Sunday, September 24, 2017

It Was the Best of Kings, It Was the Worst of Kings

I made sort of a last minute decision to go to Vegas for Labor Day Weekend (and the week following).  I usually go then, except for last year when I couldn't go because I had cataract surgery the week before.  But as you know from reading my posts, I have become less and less enamored with Vegas lately.  And after my month-long summer trip ended in early July, I openly wondered how soon it would be before I returned.

As the weekend approached, I was thinking more and more that I wouldn't go.  But somehow the desire for another Vegas trip returned just in the nick of time.  I made some mental adjustments that I thought would help me with my poker. And then I realized that I had just enough comps left that I could keep my expenses down for a "quick" 10-day visit.  So I figured I'd give it a go while the weather was likely to be good and the days weren't short yet.  Note:  In winter, the days in Vegas are actually shorter than in L.A. and I hate it when the sun is gone by late afternoon.  Even in the heat, I like it when the sun is out in the early evening.  Typically, by September, things have cooled down a bit in Vegas so the weather you have to worry about is inside the casinos, where it is winter pretty much all year round.  Note: It turned out for the first part of my trip it was almost as hot as June, and for the second part it was cloudy, windy and rainy. 

So I booked a room and then the only other consideration I had was what to do about tournaments.  I've long felt that I was a better tournament player than a cash game player.  But my recent results seemed to be telling me otherwise.  I'd had quite a dry spell, tournament-wise. The only time I cashed in 2017 was the whopping $40 I'd won at the Bike Mega-Millions in March (see here, if you like).

Thus, anticipating the trip, I debated with myself whether I should even play any tournaments, or I should just stick to cash the whole time.  I did ok during the summer at cash but took a beating at the tournaments.  Of course, with tournaments the variance is much greater. I had two competing thoughts.  The first was, it had been so long since I'd done well in a tournament that I was "due."  The other thought, however, was the old saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

Well I must be insane because after researching the tourneys available to me for the time I would be there, I decided to get back on that horse and try a couple.  As it happened, that first Saturday I didn't play a tournament because of some issues with the room I was staying that took just too long to get semi-resolved.  By the time I was done with the issues, it was too late to play a tournament.  However, I should point out, this decision was influenced by my less-than-overwhelming desire to play a tournament.  Despite the issues, if I had really, really wanted to play in a tournament that day, I could have and would have.

But I passed, and that brings us to Labor Day.  I took advantage of the holiday to play in one of my favorite tournaments—and also one that I've had quite a bit of success in over the years—the Aria 1PM with a $125 buy-in.  In fact, I've already written about one particular incident that took place during this tourney (here).

Since I didn't cash in this tournament, I'm only gonna discuss a few hands of interest.  If you love complete detailed summaries of tournaments, fear not.  I have two more tournaments to blog about and those two will together probably fill out enough blog posts for the rest of the year.

But for this tournament, I'll start with a hand late in level 4. I started that level with a stack of $12,200 where the blinds were 25/100/200.  The starting stack is $10K.  I opened to $525 with my old friends, the dreaded pocket Kings.  There was a call and than a lady made it $4K.  Hmm.  She was new to the table.  Her stack looked to be about the same as mine (which had dwindled down to $10K-ish).

Since it was Kings, I insta-folded.  At least in my mind.  But in real life, I am just about never folding Kings preflop.  Would you have?  That $4K was a big part of my stack (and hers) and I really couldn't see calling.  I guess you could make an argument for it.  Fold on the flop if there's an Ace, get it all in if there's a King on the flop and play it by ear if it's Queen-high or lower.  But I couldn't see that. I had to assume, without any other evidence, that she could be doing that with Queens, Jacks, maybe even 10's and of course Ace-King.

I couldn't really raise without shoving so I shoved.  And the speed with which she announced "call" signaled that I was in deep shit.  Of course she had two Aces.  I started thinking about what I could do with the rest of my day.  Until I saw that beautiful King on the flop. My set of Kings held and I was left stacking her chips and wondering why I hated that hand so much.  I had her covered by just a few chips, it was a nice double-up.

As I was stacking the chips, I started thinking that this was an omen.  A sign from the poker gods.  If I got it all-in Kings vs Aces, and somehow laid a bad beat on the other player—I survived KK vs AA—there's no way I am not cashing this tournament.  I have to cash.  It's been ordained.  It's friggin' destiny.  I owed it to the poker gods to cash.


The woman on my right thru the early rounds was someone I recognized, or at least I think I did. If I'm right, she's a regular at the Aria tournament.  But she didn't say hello to me, so maybe I have her confused with someone else.  Of course, to be fair, I didn't say hello to her either.  She is a mature woman if you catch my drift.  I'll call her "May."

The success with Kings did not propel me to greatness.  Instead I lost chips raising when I could but getting called or raised and having to let the hands go.  So by level 6 (50/300/600) I was down to $8,100.  It was shove-or-fold.  And I was dealt King-Jack off.  May open limped.  This was surprising.  By now she had built up a fairly big stack.  And she had been fairly aggressive since she had gotten a double up with a set of 9's.  I couldn't remember another open limp from her.  That affected my thought process.  If she had raised, I would have folded.  If she had folded, I would have open shoved.  But the limp.....well?  Based on what I saw, I figured the limp was a sign of some weakness.  And I decided that there was no way she would call a shove from me with a hand she had only limped in with.  I was so sure of it I was willing to bet my tournament life on it.  So I shoved.  It folded back to me, she asked for a count, took her time, and then shocked the hell out of me by calling.  Well, so much for that read.

And she flipped over Ace-10 off, which also surprised me. She was in middle position and that's a tough hand to play out of position.  To me, it would have made more sense to raise if she wanted to play it.  Whatever, I was behind but at least I had live cards.  Well, there was a Jack on the flop and another Jack on the turn for good measure, and I had a much needed double-up.

Next level May raised to $1,800 and I called with pocket 10's, we were heads up.  She checked a Queen hi flop.  She bet $2K on a blank, I assumed she didn't have a Queen so I called.  We both checked the river.  I showed my 10's and she mucked, saying she had a 6 (there was a 6 on the board).  I assumed she either had Ace-6 suited or maybe 7-6 suited.

The next hand, the (male) dealer pitched her a card and it somehow flew off the table and hit her, sort of in the chest.  It went off the table and it was a misdeal.  May said to the dealer, "You damn near hit the cleavage with that."  The dealer laughed and said, "Shh....don't give away my secrets."

As I was coming back from the break before level 8, I saw they were breaking our table.  So I got my new assignment just as the level started.  I had $24K with the levels at 100/600/1200.  I opened to $3K the first hand back with pocket 5's but the guy on my left shoved and I had to fold. 

A hand or two later I was the big blind with 8-5 offsuit.  It folded to the button.  The small blind still hadn't returned from the break, so if the button folded I'd get a walk, which would have been really nice since I had such a garbage hand. But the button said, "Oh, I gotta gamble...I'm all-in."  However, he was super short stacked—only $2,900.  When I got the count, I thought about it and realized that for such a small additional bet, and with all that dead money in there, it really didn't make sense to fold. It was just a little more than another big blind ($1,700) to call. His stack was so short he could be doing that with almost any hand, and even if he had Aces it wouldn't have been a terrible call (just a really odd looking one).  So I called.

Well, he really was gambling.  He had 6-2 and it wasn't even suited.  Absolutely nothing hit either one of us, and I busted him with 8-high!  Yeah, I won the pot with 8-high!  Pretty sure that never happened to me before.

I survived that level with $17K and the blinds went up to 200/800/1600.  And early in that level the table broke. We were down to 30 players (93 total players, they were paying 11).  I had just posted the big blind at the old table and now I lucked into the big blind at new table. I looked down at pocket 9's and I figured that unless there was a lot of action in front of me, this would be it.

Well it folded around to the small blind.  Hey, a walk there would have been fine with me.  But the small blind, who had a big stack, added $4K to his SB.  Well, I didn't know this guy at all, hadn't seen him play a hand.  But I figured with his big stack and seeing my short stack, he might do that with all kinds of hands, including total garbage.  It's a smart play, and I've done it myself.  So I shoved.  Unfortunately, he snap called and turned over pocket Kings.  Ugh.  Yeah, that was pretty dreaded.  I didn't hit my two-outer and my tournament life was done.

So the dreaded Kings worked for me beyond my wildest dreams early in the tournament.  But in the end, the burned me, as usual, even though I wasn't the one who held them.

I had played five hours.  The top prize was $2975 and 9th, 10th, and 11th all paid the min-cash of $217.  Not one, not two but three places get less than double the buy-in.  You can bet I wasn't t thrilled when I saw what the min-cash was, you've heard me rant about that.  But at least I felt that I had played pretty well, well enough to consider another tournament or two before I left town.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Can You Tell The Difference....

This was a frustrating night at the Mirage on a Saturday night earlier this month.  It was frustrating because it was a good game and there was a human ATM there and I was just too card dead to take advantage of the situation.

As I was taking my seat, I recognized someone at a table across the room.  It was the one, the only....grrouchie!  I waved to him and I thought he was waiving back.  But it turned out he was merely waiving to the floor because he had just been called for a table change and decided to stay where he was.

I was much too lazy to get up to say hello to him, so I tweeted out that "I spy @grrouchie."  Now I had noticed that our mutual pal Alaskagal was dealing at the table he was sitting at.  Well, although grrouchie didn't notice me, AG did (I had briefly said hello to her earlier when I was there getting my comp for dinner).  She told him, "Rob is here...he's over at that table."  And he must have seen me because he said to her, "Oh, you mean that old bald guy?"  Harummph.  I'm not bald.  Not yet, anyway.  AG was surprised, not realizing he was kidding.  "You never met Rob?"  Anyway, he tweeted out that AG was dealing to him and not me.  At the time, I thought it was in response to my tweet but he insisted he sent that tweet out before he saw mine.

Let me tell you about this human ATM.  The first unusual thing I saw him do was when he was down to his last chip.  He had gone all-in against someone and lost.  Turned out he had the winner covered by a buck—one lousy buck.  The dealer asked him if he wanted to get more chips  and he didn't respond.  So she dealt the next hand and he put his last dollar in blind.  Guess what?  He lost.

Now up until then I assumed he was pretty much finished.  You've seen this, right?  A guy doesn't feel like cashing in his last few dollars so he just plays them until he loses.  He is too lazy or too embarrassed to go to the cashier to get cash for his last couple of chips.  And since he doesn't know when he'll be back (and if he's a tourist it might a really long time) he doesn't want to stick the chip(s) in his pocket for next time.

Well that's what I thought this was.  But to my surprise, when he lost the buck he pulled out his money and bought in for another $100.  WTF?  If he was gonna rebuy anyway, why the well would he play his last buck like that instead of buying more chips first and just having a playable stack in the first place?  I mean, what did he hope to accomplish with that one buck?  A double up?  OK, a triple up?  Yeah, then he'd have three whole bucks to play with.  How many times would he have to shove and win in order to work that one buck up to something he could actually play poker with?  Seemed absurd to me.

Anyway, from that point, I saw this guy just basically give away between $500-$700, $100 at a time.  He would either shove or call a shove and lose every single time.  Seriously.  Now, I can understand the shoving—he was bluffing and hoping to get a call, or perhaps overvaluing his made hand.  But sometimes he would call and the other player would show a rather mediocre hand—and he just mucked without showing.  I was thinking, "Why did you call a shove if you couldn't even beat a hand like that?"  It happened too often for me to believe he was calling with draws (that missed) every time.

I texted grrouchie that I was in a really good game and suggested he join me.  He did, but unfortunately by the time he made it over the game had changed.  A few of the looser players had taken off.  And as for the human ATM, he finally got tired of losing money $100 at a time.  So finally, he rebought for $300.  And after a hand or two, he started playing a little more sanely.  The raises were smaller and he was able to find the "fold" button a lot instead of the "raise" and "call" buttons.  By the time grrouchie sat next to me, he was able to accuse me (legitimately) of misrepresenting the game.  Sorry, man.

Once there, the grouch man proceed to insult an entire European nation.  The most aggro player once he got there was this guy with a foreign accent.  Grrouchie finally asked him where he was from and he said France.  So grrouchie said, "Gee, your head is not nearly as pointy as I would have expected."  The guy was taken aback but I think the language barrier probably saved grrouchie from getting punched out.  He acted like he had no idea what grrouch was talking about (probably because he didn't).  So grrouchie explained that he was making a Coneheads reference.  Well, no wonder it fell flat.  It's a pretty dated reference. I doubt the guy from France had ever heard of the Coneheads.  I mean, has anybody even thought of the Conheads in the past 20 years?  And I'm including Dan Aykroyd in that.

Anyway, there was a female dealer at one point and for some reason she started telling this story about this weird question a player once asked her.  This took place a few years back when the rodeo was in town.  This cowboy had been playing for a few hours and then cashed out his chips.  The lady dealer telling the story happened to be flooring this particular evening. 

So the cowboy went over to her and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?  It's a little's a little out there."  He was obviously embarrassed.  She said to him, "Sir, I've been dealing poker in Vegas for years.  I've heard it all.  Nothing can shock me."  So he asked her, "How can you tell the difference between a girl who's going to the club and just walking and a working girl?"  We all laughed and grrouchie gave his answer which for the life of me, I can't recall. But I'm sure it was both witty and insightful. 

But of course, if you've been reading this blog regularly you know the right answer.  I said, "It's easy.  The hookers are dressed much more conservatively than the club girls."

The dealer thought about that for a second and said, "I think you're right."

Of course I was right.

I played three hours and wrote down only four or five hands.  Looking them over, none of them are worth talking about.  Sometimes that doesn't stop me, but this time it will.  The one hand I got into with the human ATM when he was giving away money ended up being a split pot between the two of us.  Otherwise, won a few small pots, lost a bunch of small pots (or they were small when I folded).  Ended up booking a small loss.  I was just too damn card dead to win or lose a lot of money.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"We Find the Defendants Incredibly Guilty"

This past Saturday I found myself at the Bike in glorious Bell Gardens, CA.  OK, I didn't exactly "find myself" there. That implies I either had a huge epiphany about the very nature of my existence while there, or that I suddenly appeared there without any idea how I got there.  And I know precisely how I got there.  I drove there.  And drove there.  And drove there.

Traffic was miserable even by Southern California standards and it took forever to get there.  And that was with the help of Google maps, which had me take a different route than I normally take. If it took this long with the "best" route that Google could come up, I can only imagine how long it would have taken with my normal route.  It probably would have taken less time to get to the MGM poker room from my house than it did to get to the Bike.  Well maybe not MGM, but perhaps SouthPoint?

When I finally arrived, I had to wait for a seat to open up at one of the two 2/3 games they had going. Finally two seats opened up at one table, and they called me and the second person on the list to take seats.  However, there were two people at the other 2/3 table that wanted to change tables.  So the floor person reserved the two open seats at one table and told me that would get a choice of seats at the table that was full when the two players moved to their new game.

This happens all the time and should be no big deal.  So I waited at the table I was assigned to with my money in hand and watched as the current hand was completed.  I figured the two players would both move to the other table as soon as the hand was over.  But instead, they were both dealt new hands.  Neither player was the button, or the blinds, for that matter.  I didn't understand why they weren't moving if they were so interested in getting away from that table that they had earlier made a formal request to move.  And of course, when they were just now told that seats had opened up at the other game, they both said that yes, they still wanted to move.

So the next hand was completed and both of these two clowns took yet another hand!  And I was standing there like an idiot waiting to sit down and play.  Meanwhile there were two open spots at the other game.  And then a third spot opened up at that table and it was filled by someone who was lower than I was!  So I in essence was skipped over for a seat due to the extreme rudeness and lack of consideration by these two players who had told the floor they were going to move and then stayed in their seats! 

I was just about to find a floorperson to explain what was happening when a couple of players at the other game shouted to her that they were short-handed, and since there was a waiting list why weren't they filling the seats?  By this time my name had actually been taken off the board and I wondered if I was going to get totally shafted.  To be honest, if it hadn't taken me forever to get there, I might have been tempted to just say, "the hell with it," and left the casino.  But anyway, when the other players complained the floor finally took action and told the two players they had to move right then and there or they wouldn't get their damn seat change.

One of them moved and the other decided to stay at the game he was at.  So the floor told me to take one of the two open seats at the table where everyone had left.  If not for the selfishness of the two players, I could have done that 10 minutes earlier and been playing already.

I don't blame the Bike, the floor people are busy and it's hard to keep on top of things like this.  It's the players that are to blame.  Sadly, this is not a surprising experience for the Bike.  There are a lot of inconsiderate people who play there.  Players Casino in Ventura has a much higher class clientèle.  But I don't get it.  If you say you want to move, and you are called to move, why they hell don't you move?  I can see someone playing the button.  But if the button is not on you or about to come to you, get the hell off your ass and move and don't inconvenience the new player and the players at the other table by hanging around.  This is just common courtesy.

Anyway, there was a nonagenarian two seats to my right. For a long time, I just thought he was some random older guy. I didn't recognize him but eventually his voice started sounding familiar.  And people seemed to know him.  OK, so he was a regular at the Bike, no big deal.  But the more I heard the voice, the more it sounded familiar.  And then I heard him mention that he was going to be on television that night, at 10 p.m.

And I realized it was Bill Macy, the actor.  He is most famous for playing Bea Arthur's husband on Maude.  I'm sure I saw every episode of that show.  And as I was thinking about that, it took me some 20 minutes to remember that I had seen him at the Bike before, a few years back.  Initially I couldn't remember anything about that meeting, and I assumed I hadn't even interacted with him.  In fact, my first thought was that I had seen him at another table.  But the more I thought about it, I finally starting thinking that I may have blogged about running into him.

And sure enough, I searched my blog and found the post here where I talked about playing with Bill Macy. It was over fours year ago and I haven't seen him since.  But there he was on Saturday.

By this time he had started chatting up the woman who was sitting between us, who used to live in L.A. but had moved to Arizona and was back in L.A. this weekend for a wedding. They were having quite the conversation.  Bill was interested in finding out why the lady moved to Arizona.  I suppose someone hearing this conversation might have thought that Bill was possibly hitting on this woman but that wasn't the case.  For one thing, there was a huge age difference.  For another, Bill has apparently been happily married to the same woman for over 40 years.  And finally, I'm sure Bill was sharp enough to realize that the lady he was chatting up was, shall we say, playing for the other team.

But I heard Bill tell a few other people where they could find him on TV that night, so I kind of felt he was maybe eager to talk about his career.  I had heard him say that he'd like to still work, but no one will hire him. "I can't get arrested," he said.  I guess there aren't many parts for 95-year-olds.  Suddenly, I remembered that Bill had a very small role—one line, in fact—in one of Mel Brooks' first movie, The Producers.  And it happens to be one of my all-time favorite films.  Note: I am referring to the original 1967 film, not the musical remake from 2005 which no one liked.  Well actually, I liked it, one of the few who did.  But it's nowhere near as good as the '67 original.

As I said, Bill had one line in the movie but it (and his delivery) was very memorable.  The line is, "We find the defendants incredibly guilty."  I guess I should have put a spoiler warning first but seriously, the movie is 50 years old!  And it won't ruin a thing, trust me.  It is genuinely one of the funniest movies ever made.  You can actually find Bill's scene here.

So instead of telling him I loved him on Maude, I said to him, "Weren't you in The Producers?  I still remember your line...."  And he said "Yes, I played the jury foreman. I had one line."  And he started to quote the line.  And to prove that I remembered it, I said it with him.

Mr. Macy was blown away that I remembered.  I think I made his day.  "I can't believe you remembered that one line.  I just can't believe it."  Well, I said, it's one of my favorite movies.  And he proceeded to tell everyone at the table how great the movie was and that they should definitely see it.  Then he made sure to tell him he was talking about the one with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

And then he asked me, "Do you know how I got that part in The Producers?"  Of course I did not.  So he told me.  He said that Mel Brooks had seen him in a play he was in. Being an actor, he not only mentioned the name of the play but the address of the theater in New York (both of which of course I've forgotten).  There was no curtain call for the play so Mel went back stage to see him after and told him that he was making a movie.  Unfortunately, he had cast all the parts but if something else came up he'd try to put him in it.  Well a couple of days later someone from Mel's company called him and asked if he'd be interested in a small part.  He said of course he would.  Bill told me he got $200 for the one line performance and that it was his first movie.

Then he mentioned another movie he was in, Steve Martin's The Jerk.  And he told me his signature line from that film, which was "Damn these glasses."  Of course I've seen the movie many times but I didn't remember that line, but you can find it here.

Anyway, about 15 minutes later, long after we had moved onto other topics, Bill turned to me and said, "I just can't believe you remember that one line. That's impressive."  The women sitting between us agreed with him.

Well, I was actually there to play poker so let's get to that.  The very first hand, I was dealt pocket 5's. I limped in with a bunch of others. The flop came Queen-8-5, two hearts.  Someone bet $7 and I made it $20; only the bettor called. He checked a blank turn and I bet $35 and he called.  An 8 on the river filled me up and I bet $60 after he checked.  He thought for awhile but folded.

In the small blind with Ace-King of hearts, I called $15 and it was three-way.  I checked a King-high flop and called $20.  It was heads up. The turn was a blank and I checked but he checked behind.  I led out for $35 on the river (a blank) and he folded instantly.

Next time I was the small blind I completed with Queen–9 of hearts.  The flop had a 9 on it and two hearts.  I called $10 and we were heads up.  I caught the flush on the turn and led out for $20, he called.  The river didn't pair the board but it did make a straight very likely.  I bet $25 and the guy made it $65.  Damn, did he have a bigger flush?  I thought about it and figured he could easily have the straight.  So I called.  He did indeed have the straight.

I was up almost $200 and it was early.  Then I had the misfortunate of getting pocket Aces.  There were multiple limpers so I made it $18 and got three callers.  The flop was Jack-Jack-8.  I c-bet $30, the player behind me called, and the next guy shoved. He had nearly $300.  I had him covered.  After the last guy folded, I went into the tank.  It was so easy for him to have a Jack there.  Or pocket 8's.  I couldn't see risking so much on a paired board, especially two face cards.  I folded my bullets.  The next guy tanked longer than me but finally folded 10-9 face up.  The shover kindly showed his hand—Jack-10.  I'd made a good lay down and it hadn't cost me that much.

Then I went card dead for over an hour.  At least I was enjoying my conversation with Bill Macy.

Finally I got Aces again.  I opened to $12 and it was three-way.  The flop was Jack-8-6, rainbow.  I made a c-bet of $20 and the next guy made it $40.  Last guy folded.  I called but was obviously concerned.  The turn was a blank and after I checked he bet $50.  Did he have a set?  Two pair?  I thought about letting it go but then I remembered that this was the Bike, and it wouldn't be surprising to see someone play just top pair this way.  I went ahead and called.

The river paired the 6.  After I checked, he checked behind, and then said, "I have two pair."  Well, I did too with the paired board.  He had Jack-rag and his second pair was the 6's on the board, same as me.  I showed my Aces and swept the pot.  The guy said to me, "I played that really dumb."  I didn't respond.

But I do have a question for you.  In that situation, when the guy says "I have two pair," can that possibly be considered angle-shooting?  I recall that back when i was first learning the game, and I heard someone say that, I might think I was beat if I wasn't considering the pair on the board as my second pair.  I mean I know there were a few times when I was starting out that I mucked a bigger pair than the villain had when he said that because I was only thinking of the one pair that I had.

So in that situation, I might have thought, "Two pair?  All I've got is Aces, I'm beat."  And maybe he had Jack-8 and he didn't need the paired 6's to give him two pair, so even if I saw it, I'd muck the Aces even tho I had the better hand.  Like I said, I know I did this a couple of times in my old 2/4 days.  And I've even read articles warning newbies about this—to be careful about that because calling his hand two pair—even though it's accurate—can be misleading to the inexperienced player.  So is it an angle-shooting?

I would never say that—I would never declare that I had two pair in that situation.  But then, I rarely declare my hand, I just show it.  I only declare it if it looks like the dealer is having trouble calling it (which does happen occasionally) .

This being the Bike I thought it might be more likely that the villain was trying something on me, but I'm not saying he was.  Of course, the other player (in this case me) is always responsible for tabling the winning hand.  Any thoughts on this?

Well, I had to wrap it up soon after that.  My new best friend Bill had already left, and I had lost some poker time due to traffic.  I cashed out up $150.