Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!!

Wishing all my loyal blog readers (and even the disloyal ones) a Happy and Healthy New Year!

By the way, the decade of the 2010's does not end tonight as many are saying.  We don't start counting years at "zero."  We start counting at "1."  So the first year of this current decade was 2011, not 2010. This decade lasts one more year. Just so you know.

Edited to add, my pal Lightning said they did this bit in a Seinfeld episode that I had long forgotten.  You can see the punchline here and be sure to read the comments for some further explanation and debate!.  Thanks, Lightning.


In case your Christmas was a bust....

Monday, December 23, 2019

Two Boats, But One Capsized

On paper, my session from Saturday in Ventura sounds pretty good.  I flopped a full house not once, but twice.  On top of that, I had my unimproved pocket Aces shoved into and the Aces held.  Sounds like I should have made some decent money in such a session, right?  Well…..

After about 45-minutes of card deadness at the 2/3 game (I bought in for the max, $300), I looked down at a couple of Aces.  I was in early position, so I opened to $15.  I got three callers, not quite ideal.  The flop was something like Jack-9-3.  I bet $35 and only one guy called.  He was one of the blinds. The turn was a blank and we both checked. On a King river, he lead out for $80.  I called.  He said "Ace-high."  Well then, I guess my two Aces were good, huh?  It was a nice pot and suddenly I was up around $130.

A while later, I got pocket 8's.  In early position, I limped and after a few more callers, one of the blinds made it $17.  I called because I knew most of the limpers likely would.  Sure enough, it was five of us seeing the flop.

And what a flop.  Jack-Jack-8 to be exact.  Easy game, right?  Well the preflop raiser checked.  I checked too, as one tends to do when one flops a monster.  No one bet.  The turn was a harmless looking 5.  This time the preflop raiser bet, but only $25.  I was going to raise but I noticed the guy on my immediate left was already grabbing chips.  Hmmm.  I decided I could maybe make more money just calling and not scaring anyone away.  So I called.  The guy on my left did indeed bet—but it wasn't a call, it was a raise.  He made it $75.  It folded back to the initial bettor who tanked a bit and then folded.  Here's where I made my mistake.

The guy on my left had a bit less than his $300 buy-in, so I had him covered.  I decided that since he wasn't going anywhere, I could get more money from him on the river.  So I just called.  It was really dumb move, especially when I saw the river card, another damn 5.  Damn it.

I checked and he put out $100.  I figured he likely had a Jack and my goose was cooked. But, the pot seemed too damn big for me to fold a flopped boat for "just" a hundred bucks.  I shrugged and made the crying call. He might just show up with Queens or Kings or even a total bluff at least some of the time. Of course, he showed me Jack-10 and I had gotten rivered.  Yuck.

Now in my opinion, there was no way he was going to fold trip Jacks at any point in this hand.  So had I been more aggressive earlier, I don't think the outcome would have been any different, except that maybe I would have lost even more money.  But I know that is not the lesson to learn from this little misadventure.  Raising on the turn was always the right play.  In fact, I should have raised the original bet of $25 and made it $75 myself.  The guy with the Jack might have raised but he also might have just called.  But no matter what, I was destined to lose a big pot there.  Of course, I have written many times about how you don't get a lot of practice playing monsters.  I should have played this one better, though.

My poker odds calculator tells me I was an 84% to 16% favorite heading into the river.  That's poker.

Later, now down to around $165, I limped in with pocket 10's.  My buddy Don keeps telling me I need to raise with pocket 10's, but I seldom can bring myself to do it.  This was another one of those times when I couldn't do it.  There might have another caller or two and then one of the blinds made it $20.  He didn't have a big stack, much less than mine, and I probably should have let it go, but having made the mistake of limping with the 10's, I wanted to continue making mistakes on this hand, so I called.  Well guess what?  I flopped another boat!  This time it was 10-4-4. 

We were heads up and he just shoved.  I didn't even bother asking for a count, it looked like slightly less than $100. It seemed like he was going to expose his hand so I flipped my cards over.  He froze in his tracks and kept his cards face down.  The last two cards didn't help him and he just slid his cards face down to the dealer and actually left the table.  I'm assuming he had an overpair. 

I commented to anyone who was interested (and probably no one was), "That's the second boat I've flopped today, but the first time I won with it."  One or two of the other players nodded.

That got me close to even but I never could get over the hump.  I had a few hands that required me to call raises preflop and never went anywhere.  By the time I was finished, I ended up dropping $75 for the day.  Not a great result for flopping two boats, huh?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Ace on the River

A tip of the hat to Barry Greenstein for the title I'm stealing from him.

Another session at Ventura, the 2/3 game with the $300 max buy-in.  I buy in for the max.

It doesn't go well.  I am just not quite card dead enough to keep from losing money.  I miss everything. My first pot was when, from late position, I open to $15 with King-Queen of spades.  No one called.

Much later I had pocket Jacks under-the-gun.  I opened to $15.  The lady at the table made it $45.  I call, another guy called.  The flop is Queen-high.  I check and it checks around.  Ace on the turn.  I checked, the lady bet $60, I fold, the other guy folded.  Although she didn't have to, the lady showed us Ace-King.  I wonder if she would have folded to a bet from me on the flop?  But of course, I was out of position.

From the cut-off I decided to limp in with Jack-9 of clubs.  It was four-way.  The flop was 6-5-4, all clubs.  I bet $10, there was one call.  The Queen of spades hit the turn.  I bet $20.  He folded two high diamonds face up.

Well that was it.  It was getting close to quitting time and I was down to $129.  There were a few open seats at the table that they couldn't fill.  The last player to come to the table had been quite active.  Didn't seem like a total maniac but he'd played a lot of hands.  Won a big pot early, then lost a big pot, then won another big pot.  He was putting chips in play, that's for sure.  He had well over the $300 he'd bought in for when this hand happened.

In early position I had Ace-King of spades.  There had been a $6 UTG straddle.  The next player folded and the action was on me.  I made it $20.  In hindsight, I think $25 is a better raise there, but for this hand it made no difference.  It folded to this aforementioned new player, who was in the small blind.  He bet $67 and it folded back to me.

What to do?  With my stack, I couldn't see just calling.  Right?  I mean, it was either fold or shove. A call made no sense as far as I was concerned.

In a tournament, you want these kind of situations (depending on your chip-stack).  With a short-stack, you will get it all-in anytime with Ace-King, suited or not.  You'll gladly take your chances on a coin flip.  But in a cash game, you don't need to chip up.  You don't have to risk all your chips unless the situation is likely favorable.  I searched my memory bank and couldn't think of one time when shoving in a similar situation had ever worked out for me.  I mean in a cash game.  In a tournament, yeah, it's worked many a time. Not enough, but yeah, I've had my decent run outs.  But in cash games, not so much.

Of course I had to consider how my hand fared against his likely range.  I could only guess at his three-bet range.  But if it was only AA and KK, I was crushed.  Even if I throw in AK, I'm still behind that range.

Based on his activity level, I was sure his range was wider than that.  I figured for sure I could include at least QQ and JJ.  Maybe even pocket 10's and 9's.  Possibly (but not likely) lower pairs.  I also thought Ace-Queen was probably in his range, suited almost for sure and offsuit likely.  Maybe even Ace-Jack suited?

So if I was on the mark about his range, my hand was looking pretty good against it.  Now if I had a full $300 stack I could call or even just three-bet, but it was shove or nothing with that stack. I was almost near my last hand anyway, and so if I did shove and lose, well, time to head home for sure.

So I said "all-in."  Fortunately, he didn't snap call.  He actually asked for a count.  As soon as he saw that I didn't even have double his bet, he started counting out his chips to make the call.  It was $62 for him to call and he counted out $62.  We didn't show.

The asking for a count instead of snap-calling told me he didn't have Aces or Kings.  It was likely a flip against Queens or Jacks (or less).  If I was really lucky, it was Ace-Queen.

The flop came Jack-high, with two spades.  I liked the spades of course but I sure didn’t like that Jack.  Pocket Jacks was one of the most likeliest hands I put him on. Sometimes in that situation, if a player hits his set on the flop, he immediately shows his hand, excitedly.  But I didn't figure this guy for that play.  I assumed he would be stoic whether the flop hit him or not.  I just wanted another spade on the turn, thinking I might have to beat a set.  It was a red 5 instead.

The river was not the spade I was looking for.  In fact it was another red card.  But it was a red Ace, and the groan I heard from the guy told me that was good enough.

Before I had a chance to flip over my hand, he said, "Pocket Queens and he gets his Ace on the river." Well, he had my hand read right. And as I turned my cards over, he showed his two Queens. One of those Queens was a spade, for the record.

Damn, I thought this trick never worked!

This time it did.  And I was able to cash out not long after for $250.  It was a $50 loss, but it was almost a lot more. Kind of felt like a win. Nice Ace on the river.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Strange Start and a Nice Finish

A recent session in Ventura.  We got the most interesting hand of the session out of the way early.  I'd only been in the game for an orbit or two.  There was a guy who had lost an all-in and just had a few bucks left.  He added on but only $100 so he had like $110 in front of him.  This other guy had tried to straddle for $6 under-the-gun, but he was too late.  So he left the six bucks out there, didn't look at his cards and just did a blind raise for $6.  I decided to call the $6 with Ace-6 of clubs.  Then that guy who had just bumped up his stack to $110 went ahead and shoved the $110.  It folded back to the guy who tried to straddle and he shoved—over $200.  The next guy said, "You stole my move, I was gonna do that."  He tanked for awhile but folded.  I of course folded my A-6 of clubs.  They didn't show.  The flop was 10-10-x, one club.  But the next two cards were clubs.  In other words, I would have had the nut flush if only I'd called the guy's $200+ shove.  I just laughed inwardly.  No way would it have made sense for me to call that bet with such a mediocre hand, of course.

Anyway, the guy who shoved for $110 says, "I missed," and turns over Ace-Jack, off.  All he had was Ace-high.  Surely the other guy could beat that, right?  Nope.  He said not a word and just mucked!

Whenever I see something like that, I can't help wondering what the hell he had.  Even if he was 100% sure his shove would get the last two players to fold, he was still risking $110.  Even if he suspected the other guy might have been shoving light, he couldn't be doing that with nothing, right?  You'd think at least a pocket pair—but no.  Ace-King or Ace-Queen would have won the pot.  A crummier Ace? King-Queen?  Just so strange.

In late position I limped in with Ace-6 of diamonds.  No raise and six of us saw a flop that was Queen-high, but all diamonds. Sweet.  A guy bet $10 and I just called. I dunno why I slow-played that, I guess I figured no one would call my raise on an all diamond board.  As it was, I was the only caller. The board paired the queen and the guy shoved his last $35 or so.  Of course I snap-called.  The river was a brick and he showed King-Queen for trips, my flush was good.

I had Jack-8 in the big blind and there was no raise.  Only seven of us saw a flop of Jack-Jack-9.  I bet $10 and got one call.  The turn was a Queen and I bet $15, he called.  The river was a 5.  I bet $25 but no call.

I raised to $15 with Ace-Jack of diamonds and had four callers.  So when I completely missed the flop, I just check-folded.  Then I got pocket Jacks. I raised to $15 and it was four-way.  The flop was Queen-Queen-5.  A lady lead out for $50.  Now this lady, early in the session, had flopped a boat with pocket 5's and won a big pot.  I'm pretty sure she hadn't played a pot since .  So when she led out like that, I was pretty sure she had a Queen.  I folded as did everyone else.

Now I was down a little from my $300 buy-in.  In the big blind, I had pocket 7's.  A woman who had recently joined the table opened to $23.  Apparently she didn't get the memo that we didn't open that big in this game.  She had a $300 or so stack.  Then another player called the $23.  He had a big stack too, more than the $300.  He had been very willing to put chips in play.  So I figured it was worth putting another $20 out there to close the action and see the flop.  The flop was Jack-8-7, rainbow.  I checked but unfortunately it checked around.  The turn was a Queen, no flush possible.  I bet $35 and they both called.  The river was an 8, giving me a boat.  I bet $100, but didn't get a call.  Did I bet too much or did they both miss draws?  Oh well, it was still a pretty nice pot.

And that was I for the session.  I ended up leaving up exactly $100. Not bad for the amount of hands I actually played.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Vegas Poker Scene -- December, 2019

Here's my latest column for Ante Up. You can find it embedded in the entire West region report here.  Remember, I just write the Vegas part.  You can find it in your local poker room now.


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Bob Shao of Texas won the Wynn Fall Classic’s main event in October, receiving $223K. Eugene Tito of Los Angeles scored $165K for second and Ping Liu of Michigan earned $140K for third. The $1,600 event had 1,024 entrants, resulting in a $1.5M prize pool.
The series hosted a $3,200 event with a $200K guarantee as Tucson’s Adnan Aidi earned $100K for first, while two Las Vegans, Mitch Garshofsky and Alexander Condon, claimed $88K and $44K, respectively. The prize pool of $409K more than doubled the guarantee, as the event drew 128 players. 
The inaugural Wynn Winter Classic runs Dec. 2-22. The $5,300 championship is a three-day event with one starting flight Dec. 18.  The guarantee is $1.5M. Players get a 50K stack and 60-minute levels. A $1,100 NLHE event starts Dec. 12 with a $500K guarantee. Players get 40K chips and 40-minute levels. There are plenty of $400 events, too.
VENETIAN LAS VEGAS: The October Deep Stack Showdown saw Eric Baldwin of Las Vegas win the $400 monster stack for $52K. Andrew Campbell, also of Vegas, took $33K for second and Maine’s Daniel Pickering earned $24K for third. More than 800 players created a prize pool of $275K.
Later in October, Diogo Goncalves Bento of Portugal was the big winner in the $225K Lucky Shot Series and Drawing, taking home $31K for first in the $250 main event. New Zealand’s Paul Hockin earned $19K for second and Shadd Baudoin of Vegas received $14K for third. This unique event had a fixed prize pool of $150K regardless of the size of the field. There were 645 players.
The next Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Dec. 12-Jan. 12. The biggest tournament is a three-day $3,500 event that starts Dec. 21 with one starting flight. Players start with 40K chips and play 60-minute levels. The guarantee is $500K.
A $600 doublestack has the first of its two starting flights Dec. 17.  Players get 30K stacks and 40-minute levels.  The guarantee is $150K.
The $600 monster stack is Dec. 27 with three starting flights and a $300K guarantee. Players get 35K chips and 30-minute levels on Day 1, 40-minute levels on Day 2.
The series guarantees $1.8M-plus.
SOUTH POINT: The new schedule features a 10 p.m. tournament and has guarantees for all tournaments.
The $60 NLHE tournament runs daily at 10 a.m. and
10 p.m. It also runs Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., as well as Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at 6 p.m. Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels. The guarantee is $2K for the 10 a.m., $1K for the 6 p.m., and $500 for the 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. offerings.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m., a $125 deepstack. Players get 15K chips and 20-minute levels. Wednesday the guarantee is $5K, Friday and Saturday it’s $7,500 and Sunday it’s $10K.
Fans of Omaha/8 get their chance Tuesday and Friday at
2 p.m. The $60 buy-in starts players with 10K chips. The levels are 20 minutes and the guarantee is $500.
Cash games include a busy $1-$2 NLHE game with a $100 minimum buy-in and a $300 maximum. Recently, the room has been spreading a $2-$3 game ($200-$600 min-max). The room has become a popular location for the meet-up games of vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen. When they are there, there are multiple tables of $3-$5 NLHE, which has a $300-$1,500 min-max. 
Limit players will find multiple tables of $2-$4 with a $20 buy-in and there’s $3-$6 limit with a $30 minimum.
GOLDEN NUGGET: The Moose International series runs Jan. 10-15. All events, with the exception of the main event Jan. 13, are open to the public. Buy-ins are $75-$200 and a portion of each buy-in is donated to a Moose charity. Traditionally, these events are wild and loose affairs, with the juicy action spilling over into the cash games.
M RESORT: The HPT event scheduled for mid December has been postponed with an eye toward a return next year.
THE STRAT: After rebranding the casino and moving the poker room, the Strat abruptly closed its poker room in October.