Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Let Me Rub For Luck"

On a Tuesday evening in December, before Christmas, I played at Caesars with my buddy Don.  This was the evening that I had dinner with Don and then had to (almost literally) chauffeur him to the Strip because of the inability of my car seats to adjust, as I explained here.

The room was busy when we got there and I got called first after just a few minutes.  But then it took a long, long time for Don to get called into a game.  Eventually they opened a new table and Don got a seat, it was on the on the other side of the room from where I was. Well, new tables are never very good, right?  Plus I had just won a decent pot with a set (details to follow), so I didn't text Don to see if I should bother to try to get a table change to his game.  When I finally heard about that game Don was in—the next day—I really regretted not trying to move to his game.

He had such a good time he ended up playing all night, even though he finished the session down $2 and was never up or down more than $40.  It was just a fun group of people having a great time. They were all joking around—It was too much fun to leave.  Then he told me a story to illustrate.  I'll just quote from his text:

"There was one woman who is a regular in the room named Amy who was the main instigator.  But a group of us played off that.  Amy is 29, about 5'2", Vietnamese and cute as hell. At the first dealer change, she hugged a female dealer named Alison and said in her high squeaky voice, 'Let me rub for luck,' as she grabbed Alison's tits."

Damn!  I should have been there for that.  I responded that this was a perfect story for my blog. He went on to say that Amy drinks like a fish when she plays.  One of the dealer joked that when she took some time off from playing, their liquor distributor asked what was wrong with the room.

Anyway, in response to my pointing out that the "rub for luck" story was basically the kind of story this blog was created for, he told me, "That might not even be the best story of the night. But the other one has to be told in person."


I didn't press him for more details. I assumed it was a visual.  Besides, I was sure I'd see Don again before I left town.  But for several reasons (mostly my well-documented car troubles) I never saw Don again this trip.  Hopefully he'll still remember it when I do finally see him again.

Anyway, back to my poker session. I won a couple of really small pots when my low pair was better than anyone else's lower pair.  But I was mostly card dead at the start and had managed to deplete my $200 starting stack to about $110-$120.  Then I got pocket Jacks.  After a limper, I made it $10 and it was three ways.   The flop was Jack-4-3, rainbow.  The preflop limper donked out $17.  Hmm….  Because it was rainbow, I decided to just call.  The other guy called as well.  The turn was a 7 and this time the limper checked.  So I put out $35.  The third guy folded but the limper called.  The river was an 8.  The limper made $40.  Ugh.  Did he really have 6-5?  I didn't think it was likely. I shoved, which couldn't have been more than $10-$15 more than his bet (and he had plenty behind).  He instantly mucked.  He must have really had nothing because it was a ridiculously small call to make for the size of the pot.

Caesars is back using those damn $2 chips, which are green.  A light lime green, not the dark green of the $25 chips.  Still I've seen people get them confused.  I got confused on this next hand but not that way. In the small blind I completed with 8-7 clubs and it was six-ways.  The flop was 8-8-2 and surely someone would bet I thought, so I checked.  A guy put out 2 lime green chips and a blue one, which was $5.  It folded back to me and for some reason, somehow, I thought it was a $7 bet.  That would take a red chip and two blue chips, but that's not what was out there.  I dunno, I guess I just had a brain freeze but at the time I thought my error was due to the damn $2 chips he was using.   Regardless, I put out two redbirds to call, figuring I would wait for the turn to check-raise.  But my action constituted a raise.  I had to catch myself from "correcting" the dealer when he said raise.  Well it didn't matter, the guy folded to my $5 raise.  Obviously I wasn't going to get any more money out of him on that hand either way.

Then I got pocket Aces.  I raised to $10 and got called by four players. The flop was Queen-high, two clubs, and neither of my bullets was the club.  A guy donked out $45.  What am I supposed to do there?  Is he donking into the raiser with just a Queen or did he flop bigger than that?  Is he betting a flush draw?  I ended up calling, not sure what my play is there.  The turn was a third club and we both checked.  The river was the fourth club and again, we both checked.

So I was floored when he flipped over Ace-Queen, the Ace being a club.  He had the nut flush, how does he not bet the river?  Now for some reason I didn't note/remember the denominations of the other cards on the board, but I'm sure there was no pair because for sure I would have noted that. He checked the river with the stone cold nuts. I suppose he might have been hoping I'd bet but I don't think I'd given an indication that I would have.  I lost money, but it could have been a lot worse.  But then, I wasn't going to call a big bet on the river.

After a bunch of limpers, I limped in from the button with King-Queen clubs.  I know I should have raised, but decided not to because there were so many limpers.  The flop was pretty good, Jack-10-9.  There were two spades and a club. Someone bet $15 and I made it $45.  He called and we were heads up.  He checked the turn, the 6 of diamonds.  I shoved, it was a little bit more than my $45 bet on the flop had been.  He tanked but folded.

That was it.  I ended up losing a few bucks.  I said goodbye to Don and heard from him the next morning about his adventures at the fun table. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Still Dreaded, Still Pocket Kings

This was a Sunday evening session from December.  It took place at MGM when they had a football promo going.  They had different promos for different days.  The Sunday night promo was drawings after certain events in the game, like scores, turnovers, etc.  But it wasn't just a random seat draw, you had to have a ticket to win.  You got a ticket by getting a full house or better in a cash game.  They actually started giving out tickets at like 1pm to encourage you to play there a long time. The game for the promo was the SNF game, and I managed to get there after the game started, just missing the kick-off by a few minutes.  There were no empty seats in the 1/2 game, but they opened a table soon after I arrived.

There were a few interesting characters as the game began.  There were a couple of Norwegians. I had played with one of them two nights earlier.  He was on the aggro side, but frankly, not as aggro as the typical Scandinavian player I've encountered over the years. 

The guy on my immediate right was really annoying.  He played a lot of hands and I don't think he ever raised.  He got real agitated when his hands kept missing the flop and he had to fold.  But what was annoying about him was that he was watching some soccer game on his phone.  I guess his team was doing well, because a couple of times he would just stand up and start cheering.  At the top of his lungs.  In my ear. It didn't matter what was going on in our poker game, or on the real football game that was on the TV's throughout the room, if something good for his team happened in that damn soccer game, he'd let everyone within a five-mile radius know about it.  When people gave him dirty looks, he'd explain, "It's the finals."  Oh.

So while he was watching the game, I got a voice message from my pal Woody.  I don't carry earbuds with me but based on the conversation we were having, I was eager to listen to this message.  So I turned the sound down on the phone so that (hopefully) by holding the phone right up to my ear, I could hear the message and no one else could. I mean, I knew it would be a message that I didn't want anyone else to hear, if you catch my drift.

Well, I kept holding the phone wrong or grabbing it wrong and so that every time I tried to listen, it got cut off in mid-message.  And I had to play it again from the beginning.  Finally one time everything was going perfectly.  And just as I was about to get to the part of Woody's message that I hadn't heard yet, this idiot next to me jumps out of his seat and starts screaming, "Goal!  Goal!  Goal!" and cheering at the top of his lungs.  Of course I couldn't hear the rest of Woody's message over all that.  Yeesh. 

And then there was the total maniac in seat 2 (I was in seat 9).  He bought in for $100 and just went all in on the very first hand of the table without even looking at his cards.  He said, "Yeah, one time…try it."  No one called.  Next hand he looked at his cards and shoved again. No one called.  I don't recall if he tried it again on the very next hand but it didn't take him long for him to lose his entire stack.  He rebought and toned it down a little.  But he entered most pots, entered them with a pretty big raise, and made it difficult to play the game.  Keep in mind a lot of the players were there for the football promo, and wouldn't have minded limping into a lot of pots hoping to make a big enough hand to get a drawing ticket.  And he made that impossible.

I wouldn't have minded a quieter table, but I figured he was giving me the chance to make a big score if only I could make a decent hand.  There was, of course, no way to bluff this guy.

So early on, with this guy raising most of the hands preflop, I got pocket Kings.  Someone in front of me made it $12.  I just called because I assumed the maniac would raise and then I would come over the top.  But he only called.  It was four way.  The flop was low and I led out for $30 and didn't get a call.

Then a bit later I got Ace-King off and there was a straddle.  I just called, thinking I'd re-raise the maniac's inevitable raise.  And he did raise to $17.  But there were three callers before it got to me.  I decide to just call because there were too many callers, I didn't want to put that much money into the pot preflop.  The flop was Ace-7-6.  There was a check in front of me and then I checked.  The maniac made it $35 and was called by two other players.  This time I stayed with the plan and re-raised.  It was a shove, nearly $200.  No one called and I took down a nice pot.

I lost some chips when the maniac was away from the table with pocket Queens.  Turns out they're not as good as pocket Aces.  But I didn't lose that much cuz the guy with the Aces didn't play it overly aggressively.

Then my old pal Michelle pushed in to deal.  Since she now works days I rarely see her, and I almost didn't recognize her.  She's the one who never pushes me a pot—at least that's the gag between us.  The maniac had returned to the table, played one or two more hands, and then left for good.  I was in the big blind with Ace-2 of spades and no one raised.  The flop was Q-8-2, all clubs.  No one bet.  There was another deuce on the turn.  I meekly put out $5.  I got one call.  The river was another Queen, giving me a boat on a double-paired board.  In other words, I was losing to a Queen.  I put out a $10 bet.  The guy folded.

But I remembered to show my hand, as the boat qualified me for a drawing ticket for the football promo.  It was my first ticket.

Sometime later, late in the football game, a touchdown was scored.  That means they pull two tickets and give each winner $150 each.  And wouldn't you know, with that one ticket, mine was pulled.  Sweet.  I took the $150 payout and pocketed it.

It was still in my pocket when I got the hand that ruined my night.  It was, of course, the dreaded pocket Kings. I was down to about $130 or so in front of me.  The Norwegian guy opened to $12.  And for reasons I can't really explain, I just called. I mean I usually do three-bet KK despite my incredible lack of success with them, but sometimes I guess I just freak out a little bit and just freeze and just make the call.  That's what I did here.

The flop was King-high.  The other two cards were clubs.  I didn't have the King of clubs.  The Norwegian was first to act and he checked, which surprised me.  So I put out $15.  He checked-raised to $30.  That also surprised me.

I mean, how could he count on me betting there in order for him to spring a check-raise?  I would have expected him to c-bet most flops, seeing as how we were heads up.  But the check-raise made no sense.  One of the few good things about my not re-raising pre was that he had no idea about the strength of my hand. 

I had the nuts.  If there hadn't been two clubs out there, I might have just called, but I felt I had to bet so I bumped it to $60.  He didn't take very long to announce, "all-in."  I took me less than a nano-second to say "call!"  He said, "You have a set?"  I said yeah and showed my Kings.  But he didn't return the courtesy by showing his hand.  I assumed he had a flush draw.  BTW, he had me covered.

The turn was a blank.  But the river was a club—and there was no pair on the board.  He flipped over King-Queen of clubs.  I'd been flushed.

I did not rebuy. I had that $150 in my pocket and I cashed it out.  The hand left a bad taste in my mouth.

Just another disaster with pocket Kings, right?  Well, of course I blamed myself.  Not three-betting preflop was inexcusable.  So it was my fault.

Well, I must admit, I'm like 97% certain if I had three-bet preflop, he would have called, and the result would have been the same.  I mean, the way he played, he wasn't going to fold that hand (or a lot of worse hands), to a three-bet.  He was there to gamble.

None-the-less, I don't want to think about it like that.  I want to think that my bad preflop play cost me my stack.  It's a lesson that way.

So even though I don't really believe it, it's much better for me to think I cost myself my stack by not three-betting those damn Kings.

I spent the rest of the evening thinking about it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 Pocket Kings?

This was a recent session in Ventura.  It was a new table and even before the game got going, there was this one guy, fairly young, who started to annoy the piss out me.  He was jabbering non-stop.  At first he was talking about wanting to have fun.  And also raise.  "I'm gonna raise."  This was before we'd even dealt for the button.  And he said he wanted a beer.  I think he might have already had a few already.  This was early on a Saturday afternoon by the way.  Then he said he'd buy anyone else at the table a beer if they wanted one. He repeated the offer several times before the waitress showed up.  Remember, in L.A., the alcohol is not free.  No one took him up on his offer.  When the waitress finally came by, I held off ordering my diet coke.  I didn't want the guy to either, 1) try to convince me to order a beer at his expense, or 2) try to pay for my diet coke (also not fee at this venue) and thus make me somehow obligated to him for anything.  He kept yapping away about wanting to have fun and wanting a beer and wanting to raise.  Sometimes he said he was gonna check-raise.  It didn't matter whether there were cards in front of anyone or not.  He just could not shut up.

Once the cards were in the air, he kept up the chatter and also played, predictably, like a total maniac.  Well, he never open shoved, but he raised more often or not, and usually a lot more than you typically see at this game at this venue.  When you finally saw his cards, you could see that he wasn't very particular about what hands he opened with.  The phrase "any two cards" came to mind.  I knew this was a ripe opportunity to make some money but the cards I was getting weren't cooperating.  And he gave no indication that any bet would get him to fold, so bluffing him was not really an option.

In fact, he soon developed a rather bizarre relationship with the only female player at the table, an older Asian woman.  I had played with her a number of times before.  The noisy kid was new to me.  A few times when she clearly had him beat and bet, he even said, "Well, I know you have me beat, but I'm just having fun and I like you, so I call."  He gave her a lot of money but at least once he hit like a two or four outer on the river to get some of his money back.

Then it got weirder.  He started saying things like, "I'm just here having fun.  It's not like we're gonna make out in the parking lot."  This was when he was betting or facing a bet from her.  Then he started saying, "Maybe we should make out in the parking lot.  You wanna meet in the parking lot and make out?"  At first she demurred,  saying she was married.  Then she pointed out that he was way too young for her.  Then she said he was younger than her son.

It seemed inappropriate, but she didn't seem at all bothered by his bullshit. Perhaps it was because he was dumping a lot of money to her. In fact, at one point, from across the table, he said to her, "Can't we at least hug?" and she reached out her arms as if to hug him (I guess you'd call it an "air hug" since they were separated by the length of the table).

The game was just crazy from the beginning because of the chatty maniac and everyone could see he was playing anything.  I recall one hand that will illustrate.  The lady made a reasonable raise, the maniac shoved for $79.  The guy next to him called for his last $77.  Another guy shoved as well, he had like $40-$50 left.  The lady, who had at least $300-$400 by now called. There was an Ace on the flop and then a King on the river, which made the lady very happy as she happened to have pocket Kings.  The $77 guy had Ace-10 and thus was screwed over the by the river card. But I don't think he puts $77 in the pot preflop against the average player.  Anyway, the short stack mucked without showing and the maniac showed Jack-10!

He actually confessed to inappropriate behavior. The first dealer was a middle-aged Asian woman.  After he won a nice size pot (probably one of the ones where he sucked out on the river), he said to her, "Do you wanna make out?  I mean, you're kind of cute."  Whoa.  That was out of line, especially the "kind of cute" part, no?  I mean that borders on the insulting, right?  Just kind of cute?  I think this was the dealer he admitted to being inappropriate with.  I'm not sure if he apologized to her per se or not, but at one point he did ask her if she wanted to call the floor on him.  She scoffed, "Why should I call the floor?"  Frankly, I think it would have perfectly within her right to call the floor given the comments he was making. Either she wasn't bothered by his patter or she was enjoying his fairly generous tips whenever he did manage to win a pot.

When she said she wouldn't call the floor, he said he would.  "I want to call the floor.  I want him to come over.  He's a friend of mine."  He did raise his voice a bit and say, "Floor, floor!" but no one heard and no one came over.  Or maybe they just ignored him cuz they knew his schtick.

I recognized this dealer from many sessions, but she was replaced by a new female dealer I don't think I'd ever seen before.  She was much younger, also Asian.  Now I have to be a bit careful here but….well, she was what you would likely call a "Plain Jane" type.  Plain Jane, Asian version.  I guess you might say "mousy."  This is not bad at all.  At least one of my pals has an absolute thing for mousy looking women. 

Well this chatty maniac must have an eye for Asian women, and maybe mousy is his thing, cuz he almost immediately started telling this young woman how beautiful she was.  I dunno if he was crazy, drunk, sincere or just perhaps being somewhat cruel, but he kept saying things like, "You're so beautiful.  You're just so beautiful."  Then he would add things like, "Why are you so beautiful?  Stop being so beautiful.  Why are you so beautiful?  You're killing me you're so beautiful."  It was kind of ridiculous, I mean even if this girl was a slam dunk winner for the Miss Universe contest it was way over the top.  She didn't say anything.  She didn't seem to react at all, but to me, she appeared quite uncomfortable with all the attention he was giving her.  I was thinking she must have been really embarrassed.  To the extent this woman doesn't think she is beautiful, I think she might have thought the guy was teasing her cruelly.  But you know, the guy could have been sincere for all I know.

And I started thinking this was getting out of hand.  I wanted to say something but I wasn't sure I should get involved. Should I go over to the floor and tell him?  It was tough. Especially since I suspected she was a new dealer.  The previous dealer had experience with rude players, this one maybe not.  And you hear all the time complaints from female players about guys treating them rudely (and in a lascivious way) at the poker table, and how that keeps women from playing live poker.  Shouldn't male players help police that?  But this was a bit different because it was a dealer, not another player.  I suppose this might have been the first male player who gave this woman such treatment, but sadly, it won't be the last.  I really was torn.

On the other hand, if the guy was being sincere—and/or especially if the woman actually thought he was being sincere—would my saying anything about it be the real insult to her, implying that I didn't think she was beautiful?

I suppose I took the coward's way out and didn't say anything.  And to be honest, I really didn't want the guy sent away from the table. I wanted to get some of the money he was spewing.  A bad reason to keep quiet though.  I dunno, I still wonder if I did the right thing but keeping my mouth shut.  Of course, no one else said anything either. 

Anyway, before the dealer finished her down, the guy busted for like the fourth or fifth time (one time he had gone to the ATM for more money) and finally left.  Boy did the game change.  Not only did it become a tableful of nits, but it became so, so quiet.  I think there was a half hour or more when no one said anything.  We were also shorthanded for awhile.  It really was a totally different game than the one that we started.

As for the poker, I only played one or two hands while the maniac was there, just card dead.  I did get pocket Aces.  The Asian woman opened to $5, I made it $17, the maniac called and the lady called.  The flop was Ace-Jack-6, rainbow. I checked but it checked around.  Maniac picked a fine time to reign in his game a little.  I led out for just $20 on a blank turn, but no call.  The lady showed pocket 10's and the maniac claimed he had a pocket pair also, but didn't show it.

Then I limped in with Ace-8 of spades.  I called a small raise and it was three-way.  The flop was Ace-Jack-x, one spade. The preflop raiser, who was new to the table and on my direct left, bet $15, the other guy called and I called.  The turn was the second spade.  This time the third player bet, but only $5.  I called and the preflop raiser made it $25.  The first guy folded and I called with top pair and the nut flush draw.  The river was a second Jack, no spade.  I checked, the other guy shoved, about $50. But I had less than $30 left.  I couldn't see folding based on the size of the pot.  I called and he showed King-Jack.  Damn.  I was ahead of him all the way until the river.  I was out of chips and bought in for another $100 (remember, that's the max).

I kept bleeding chips from the new stack and the maniac left. A guy raised to $10, the lady (still sitting behind $400+) called, so I thought it was worth a call from the button with 9-8 clubs.  The flop was King-9-x, two clubs.  The preflop raiser shoved his last $23.  The lady folded, so I called.  A red King on the turn but a club hit the river giving me the flush.  The other guy had pocket Queens.

Then I got my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  There was a $4 straddle and a whole bunch of players called the straddle.  I made it $24 and thought I'd likely just take it down there.  But two players called.  The flop was 6-5-3 rainbow.  It checked to me and I bet $40.  One player folded but the other guy called.  It turned out he had exactly $40 left.  Board bricked out and he mucked when I saw my Kings.  He said he had put too much money into the pot to fold his open-ender on the flop.  Open-ender?  So he called my $24 preflop bet with 8-7 (at best)?  Nice to know.

That got me a lot of chips, and I was now close to even for the day. 

Then I called a $4 raise with pocket 8's.  There were a few other callers. The flop was 8-7-2, rainbow. The guy on my right bet $4.  I decided to slow play it a bit and see how many others would call, or better yet, raise.  But  everyone else folded.  The turn was another 7 and this time the guy bet $8.  I made it $20 and he called immediately.  The turn was a King and he checked.  I bet $35 and he snap called.  I showed my boat and he flipped over one card, a 7.

So that was a good pot.  I didn't get anything else to play and I was able to leave with a $30 profit.  Considering I was down earlier I was pretty happy with that.  And I owed the turnaround to pocket Kings, of all things.  Go figure.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

They Paid the Bubble (Sort of)

Well, now that my 12-part car story from my December trip to Vegas has finally been completed, I can start filling you in on the rest of that trip.  Yes, I did other things than get my car fixed. And fixed. And fixed. 

Like this day, my first full day in Vegas, a Saturday.  I headed over to Aria to play in their $240 tournament (30-minute levels, 20K starting stack, and of course, the big blind ante). As this was a bit more than a week before Christmas, there wasn't a big crowd.  They ended up with 48 players.  They were paying 5, with $3,800 for first, $2,470 for second, down to $749 for fifth.  Notice that the min-cash was quite a bit more than double the buy-in, so I heartily approve. Total prize pool was $9,300.

The tournament starts a 11am, which is too early for me.  Fortunately I think the structure (and the starting stack) is good enough so I feel it's ok to register late so I can eat a decent lunch in my room first.  I got there a little before noon and they had three tables going, all full.  Eventually they got enough alternates so they could start a fourth table, which I was assigned to.  I started playing near the beginning of level 3.

I started level 4 (300/200/300) with $17,700.  In early position I limped with 8-7 of clubs and then called a raise to $800, we were heads up.  I flopped a gut shot to the straight flush, missing only the 9 of clubs.  It checked around.  The Queen of clubs on the turn gave me the flush. I bet $1,500 and he called.  The river was the 9 of hearts.  Now I had a straight and a flush, but not a straight flush.  I bet $2K and he tanked before finally calling, reluctantly.  He showed pocket 9's.  Bad river card for him. It was my first pot of the tourney.

Then came a big hand.  There was a raise to $800 and two callers.  I had Ace-King in late position and called, then two more players behind me called.  The flop was Ace-6-3, two diamonds and I had the Ace of diamonds.  Someone—not the preflop raiser—bet $1,500 I think (might have been more) and I call.  We were now heads up.  The turn was another 6 and he bet $2,500 and I called.  The river was another 3. This time he shoved.  It was around 11K and I had him covered but it would have totally crippled me to call and lose there.  I tanked.

What was I losing to?  I thought it through.  He didn't have pocket Ace's, he had just called a raise preflop, hadn't raised himself.  I thought a 6 or a 3 was unlikely.  The third diamond had never hit the board.  He mostly likely had an Ace with a smaller kicker than mine.  So I called.

My voice notes are a little unclear as to what happened next.  It sounds like I'm reporting that he said, "Good call" and just verbally said, "King-high."  But that wouldn't be right.  He was all-in and we both should have flipped over our hands as soon as I said "Call."  That might have happened, but I couldn't remember the next day.  Regardless, I took down a very nice pot, and had more than a double up.

This guy will be heard from again.  I saw him at one of the other tables not long after.  He obviously re-entered.

In the big blind with 5-3 of hearts, no one raised and the flop was Jack-4-2, rainbow.  Not sure how many players saw the flop.  It checked around.  The turn was a 7 and I called 1K, it was heads up.  The river was a 6 completing my straight.  I bet 2K and didn't get a call.

I didn't record a hand for all of level 5.  I started level 6 (600/300/600) with $33,400.  I opened with Ace-Jack, got two callers and took it down with a c-bet.

Remember that guy who doubled me up earlier?  As I said, he had re-entered and was playing at another table.  But by this hand, he was back at my table.  Honestly, I think he might have busted from the other table before he found his way back to this table, but I'm not sure.  I called $1,500 with King-Jack of  diamonds.  It was three-way, including this guy (I don't think he was the preflop raiser).  The flop was all blanks, but with one diamond. It checked around. There was a second diamond on the turn and I called 2K, it was still three-way.  A third diamond on the river gave me the second nuts and the guy who doubled me up earlier shoved over 10K.  The other guy folded and of course I called.  He had absolutely nothing, it was like 6-5 and I guess he missed his straight.  So that guy doubled me up again a second time with a bluff.  He was sort of my guardian angel.  Too bad late entry was almost over, I couldn't count on him doubling me up again.

Level 7 (800/400/800), $50,400. I called $2,300 with pocket Queens from one of the blinds.  There were a bunch of callers and thus I didn't want to make a huge three-bet.  I think five of us saw the flop.  And what a flop it was.  There were two Queens on it and I don't remember what the other card was.  The preflop raiser had just moved to our table and led out for $4,500. I just called.  On a blank turn, I checked and he only bet another $4,500.  I guess that's probably when I should have check-raised, but I didn't want him to fold so I just called.

I recall the river card was a King (there was no Ace out there).  I figured I had to try to get some chips from him and since he hadn't increased his bet on the turn, he might be all too willing to check behind if I checked.  Truth is, I'm not really sure how to play monsters, you get them so infrequently.  And I hated that I was first to act.  I opted for a bet, but I put out 12K.  For the size of the pot, that wasn't too large, but considering the last street the bet was $4,500 I guess it really was too much.  Perhaps I should have bet the same $4,500 he put out last time?  He had the 12K covered but not by that much.  Here's the thing…..he tanked for a long time.  Looking at the board, I couldn't figure out what he could have had.  There was neither a flush or a likely straight. Maybe he had a big pocket pair?  Perhaps Aces?  Not Kings.  If he had Kings, the river had given him a boat and he's not tanking, he's shoving.  Whatever, he finally folded, and I felt I'd blown an opportunity to get more chips.

I hadn't finished stacking my chips when the next hand was dealt, and it was (the dreaded) pocket Kings.  Someone had raised to $2,300 so I three-bet to 6K.  The raiser called and we were heads up.  The flop was 8-7-7, I bet $3,500 and took it down.

We were down to 19 players, the table broke and I moved.  Soon thereafter, we reached level 8 (1K/500/1K) and I had $68,700.  I only noted one hand from that level, it was a raise with Ace-Jack and it was heads up.  Ace flop so I bet and took it.

Level 9 (1,200/600/1,200) $65,500. And then we were down to 14 players and I was moved to balance.  I took down some limpers' money with a raise from the button with King-Queen suited.  And I three-bet from the small blind with Ace-King and took that down.

By level 10 (1,500/1,000/1,500) we were down to 12 players and I had $67,500.   I botched playing pocket Jacks.  From the small blind I just called 3K from a fairly tight player with a big stack. On a Queen high flop I called another 3K.  Then I folded to a big turn bet.

But we were down to 10 players, so I made the final table.

I opened to 4K with King-Queen and got a call.  The flop was King-high and I bet    6k and he called.  I bet 10K on a blank turn and took it.

I was just treading water.  Level 11 (2k/1k/2k) $64,500.  We were down to 9 players.  But I couldn't find a hand to play that whole level.

So we reached level 12 (3,000/1,500/3,000) but we were now down to 6 players, one from the money.  I had $37,500 was desperate.  And so began the inevitable discussion of whether or not to pay the bubble.  Since I was the short stack, that seemed like a good idea to me.  Now for the past level or two, the guy on my left, a really good, friendly guy, had been battling me for the short stack position.  And he was joking about how they should all just agree to give him the first place money.  This guy was actually a blackjack dealer at Wynn.  He was having a good time and we all were laughing at his boasts that he was gonna win even when he had the shortest stack.  But he managed to chip up enough to pass me while I was card dead at the end.

Anyway, more seriously he suggested paying the bubble.  Nobody objected, but they couldn't agree on how to do it or how much to pay.  It was generally agreed that everyone would just kick in some cash and give the cash to the bubble boy.  But how much?  The chip leader suggested $30 each.  Well the trouble with that is, that only comes to $180 and the buy-in was $240.  So it wasn't even break even.  Plus, since $30 of that $180 was the bubble's own money, it was really a $90 loss, not a $60 loss.  OK, the chip leader said he'd make it $40 but no more.  That would give the bubble $240, the buy-in….but it still wouldn't be all his money back.  Again, $40 of the $240 would be the bubble's own money so he'd still be losing $40 on the deal.  I tried to point that out, but didn't want to be too aggressive about it since by this point it was very likely I was arguing on my own behalf, I was the most likely to be the bubble. I was hoping we could make it $50 each, that way the bubble would get his money back and have 10 bucks left over for a slice a pizza or something.  But no, that was too much.

So we settled for $40 each.  So I was going to get paid something, but all I was assured of was a $40 loss at worst. 

Back to poker.  I got pocket 10's and shoved.  No one called.  I was kind of hoping to run into someone with Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  I wouldn't have minded a race right there. But I just got the blinds.

Then, UTG+1, I got Ace-King and of course I put it all in. This time I did get called—by a guy with pocket Queens.  The board was all low cards and after the turn I had a gut-shot to a wheel.  Instead a paint card came out.  It wasn't a King.  Nope, it was a Queen. And I was done.

They gave me the envelope with the cash in it.  So, $240, a net loss of $40.  I dunno, I just feel when you pay the bubble you should pay him enough so he hasn't actually lost any money.  But it was better than losing everything

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I'm Not a Bad Enough Player to Beat This Game

Car saga is finally over!  You mean I have to get back to talking about poker again?  Let's see if I can still do this.

This is a recent session out in Ventura.  Remember the game is 1/2 with a $50-$100 buy-in.  I always buy-in for the max of course. 

This game was an action table, a lot more so than the 1/2 usually is here.  And there were plenty of big stacks.  I saw a few of those big stacks get made, but a lot of them were there when I arrived.

I had dropped close to $60 without winning a pot.  I topped off my stack to get right back around $100.  I guess I had close to that when this hand happened.  I called $5 with pocket 5's.  As I've mentioned before, a raise to $4 or $5 is pretty common in this game.  Then a guy made it $15.  He was a fairly active player and rather aggro.  Then the guy who initially made it $5, an older gentleman with a big stack, made it $45. Well, of course I'm not gonna call off half my stack with just a lousy pair of fives preflop.  So I folded.  The guy who made it $15 called.

The flop was Jack-5-3.  Damn.  That sure was annoying.  I don't remember the exact action but they got it all-in on that flop.  The aggro had a stack similar to mine, maybe a little bigger, and the older guy had him easily covered.  The aggro flipped over his hand.  It was pocket Jacks. 

Suddenly I felt a whole better.  I had just dodged a bullet, right?  Set-over-set is pretty awful when you're on the wrong side of it, as I would have been.  I was silently thanking the guy who made it $45 for saving my stack.

But then the dealer put out the turn card.  It was the case 5.  I had basically thrown away quads.  I throw up in my mouth a little.  The river was meaningless and the older guy did show his hand, Ace-King suited.  He had a flush draw on the flop.  I don't recall if he hit his flush because he was drawing dead to a boat on the turn.  Of course, all I could think about was, he should have been drawing dead to my quad 5's.

Ugh.  That would have been the first time I'd made a hand too.  For a second I thought that we had missed out on the bad beat jackpot.  But no, I reminded myself that Jack's full losing to quad 5's wouldn't have qualified.  The minimum losing hand is Ace's full of Jacks.  So at least there was that.

My stack was dwindling and then I got pocket 3's. A new guy to the table made it $23.  He had less than $80 to start.  So it certainly was not worth calling.  Somebody else did.  Of course there was a 3 on the flop.  Jeez.  I don't remember the details but I would have won that pot and it would have been more nearly a triple up for me (based on the fact that it was all-in again and neither player could have beaten a set).

I actually managed to win a couple of hands, both when I had Ace-10 and a 10 hit the board.  So I built my stack up to over $120.

Then I got pocket 6's.  I was in middle position and no one had bet.  I knew if I just limped, it was possible nobody else would come in and we'd end up chopping the blinds.  Yeah, it's weird if you're used to Vegas rules, but if only one player has entered a pot, and it was only a limp, that player and the blinds can agree to chop and everyone takes their money back.  I guess that's because in this game, if it is just three-way to flop, and both blinds are in, the entire pot goes to rake and the jackpot drop.  So why bother?

Therefore, I made it $4.  Sometimes that actually gets you the blinds, but if someone calls at least they'll be a few bucks in the pot to play for. A player called.  Remember the guy with the set of Jacks before?  Well as I said, he was aggro and he had managed to piss away most of the chips he'd won.  This time, he raised to $49.  It was an odd bet to say the least.  He had a few more chips behind him, looked like $8 or $9.  A different older guy, who had been hit with the deck like you wouldn't believe, called the $49. He had tons of chips. It folded back to me.  Sure I remembered the pocket 5's that turned into quads and the pocket 3's that flopped a set.  But, there was just no way it made any sense at all to call a $49 bet with pocket 6's.  So I folded.

The caller hadn't realized that the first guy hadn't shoved.  But then he saw those 8 or 9 chips and said something, "Why did you leave those behind?"  And the dealer said, "That's to bluff with."  I thought that was really funny.  Although you could argue that the dealer shouldn't be making comments (suggestions?) like that.  I think because it was such a small amount, it was ok.

Do I have to tell you that there was a 6 on the flop?  The aggro put his remaining 8 or 9 chips in the pot and the other player called (the dealer actually almost jumped the gun on the turn card, because he just assumed the guy wasn't folding—no matter what he had—for such a relatively small bet).

Here's the really sick part.  The guy with the $49 bet turned over Queen-4!  The guy who called had Ace-rag.  I guess his excuse was that this might have been the first flop in 20-minutes that hadn't hit him.  His call was perhaps a heat-check.  And his Ace-high would have won except the first idiot caught a 4 on the river.

So in other words, that set I would have hit if I'd have kept my cards wouldn't even have been necessary!  An unimproved pair of 6's would have been good enough to take down that three-way pot.

Regardless, that was the third set of the session I had missed out on.  What a day.

But I I know I played those hands right, didn't I?  I recall when I first starting reading about no-limit poker, they used to say that for small pocket pairs, you needed to have the potential to win 10-12 times the size of the bet you were calling preflop for calling to be the correct move.  But more recently, I've seen the books saying that it should be closer to 20-25x the bet.  That's because, I think, that players have gotten better and they are much less likely to stack off with top pair than they were in the good old days.

Regardless, I didn't have the potential to win 10x what I would have called in any of those hands, let alone 20-25x.

Now I'm far from a great poker player, but I'm just not bad enough to have called those raises.  So you see, I would have had to have been a much worse player than I am to have made money on this particular day.

I ended up with a $30 loss for the day.  But it's hard not to think about all that money that I would have made if only I had been bad enough to make those horrible calls.