Saturday, February 29, 2020

Vegas Poker Scene -- March 2020

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  My column can be found on the Ante Up website here.  Remember I only write the Vegas portion of the page.  The magazine is available now in your local poker room.
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David Levy of Denver and Francis Rusnak of Las Vegas chopped the top prize in the $1,100 championship of the Wynn Signature Series in January, each taking home $86K. Washington’s Ryan Stoker earned $46K for third. The event drew 516 players and had a $505K prize pool, smashing the $400K guarantee.
The Wynn Spring Classic runs through March 18. A $1,600 event with three Day 1s begins March 5 and has a $1M guarantee. A $1,100 tourney with four Day 1s starts March 9 and has a $500K guarantee.
The three-day $5,300 championship is March 16 and has a $1M guarantee. Satellites are offered for all of these events.
A $550 tournament runs March 14 with a $100K guarantee and there’s a $1,600 PLO bounty event ($500 bounties) with a $50K guarantee March 15.
BALLY’S: The WSOPC runs March 19-30. The first three ring events all have three starting flights on the same day. In each case, the first two flights have 30-minute levels and the last
Day 1 flight of the day has 20-minute levels. The opening event is $250 with a $50K guarantee. The next day, March 20, the buy-in is $400 and the guarantee is $75K. That’s followed by a $600 tournament March 21 with a $100K guarantee. All of these events conclude the next day.
There’s a $250 women’s event March 25 and a $250 seniors event March 26, which has a $25K guarantee. A $400 Monster Stack with 30K chips has a $150K guarantee and runs March 25. All of these are two-day events.
The $1,700 main event has two starting flights beginning March 27 and has a $750K guarantee. A two-day, $2,200 high roller starts March 29 with a $150K guarantee.
VENETIAN LAS VEGAS: The Deepstack Showdown will run March 9-29. The highlight is a $5K WPT event that begins March 13. It has two starting flights and four playing days. The guarantee is $2M.
A $400 Monster Stack with two Day 1s begins March 16 and has a $100K guarantee. A $600 Monster Stack with three starting flights begins March 10 and has a $200K guarantee.
The $1,600 Ultimate Stack (40K chips) has two Day 1s beginning March 25 and offers a $400K guarantee.
The next Deep Stack Extravaganza follows soon thereafter, running April 6-26. The series kicks off with a $400 Double Stack with two starting flights. Players start with 25K chips and play 30-minute levels Day 1, increasing to 40 minutes Day 2. The guarantee is $100K.
A $600 Ultimate Stack has two starting flights beginning April 10. Stacks are 40K and again, the levels are 30 minutes Day 1 and 40 minutes Day 2. A $400 Monster Stack has two Day 1s beginning April 13. Players start with a 30K stack and play 40-minute levels.
The $600 Monster Stack that starts April 16 has three starting flights. Stacks are 35K, levels are 40 minutes and the guarantee is $200K. If you’d like to play for a $250K guarantee for $340, the five-starting-flight Double Stack starting April 21 is your event. The stack is 25K and the levels are 40 minutes.
There are three opportunities for Omaha lovers to test their skill. A $300 one-day PLO tourney runs April 6. Players start with 20K chips and the guarantee is $10K. A $300 PLO/8 with the same details runs April 10. There’s also a $300 PLO bounty event April 23 ($100 bounties).
A one-day, $400 seniors event runs April 9. The starting stack is 15K, levels are 30 minutes and the guarantee is $20K. There are two $80 Survivor tournaments, representing the cheapest buy-in for a DSE event in years. These run April 9 and April 16. Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels. The tournament ends 10 percent of the field remains, each survivor getting $600. The guarantee is $1,200.
ARIA: The U.S. Poker Open runs March 19-31. This is part of the High Roller of the Year Series. The player who wins the most HROY points during the 12-event series wins the championship and a $50K bonus. The first 10 events are $10K buy-ins. March 29 is a $25K event and the final event March 30 has a $50K buy-in. PLO is offered March 20 and March 26. A Big Bet Mix runs March 22 and an eight-game mix plays March 24. The deuce-to-seven triple-draw event is March 28. All other events are NLHE.
ORLEANS: The room has changed two of its 7 p.m. tournaments. The $100 Tuesday event switches from PLO to PLO/8. Wednesday, ROSE replaces the eight-game mix. ROSE is HORSE without hold’em. This is a $125 buy-in. Both tournaments have 15K stacks and play 20-minute levels.

Friday, February 21, 2020

What Would I Do?

Often the most interesting hand of a session doesn't involve me.  That was the case in my latest visit to Ventura.  It involves a woman who took a really long time to decide whether or not to make a call.  I had plenty of time to analyze the situation myself while she tanked.  Let's see if you agree with my analysis.

The female player in this story seemed like a reasonably solid player, had been fairly active, had hit a few nice hands and had built up her stack to over $500.  The other player was the guy on my right, who hadn't played many hands at all.  He had worked his stack down to about $220.  From the few hands he'd played it would be reasonable to consider him at least somewhat nittish, or perhaps he was just really card dead.

I can't remember the exact action preflop.  I know the lady raised to $40.  I'm not sure if there had been a bunch of limpers or if maybe it had been raised and that was a three-bet.  It's not unusual for this game to see someone bet that much preflop as a first raise, especially after bunch of limpers.  I had no reason to think that she didn't have a big hand.

It folded to the guy on my right who called. He was the big blind. Everyone else folded.  I I had already folded under-the-gun. So it was heads up.

The flop was 10-10-4, rainbow.  The guy was first to act.  And he shoved.  Hmmmm….

The lady went into the tank.  She asked for a count.  It was $181.  That was a really large bet into a pot of around $80.  At one point she lifted up her cards rather casually like she was taking one last look before folding.  I was upset that perhaps the player on her left could see her hand because if she folded and she showed one player her cards, everyone should get to see them.  I wanted to know what she considered a $40 hand.

But instead, she flipped over her hand, and put the cards face up in front of her.  And she looked at the other player to see some reaction.  I guess here it's ok to expose your hand like that.  Some rooms it is not allowed.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that the two cards were both Aces.  I couldn't get any read from the profile of the player next to me, and apparently she couldn't either.  She continued to tank, she called for time, and you could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she considered what to do. 

So I played "what would I do?"  What hand could he have where his donk-shove made sense?  If he had a 10, wouldn't it make more sense to bet smaller?  Hell, since they were heads up, wouldn't it make sense for him to check, assuming she would most likely c-bet, then he could check-raise?  I was thinking he really didn't want a call, did he?  A shove-bluff? 

The counter was that nothing this guy had done all day indicated that he was likely to make a move like that.

So let's step back a bit. What hands would he call a $40 bet with preflop?  Any with a 10?  Well pocket 10's, but donk-shoving the flop with quads would be such a horrible play you have to rule it out.  Ace-10, Jack-10, 10-9?  Even suited that would be a stretch. But not impossible.

More likely he'd call with a pocket pair, probably a big one.  But if he had Kings he'd likely have re-raised preflop, right?  Even likely with Queens.  If he called with Jacks, he had an overpair.  But with any overpair, he's got showdown value.  Would it make sense to shove Queens or Jacks there?  If she has Ace-King she folds easily, whereas if he checks he'd at least likely get a c-bet out of her. You don't want to turn a big overpair into a bluff at that point.  So I'm thinking that he likely doesn't have a big pair.

Is he bluffing with a small pocket pair?  Or even two unmatched big cards?  The thing is, there really isn't any draw he's afraid of on that board. Which is why a 10 is so unlikely.  I mean if the other card was a Jack or a 9, or if there was two of a suit, maybe he's so afraid of getting drawn out on that he shoves just to make sure it doesn't happen.  Wouldn't be a good move but I see people do it all the time.  But with this board, if he has a 10, he's not worried about it.

What about pocket 4's  Well, I doubt he's calling $40 pre with 4's.  But if he did and flopped a boat, why the hell would he open shove?  Of course there's always a chance she could draw to a bigger boat (it's happened to me recently).  But do you really shove with a boat because you're  worried about that?  I don't think so.

So for the last two minutes I sat there getting a bit impatient.  I had decided that she had to call.  I just couldn't think of any hand he might have where it made sense to shove other than some crazy bluff.

And so finally the lady shrugged and called.  And the dealer dealt two more cards. I don't remember what they were.  But when the river was out, the guy meekly said, "you're good," and mucked his cards face down.  And then he got up and left.  So I'm afraid I can't report to you what he had.

After he was gone, there was quite a discussion on the hand as the lady stacked her chips.  I wanted to be sure I remembered correctly so I asked her if he had indeed open shoved the flop.  He had.  I said, if he had a 10 why wouldn't he have checked and let you bet?  She said she felt the same way.  She knew it didn't make sense for him to have a 10 and play it that way.  But then she was thinking maybe that was exactly what the guy wanted her to think. Maybe he was making it look like a bluff so he'd call his monster?

Obviously she didn't let that thought win out in her mind.  She made the right call.  What do you think?  Am I missing something?

I had a modestly profitable session.  I three-bet with pocket Aces and didn't get a call.  I saw a flop for free from the big blind with 8-4 off (six-way flop).  Flop was Ace-10-8 so I called $6 and it was four-way. The turn was a 4 so I bet $25. One call.  I bet $50 on a brick and didn't get a call.

Next hand, in the small blind, I had Ace-King of hearts. A guy shoved his last $49.  It folded to me and I called.  The big blind folded.  He didn't show.  I liked the flop.  Ace-King-10  He couldn't have Queen-Jack could he?  The board blanked out and he didn't show after I showed my top two.  He said he had "kicker problems."

With pocket 7's I called a $6 straddle.  It was four-way.  The flop was Jack-7-3.  I bet $12 and didn't get a call.

With Ace-King I made it $15 after on limp.  It was three-way.  The flop was 10-9-9.  I made a c-bet of $30 and didn't get a call.

With Jack-5 in the big blind and no raise, five of us saw a flop of King-Jack-3, two spades.  I checked and called $10. (Edited to add: Originally I posted that the last card was a 5, indicating I had flopped two pair.  That was a typo. I just flopped middle pair and had trip Jacks on the turn)  The turn was good news/bad news.  It was the Jack of spades. So I had trips but had to be a bit worried about someone already having a flush.  I checked and called $25, we were now heads up.  The river was a brick and I checked, he checked behind and said he missed his draw.

I booked a $65 win.

Friday, February 14, 2020

It Was Only Three Bucks

How much responsibility does a poker player have to maintain the integrity of the game?

I mean, if you are playing in a brick and mortar room, there's a dealer, and a floor person, and a shift manager to make sure the game is handled properly.  But what if you see a dealer make an error, or think you do, and it doesn't involve you? Should you say something?  Should you get involved?  Or should you mind your own business?  If the dealer goofs and costs one of the players money, isn't up to to that player to speak up for himself?  But anyone can make a mistake, and maybe the player who was "cheated": made the same mistake in his mind that the dealer did.  Or is a newbie?  Shouldn't we protect newbies so they keep coming back and playing?

I've seen some discussion quite recently about this very subject.  And I've heard varying opinions.  Where do you stand?

The simplest example would be the dealer pushing the pot to the wrong player.  The dealer misreads the hand.  And sometimes, even though the player who really won the pot thinks he really won the pot, he might be too embarrassed to speak up.  This would be especially likely if he was a new player.

Of course, if you are just observing, you might be afraid to speak up because it would be embarrassing if you were wrong and the dealer was right.

Well, I'm pretty sure I saw the dealer make an error at my most recent visit to Ventura.  And I didn't say anything.  You'll see why.

Here's the situation.  It was either the flop or the turn.  Player A made a bet, and Player B announced all-in.  It was quite an increase over the original bet, which was less than $50.  Player B had at least $400-$450.  Player A had two stacks of what looked like $100 each and three $1 chips.  This was after he made the initial bet.  I'm not sure if the street started two-handed but by the time it got back to Player A, it was definitely heads up.

Player A thought a bit  and then finally said, "call."  He pushed out in front of him the two stack of yellow chips he had (in the L.A. rooms, the $5 chips are yellow and the $1 chips are blue).  He did not push out the three blue chips he had, but of course, his verbal call and the pushing of any chips out in front of him clearly meant he was calling.  It was obvious that Player B had him well-covered.

Player B won. The dealer did not count any chips, as it was obvious that Player B had a lot more than Player A.  The dealer took the two stacks of yellow chips and pushed them to Player B.

And that was it.  He didn't grab the three blue chips that Player A had left over, or ask him to put them out for him to push to Player B.  He totally ignored them..  Player A rebought, but he kept ahold of those three $1 chips.

I knew this wasn't right.  He was covered, and the only way to continue in this hand was to put all his chips in play.  Including those three blue chips which he (apparently) forgot to push out.  The dealer should have caught it and insisted he pay the winner his last three bucks.

The only possible exception I've seen is in Vegas (never L.A.), where sometimes a player puts a dollar chip on the rail if he orders a drink.  That signifies he is holding back a buck to tip the waitress when he gets his drink. On very rare occasions, I've seen a player either call or move all-in and pick up a single chip from his stack and tell the dealer and his opponent that he was holding out that chip for the waitress.  He is kind of asking permission to do that and I've never seen anyone object.

But this wasn't the case here.  Player  A had not ordered a drink.  He didn't have those chips on the rail.  They were part of his stack—the part he didn't push out with his big stacks of yellows.

I couldn't think of any way this wasn't a mistake and that Player B wasn't getting short-changed $3.  But after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to keep quiet.  For one thing, by this time I knew Player B was an experienced player.  He surely knew that he was entitled to the three bucks.  It was on him to speak up, and if he didn't want to—or didn't notice—it was on him.  I suppose it was possible he did notice and didn't want to look cheap or even like he was rubbing it in by insisting on getting the guy's last three dollars.  But that's the rules, right?  He's entitled to those three dollars.  He surely would have had to pay the guy that extra three bucks if he had lost the hand.

The other reason I didn't speak up was….well, it was only three bucks.  Right is right and all, but to get involved in a hand I wasn't a part of for a lousy three dollar mistake—well, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

What do you think?  Should I have said something?

As to the game, there was one memorable hand that made it a nice session.  I had won a couple of really small pots from the blinds, then opened to $15 with pocket Jacks and didn't get a call.

Finally, down to about to about $245 or so (from my $300 buy-in), I looked down at pocket Aces.  I opened to $15.  It folded around to a guy who made it $35.  Everyone else folded and I thought for a bit before making it $90.  This guy had me covered but not by much.  He didn't waste much time before announcing "all-in."  To say I snap-called would be an understatement.  I don't think he'd finished saying the "n" when I said "Call!"  After the hand, the guy on my right commented on how fast I called.  "You called so fast…."  I said, "Well, there was no one else in the hand, there was no point in Hollywooding."  And of course by that time he knew I had Aces. Why draw it out?  Still, he seemed either surprised or impressed by how fast I called.

Obviously the other player wasn't pleased by my insta-call.  He said, "You have Aces?" as he turned over—you guessed it—two Kings.  Ah, the dreaded hand.   But would it be dreaded for him or me?  It had been awhile since I'd been involved in the classic Aces vs. Kings match-up.  It's always memorable, no matter what the result.

The flop had a lot of paint, but it was Queen-Jack-3, rainbow.  But the turn card really was interesting—and by interesting I mean scary as hell—a 10.  So he had an open-ender.  Six outs.  But only six.  Because if he caught his set on the river, I would have Broadway.  OTOH, if I caught my set on the river, he'd have the straight to crush my set of Aces.  So neither one of us wanted to catch our set.

The turn was another 3, totally harmless.  And I had my double up.  Suddenly there was nearly $500 in front of me.

I bled some chips for awhile and finally cashed out with a $160 profit.  Those cooler hands are nice when you are the cooler and not the coolee. 

OK, so what does the pic above have to do with this post?  Well both of us had really big pairs, so.....

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Vegas Poker Scene -- February 2020

Here's my latest column for Ante Up.  My column can be found on the Ante Up website here.  Remember I only write the Vegas portion of the page.  The magazine is available now in your local poker room.

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Valentyn Shabelnyk of the Ukraine won $136K for capturing the $3,500 main event of December’s Deep Stack Extravaganza at Venetian Las Vegas. Steve Sung from Southern California pocketed $85K as runner-up and George Wolff of Oregon grabbed $60K for third. The event drew 160 players and had a $504K prize pool.  
The next DSE is under way and runs through March 1. A $600 Monster Stack with two starting flights begins Feb. 7 and has a $150K guarantee. Players start with 35K chips and play 40-minute levels. 
The $400 Ultimate Stack has a $100K guarantee and begins Feb. 10 with two Day 1 flights. The starting stack is 40K and the levels are 30 minutes for the first 20 levels and then increase to 40 minutes.
An $800 Monster Stack with a $250K guarantee has three starting flights beginning Feb. 14. It has a 35K stack and 40-minute levels. 
A $400 Monster Stack, which has a $100K guarantee, has the first of its two starting flights Feb. 22. The stack is 30K and the levels are 40 minutes. 
A one-day $400 pot-limit Omaha event is Feb. 23 and has a $10K guarantee. For those of you who prefer freezeouts, one-day $300 Monster Stack events with no re-entry run Feb. 9 and March 1. These have $20K guarantees.
The main event starts Feb. 18. It offers a $1,600 buy-in, three starting flights and a $1M guarantee. Players start with 30K chips and play 60-minute levels. 
There are plenty of $200, $300 and $340 events throughout the series. The guarantees for the series exceed $3.3M.
The regular schedule at the Venetian has been revised. There are tournaments daily at 12:10 and six days a week at 6:10. Monday-Thursday afternoons, a $150 NLHE tournament has an $8K guarantee. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. Friday is a $200 Super Stack with a $20K guarantee.  Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels. There are two $100 add-ons available. The first is available after the fourth level and is for 12K chips. The second is after the eighth level and is for 25K chips.  That’s when registration ends. This tournament is so popular, there’s no evening event.
A $340 Double Stack runs Saturday afternoon as players start with 24K chips and play 40-minute levels.  The guarantee is $25K. The Sunday tournament is a $250 Super Stack with a $15K guarantee. Players start with 20K and play 30-minute levels. 
Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings host a $125 Monster Stack with a $4K guarantee that offers 20-minute levels and a 20K starting stack. Monday offers a $125 bounty with a $4K guarantee, 15K stacks, 20-minute levels and $25 bounties. This same tournament runs Thursday but with a $6K guarantee. Tuesday has a $200 bounty event with 12K stacks, 30-minute levels and $50 bounties. 
HARRAH’S: Mexico’s Anthony Spinella won the WSOPC main event in December, taking home $192K. Nipun Java of Los Angeles received $119K for second and Canada’s Jimmy Lee earned $87K for third.  The $1,700 event had 665 entrants, creating a $1M prize pool, easily surpassing the $500K guarantee.
RIO: The WSOPC runs Feb. 14-25 with 14 ring events, including a $400 combination NLHE-PLO that starts Feb. 18 and plays over two days. The next day, a $600 two-day HORSE event begins. There is a one-day $250 seniors event Feb. 17. A $400 Monster Stack with two starting flights begins Feb. 21.
The $1,700 main event has two starting flights beginning Feb. 22 and a $1M guarantee. A $2,200 High Roller closes out the action Feb. 24.
WYNN: Michael Rocco of Southern California won the $5,300 championship at the Winter Classic in December, taking home $540K. Michael Dyer from Las Vegas earned $353K for second and England’s Ben Farrell claimed $240K for third. The event drew 557 players, resulting in a $2.7M prize pool, smashing the $1.5M guarantee.
BELLAGIO: Alex Foxen of New York took down the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December. He received $1.694M for the win and, as a result, finished first in the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race for the second time in a row. Ireland’s Toby Joyce scored $1.12M for second and Seth Davies out of Oregon claimed $827K for third. The $10,400 event drew a record 1,035 players and had a $10M prize pool.
SAM’S TOWN: The room offers a $50 PLO tournament Wednesday nights at 7. Players start with 10K chips and play 20-minute levels. There is an optional $10 add-on for 5K chips available any time during the first six levels. The tournament features a $1K guarantee.
SAHARA LAS VEGAS: The poker room opens Jan. 29.  
GREEN VALLEY RANCH: Through the end of March, the room is offering the GVR High Hands promo on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 
Between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m., the highest hand of the period (two or three hours) receives $200, $250 or $300 depending on the period it hits. 
If a period does not have a qualified winner, that amount rolls over into the next day the promo runs. The minimum qualifying hand is queens full.