Tuesday, July 25, 2023

That Was Almost Exciting!

This is part 2, the final part. Part 1 can be found here. And also, you can find Vlogger Will’s vlog of this session here. Check it out.  I believe you can see my hands quite a bit.

While we were on the subject of my name, Emily mentioned she lived in or near Nottingham.  Of course, I made a Robin Hood reference and she decided she might start calling me Robin, because it was close to “Rob.”  Then she said that Lightning could be “LittleJohn.”  Lightning said his wife would dispute that.  Emily thoroughly enjoyed that and said, “Yes, of course, of course.  We’ll call you “BigJohn.”

Since Emily was immediately to my right, it was inevitable that we would eventually come to a blind vs. blind situation.  Now, new to the MGM since the last time I played there, they no longer allow chopping the blinds.  So we had to play it out. She hadn’t looked at her hand but I had, it was Ace-Queen, a monster two-handed.  She just completed without looking and made a point of saying she hadn’t looked, she would only look if I bet.  Well, it was a friendly game and we were unlikely to win or lose much anyway so I checked behind.  We checked it all the way through, and thus she never looked at her hand.  Nothing hit my hand and at showdown she flipped over Ace-Jack, which she was seeing for the first time. There was no Jack on the board either so I won.  But she noted that we both had big hands for heads up play. “Oh wow, if I had looked, that could have been something, that could have been a heckuva hand.  That was almost exciting.”

I responded, “Yeah, I hear that from women all the time.”  That got a few laughs.

Emily got involved in a hand with Will and Seat 9.  Will raised; the other two called.  On the flop Will led out for $25 and Emily shoved for $55.  Seat 9 called Emily’s raise.  Will shoved and succeeded in getting Seat 9 to fold.  Emily was unhappy, she had obviously hoped her raise would steal the pot.  She nervously watched the turn card and got super excited when it was a 6, immediately showing her pocket 6’s which was now a set.  She was very happy, even more so when the river was another 6!  She was delighted but couldn’t believe it.  I mean she really couldn’t believe it.  Will showed his unimproved pocket Aces.

Emily was saying, “That’s not possible.  I can’t believe it.  Count the deck, count the deck!”  She was laughing but honestly, she was almost “complaining” about getting so lucky.  She spent a few minutes talking about how crazy that was and almost suggested someone was cheating for her.  But she gladly accepted the pot and then the $150 bonus they gave her for the quads. By the way, if you watch Will’s video, this is the last hand on it and he does his less than perfect vocal impression of Emily.  But his take on the hand is funny.

There was a hand with Lightning vs. Emily, and he got Emily to fold with a big bet.  She showed her hand and Lightning said it was a good fold.  That didn’t satisfy Emily, but he didn’t show his hand. “I think you’re lying, you were bluffing, weren’t you?”  Now I’ve seen Lightning do this before, but never quite like this.  He started acting totally indignant that Emily was accusing him of lying.  He got super serious and appeared angry. “You’re accusing me of lying at the poker table?”  He gave her the silent treatment and Emily actually got concerned that she had pissed him off.  She asked me if he was really mad at her.  I insisted that he was just having fun with her.

But man, Lightning kept up the act.  I had never seen him give this good a performance.  Eventually I actually started to believe he was pissed at her and asked him about it.  But he wouldn’t break character.  Was this the Lightning I had known all these years?  Finally, he did relent and cracked a smile and told Emily he was just having fun with her.  She was relieved. But that was some performance he gave.  He missed his calling. He should have been an actor.

As we were chatting, Emily asked what I did for a living.  I told her I worked for PokerAtlas. Well, never had I gotten such a positive response when I’ve told someone that.  She started raving about how much she loved PokerAtlas and how much she uses it every time she comes to Vegas. “We always think it won’t be accurate, but you know, it’s always right. Always.  It’s just great.”  I said, “Will you tell my boss that?”  She said sure, give me the number, I’ll call right now.  I told her, “You know all the gazillion tournaments that are running right now in Vegas? (This was in the middle of the WSOP).  I entered every single one of them into our database.”  She was impressed. (So am I, truth be told).

By the way, I had lunch at the office the next day and told them this story, they loved it.

Then there was Lightning's big hand.  He’s already blogged about it (here) and it is featured prominently in Will’s video I linked to above.  Will was one of Lightning’s victims.  It is the second to last hand he covers, and you can see my hand pounding the table when the winner is revealed. It was a rather benign hand until the river when there was now 4 to a straight on board.  Any one with a Jack had a straight, but if one fortunate soul had King-Jack that would be the stone cold nuts. 

First to act led out for $100.  Will tanked.  I heard him muttering something about pot odds to chop.  Finally he called.  Then it was on Lightning, who really Hollywooded it up.  He talked and talked and worried and fretted and put on a show.  Remember how I told you how good an actor he was when he convinced Emily he was mad at her?  Well, he wasn’t quite as good an actor this time.  I thought he went overboard. But the thing was, he only had $141 left.  So it didn’t make much sense for him to just call.  He was trying to convince the other players that he really wanted to fold, but not sure he sold that.  Anyway, he finally shoved.  The guy on Will’s right instantly called but Will went into the tank again.  I was pretty sure he just had the Jack, and even though he had to believe at least one of the others had King-Jack, it was just not enough of a bet to get him to fold.  Not for $41.  I was sure Will would call and eventually he did.  Of course, Lightning was the only one with King-Jack and made a really nice profit for the session with that one hand.  

Emily had been telling all of us about the differences in poker etiquette in England vs. the U.S.  But somehow she wanted to bring up a difference between the two countries that had nothing to do with poker.  She suddenly turned to me and said, “I just found out that people are allowed to have guns here.”  That took me by surprise.  I said, “Yes, we have the second amendment.  The right to bear arms is constitutionally protected.”

She told me no one has guns in the U.K.  She went on and on about how different that was and she had a hard time grasping it.  She said, “Everyone here at this table could have a gun right now?”  I said, “Different states have different rules.  In some states it’s very restricted and you can’t conceal carry.  But in other states, it’s more lax.  I mean, in Texas you are required by law to have a gun on you at all times.”  

I think she almost believed me when Seat 9 piped up.  “That’s the way it should be.”  She and seat 9 got into a bit of a discussion about it with Seat 9 very much in favor of easy gun access.  She never did seem to understand it.  So finally I said to her, “You know why we have the second amendment, why we are all allowed to own guns?”  She said no.

“Well,” I said, “Hundreds of years ago, America was ruled by an evil country, led by an evil tyrant, who wanted to control everything about the way we lived.  And that country was called ‘England’.”  “No, no, I never heard of it, never heard of it…”  she was laughing as she said this.  “Yeah, you heard of it.  When we threw that country out of here, we put in the second amendment so we’d be armed in case any other country ever tried to control us again.”  Emily was still pretending she never heard of England, “No, no, I know nothing of this, I had nothing to do with it (she was laughing the whole time).”

“King George?  You never heard of King George?  Or George Washington?”  She laughingly denied every hearing of those two Georges.

Eventually we had to leave, albeit reluctantly. I told Emily I was definitely going to blog about her, and when I do, I wanted her to leave a comment. She said, “Oh, I hope you won’t be too mean to me, this crazy English girl you met.  I’m really pretty wonderful.”

I said to her, “Emily, are a total delight.  I had so much fun tonight.  You’re fantastic.”  She seemed touched. 

I left up over $400 but you couldn’t put a price tag on the fun I had.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Quad Aces for the Re-suck!

(This is part 1 of 2 parts)

As you know from my last two entries here, I was in Vegas recently.  And I had a poker session that was so much fun that I just have to blog about it.  So at least for the time being, my blog is back.

I was in Vegas for 12 days, and for much of the first week, my blogging pal Lightning was in town with me. In fact, he has already blogged about this night, which you can see here.  But now, for the first time, you will tell the true version of this night.

Back in the day, I played a lot of poker at MGM, but not so much recently. It’s not that I no longer like the room (although I must admit, I’m not a fan of uncapped 1/2 games like they have now). It’s mostly that over the recent years, all my dealer buddies have left the room. I go there now and I don’t recognize anyone.  It’s just another poker room, nobody knows me there. In the old days, it was like Norm walking into Cheers whenever I showed up there.

On this night, Lightning suggested that we hit up MGM for our evening session and it seemed like a good idea.  Because parking is always an issue at MGM properties, he picked me up at my hotel and we made our way to the poker room.

I got seated first and almost immediately picked up a fun vibe from this table.  I was in seat 5, directly across from the dealer, and the young lady on my right in seat 4 was obviously having a great time. When I first got there, she was mostly conversing with the young fellow in seat 2, who I noticed would occasionally take a camera out and appeared to be recording some hands. Two things became immediately obvious to me.  One, the young fellow was a vlogger (a blogger like me, except with video instead of text) And two, the young lady was British.

Emily (her real name) appeared fascinated by the concept of a vlog. And she was peppering Will (the vlogger, also his real name) with questions about vlogging.  I stayed quiet for a while, and noticed that Emily seemed excited that she might appear in a future vlog, especially after Will asked her name and wrote it down. She enthusiastically gave him her permission to use her likeness and her name should she be involved in a vlog-worthy hand.

Emily was chatting with everyone at the table, talking about the hands and about poker and about differences between poker in Vegas and England.  She was just one of those people who, while playing poker, engaged in just the right amount of conversation.  She talked a lot, but not so much that she ever got annoying (though she seemed to worry about that).  And almost everything she said was interesting and usually amusing.  She was just a really fun person to be sitting at a poker table with.  The most apt word I can think of to describe her is “delightful.”  Sadly, I don’t think I can sufficiently convey with just words just how truly delightful she was.

I asked Will what his YouTube channel was and looked it up on my phone.  It’s 4 Bet BlindHe explained that he had come down from Portland for the WSOP where he hoped to find lots of material for his vlog.  He had played the Gladiators event at the WSOP the day before and gave us a few details about that.  Emily too had played the Gladiators.  She cashed but busted before Day 1 ended and we heard about that.

My session was up and down to start.  I won a small pot flopping a set of Jacks.  For this trip, the single hand I was dealt most often was pocket Jacks.  You’ll be surprised to hear that I only lost one time this entire trip with the dreaded pocket Kings.  That one time I ended folding to a bet (it may have been a bad fold, I’ll never know). 

Meanwhile Lightning was having a miserable time at his table, lost a buy-in and took a break.  I told him I didn’t know if my table was going to be profitable but that it sure was fun, and I wasn't about to leave it any time soon.  He got back in a game at a different table and put his name on the list for a table change to my game.  I was thinking it’s a shame that he was missing out on this fun.

Eventually the seat directly to my left opened up.  Lightning’s table was near mine so rather than text him I tried shouting his name.  The room was packed and he didn’t hear me.  Emily asked me if I was calling my friend and I said yes so she joined in yelling “John, John!”  He didn’t hear my voice but somehow he heard Emily’s!  I guess he’s been married so long, his ear is more attuned to hearing a female voice yelling at for him.

Lightning settled into seat 6 and I’m sure he immediately picked up on the fun vibe of the table.  Then a familiar face came in to deal.  It was my old pal “Joyce,” who’s been dealing to me at MGM probably since I started playing poker in Vegas. In researching her blog name, I discovered that despite dealing to me probably thousands of times, I had only mentioned her on the blog once.  But it was a fun post because, of course, it was the time we discussed her bra size.  But on this night we discussed what happened to all my old pals from MGM instead.  

Joyce turned out to be the only familiar face among the dealers that I saw in the room that night.  She greeted me warmly as I did her, and I asked about all my old pals.  She told me that there were just a few left…..but they were either floor people or shift managers.  The other dealers had all moved on.  I did know that a number of them were now working at South Point. 

We had just about finished going down memory lane when Joyce dealt me pocket Aces.  Nice.  I didn’t write down the details like I would have in the old days so I might not have this exactly right, but I believe I was one of the blinds and the relatively quiet fellow in seat 3 (so maybe the button?) raised to $8.  I made it $25 I think.  He called and it was heads up.  The flop was really nice. As5d8h.  Always nice to flop a set of Aces.  I didn’t expect to get any action but since I was the preflop aggressor I dutifully put out a bet and he called. The turn was 7d.  So a straight was possible if he had 6-4.  Since he had initially raised and then called my pre-flop three-bet, what were the chances of that?  Still there were now two diamonds on the board in addition to the straight.  I believe I bet again and he called.

I wasn’t too worried, but better safe than sorry, I remember thinking it would be nice to see the board pair just in case.  The river did indeed pair the board.  With an Ace!  A set of Aces is nice. Quad Aces is damn near perfect.

I assumed there was no way Seat 3 would call anything with two Aces on the board, so I put out a really small bet.  To my astonishment, he shoved!  Of course, I snap called and turned over my hand, saying “I think I got this!”  Seat 3 was surprised and somewhat argumentative.  He showed his hand, which was indeed 6-4, both diamonds and pointed out that if the 8 of hearts had been the 8 of diamonds, he’d have beaten my quads with a straight flush!  Except that it was the 8 of hearts, and he only picked up that straight flush draw on the turn, when he made his straight.

Wow, what a hand. It was the old “suck/re-suck.”  He sucked out on me on the turn, and I re-sucked out on him on the river.  Phew.  BTW, MGM does not have a bad beat jackpot, so if it had been quads vs. straight flush, I would have just had one horrendous bad beat story to tell, and not the prize of winning a bad beat jackpot.  Anyway, imagine winning with quad Aces which I actually needed them to beat his damn straight.  Set of Aces no good there.

Well there was quite a bit of excitement to say the least.  For one thing, the room has high-hand bonuses.  They are progressive, and it would be at least $100.  As it turned out, it was good for $150.  This was actually the second time since I’d been there that someone had quads. I think it was quad deuces and I also think they were hit by the very fellow in Seat 3! They also have a High Hand of the Hour that I might have qualified for in addition to the $150, but it happened after 9PM and the last high hand period ended at 9PM. Oh well.

There was also the pot.  I had Seat 3 covered but not by much. It was a healthy pot.  Damn, I didn’t write down how much it was, but I was sure that after it was over, I had more than a double up of my $200 buy-in, not counting the $150 bonus, which I pocketed when I received it some time later (I had plenty of chips to play without with the pretty green ones).

And you know who was almost as excited as I was over this hand?  Emily, of course.  She loved it. She insisted I hurry up and take a picture of the hand, then grabbed the phone out of my hand and took the pic for me because she had a better angle. But what happened was the guy in seat 9 was expressing his disapproval of Seat 3’s play.  How could he call my three-bet preflop with 6-4???  Even it if was sooooted???  He wasn’t involved in this hand at all but somehow the play of Seat 3 offended him!  Hours later, when seat 9 left, Emily commented to me about the guy being so upset with the way the hand was played, she was still wondering why it bothered that guy so much.  And Seat 3 seemed to be defending his play because he almost had a straight flush.  Or maybe because he had sucked out on me on the turn, and what were the chances of a re-suck?

Emily asked me if I was worried about the straight (before the river).  I said I saw it but it was so unlikely.  Emily agreed.  She said something to the effect of, “How could you imagine anyone playing like that?  I mean, he’d have to be a complete idiot to have 6-4 there!”  That’s just a weak paraphrase, I wish I had written it down at the time.  But I do know she referred to Seat 3 as an idiot over the way he played this hand any number of times.  And she was actually arguing with Seat 9 about it, even though they were both questioning Seat 3’s play.

I was a bit surprised that Emily was so critical of Seat 3.  I mean calling him an idiot seemed out of line, to say the least.  But they had been friendly and I had already picked up that Seat 3 was a Brit like her.  I had assumed they met at the table and bonded over their mutual heritage.  Boy was I was wrong.  Before the evening was over I figured out, and then confirmed, that Seat 3’s name was Matt and he was indeed Emily’s husband!  This made it even more fun for me that Emily seemed to be so happy about my quad Aces.  And I guess it somehow made it ok that she called him a complete idiot.  Likely not for the first time!

And let me defend Matt’s play there.  By this time he obviously knew I was a tight player and when I three-bet there he can put me on a very narrow range that includes Aces, Kings and maybe Ace-King.  Maybe.  Probably not even Queens.  So maybe if he hits something unexpected, I will get sticky with it and put all my chips in play against a hand I couldn’t possibly expect a decent player to have there. Which in fact is exactly what happened.  Except I pulled off the re-suck. Trouble is, if that was what he was thinking, he has to know it is almost more likely than not that I do have quad Aces on the river. I mean I wouldn’t play Kings like that with all the Aces on board.  And would I have played just top pair that strong with the straight out there (however unlikely)?

Emily confessed that they never play at the same table usually but because it was so busy there they had no choice.  So they ended up sitting right next to each other.  I wonder if that hand came up in their subsequent conversations during their trip?

I’m not sure about this but I think Emily asked Will if he caught any of that hand for his vlog, and I think he said he might have. But since he wasn’t involved in the hand I rather doubt he recorded any of it.  But Emily was excited about the possibility of it appearing in Will’s vlog.  It was probably at this point that I did something I rarely do.  I came out of the closet.

Yes, I admitted to being the world famous poker blogger Robvegaspoker. While Emily was still quizzing Will about his vlog, and kept asking, “are you gonna put this in the vlog?” I spoke up.  “You know, I’m internet famous, too.”  She asked who I was and I told her.  And I said, “I used to have a pretty popular blog.  A written blog, low-tech, not video like Will.”  She went searching the web for it immediately and found it.  I said, “I’ve only done one blog post this year but I have to blog about the quad Aces for sure.”  She took a screenshot of the blog and promised to look for the blog post. I told her Lightning also had a blog (or maybe he told her himself) and she took a screenshot of his blog too.

So she asked me if I was “Rob” or “Robert” and I said “Yes.”  She must have thought I was being a smart ass so explained, “My legal name is Robert but I go by Rob.” Then she went on about how Robert is a great name, explaining that in England there are some strong names and Robert is one of them.  She also liked the name John.

I took issue with that a bit. “Are there any Roberts in England?  I’ve never heard of an English Robert.  There’s never been a King Robert, has there?”  But she insisted it was a good English name and then told me it was the name of her dear father who had passed away a few years ago.  I don’t recall if she said I reminded her of him or if she could see me as her father substitute, something like that.  She asked me what year I was born.  I was taken aback by that but I finally told her and she expressed a bit of surprise, which I took to mean she thought I was younger than I am but I could just be flattering myself.  She told me her dad was born a few years after I was.  

Yours truly with the delightful Emily

And that’s where I’m going to leave this part 1.  I haven’t written up the rest, so it may take some time to get more posted, but please check back.  In future installments we discuss Robin Hood, the player who actually complained about hitting quad 6’s, Emily’s favorite poker app (PokerAtlas, of course), Lightning’s Academy Award winning performance, the American Revolution and of course, the 2nd Amendment (really)!  Check back early and often!


Saturday, June 17, 2023

Emily, This Repost is For You!

Emily, are you still out there?  I hope so.  One of the stories you told me the other night reminded me of this incident I first described in a post I did over ten years ago which described an incident similar to the one you told me.....but with a very different result.  So I thought you'd be interested in reading this while you are patiently (I hope) waiting for me to write up the post about the session we had together.  This post was one of the most popular posts from the early days of my blog and in fact I've already reposted it once already!  

You are of course invited to comment on this and perhaps reveal to all my readers the details of your similar situation that had a vastly different result.  If you do want to comment for public viewing, I would prefer that you not mention the name of the poker room your story took place in; remember I keep a good relationship with all the Vegas poker rooms for my work.  Thanks!

One of the rules of the poker room is this:  “Verbal is binding.”  This means that if a person says “call” instead of putting out his chips in front of him, he is obligated to put his chips into the pot.  If he or she says “raise” he must raise the required amount, regardless of any action he takes with his chips (in a no limit game, without stating an amount, the person saying “raise” would have to put out the minimum required to raise).

But that’s not where it ends.  If a person has yet to act, and the person who will be acting next says something about calling or raising, that too is binding.  Even if he doesn’t realize it.
And that little rule created quite a ruckus at BSC last week.  And it was your humble correspondent who was up against the guy who didn’t know the rules—or at least, claimed not to know them.
I was sitting in seat 4 and had about $250 in front of me.  A brand new player took seat 5 immediately to my left and bought in for $100.  This was his very first hand.  He was coming in right behind the button. 
A bunch of limpers in the pot, the action went to me holding 6/7 suited, so I limped also.  Seat 5 raised to $10.  Two or three called in front of me, so I called as well.
The flop was 865, rainbow I believe.  It checked around to the new player, who had last action from here on.  He bet $30.  A guy in early position called as well.  I had him covered but he had close to $200 in front of him.  I felt with the pair and the open ender it was enough to call, so I did.
The turn card was a beautiful 9, given me the second nuts.  Only a 10-7 could beat me.  First guy checked, and I decided to check too.  If I bet there, it would scream “straight!” and I probably wouldn’t get a caller.  If I checked, I thought the new player might bet and then I could figure out what to do based on whether the other guy called and how much the bet was. 
But the guy disappointed me, tanking for a bit, saying, “Wow, you put a straight out there huh?”  After thinking about it some more, he finally said he was just gonna check.
Oh well, I knew that was the risk.  The river was a totally harmless deuce that didn’t change anything (and there was no flush possible).  First guy checks, and, I knew I had to bet to try to get any more value for my hand. 
I started counting out chips and was trying to figure out what bet would be called. Before I got very far in my thought process of what the right amount to bet would be, the new guy, seeing me reach for chips, said something like, “Oh if you’re betting, I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”
OK, if that’s the case, no more calculating on my part was necessary.  The third guy was a good player; I didn’t figure he’d call the two of us unless he had a 7, or worse for me, 10-7.  If this guy was gonna put his last $60 in the pot, I was satisfied with that.  So I said, “In that case, all-in.” 
The dealer was Brent.  Brent is not just a dealer pal of mine but the very dealer who gave me the great story about “protecting your hand” that resulted in my all time most popular post, located here.  Now, we were about to get yet another lesson in poker rules and etiquette courtesy of Brent.
Brent immediately took out the “all in” card and threw it in front of me, and took out the “call” card and threw it in front of seat 5.  Seat 5 said nothing. Brent posed stoically and the action turned to the third player.  But nothing happened for awhile and I looked at Brent and he was still frozen.  So, for a nano-second, forgetting about the third player, or perhaps thinking he must have folded as I assumed he would, I grabbed my cards and said, “Is that in then?”  I hadn’t come close to exposing my hand tho, when Brent stopped me and pointed to the third guy and said he still had to act.  I immediately slammed my cards face down, no one had seen them.  I had barely gotten them an inch off the table.
I then looked over to the third guy for a second, and he was still tanking.  I looked away.  During all this time, seat 5 said absolutely nothing, made no motion, was totally still.  He was definitely not acting like a guy who had a decision to make.  Finally the other guy says, “Well, I guess at least one of you has me beat,” and mucked.
Brent looks at both of us and says “lets see ‘em” or whatever.  I show my hand, he said, “straight,” and then, and only then, did seat 5 speak up. 
“Call? Who called?  I didn’t call.”  Brent told him he most certainly did call.  He told him that what he said before I bet was binding, verbal is binding, and that he said “I’m gonna call whatever you put out.”  That’s binding.
No, seat 5 said, he didn’t say that.  “I said, ‘I’d probably call.’  I said ‘probably’.  I didn’t say I’d call.”   Brent said he didn’t hear him say “probably.” Anybody hear him say “probably,” he asked the table?
No.  A few people shook their heads and said definitely that they didn’t hear him say “probably.”  I said what I knew to be true, that he never said probably.  The rest of the table said nothing, presumably not hearing what he said.
The guy insisted he didn’t call, so Brent held up the action and called the floor over.  We’ll call the floor person “Bill” and like most anyone who works floor this time of day at BSC (or evening, actually), he knows me by name (and has helped me a few times on comps issues, among other things).  He even knows my last name, which surprised me because I didn’t think he’d ever seen my players card.
Seat 5 started making his case and Bill silenced him.  He got the story from Brent first, who accurately re-enacted what happened.  He also pointed out that his comment affected my action, which was true—just not the way the guy had hoped for.  Brent said he was trying to get me not to bet.
Bill turned back to seat 5 and said that “verbal is binding” and that since he had made the call, he had to put all his chips into the pot, as I easily had him covered.  The guy continued to protest, and rather loudly.  He said, “Why would I call when there was a four-card straight on the board?”
I didn’t say anything, but of course, that four-card straight was on the board when he said he was gonna call whatever I put out.  He had noticed the straight on the turn; that’s why he didn’t bet.  But he still said he was gonna call me.
He continued to talk.  He said, “I’m a man of my word,” and thus was trying to act insulted that he was being questioned like this.  He insisted he said “probably.”  Then he went on to say that this was his first time in Vegas and he just came into BSC to see the show in the main showroom and was trying to have a little fun before the show started. 
Somewhere along the way, Bill took the same survey of the other players that Brent had and found no one who recalled saying “probably.”  When Bill once again asked him politely to put his chips into the pot, he again refused and asked to speak to someone else.
Bill said fine, he would call the Shift Supervisor over.  Which he did.  Of course, “Nick,” the Shift Supervisor, knows me too.  I should point out that during the entire discussion, Brent, Bill and Nick referred to me only as “seat 4” and never by name, even tho they all know it.  I assume this is standard operating procedure, and it is an excellent idea.  Since they were siding with me, it only would have made things worse if the guy knew that I was a regular in the room who everyone knew.  He might have felt that as a regular, they were giving me preferential treatment, although that wasn’t true.  They were calling this one by the book.
Pretty much the same thing happened, Nick asked the other players after hearing Brent’s version of the facts.  Then, after hearing seat 5 tell him he was a man of his word several more times, and how this was his first time in Vegas, and how he said “probably” and why would he call a four-card straight and he was just there to see the show…..Nick very, very politely and calmly told him that he had indeed called my bet and to please put his chips into the pot.
Now I must admit, at some point I seriously considered just saying, “It’s ok, let him keep his chips.”  I really did.  The guy was clearly upset and who knew what would happen if this situation was allowed to escalate.  And it was only $60, even if it was $60 that was rightly mine.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As Brent had pointed out, his words had indeed affected my action.  Plus, he had all kinds of time before seeing my hand to say something about not calling.  The “call” card was sitting in front of him for a couple of minutes. Then he saw Brent remind me that another player, the one following him, still had to act.  Why would we be waiting for him to act if seat 5 himself had not already acted?  Of course, even if he protested as soon as he saw the “call” card placed in front of him, there still would have been an issue as to whether or not he had called, but at least it would have been adjudicated before he saw my hand.
So I said nothing.  My only contribution to the discussion was my statement, several times, to several different people, that he didn’t say “probably”.  He said he would call whatever I bet.
The guy was very agitated and repeated all the things he had been saying several times.  Nick once again told him to put his chips (which he had been holding onto tightly since the ruckus began) into the pot.  He said he wouldn’t because he hadn’t called.  Then Nick said he would have to call security.
“Security?  You’re gonna call security?  Are you serious?” he said.  I envisioned this guy hurriedly getting up from his chair and bolting the room (and casino), chips in hand.  Meanwhile the rest of the players were getting impatient, some complaining that this was holding up the game. Finally, he took his chips and flung them towards Brent.  Most of them landed in the rack in front of him. I don’t think any of them hit Brent. Brent calmly and professionally took them all out of the rack and placed them into the pot, which he then pushed to me.  I tipped Brent $5 for his troubles (it was a nice pot, but it didn’t really justify that kind of a tip—I was tipping him for the aggravation and for taking my side—which of course, was the correct side).  I dunno if the guy saw the tip, as he immediately got up and stormed out of the room, presumably to see his show.  But in hindsight, I shouldn’t have given that big a tip in front of the guy.  I should have given him a normal tip and then given him the rest later in the evening, when the guy was long gone.  I suppose he might have thought there was some collusion going on when he saw that tip.  But in fact, nothing was said, or even noticed.
That was the end of Brent’s down, and he moved on.  The new dealer saw just the end of what happened and asked what all the fuss was about it.  We all filled him in, and of course he agreed that the guy had called my all in bet. It took about 20 minutes for anyone to talk about anything else.  One guy expressed concern the guy was gonna come back later and gun us all down!
In fact, that’s not the last I saw of the guy.  Hours later, I noticed him talking to Nick peacefully, away from all the tables.  I saw them talking calmly for about 20 minutes.  I had already had private conversations with Bill and Brent about the incident, both of whom thought the guy was just angle-shooting and was just trying to pull a fast one.  Bill saw me in the Mens Room and asked, “What were the chances that guy said ‘probably’?”  I told him that the guy definitely did not say “probably.”  Brent said that he said to the guy “that’s binding” when he heard his initial comment and threw the “call” card in front of him.  I didn’t remember that and I didn’t remember if Brent had told that to Bill or Nick.
So I asked Nick if that was the indeed the guy I thought it was and he confirmed it.  He had calmed down considerably, he said, but he still didn’t agree with the decision.  Further—and I have to admit, this bothers me a little—he didn’t think the guy was a sophisticated enough player to be trying to angle-shoot.  He actually thought the guy was totally ignorant that he had done anything wrong or that his comment was even intended to affect my action.  But Nick did thank me for my concern, and I thanked him for making the right decision.
I’m glad he calmed down, but I do feel a little badly if he really wasn’t trying to pull a fast one.  But still, he had more than enough time to correct things—or at least to attempt to—before he saw that he was beat.
Near the end of the night, Jack game to deal.  I asked him if he had heard all the commotion and he said he had, he was actually at the next table over at the time.  He didn’t realize, however, that I was the other player involved in the controversial pot.  Since he hadn’t heard the whole thing, I explained it fully to him.  By now, no one at my table was left over from the incident, so they all chimed in.  Jack said that the decision was an easy one, he makes that ruling every night.  He recalled one time it cost someone over $500.  He said the guy was angle-shooting even if he never heard that term.
And hat-tip to Jack, he reminded me that from the next table over, he heard the guy say, “I’m a man of my word” at least three times.  I had actually forgotten that by this point.  He even suggested I use that phrase as the title of this post (and give him a credit for the suggestion), but, while I liked that idea, I decided to go another way, to make sure that the real point of this post is reflected in the title.
Just another fun night of poker at the BSC.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Emily, Are You Out There?

Emily, this is for you.

This is not a blog post, it is a blog tease.

I want to make sure I blog about the fantastic session at MGM I had Thursday night, the highlight of which was not hitting quad Aces on the river for the resuck out on the guy who sucked out on my set of Aces with a turned straight.  

No, the highlight was meeting Emily, the totally delightful lass from the U.K. that I played with that night.  BTW, it was her husband that hit the straight against my set of Aces.  I hope I remember all the fun things we talked about.  I know I won't forget about the quad 6's she hit that came out of nowhere.

By posting this tease, I know I am obligating myself to tell the whole story, in minute detail. Please hang in there while I find the time to give the story the Robvegaspoker treament.

And dammit, last night, I was too tired from a 9-hour tournament I played on Saturday (and cashed in!) to continue on, so Lightning went on to MGM without me.  And apparently ran into Emily there again!  In fact, he sent me a pic of Emily and him together.  I would post that pic here, but it would be unfair to steal Lightning's thunder, I assume he will post it in his blog before I get the chance to write up my 87-part blog post recording that night's festivities. Also, I don't have permission from Emily to post it, though I am sure she would love having it posted.

Emily, I am sorry I missed you last night.  If you see this before Friday, please let me know where you will be playing on any night this week.  You can email me with the address posted here, or just leave a comment.  All my comments have to be approved by me, so if you don't want it public, let me know and I won't post it.

I hope I see you again, Emily!

Note: The picture below is not of the Emily I played poker with!


Lightning has published his report on that great night at MGM.  Obviously, I'll have more to say when I get a chance to write up my report but for your first introduction to this night and the charming Emily, check out his post here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Lookin' To Get Out

I hope I remember how to do this!

First off, let me say that if you’re glad to see a new post from me, you have Allen Kessler and Ann-Margret to thank (now there’s a pair I never thought I’d put together in the same sentence!).

I could explain that right now, but if you remember my blog from the glory days you know I almost never get to the point right away.  I take my time.  And since this is my first blog post in over half a year, I will likely get even more sidetracked than usual, if that’s possible.  Sorry.  You have the option now of not reading this at all, or scanning it until you come to the part where I actually get to the main point of this post.

You see, this post is actually a movie review.  The movie is the 1982 “classic,” Lookin’ to Get Out.

Here’s the first fork in the road I’m taking.  It is actually quite appropriate that I return to this blog after being missing in action for over six months with a movie review because watching movies is now my main leisure time activity, replacing poker thanks to the various lockdowns that started back in March, 2020.  Suddenly, I couldn’t go out and play poker every week (and for awhile, I couldn’t go out and do anything—for that matter, I couldn’t go out at all).  Remember that?  If you lived in California you do.  And since I couldn’t play poker, I had nothing to blog about.  So I got completely out of the rhythm of writing blog posts every night.  What took up my time, you ask?

An old hobby I never really abandoned but suddenly had a lot more time for—watching old movies.  I mean old.  Mostly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  Oh sure there were movies from the 60’s forward that I watched and enjoyed, and even movies that were practically new.  But old films got most of my attention.  Fortunately I had access to Turner Classic Movies, which may have saved my life.  And when I switched to YouTubeTV,  I suddenly had a virtual DVR that was able to hold an unlimited number of movies (TV shows too).  I have nearly 2,500 movies on that DVR at this moment, most of them from TCM.  Plus there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney +.  I’m not likely to run out of movies to watch anytime in my next three lifetimes. Of course, not all of those movies on the DVR will ever be watched and a lot of them I’ve already watched, but there’s no way to delete them, you just have to let them “expire” automatically after nine months.

If you’re interested, my favorite genres are film noirs, pre-code films and screwball comedies.  But I’ve watched films from virtually every conceivable genre over the past three years.  I’ve even watched Bette Davis melodramas.

As a kid I always loved old films, and while attending UCLA in the ‘70’s I took two film courses that introduced me to some great movies I hadn’t seen or even heard of before.  I wish I still had the lists I made of the films I saw then, but whenever I come across one of them now, I usually remember if I saw them in a class. Great films I do remember from those classes include High Noon (my all-time favorite western), Ninotchka, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Holiday, and You Can’t Take it With You.  And so many more.

I was on Twitter a lot and suddenly no one was tweeting about poker (because no one was playing it), which was the main reason I joined it in the first place.  But I found Twitter accounts that talked about movies, and some specialized in the old movies I was most interested in. I get recommendations from them all the time. You may see me interact with some of these accounts from time to time, commenting on the movies they recommend (especially when they recommend good ones).

So it isn’t unusual for me to watch a movie based on a Twitter recommendation, but I never expected to get a movie recommendation from Allen Kessler (come on, you knew I’d get back to him eventually).  Does anyone reading this not know who Allen Kessler is?  Since I can’t hear you answering, I’ll tell you that Allen, nicknamed “Chainsaw,” is a professional poker player and gambler. He is known for being extremely picky about tournament structures and rake, for never paying for a meal (he gets comped a whole lot) and for his generosity in sharing his comps with his friends.  He was probably one of my first follows on Twitter and he follows me as well.  We’ve interacted on Twitter any number of times.

But I never met him in person until this past October.  I was playing in a tournament at Orleans and on the break I recognized him sitting at a tournament table that I walked by on the way to the restroom.  He was playing a different tournament than I was (no doubt a “mixed game” tourney which he prefers to NLH).  I couldn’t help recognizing him from all the pics of him I’ve seen on Twitter and elsewhere.  I’m not sure I even intended to say this out loud, but as I was about to pass him, the word “Chainsaw” audibly escaped my lips.  He looked up and I said hi and told him I was “robvegaspoker” and of course he knew me from Twitter.  He was in the middle of the hand and I didn’t want to be late back from break so that was the extent of our interaction.

That incident has nothing to do with why he’s responsible for this blog post buy you know how I am.  Just the other day, on Twitter, Allen posted a link to a movie that was available free on YouTube (it’s amazing how many good movies are available on YouTube for free—high quality prints in many cases, too). That movie was Lookin’ to Get Out (see, I got back there, eventually).  Allen said about the film, “This is my favorite gambling movie of all time.  Enjoy!”

Well, now, if a famous (and infamous?) and prolific gambler like Allen Kessler claims a movie is his all time favorite gambling movie, well, I just have to take note.  I gotta figure Kessler knows what he’s talking about, or at least there’s a good chance he does.  Since he hasn’t discussed movies much on Twitter (to my recollection anyway), I didn’t know how well his tastes in film align with mine, but I just had to give him some respect based on the subject being gambling movies and he being a pro at that very occupation.

Then I did what I always do these days when someone mentions I movie I might want to watch.  I checked the IMDB rating.  It was 5.1.  I won’t go into the intricacies of the IMDB rating system, (at last a tangent I won’t go on!) but when I’m looking over the movie listings I check IMDB and generally use “7” as the minimum for a movie I’ll watch (this is a consensus rating “voted” on by the users of IMDB).  I’ll definitely consider lower rated movies depending on the cast, the director, the subject matter and personal recommendations I get (from Twitter or otherwise).  For sure, movies that rate a 6.4, for example, have been known to surprise me and have been found vastly underrated by no less an expert than yours truly.  But man, that 5.1 is really, really, really low!

I had to reconsider.  What do I know about Allen Kessler?  I know he gambles for a living.  I knew he loves Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.  But do I know if he likes Citizen Kane?  Do I know if likes Casablanca?  Does he agree with me that Vertigo is the best ever Hitchcock movie?  Does he even like Hitchcock?  If he doesn’t, he can be dismissed as not having anything meaningful to say about film.  Well, it seemed like a bad idea to present him with a movie quiz just to follow one of his movie recommendations.  It would probably take longer than just watching the damn movie and deciding for myself whether or not I liked it.

I looked at the cast.  Jon Voight was the star.  Ok, a good actor for sure.  Good actors have been known to make some terrible movies though. Burt Young.  Wasn’t he in the Rocky movies?  Those were good, that was a plus. 

And then….then, I saw the name Ann-Margret.


Does it surprise anyone who’s familiar with my blog that I really like Ann-Margret?
  I think not.

Let me just say that as an owner of a y-chromosome who came of age in the ‘60’s, I believe it is in my DNA to love Ann-Margret.  For my money, she is the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen. 

So if you have Ann-Margret in your movie you have my attention.  And that tipped the scales in favor of giving this 5.1 film a try.

No doubt some of you are recalling that Ms. Margret was in another gambling movie earlier in her career.  In fact, she was in one of the all-time great poker movies, The Cincinnati Kid (1965), which has a 7.2 rating on IMDB (should be much higher).  She doesn’t have a big role, but it is important and she looks incredibly good (not a difficult feat for her in those days).  I’m sure at least 99% of you have seen it, right?  If not, drop everything and watch it ASAP.  Just a terrific poker movie that stars the great Steve McQueen and the legendary Edward G. Robinson.  I’ve seen a boatload of Robinson films these past three years and even if the movie is less than stellar you can count on him to give a riveting performance (same with James Cagney and of course, Humphrey Bogart).

But I digress (that’s so unlike me). The movie in question is Lookin’ to Get Out. And to be honest, it is not a great movie.  In fact, it might not even be a good movie.  It is a Jon Voight vanity project. In addition to starring, he co-wrote the script, and his production company produced it. His (then) 7-year old daughter has one scene in it (her movie debut).  You know her now as Angelina Jolie (speaking of sexy women—but definitely not in this movie).  His soon-to-be ex-wife (and Angelina’s mother) also has a brief scene in the film.

It’s a comedy I guess.  I suppose there’s a bit of seriousness about gambling addiction and also about male friendship.  It’s a buddy-movie (Voight and Young).  It has a familiar plot: Gamblers Voight and Young lose a lot of money to bad people you really shouldn’t be losing money to if you value your knee-caps and other body parts, or your life for that matter.  To try to raise the money to pay the debt, the only thing they can think of is to gamble more, only this time, win.  Of course!  Because that’s what compulsive gamblers do.

Ann-Margret plays a woman from Voight’s past.  If you have ever seen a movie before, you know when they meet again they both start having those old feelings for each other. Surprise!  This causes complications on top of the gambling debt

A lot of totally outrageous things happen, many are quite unrealistic. There are more than the movie’s share of “Oh, come on” moments (as in, no one would ever do that).  When the movie turns to outright comedy, it tends to go overboard.  There’s a long chase scene that goes on way too long.  But it’s very funny for most of it.  Similarly, there is an outrageous fight scene inside a casino that they didn’t know when to end (hint: sooner than they did).  But did I laugh and enjoy it?  You bet (so to speak).

There’s also a pretty awesome extended blackjack scene.  That’s the game the boys play to try to get their gambling loses back.  That is really a great scene, thoroughly enjoyed that.

This was filmed in 1980 and Ann-Margret looked like, well, Ann-Margret.  She was gorgeous and sexy.  She had big hair.  And she is and was a very underrated actress.

One thing I have to mention is the setting of the film.  After starting out in New York, the boys hit Vegas to strike it rich.  Most of the movie takes place in Vegas, and it was filmed at the MGM Grand.  However, it wasn’t the MGM you know today.  This was filmed when the MGM was located where Bally’s is today.  No wait, I mean, where the Horseshoe is.  Yeah, that property started out at the MGM, then it was Bally’s for like forever and is now the Horseshoe.  The MGM sold it and then bought the property they now own on Tropicana.  Got that straight?  From the exterior, you actually see the Barbary Coast (ah, the good old days) more than the MGM.

More important, this is my Vegas. This is the Vegas I first knew and fell in love with.  It was a real treat to see this Vegas right there in front of me. As I said, it was shot in 1980.  That is the first year I ever went to Vegas.  I know this Vegas!  One of the things I loved about the movie is that it took me back there.  Also, 1980 was the year of the famous MGM fire.  Coincidentally, the last day of filming was when the fire hit. Amazing.

So despite this not be a great film, I loved it.  It was just a lot of fun, faults and all.  This is definitely not The Cincinnati Kid, or Rounders (except for a very early scene, there’s no poker in it).  It’s more about friendship and discipline (or lack thereof) than gambling.  But there is a great payoff to the gambling story I won’t spoil.

Because of the flaws, I am hesitant to unconditionally recommend it, although I suspect readers of this blog will have a head start in liking it.

But I can say I had a lot of fun watching it.  A lot.

Thanks, Allen.

(Note:  I supposed I should have put a pic of Allen with this post instead of Ann-Margret.  But then I would have felt obligated to ask Allen for a picture or at least for his permission to use one, so I decided that even Allen would prefer looking at a picture of Ann-Margret rather than one of himself.)