaten my 10-high.

I mean, if the room has high hand bonuses I can see playing if you have a pocket pair or a suited connector.  But just playing for a bad beat?  Really?

But he did the same thing at least two more times.  He just didn't ever chop.  He gave me a dollar twice this way.  The second time I had something like 5-2 and caught a 5 on the river and took it down.  Then finally he put out a big bet on the flop and with nothing of course I folded.

It actually makes no sense to play hands like that, but I guess this guy just never chopped.  Dumb.  In situations like that, if I'm the small blind and the big blind doesn't want to chop, I'll just slide my dollar over to him and think, "If you want this buck so badly, you can have it."  I don't say that aloud, but I try to convey that with my attitude.  I guess I wouldn't do that if there was some kind of promo that made it sensible to play it out.

That's about all I have to say about this session, but as long as I'm talking about the Venetian, I'll give you guys a little heads up.  As I mentioned in my Ante Up column that I just sent off, Venetian is changing their 1/2 game to a 1/3 game in January.  Same buy-in as before ($100-$300).  They are going heavily into promotions too, changing their BBJ back into a progressive one.  And they have high hand promos or splash pots or drawings for next year at least until the summer poker season starts.  And they will be taking a $2 promo drop starting in January.

So after I was finished playing I had some dinner at the Venetian.  And may I just say, as casino restaurants go, CafĂ© Lux at the V is one of the best deals around. I mean even if you don't have poker comps to use, but of course I did (that makes it even a better deal).  But I gotta say, the food is really good and the price is a lot lower than comparable places at most Strip casinos, at least the ones with poker rooms.

Then it was time to head over to the Wynn.  I decided to walk over there from the Venetian.  As I've noted before, I have chronic back issues so this is always a little dicey for me—the walk I mean.  It's not a long walk if you are completely healthy.  But if your back is likely to start hurting you halfway there, it's problematic.  And also, this was in the middle of summer, when its always triple digits heat outside.  Still, I decided to give it a shot.

At least for now, the Venetian still has free parking but Wynn does not.  You can get free parking at the Wynn by playing enough to get your players card upgraded—which would be impossible for me unless I lived in Vegas—or you can get a parking validation for that day's play.  That's better than most of the other rooms on the Strip that charge—they'll actually validate your parking.  To get a validation for poker, you need to play two hours of cash or buy into a tournament.  Note:  while I was in town, they started offering parking validations if you spent at least $50 at the Wynn that day.  Not sure how the validation works for slot play or table games.  But if you're planning on spending any money (non-gambling) money at all at the Wynn in a day, like say you're gonna buy a meal, it's almost impossible not to spend at least $50 there.  I mean, if you go to the gift shop and buy a couple of Snickers Bars, you're pretty much there.  Yeah, it is a bit pricey in there.

But I decided to walk over there so I wouldn't have to worry about playing a full two hours.  If I was running bad, and went thru two buy-ins in an hour, I didn't want to have to keep playing in order to get that parking validation.  Saving the $15 or whatever for parking could easily end up costing you a couple of hundred bucks.  Or, conversely, if I started out real well, and wanted to book a nice win after playing an hour and a half, I wouldn't want to risk losing my profits to save that $15.

When I got to the poker room it was really busy.  Fortunately, I had called ahead to get my name on the list so I didn't have too long to wait.

Just a couple of hands worth discussing.  In the small blind I had King-7 off and completed it in a multi-way pot.  The flop was King-Queen-Jack, two clubs, a suit I didn't have.  I called $7, then $18 on a blank.  The river was a third club and this time the aggressor bet $26.  I dunno why, but I just had a feeling he didn't have much if anything  I played my hunch and called.  As soon as I put my chips out he mucked without showing.  I always find this weird.  When he does this, he's not fooling anyone, it was obvious he was bluffing.  But isn't he at least curious what I had?  I mean, he should show just to get me to show my hand, no?  Oh well, I was happy to take it down without showing.

Later I limped in with King-10 of hearts, under-the-gun.  The way the table was running, I just didn't want to get three-bet out of the pot, so I didn't raise.  The next guy did raise, making it $15.  Three others called before it got back to me.  The pot was going to be $75 if I called so I did indeed call.  The flop was definitely favorable:  10-10-X (some low card). I checked and the preflop raiser bet $30.  When a lady called the $30, I decided to just call, thinking I could get more money if I waited for the turn to check-raise.  But then on the turn, a blank, I checked and the other two both checked behind.  Damn.  Well, the river was really nice, a King. Of course I couldn't afford to check, so I decided to bet small ($40) hoping I could get at least one customer.  But they both folded.  Still, it was a nice pot.

I won a small pot when I called $10 from the big blind with Ace-4 of spades and hit runner-runner flush—no one bet the flop or the turn.  No one called my $15 river bet.

And that was it for the poker.  But I hung around the Wynn for awhile.  I guess I've never mentioned Wynn's version of the Slut Parade. You see, the parades at other venues are perhaps more centrally located, whereas the Wynn's is virtually everywhere.  There's no one central place to get the best view. That's because the Wynn has (at least) three nightclubs spread out over the Wynn and the Encore and once it gets near opening time, there are hot young ladies walking in every which direction in both casinos. It's almost impossible to miss them.  Just stand or sit anywhere and you'll see a boatload of attractive clubgoers pass by.

One of the clubs is actually a beach club, and during the summer, attendees at this club show up in swimwear.  Of course they are supposed wear "cover-ups" over their bikinis, but most of the ladies have said cover-ups open and some forego them altogether.  This means that on a hot night, in addition to seeing plenty of beautiful girls in their club dresses, there are also girls in their bikinis to ogle—I mean admire for their sparkling personalities.

Now, one of the clubs is located fairly close to the poker  room, and wouldn't you know, it's the one with the beach club.  So if you get a seat at a poker table facing the outside of the room at certain hours, well, it can be quite distracting to say the least.

Here's the thing.  I dunno how they do it, but I swear, the ladies that attend these clubs at the Wynn are especially beautiful.  I mean seriously gorgeous.  If I didn't know better, I'd swear the Wynn has folks at every door into the Wynn just to make sure that no female enters unless she is super-model caliber.  No one who isn't at least a 9.7 gets in.  And the 9.7's only get in a slow nights.

The point being that there are worse things to do on a Saturday night than just hang around the Wynn and notice the lovely club patrons.  And if you think I didn't take advantage of this opportunity on this particular night in June, well, you don't really know me.

Eventually I had to make the long walk back to my car at Venetian.  But I had an extra $100 on me from that Wynn session. And I had a smile on my face for other reasons as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Kings AND Aces

Yes, the title of this post is Aces and Kings.  Not Aces vs. Kings.  Been there, done that (multiple times).  I didn't get Aces vs. someone's Kings or vice-versa.  I got Aces and Kings in back-to-back hands (actually, it was Kings first, then the Aces).  So gather around, kiddies, and let me tell you about it.

This happened in my most recent session in Ventura, the 1/2 game with a $100 max buy-in.  The second hand of the session I was under-the-gun and was dealt Ace-4 of hearts.  I limped in.  Next player raised to $7 and four of us saw a flop.  I noticed the King of hearts in the window and got a bit excited.  The other two cards were also red and in fact both hearts.  Flopping the nuts on your second hand of the day isn't too shabby, is it?

I checked, hoping the preflop raiser would continue, but he checked.  However, the only lady at the table bet $8 and I decided to just call to see if one or two others would come along.  The preflop raiser did indeed call and the other player folded.  There was another heart on the turn which I thought might kill my action.  But I decided to check again and see if the lady would bet again.  In fact, she did.  She shoved, but it wasn't much.  Again I just called hoping the other guy would call (or even better, raise), but he meekly folded.  The action was over and the river was a blank and I flipped over my hand at the same time the lady did.  She had Queen-8 of hearts.  Oh well, sucks to be her. 

The best thing about the hand was not the money I made, but that it caused the lady to leave the table, busted.  That was good because she was replaced at the table by another lady. This lady was definitely +EV for me.  She+ had a British accent, tho it was obvious she lived in the neighborhood now and was in fact a reg here.

I went for a long time without getting anything to play.  When I did play a hand, I whiffed the flop pretty badly.  Then all of a sudden I looked down at my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings, in the big blind. Now the details on this hand may be a little off because I immediately got involved in another significant hand immediately after this one—before I had a chance to write my notes on it.  But my best recollection is that someone in early position raised to $8 and a bunch of players called the $8. It was at least three callers, maybe four.  Because when it came to me, I did the math and figured I had to bet $50.

It makes sense.  My typical three bet is 3X, but then I add on the amounts of any callers.  So if it was three callers, it would be $24 plus another $24 for the three callers and you're at $48.  I guess I rounded up—or if it was four callers, I rounded down.  But the bet made sense to me.

Well, this may have been the first time I raised at this table, and it was definitely my first three-bet.  Some of the other players gasped.  One-by-one they all folded and I took down the pot uncontested.  Which was pretty cool because it wasn't a bad pot with all the callers and did I mention it was pocket Kings?  Winning that much with the dreaded hand without having to see the flop works for me.  The other players were saying things like, "Well he didn't want to see a flop," or "He has Aces."  But honestly, regardless of what I had, how much was I supposed to raise there with a hand I wanted to raise with?  Making it $20 would have been ridiculous.

I just shrugged and started to stack my chips.  Of course I didn't say anything to reveal what I actually had.

By the way, one of the players who called the original raise was the aforementioned British woman.  By this time she had established herself as an aggressive player, and had been caught in a few bluffs (never showing the bluff if she could help it, but mucking when her opponent called her and showed like third pair).  She had busted a time or two and had to re-buy.

So I was still stacking my chips when I got my two cards for the very next hand.  I was stunned to see another pocket pair.  This time it was two Aces!  And not incidentally, they were both red.  I couldn't believe I had gotten Kings and Aces back-to-back. I am certain I never got Kings and Aces on consecutive hands before, but I think I may have heard about someone doing it, or maybe even seen it.  It was quite amazing.  Of course, you know me.  My first thought was, well, I had won the hand with Kings, surely these Aces are gonna cost me.  Yeah, I gotta work on my attitude.

Anyway, I was the small blind and my next thought was, well, it will fold to me and it'll be a chop.  But no, someone opened the pot to $4, there was a call or two and then the British lady made it $12, bless her little heart.  It folded to me and this time I made it $40.  It quickly folded back to the Brit who took some time.  I was hoping maybe she'd re-pop it but no, she finally just called.

The flop was 7-7-3, two diamonds.  Well, hard for me to believe she had three-bet with any hand that that flop had connected with.  I put out $60 which I thought was about how much she had left, give or take.  Again she took some time but she put out the rest of her chips, which turned out to be a few less than my bet.  We didn't show.

The turn was another diamond, which made me slightly nervous, but then the river was yet another diamond.  Did I mention that both my Aces were red?  Yes, I believe I did.  So instead of Aces and 7's I now had the nut flush.  I flipped over my hand and the British Lady slow-rolled me.

Well, I guess that's not the right expression.  Slow-roll implies she had the winning hand and took her sweet time to reveal it.  But no, she had the losing hand and took her sweet time to let it go.  What's that called?  A "slow-fold"?  A "slow-muck?"  Anyway, she just sort of froze, held her cards, still face down, in front of her and said, "I was good until the river."  But still didn't show her cards or let go of them.  She didn't look at them herself either.  She just sat there holding them out.  I said, "Show 'em!"  But she didn't.  Finally she just slid them face down to the dealer, conceding the pot.  A slow-fold.

Well, I was perfectly happy to drag the pot, but I did wonder what she had.  The only way she could have had me until the river was if she had a 7 or if she had two diamonds.  The 7 seems unlikely because if she had a 7 she would have called/shoved instantly on the flop.  She wouldn't have thought about it. The flush?  Well she couldn't have had Ace-King of diamonds. King-Queen of diamonds?  Maybe she three-bets with that? 

I totally haven't ruled out the possibility that she was lying when she said she had me until the river.  I mean if she had a flush on the turn, she'd probably have shown it, right?  I think she might have just said that to make herself look better, but who knows.

She had to re-buy again, but she left the table to get more money first.  I dunno if she went to the ATM or perhaps her husband but she eventually came back with $100 more in chips.

Meanwhile, I was quite happy about this turn of events.  Getting the two premium hands back-to-back was really nice, and winning with both of them even nicer.

While she was gone, I got Ace-Jack of clubs, raised to $8 after one limper and didn't get a call.  I bet she would have called!

When she got back, I got pocket 5's and called her $8 raise.  It was heads up.  The flop was Ace-Jack-3.  She put out a $15 c-bet. I couldn't see calling.  That flop really hit her range and though it was certainly possible she didn't have an Ace or a Jack, it didn't make any sense to invest any more money on the hand.  I let it go.  She seemed upset.  "But you always call me."  I just laughed and realized she hadn't been paying attention.  I never called her, I always raised her.  But it seemed to me like she was disappointed she wasn't able to get more of her money back from me.

Then, when she straddled (under-the-gun, for $4), I got pocket Kings again.  Yikes.  Now I felt I was really pushing my luck.  It folded to me and I dutifully made it $12.  It folded back to her and she called.  The flop was all low cards.  I bet $20 and she tanked a little bit but folded.

And that was that.  After a few more orbits with nary a hand to play, I called it a day.  I booked a $120 profit.  I got Aces & Kings back-to-back, and even got Kings a second time.  And won all those hands.  No monster pots, but a $120 profit for a $100 buy-in is certainly favorable.

Now, I'm sure you're all asking, what does the woman depicted above have to do with this post?  Actually, I'm pretty sure no one is asking.  But my pics always tie-in to my stories, even if it's only tangentially.  It's a rule I have. So, this woman is a British model, and my story features a woman from England.  Now I assure you the woman in my story looks nothing like this lady above, nor was she in any way remotely dressed like this.  But I will point out that if she did look like this model, and if she had been dressed like her, I might not have minded losing all my money to her.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- December 2018

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  The individual column has not appeared on the Ante Up website yet.  In fact, they haven't posted the column separately for a few months now, so I guess they have stopped doing that.  Oh well, you can go to the link I've provided and see the whole issue in pdf format.  Here's the draft of my column as I submitted it for publication.

=  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =  =

The Venetian has revised and renamed their daily tournaments.  The new tournaments are called "One Day Poker Tournaments" to differentiate from the tourneys offered during the many series the Venetian runs through the year.  These tournaments are offered at 12:10 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. each day.  They all feature the big blind ante.

Monday through Thursday, the afternoon $150 No Limit Hold'em tournament starts players with 15K chips and has 30-minute levels.  It has an $8K guarantee.   The Friday tourney is a $200 SuperStack that starts with 15K chips, has 30-minute levels and guarantees $20K.  Players have the option of adding on 12K chips for $100 at the end of both the 4th and the 8th level, regardless of how many chips they have. Saturday the popular $340 DoubleStack has a 24K starting stack, 40-minute levels and a $25K guarantee.  Sunday features a $200 re-buy event with a 12K starting stack and 30-minute levels. Players may re-buy an additional 12K stack any time they have 12K or less during the first eight levels.  The guarantee is $20K.

Monday evenings feature a $125 Progressive Bounty with a 15K starting stack, 20-minute levels and a $4K guarantee.  The bounty starts at $10.  When down to 18 players, it becomes $20.  At the final table it is worth $30.  Traditional bounty events run Tuesday and Thursday.  Tuesday has a $200 buy-in, 12K starting stack, 30-minute levels, a $50 bounty and a $9K guarantee.  Thursday is a $125 buy-in, 15K starting stack, 20-minute levels, $25 bounty and $6K guarantee.  A $125 re-buy tourney runs on Wednesdays, with a 12K starting stack, 20-minute levels, a $7K guarantee and $100 re-buys for the first nine levels.  A $200 Progressive Bounty tournament runs Fridays, with 12K starting stack, 30-minute levels and a $9K guarantee.  The bounty starts at $25, increases to $50 when down to 27 players and reaches $75 at the final table.  A $125 SuperStack event runs Saturday and Sunday evenings. Players start with 15K chips and play 20-minute levels.  The guarantee is $4K.

The New Years Extravaganza runs December 20 – January 8.  There are several events with six-figure guarantees, starting with a $340 two-starting flight DoubleStack event beginning December 21, which has a $100K guarantee.  There are three starting flights for the $400 MonsterStack that starts December 27, which has a $260K guarantee.  A two-starting flight version of that event starts January 4 with $100K guarantee.  Another $340 DoubleStack event, also a $100K guarantee starts off the new year on January 1.The total in guaranteed prize pools for this series is $900K.

Deepstack Showdown runs January 14-20.  The highlight is a $250, five-starting flight tournament starting January 15, offering a $200K guarantee. Over $280K in prize pools is guaranteed over the series.

WYNN: Steve Sung, from Southern CA, took home $170K for winning the championship event at the Wynn Fall Classic in October.  Joseph Cheong, also from Southern CA, claimed $111K for second and Russia's Karen Sarkisyan earned $76K for third. The $1,600 event attracted 594 players, resulting in an $854K prize pool, easily crushing the $500K guarantee.

The Signature Series continues through December 10, ending with a $300 Short Deck poker tournament with a $10K guarantee.  A two-starting flight $600 NLH event with a $150K guarantee starts December 6.

CAESARS PALACE:  The recently revised schedule offers five tournaments daily. At 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the buy-in is $125 for a 12K starting stack and 20-minute levels. The guarantee is $1,500. The 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. tournaments have a $150 buy-in for a 15K stack and 20-minute levels, with a $2K guarantee.  There's also a $100 midnight tournament with a 10K starting stack, 15-minute levels and a $1K guarantee.

The main cash games at Caesars are $1-$2 NLH and $2-$5 NLH.  The former has a $!00 minimum buy-in and a $300 maximum, while the latter has a $200 minimum and a $1K max.  The room is starting to run a $1-$2 Big O game on Tuesday afternoons, with a $100 minimum and a $500 maximum.

SOUTH POINT: The room at the very south end of the Strip is offering something crazy in its new 2 p.m. tournaments—Crazy Pineapple, to be exact. On Wednesdays and Sundays, a no limit Crazy Pineapple tournament runs.  For $60 the players get 10K in chips, and play 20-minute levels.  Mondays and Fridays at that time a $60 NLH turbo is offered, with a 10K starting stack and 15-minute levels.  Tuesdays and Thursdays it's Omaha 8/B with a $60 buy-in with a 10K stack and 20-minute levels.  The $130 Stamina tournament runs on Saturdays.  Players start with 20K in chips and play 30-minute levels (the breaks are only five minutes long, that's where the "stamina" comes in).

Mixed game fans have been enjoying the Monday night, $125 H.O.R.S.E tournament at 6 p.m.  The starting stack is 10K, the levels are 20-minutes and there is a $1,500 guarantee. 
On December 22, the room is giving away over $20K in cash drawings.  Winners will be drawn every 20-minutes between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.  Players qualify for tickets from November 23 through December 22 by winning hands in all games that take a jackpot drop.  Double tickets are awarded 8 a.m. – Noon, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. – midnight.  A bonus ticket is awarded for any pot $50 or more.

BALLY'S: The room's "Player Appreciation" tournament rewards players in cash and credits for future WSOP events.  Players must play 10 hours in a two-week period to qualify for the tournament. Top prize is $1,650 cash, plus $200 in WSOP credits, which can be used for any Vegas circuit event or the 2019 WSOP.  Eighty players get paid cash, with WSOP credits going to the top 10.

The main game is $1-$2 NLH with a $100 minimum, $300 maximum buy-in. They also spread a $3-$6 limit game with a $30 minimum