Monday, January 22, 2018

Poker and Boobs

The night after I played in the Neeme/Owen meet up game (here), I returned to Westgate to play in The Trooper's game.  The Neeme/Owen meet up games are irregularly scheduled, but Trooper has his game at Westgate scheduled for every Thursday night.

Again I phoned ahead to get on the list and again there wasn't a seat available when I got there.  There were two full tables.  I immediately found Tim, aka Trooper, and went over to say hello.  I'm not sure I'd seen Tim since the Linq closed its poker room.  He gave me a warm greeting, shouting "Robvegaspoker!"  He asked if I came from California.  Yes, but not that night, I'd been in Vegas for almost a week. And at Tim's table, I noticed AustinBluffs, who I had sat next to at the other Vloggers' game the night before

Before I got into a game, I helped myself to some chocolate chip cookies proved by the poker room.  Later, Tim brought in a pizza, and I confess I had a piece.  As I write this, I realize that I forgot to mention that at the Neeme/Owen meet up game the night before, they had sent out for a bunch of pizzas and I had a slice or two (or more?).  Thanks to everyone who provided me with free food at the Westgate over these two nights.

Actually, one of the floor people was sitting in at the other table and gave me his seat, so I got into a game fairly quickly, but not at the table Tim was at.  Our table was pretty quiet, except for one player who talked basically non-stop.  I'm going to call this player "Petey" because that's what Tim called him.  I have no idea if that's his real name or a nickname bestowed upon him by Tim.

Petey didn't let the fact that he wasn't at Tim's table stop him from carrying on a lengthy conversation with him from across the room.  Apparently, Petey and Tim were acquaintances from before.  I wasn't sure if Petey had been to previous Trooper games at the Westgate or if perhaps Petey had just run into Tim at a poker room in Vegas.  Petey was obsessed with Tim's coffee drinking habits.  He wanted to know how much Tim spent on coffee a month.  He even came up with an over/under figure on it.  I don't recall what it was.  Tim gave him a figure which Petey thought was too low and Tim went thru the numbers with him to show him how he was wrong.

After I'd been playing for at least an hour (maybe more), Tim and his fellow vlogger pal Pure Aggression switched tables so Tim ended up at my table.  And after a seat change by another player, Tim ended up seated to my immediate left.

I think they were doing bomb pots at the other table but we couldn't get unanimous agreement to have them at our table, mostly because Petey vetoed the idea.  He claimed poverty.  Since I continued to be card dead, that was ok by me.  One of the (many) things Petey was talking about was that he had to leave soon to go to a movie.  When he finally did leave, I asked him what movie he was going to see.  He said Jumanji.  I dunno why, but everyone thought that was funny.

Tim said he hadn't gone to the movies in like forever.   So I said, "You know, they have sound now."  The dealer for some reason thought that was hilarious.

The two guys on Petey's left and my right, a couple of older gentlemen, just happened to be there for poker and didn't know who Trooper was—or for that matter, what a vlog was.  Petey explained it to them.  He said there were other vloggers but Trooper was the biggest.  Tim corrected them.  "I'm not the biggest, but I was the first."  They asked if Trooper's vlog were all about poker and he said not really.

Later, he told the table that I had a popular written blog. "He's robvegaspoker….he has a blog about poker…..and boobs."  The dealer (same one who liked my "movies have sound now" joke) said, "Boobs?  Why didn't you tell me?  Now I'm interested."

Tim mentioned that he is leaning towards getting away from poker.  "I'm getting a new hustle."  He didn't elaborate.  People were guessing.  I guessed pimp or stripper, but he said no.  I think I may have also guessed if that he was going to become a woman, that too was incorrect.

We talked a lot and Tim spent some time trying to talk me into changing the blog into a vlog.  "You gotta do video, that's where it's at.  No one reads any more.  I don't read."  I said, "Yeah, well, I have a face for writing."  He said, "Well do audio then.  Do a podcast."  I said, "Well, you can't do boobs on audio."  Tim replied, "Sure you can.  You can talk about the sound they make, like when they're flapping around."  I said, "Motor-boating?"  Yeah.

Soon after Tim joined our table, there was some commotion at the table he left.  There was some kind of dispute between two players and loud words were exchanged, some threats were made and eventually one of the players was booted out of the room.  I don't think Tim got any of that on his video though.

Also, Tim and Petey got off on some weird tangent on advanced mathematics.  They were trying to figure out what a trapezoid was and how it differed from a parallelogram.  Then the discussed planes.  It was not typical poker table talk, that's for sure.  Fortunately, debates/discussions like this don't have to take too long these days, with everyone having Google in the pocket.

The game was 1/3 and as I mentioned, I was card-dead again.  My stack dwindled down until I was short-stacked, and I was debating whether or not to add-on.  So I got pocket Aces in the big blind and raised to $15.  There was one or two callers.  The flop was low and I bet $25, got one call.  The turn paired the board (7's) and he donked out a bet.  It was almost my remaining stack so I shoved and he snap called.  Now, earlier in the evening I had noticed that a player was paid for $50 for having his Aces cracked.  I had forgotten they had this promotion until then.  Lucky for me I saw it then.  By this time, I knew if I got my Aces cracked I'd get $50.  So I was in a no lose situation.  Either my Aces were good and I'd win the pot, or they were no good and I'd at least get $50 for my troubles.  Once I had bet the $25 and been called, it only made sense to commit my stack there with the Aces.  The river blanked and of course he showed 7-6 for trips.  But I showed my hand and got the $50 promo money.  I probably wouldn't have played it any different if I hadn't know about the Aces cracked promo, but I wouldn't have known to show my hand to get that promo money otherwise.

I'm pretty sure that this was the first time I was ever paid for hitting an Aces cracked promotion.

I added $50 out of my pocket so I could have a little more money to play with, but it was pretty clear this wasn't going to be my night.  I should have left then but I was enjoying the conversation too much.  But I was at my cut-off there, I wasn't going to dig into my wallet again.

Which explains the hand you can actually see me play in Trooper's 360 video from this table, which you can find here. It's near the very end of the video. I was down to $15 and I had pocket 7's.  I shoved, first in.  Three people called and I just watched the rest of the hand.  The flop was Jack-10-8, two spades.  When the turn was the Ace of spades, I think you can see on the video that I checked my hand to see if one of my 7's was a spade and sure enough it was.  So the 9 of spades on the river gave me a flush (and also a straight, I didn't notice that til I watched the video myself).  Was it good enough?  Actually it was.  One guy had a straight another guy had two pair, I'm not sure what the third guy had but my 7-high flush was good.  I didn't realize that Tim had likely recorded the hand until he came back to the table.

I returned to losing and cashed out a few chips.  It was a fun time but again, just couldn't get any cards.

The "regular" video that Trooper made of this game can be found here.  Thanks to Tim and to the Westgate for sponsoring these games, they are great fun and great for the Vegas poker community.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Shouldn't the Dealer Have Told the Floor This?

This takes us back to my first Saturday in Vegas last month, my first full day in town.  Also the first poker I played this trip.  I decided to spend the Friday night I arrived in town seeing The Last Jedi, which premiered that day (or, more accurately, the evening before).  I determined I had to see it right away before it got any more spoiled for me.  You see, some dick on Twitter tweeted out a spoiler that morning.  It wasn’t a dick I follow, but somebody I do follow thought it would funny to retweet that dick's spoiler tweet.  I was not amused.

 Thus, my first poker of the trip took place at the $340 tourney at Venetian, a tournament I've mentioned before—I really like that one. I guess I'd like it even more if I ever cashed in it. Well, ok, I did cash in it once, but that was the two-day version of it.  The single day version of it has yet to be a winner for me and this time was no exception.

I arrived about half way into the first level and the very first hand I was dealt was the dreaded pocket Kings.  Guess how it came out?  OK, it wasn't a total disaster.  An Ace hit the flop and I was able to get away from them fairly cheaply.  A few levels later I got my second pocket pair of the day.  You got it, Kings again!  This time I flopped the second nut flush draw on an all-spade board.  My c-bet took it down.

I lasted to the 7th level, but by then I had a really short stack, definitely fold or shove territory.  They broke our table and I moved to my new table with my pathetic stack.  I recognized one of the players at the new table.  I had actually seen him walking around earlier so I knew he was playing in the tournament.  It was successful pro and WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller.  I had actually seen his picture posted on Twitter once or twice recently as the winner of some low buy-in Venetian events.  I've stated before that I don't recognize a lot of poker pros but I immediately recognized Dan.  That's because I once spent an evening watching him play against our pal MemphisMOJO when they were playing for the Seniors bracelet back in 2014.  I wrote about it here.

I wasn't thrilled having a bracelet winner at my table, as I'm sure you understand.  Worse, he was one seat over from me on my left.  Ugh.  I didn't say anything to him—in a situation like that, I'm always looking for some clever way to acknowledge that I know who they are instead of just saying, "You're Dan Heimiller, right?"  It didn't happen while I was playing. And honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to kick him for making that bad call and knocking MOJO out of the Seniors event back then.

Meanwhile, with my short stack, I looked down at pocket 6's in early position.  It folded to me and I thought I had to shove.  The guy on my immediate left shoved too—he had me covered by a ton.  He said to me, "I'm giving you protection."  Everyone else folded and he showed Ace-Jack.  I survived the flop and the turn.  But not the Jack on the river.  I was done.

For some reason, I felt compelled to say hello to Dan.  During the brief time I was at his table, he had spent most of his time looking at his phone, not really engaging with anyone.  I got up from my seat with all my stuff and waited for him to fold the next hand.  Then I said that it was honor to play with him, however briefly, and put out my hand.  He shook it and just said thanks.  I added, "You're a great player."  He pointed to his stack, which was on the short side and said, "Well you can't tell by my chips."  And with that I took off.

Later that night I was playing cash in another room.  I won't mention which one because I don't want to get anyone in trouble if I'm right and the dealer make a procedural error.

My results in this cash game were unremarkable.  I somehow managed to lose only $20 while continuing to be card dead.  There were no hands worth reporting on.  Well, none of mine, anyway.

But something interesting did happen.  This particular room has high hand bonuses and the payout for a Royal is $500.  The pot must be $20 to qualify for any high hand bonus.

There was a small, heads up pot.  A player who was fairly new to the table made a bet on the turn and didn't get a call.  The dealer flipped the board cards over and started pushing the pot to the player who had bet.  That player struck me as either a newbie poker player or perhaps just a newbie at playing in a brick and mortar poker room.  Anyway, he turned over his cards, which were the Jack-10 of hearts.  I hadn't been following the action much but I had noticed at one point that a Royal was possible on this board.  The turn card was the Queen of hearts and the flop contained the Ace and King of hearts.  At least, that was my memory.

The way the player turned over his cards without saying anything, I'm really not sure if he did it because he knew about the bonus or if he just wanted to proudly show his Royal.  After all, if I was in a room that didn't have a bonus for it, I think I'd show a Royal if I had one anyway (note:  I have never had a Royal in any kind of real poker game).  The dealer apparently hadn't paid much attention either.  He looked at the two exposed cards, froze, and then said, "Was this a Royal Flush?  What was on the board?"  A few of the other players, including me, confirmed that it was indeed a Royal. By now, however, the board cards he had turned face down had gotten confused with the muck.  But he seemed to have two stacks of four cards each that were isolated.  He turned over one stack and it was all black cards, definitely not the board.  He turned over the other stack and sure enough, the Ace, King and Queen of hearts were all there, with some other random card.

But then he had to make sure the pot was big enough and that was a big deal for him.  He counted the pot--$17 he was about the push to the player with the Royal.  There were two dollars in the rake slot about to go down the chute and another buck right next to the slot for the promo drop. Yep, $20 exactly.  And then, he even re-created the betting action mentally to confirm the $20.  Again, he convinced himself it was $20 and thus qualified for the $500 bonus.

He called the floor over.  I expected him to show the floor the Royal but also explain that he had had to turn the board back face-up because he had flipped it over before he saw the player's Royal cards.  But that didn't happen. Instead, he went into a long explanation about the pot and the rake and the jackpot drop and how it all totaled $20.  He repeated this at least twice to the floor.

But at no point did he ever say anything about having to flip the board back face up to verify the Royal.

Is that ok?  I mean, I would think for his own sake he would want to make sure the floor knew that.  I actually wondered if, upon hearing this, the floor would call surveillance and have them verify that the board was what he "re-created" before paying out the $500.  But the dealer didn't mention it.

My thought is, he could easily get in trouble for it.  If someone looks over the footage and sees what he did, they would confirm (or worse, deny) that the Royal was made.  Wouldn't they want to know that he had pointed this out to the floor?  Would he get in trouble for trying to cover up what he did?

Or….is it a case of them routinely checking the tape on any high hand bonus payout so he didn't have to call it to his floor's attention?  I only thought of that when I was writing this up just now.  I don't know how it works.

All I know is if I was that dealer, I'd sure as hell cover my ass by letting the floor know exactly what happened. I would think if you're a dealer and anything out of the ordinary happens—especially if there's a bonus involved—you'd want to let the floor know. If somebody in surveillance did see it, they could easily think that maybe the dealer was cheating for the player to get him the bonus.  And if somehow, we were all wrong and the player really didn't have a Royal Flush, oh boy.  I said that I thought the player was a newbie. I can't recall if he won any other hands this way previously—it's at least remotely possible he turned over his cards because he thought he had to to claim the pot.

Can you imagine if they gave the guy the $500 and then later someone noticed the tape, saw what the guy did, examined it further and saw there was no Royal?

Maybe it's nothing.  But I thought about it a lot.  Any dealers/floor people out there think this was handled poorly by the dealer?  Or is it standard?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where and When? The Tony Bigcharles Game

This post concerns the famous (and infamous) Tony BigcharlesI'm sure most of you follow his adventures to at least some degree.  If you have no interest in Tony, you can skip this post and come back in a couple of days.

So if you do follow Tony, you know he just now returned to Las Vegas.  He left Toledo (via Detroit) very suddenly, mysteriously leaving behind his clothes and luggage (and who knows how many pizza turners).

Whenever Tony relocates, it's fair to wonder how longer he'll remain in his new "home" this time, and where he'll go to next.  He never stays one place very long, as we all know.

So I started thinking someone should start a pool to bet on where Tony moves to after he inevitably tires of Vegas, and of course, how long will that be?  Sadly, I don't have the time or the desire to set up an actual pool for this, you know the kind where people bet actual real money on this and someone holds the money until Tony leaves town and we have a winner.

Besides, with two factors involved (where and when), it might be difficult to determine a winner.  What if one person nails the date but a different person gets the location and nobody gets both.  Who wins?

If someone wants to do this as a real pool, be my guest.  But for now, I just thought I'd throw this post up here and let people give their best guesses in my comments section below.  There's no cost to play--and also no prize for the winner(s).  

So just post your best guess as to when Tony will leave Vegas.  And also where he will go when he does.  Actually that could be tricky.  Sometimes Tony makes very short stops on his way to his next "permanent" location.  If I'm not mistaken, last time (before this) he returned to Vegas, he couldn't catch a flight at the right time (or right price) to Vegas so he flew to Phoenix, spent a day or two there, and took a bus into Vegas.  So I'd say he has to stay at least a week at his new location for it to count.  I think that's fair,no?

Again, this is just for bragging rights, no prize, but feel free to guess away.  Does Tony leave Vegas next month, or March (give a specific date, person closest wins) or even later?  Is his next home Reno?  Los Angeles?  Louisiana?  Toledo?  Louisiana?  Some part of Florida?  Give it your best shot.

Note:  If you are wondering about this picture below and what it has to do with the subject of the post, I will remind you that it is well known that Tony hates girl-on-girl action.  So it seems appropriate, doesn't it?  I mean, I could have just posted a pic of TBC himself, but I'm sure everyone (but Tony) will agree this is better.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Andrew Neeme/Brad Owen Meet Up Game

In my most recent Ante Up column (here) I talked about how the new Westgate poker room is working with Vegas Vloggers (i.e., video bloggers) to promote games.  Well, as it turned out, vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen (both mentioned in my column) were hosting one of their Meet Up Games (see their Facebook page here) on the first Wednesday I was in town, the Wednesday before Christmas.  Once again, Westgate was the host.  But unlike their usual meet-up games, this one was going to be 2/3 NL instead of 2/5 NL.  That made it very appealing to me.  I really couldn't pass this up.

I arrived a bit late and all the tables were filled.  They had five tables of 2/3 ready to roll before they even started.  They could have easily had a sixth table going, but there was an issue with the sixth table.  There was some kind of lighting fixture hanging over it and apparently security insisted they not use that table until the fixture could be removed.  I assume it was interfering with the cameras.

So I had to wait. Fortunately, I had called in to get on the list, and I was near the top.  As they started getting cards in the air, I was walking around the room and looking for familiar faces, I assumed I'd see more than a few people I knew. But no, I recognized only one, aside from Andrew and Brad, who I had never met before but of course recognized them from their vlogs.  The familiar face was my friend Donna, who I've been running into in poker rooms for at least five years.  It was Donna who gave me the title of the blog post here and she's been written about in several posts over the years. I said hello, and I also saw her warmly greet Andrew; obviously they were pals. 

Well, I didn't have to wait long to be called.  And wouldn't you know it, the available seat was the one immediately to Donna's right.  I took my seat, said hello again and got settled in.

Almost immediately the fellow on my right said to me, "Are you Robvegaspoker?" (except he used my real last name).  I was taken aback, looked him over, said yes, and he replied, "You blogged about me."  I really didn't recognize him, but I played a wild hunch.  "Would you be Austin Bluffs by any chance?"  He laughed and said he was.

Who is Austin Bluffs?  Well, if read this recent repost (here) you know and you also know why I thought to repost that story.  Or part of the reason.  The reason I thought of Austin that night was because of something that happened on the day before I drove to Vegas, while I was packing.  Aria was doing a live Periscope.  I was watching it.  I actually made a comment to them while they were live (I think it was about their innovative Big Blind Ante).  And for a second I saw someone else who was watching say something like, "Robvegaspoker?  You blogged about me."  I didn't have time to react and it really wasn't of interest to the guys doing the Periscope or the rest of the audience so I didn't respond.  But I took notice of it and remembered to research it later that night, after I was done packing. I did see the comment long enough to see the name "Austin Bluffs."

When I researched it, I found my old post and remembered the story.  I considered it worthy of a repost whenever I needed a post and didn't have time to finish a new one.  So, when this seemingly total stranger said I blogged about him, he was the first person that came to mind and I was right.  But there's no way I ever would have recognized him from that one night of poker we played....he didn't really become noteworthy to me until several months later, when I got his tweet.

So this was one of two incredible coincidences.  First of all, running into Austin twice within a week's time—once online, then once in person— after having no contact at all with him for over four years.  And like me, Austin doesn't live in Vegas.  He was just visiting, heard about the meet-up, and showed up.  And because my face is plastered all over the internet, he recognized me.

The second coincidence is that my seat at the game was immediately on his left.  Furthermore, as I said, Donna was immediately on my left.  So I was sitting between the only two people in the room that I know, just totally by the luck of the draw!  I mean, is it a small world, or what?  (Despite that, I wouldn't want to paint it). 

Donna heard this and said, "You blogged about me, too."  I acknowledged that I had.  Actually, I've mentioned her several times.  I mention again how much I liked her "duck and a schmuck" name for the King-deuce hand.

So I got to spend the evening catching up with Donna, and also chatted quite a bit with Austin.

There were two "crazy" additions to the normal game of hold'em for this game.  One was "bomb pots."  Every time a new dealer pushed in, everyone at the table would put up $5 for the first hand.  That was part of the pot and there was no preflop betting.  Everyone saw the flop.  So the pot started at $45 (if the table was full) then the betting on the flop, turn and river was the same as always.  So you didn't really want to get pocket Aces when it was a bomb pot cuz you couldn't bet anyone out of the pot preflop, and you'd be facing 8 other hands that all would see the flop.  This was actually kind of fun as a change of pace.  I wouldn't want to do bomb pots more often than once every half hour and I wouldn't want to play in a game that had them regularly.  But it was a nice change of pace.

The other thing was "The Button Game."  Whoever had the button had to put $5 on the button—literally on the button.  When the button passed, the next person on the button put another $5 on it.  That money, however much it grew to, could only be won by the player on the button if that player won that pot.  Then it would start all over at $5.  I think during the time I was there, the largest amount I saw the button prize grow to was $50.

Apparently each table was making up their own rules regarding these side bets.  So someone suggested that we do $10 bomb pots, which I think we did once.  Someone at the table suggested $25 or $50 bomb pots.  That was getting a bit ridiculous.  We went back to $5 bomb pots.

They even let us make up our own rules about straddling.  The Westgate doesn't normally allow the button straddle (yay!) but for this game, if no one objected, they allowed it (I didn't want to be the spoilsport, so I didn't object).  But it was up to us to decide if they did it the "right" way (first action is UTG) or the "wrong" way (first action is the small blind).  They decided on the wrong way.  Since the people who wanted to button straddle were far enough away from me so that it would affect me when I was the blinds, I didn't offer my opinion that the way they were doing it was wrong.

The problem with the game for me was that I was extremely card dead.  Totally, horrifically, card-dead.  It was appalling.  I think I won only one pot all night.  It was with Aces.  I opened to $12 and had three callers.  The flop was King-Queen-x rainbow and I bet $25 and got one call.  The turn was a 10 and we both checked.  The river was deuce and my $35 bet went uncalled.

That was it.  I didn't lose any big pots—I just didn't get enough good cards to put much money into any pots. It was awful.  So of course I didn't win any bomb pots or any button bounties. 

Those side bets were fun, but they did contribute to my losing my money faster than I otherwise might have. I had to call it a night.  A losing night.

Although Andrew and Brad were switching tables periodically, neither of them made it over to our table.  So before I left, I made it a point to go over and introduce myself to them, and to thank them for hosting the game.  I have to say, they are both super-nice guys.  They thanked me for doing some retweeting of their tweets about the game.  I told them that I mentioned their games at the Westgate in a soon-to-be published Ante Up column.

After taking off, I realized they would both be perfect subjects for Ante Up profiles.  So a few days later I contacted them and they both graciously agreed.  You should be seeing their profiles in Ante Up (and here) in the coming months.

It was a fun night, but man, I wish I could have seen better cards.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to Lose $80 Without Really Trying

This is from a session I had in the early part of my Vegas trip last month. It took place at Planet Hollywood.  We were starting a new table and while the dealer was selling chips, I was looking at my phone and a guy came over to me and said, "Are you checking PokerAtlas?"  I looked up and he sort of looked vaguely familiar.  Then he gave me his name and mentioned where I knew him from.  It turned out he had been my contact (for PokerAtlas) for a now defunct poker room, and before that, I knew him as a dealer in another room where he had dealt to me a lot.  He had left the poker room before it closed down and I hadn't heard from him since.  We caught up and it seems he moved to another state, still works in a casino.  He ended up joining our game—he took seat 9, and I was in seat 1.  This is likely the only time I'll ever talk about him so let's make it simple and refer to him as "M."

This table was not filled with the usual aggros and maniacs you often see at PH.  In fact, the closest thing to an aggro was M.  But he wasn't really aggro by PH standards. However, I definitely took note of the first time he three-bet.  He three-bet the original raiser, the original raiser called and it was heads up to the flop (I was not involved).  On a rather routine flop, M made a c-bet and the other guy folded.  But M flipped over his cards.  Pretty sure this was the first and only time all evening he showed his hand when he didn't have to.  What did he show?  Deuce-four of diamonds.  And of course, he had caught nothing on the flop.

I wanted to say, "Hey, do you know that's the Grump?" but I didn't.  I said nothing.  My assumption at the time was that he just wanted to advertise that he was three-betting light so that he could get paid off on his value bets down the road.  Did I say "three-betting light"?  Of course we all know that deuce-four is the most powerful hand in poker, but could I expect M to know that?  Most people don't.  But afterwards, I wondered if he showed his deuce-four for my benefit.  Was it possible that M knew all about the deuce-four from my blog and wanted to show off for me?  Sure, it was possible.  I'm often surprised to find that many of the people I am in contact with professionally know about and read my blog (my PokerAtlas name, which is also "robvegaspoker", is on my auto-signature of all my business emails).  Just because he never mentioned it doesn't mean he's never seen my blog.

Furthermore, I realized that at the room where I first encountered M, one of his colleagues had a very popular poker blog himself (now-defunct) which had made multiple references to Poker Grump.  So it was very possible he was familiar with the legend that is deuce-four.

Anyway, I opened to $8 with Ace-Queen and had four callers.  The flop was Queen-Queen-5.  I bet $20 and M was the only caller.  The turn was a 10 and this time M donked out $30.  Hmm....I didn't know what to make of that so I just called.  The river was a Jack and he donked out $35.  Again, I just called.  He had King-Queen and I took the pot.

The very next hand I opened to $8 with King-Jack of clubs.  A guy raised it to $20 and it folded back to me.  I called and we were heads up.  The flop was King-high and had a single club on it.  I called $15.  He checked the turn, which was a Jack.  I bet $20 and he called.  The river was a blank, he checked.  I bet $35 and he folded two Queens face up.

Since those hands happened back-to-back I hadn't stacked up my chips up properly for the second hand.  I just had two really high stacks of chips.  It was later (after I had made notes and perhaps played a few other hands) that I finally got to stack my chips correctly (I thought) into stacks of 20. 

M opened to $6 on the button and I called from the small blind with Queen-Jack of hearts, it was heads up.  The flop was 9-8-x, two diamonds.  We both checked.  The turn was a 10, giving me the straight.  I bet $10 and he called.  The river was the King of diamonds, a card I didn't want to see inasmuch as it completed the flush.  After I checked, he bet $20 and I played it safe by just calling.  He had Ace-Jack (not diamonds) and I took the pot.

With pocket Queens in the big blind, I made it $16 after a bunch of limpers.  It was four-way.  The flop came King-10-x, two hearts.  My Queens were both black.  I checked but no one bet.  The turn was the five of clubs, this time I bet $25 and didn't get a call.  I was surprised no one had a King.

Now I had only been playing for two hours, but I had worked all day and from the moment I'd started playing I realized I was really tired.  I had been having trouble concentrating on the game.  I looked down at my chips, which by now I had sorted properly.  There were four full stacks, plus five additional redbirds on top of the four stacks.  I also had a bunch of dollar chips.  I thought a $230 or so profit—a double-up and then some— for the session sounded pretty good. 

So I grabbed a rack and started putting my chips into it.  When I put the first $100 stack in, I got a huge shock—it didn't fill up the slot.  It was way short.  So were the other three stacks.  When I filled up the slots, it turned out I had totally miscounted my stacks and that each one was only $80, not $100.  Four stacks that were each short $20—or at least twenty bucks shorter than I had thought.  So without losing a hand, I had somehow managed to "lose" $80!  Damn.

I briefly considered sticking around since I no longer had the double up I had been counting on!  How could I have made such a mistake?  One thing is for sure, if I was playing online, at a site such as 888poker, that could never have happened, the computer would have accurately reported my stack.

With less than the double up I thought I had, I briefly considered unracking my chips and playing a little longer.  But then I recalled how tired I was.  I decided a $155 profit for two hours play was good enough.  The "double-up" was only an arbitrary marker anyway, right?  I was so tired I figured I had an excellent chance of losing my profit by continuing. In fact, I guess I can blame my tiredness on the counting error, so that was more proof that it was time to call it a night.

I cashed out $355 and felt like I lost $80 on the last hand, even though I didn't play it—and I didn't lose that $80 to anyone!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Get Up! You're in my Seat!"

This happened my last night in town, New Year's Day.  Because I had been up pretty late New Year's Eve, I got a late start and didn't get out of my room until like 5:30 to play poker for the last time in Vegas.  And because I got up so late, I hadn't eaten dinner yet.  I figured I'd have a relatively short session, grab a late dinner and get some rest to be ready for the long drive home.

By the time I made it over to Planet Hollywood it was close 6 pm.  My idea of a late afternoon session had turned into an early evening session.  Lucky me, I got there a few minutes after they filled up the last table and was first on the list.  I didn't expect a long wait—that's usually the time poker rooms start emptying out as people head off to dinner.  I wandered over to an empty table to sit down while waiting.

It wasn't completely empty.  There was a guy sitting there, head buried in his phone.  Since I was first on the list I knew he wasn't waiting to get into a game.  In fact, a few minutes after I sat down, a woman came over from a nearby table to talk to him for a bit.  So it was kind of the opposite of what you usually see—it was a guy hanging out while his lady to was playing instead of a woman hanging out while her guy was playing.

I was there for awhile and they didn't call me.  I think they had four tables of 1/2 going so I was surprised there hadn't been an opening already.  I went back to the podium to see what was going on.  Well, I was still first on the list, but now there were about 4-5 names under mine.  The one directly under mine caught my attention.  It was "RBI."  I wondered if that was a nickname for perhaps a huge baseball fan or if those were really somebody's initials.

Well, as I was hanging around at the podium, I saw a guy go up to the person at the podium and show him his player's card.  I heard the podium person say, "Oh, you should show us your diamond card right away, as soon as you give us your name."  He did something on the computer in front of him and---voila—RBI was now #1 on the list and I was second.

This is a policy that all CET rooms have and I don't like it.  If you have Diamond card status—which means you spend big bucks at Caesars' properties and piss away a small fortune gambling in them—you get priority in getting a seat in the poker room.  It seems like a non-sequitur to me.  You can't get Diamond status just by playing poker....if you have that status, you are playing slots and/or table games, but not poker.  In other words, you're a major gambling degenerate.  I guess some of those folks play poker too, but they're not really poker players.  They're degens who dabble in poker.  Why should they get preferential treatment in the poker room?  That's for poker players.  If you have Diamond status you have your own lounge at CET properties and all sorts of other benefits.  The poker room should be an egalitarian place, right?  No other poker room or chain I know of does this, certainly not their biggest competitor, MLife (MGM).  Only CET treats the average poker player like this.

But it's not Planet Hollywood's fault, it's the corporate policy of CET.  Furthermore, they didn't ask my opinion before doing this.  They can do whatever the hell they want.  And so they do.

But I was a little miffed and frankly it was taking longer than I anticipated to get into a game.  The person at the podium asked if I was on the list and I said yes—and then said they might start a new game since there were almost enough people on the list to do so.

I wondered off but found myself back at the podium a few minutes later.  RBI was off the list, so apparently he had gotten into a game.  So I was first on the list, right?  Nope.  Now I was third.  Seriously?  Yes, apparently two people who had Diamond cards showed up and jumped ahead of me.  Yeesh.

Well, at that point I was thinking of telling them to take me off the list, I was going to have some dinner and maybe I'd be back.  But a dealer came over and said they were starting a new game.  OK, then.

The table they were opening was the one I had been sitting at earlier.  A few spots were already occupied (by people who had earlier gotten tipped off that they were gonna start a new game).  A woman was sitting in seat 9 and a guy was in seat 5, and another player in seat 6.  That guy who was hanging around while his girlfriend played was still in seat 1.  That was actually the seat I wanted but I didn't say anything.  I took seat 4 but the guy not playing started to notice people taking other seats at the table and realized we were about to start a game there and got up and moved to another empty table.  So I grabbed the seat he vacated—Seat 1.

By the time the dealer got the game going, the table was actually full, that was nice.  And so the dealer dealt a hand or two.  Suddenly, while I was out of the hand (couldn't have been more than the second or third hand that had been dealt), I felt someone grabbing me by the shoulders and I heard a very stern voice saying, "Hey buddy, you're in my seat.  Get up."  WTF?

I didn't recognize the voice but my first thought was that it was somebody I knew who saw me and was making a joke.  Just a week or so before I ran into an old acquaintance in this very poker room.  Well I looked up and saw a very tall, rather mean looking guy with his hands still firmly on my shoulders who I didn't know from Adam.  Perhaps he mistook me for someone else and thought I was a friend of his and this was still a prank?  I think I managed to mutter something like, "What?"  He was pretty damn serious.  "I'm not kidding buddy, you're in my seat, get up."

The other thing that raced through my mind was that, was there anyway this was the guy who had been sitting in that seat that was waiting for his girlfriend?  And that he had intended to play at that table and hadn't said anything when he left the seat, but just expected it be held for him? But I was close to 99% sure this wasn't that guy.

I could feel the guy squeezing my shoulders when the dealer spoke up.  "This is not your seat.  You're at the wrong table. You're at table 3."  And she pointed to a table one table up and over.  There was no one sitting at the seat 1 on at that table but you could see there were chips there—this guy's chips. Thank goodness this dealer had been at the table where this guy belonged earlier! The guy looked over and oh my what a change in attitude.  He turned into to the meekest, most apologetic guy I've ever seen in my life.

No kidding, he started apologizing profusely. "Oh, I'm sorry...I'm so sorry...I' m really sorry, buddy."  He kept at it.  In the meantime, he hadn't taken his hands off my shoulders—but instead of squeezing them, he was massaging them. It was a pretty good massage, too.  It was part of the apology.  He was massaging my shoulders the entire time he was apologizing.  And he was taking his time apologizing.

But he finally left and went over to the right table.  At that point, everyone at the table just started cracking up.  No one had seen anything quite like this.  They couldn't figure it out, either, though they all knew there was no chance I was sitting in this guy's seat.  I explained the various theories I had until the dealer came to my rescue.  One of the players suggest that, as a joke, if I noticed that guy getting up from his seat at his proper table, I should run over to it and sit in his seat as a gag.  You know, I didn't think that was a very good idea.

Well, after we'd all stopped laughing about it, the guy came back over to me and started apologizing all over again, just as profusely as the last time!  "Hey buddy, I'm really, truly sorry." He didn't grab my shoulders  this time but he did pat me on the arm a couple of times while he was getting his apologies out.  I told him to forget it, it was OK, but he remained sorry.  I almost said to him, "No need to apologize sir, you just gave me a blog post."

The poker this night was nothing memorable.  I was having a card-dead, losing kind of night when things somewhat turned around with of all hands, the dreaded pocket Kings.  I guess I had a bit more than $100 left of my $200 buy-in when I got them.  There were a couple of limpers so I made it $12.  Two players called and the flop was Jack-high and rather non-threatening.  But the gal in seat 1, who hadn't been heard from much all night, donked out $31.  She didn't have that much left.  I shrugged and called, the other player folded.  She put the rest of her chips in on a blank turn—it was $35-$40.  I didn't ask for a count, with no Ace on the board I was going to call.  The river blanked and he she had Jack-x—and the "x" didn't help her.  I got back most of what I'd been losing to that point.

Soon thereafter I called it a night, taking a $10 loss for my last session in Vegas. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Movie Review: Molly's Game

Well, I'm back home after another successful Vegas trip.  And by "successful" I mean I made it back alive.  I did get some new material for the blog, and I still have stuff from the previous trip to relate, so I should be able to keep the blog going for awhile.

Before leaving Vegas, I had a chance to see the new poker movie that just came out, Molly's Game.  I figured, what better locale than Vegas to see a movie that focuses on high stakes poker?  Even better, I actually saw the movie in a Vegas casino that has a rather large poker room—The South Point. 

I'm sure most of you are at least minimally familiar with the story.  Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier, finds herself working for a guy who runs a weekly poker game for the rich and famous.  She gets to be so good at working the game that she takes it over and starts making huge money for running the game.  She started out in L.A. and eventually left to start an even bigger game in New York.  Of course, along the way she ran afoul of the feds and thus we have our story.  The film is not fiction, there really is a Molly Bloom and everything depicted in the film really happened (more-or-less).

It's not really accurate to call Molly's Game a "poker movie."  Although it revolves around the poker games Molly ran, there's not a lot of poker strategy or insight in it.  In other words, if you're expecting another Rounders, you'll be disappointed.  That said, there is some poker in it to be sure.  Molly starts off knowing nothing about poker, and she really learns the game. She imparts the poker wisdom she's absorbed on the audience.  In the middle of the movie, there are definitely a few really good poker scenes—even some hand histories—that will appeal to the poker player in you.

But that's not the main thrust of the film.  The major focus is Molly herself, how this totally fascinating woman got caught up in all this, and despite her considerable intelligence and talent, let herself get in over her head. 

In that regard, the absolute best thing in the movie is the relationship between Molly and her reluctant lawyer.  Jessica Chastain plays Molly and Idris Elba plays her attorney.  Not only do they both give Oscar-worthy performances, but the dynamic and chemistry between them is incredible.  You could watch these two people sit and talk for hours on end, they are that good.

One of the reasons the dialog is so good is that it is written by Aaron Sorkin, who also directed (first time directing). Sorkin created The West Wing for TV and wrote the screenplays for A Few Good Men and The Social Network among others.  He is famous for his rapid fire, intelligent, witty dialog and he doesn't disappoint here.

The secondary relationship depicted is between Molly and her hard-driving father, played by Kevin Costner. Chastain and Costner also have great chemistry and there is a scene of the two of them near the end of the film that is ridiculously good and extremely moving. 

As you can tell, I really liked the movie.  In fact, it would be fair to say I loved it.  That said, the movie is not perfect.  The movie is narrated by Chastain, and I generally would prefer less narration in a film.  Show us, don't tell us!  Also, the story is not told in a linear fashion—it jumps around in time.  Although this was presumably done to make the story easier to follow, I think it actually makes things a little more confusing than necessary.  An important plot point hinges on a minor character's deposition.  They keep referring to it but it isn't until 3/4's of the way into the movie that they come to it in the story and basically explain what they've been talking about all this time.  I think that could have been handled better.

Still, I highly recommend Molly's Game.  And I think I would have liked it every bit as much if I had never played a single hand of poker in my life.

One somewhat tangential note.  Fans of the pics I usually display on this blog may be interested to know that the lovely Ms. Chastain displays ample cleavage amply throughout the film.  Early on her boss tells her to display the "Cinemax version" of herself and she does just that, wearing one low-cut top after another.  It was almost distracting.  Notice I said "almost."

There's no truth to the rumor that I was the fashion advisor to this film.

If you see Molly's Game, let me know what you think!

EDITED TO ADD:  For some great background on the movie and an interview with the poker consultant to the film, be sure to check out Robbie's blog post here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Vegas Poker Scene -- January 2018 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room by now.  A lot of you will be interested in my mention of all the vloggers who have been having games at The Westgate.  Be assured that more will be reported on from a some of these games in future blog posts here.

And be sure to check out my profile of the new poker room manager at South Point, Jason Sanborn.  I ran into Jason all the time when he was at MGM, but didn't realize until I saw his picture that the Jason I knew from MGM was the new manager down at the South Point.

Last month, I forgot to include the profile I did on Suncoast poker room manager Gerry Boone, and I've included that as well, you can find on the Ante Up site here.



The Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Jan. 29-Feb. 25. One of the highlights is the Mid-States Poker Tour Poker Bowl II, starting Feb. 1. The $1,100 event has two starting flights and offers a $500K guarantee. Players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels.
The $1,600 main event begins Feb. 19 with a $1M guarantee. Players start with 30K and play 60-minute levels. Registration is open through the first two levels of Day 2 on Feb. 22.
A few new events highlight the schedule. A two-day, $400 SuperStack with a triple add-on starts Jan. 30. Players get 18K chips and during the first break, after Level 4, they may purchase a 12K add-on for $100 regardless of stack size. Four levels later, they may purchase an 18K add-on for $200. After another four levels, they may purchase a 24K add-on for $300. The levels are 30 minutes and the guarantee is $50K.  
Also, a “progressive bounty” event is new. There are two price points for this format. On Feb. 6 and 24 at 7 p.m., the buy-in is $200. The bounty starts at $50. When the tournament is at the final 27 players, the bounty jumps to $100. At the final table, the bounty is worth $150. The guarantee is $9K. A $400 version runs Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. For this one, the initial bounty is $100 and increases to $200 when down to 27 players. The bounty at the final table is $300.  The guarantee is $20K. All of these start players with 12K chips and have 30-minute levels.
As for the last DSE IV main event in November, Eric Baldwin of Las Vegas took down the $114K first-place prize.  Christopher Moorman of Great Britain earned $70K for second and Las Vegas resident Venerando Villarino received $51K for third. The $1,600 event drew 345 players, resulting a $498K prize pool.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: In November, the $1,675 main event of the World Series of Poker Circuit drew 845 players and had a prize pool of $1.26M. Fernando Galvan won it and earned $247K. Corey Hochman was second for $152K and Chris Tham scored $112K for third.
SAM’S TOWN: On the east side of town on Boulder Highway, the popular locals room has added a 10 p.m., $35 tournament to its schedule on Friday and Saturday. The starting stack is 5K and the levels are 20 minutes. An optional $5 add-on is offered for 2K chips.
The daily 10 a.m. hold’em tournament is $23 for 500 chips, with the starting blinds at 5-10. The first hour of the tournament is limit, then switches to no-limit. The daily 1 p.m. tourney is $30 for a 3K stack with a $5 add-on for 2K more. There’s also a $10 rebuy for the first hour for 2K chips. The levels are 20 minutes.
Sunday through Thursday at 7 p.m., the $35 tournament has the same details as the new 10 p.m. tournament. The Friday 7 p.m. is $25 for 1,500 chips, with a $5 add-on for 1,500. It offers unlimited $10 rebuys for 1K chips available any time a player has 2,500 chips or fewer. After the third level, a $20 add-on for 6K is optional.
Tournaments alternate on Saturdays at 7 p.m. The first is a $55 buy-in for 6K chips, $5 add-on for 2K, 20-minute levels. On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, it’s a $25 bounty tournament that has a $105 buy-in. Players start with 10K chips, there’s a $5 add-on for 2K chips and the levels are 20 minutes.
The main cash game is $2-$6 spread limit with a $30 minimum buy-in and no max. A $30 minimum buy-in Omaha/8 game frequently runs. The $1-$2 NLHE game ($100-$300 min-max) runs less frequently. And the $2-$10 stud game with a $50 min. buy-in sometimes runs.
The promos vary each day. On Mondays and Thursdays, flopping quad aces is worth $100. Also, Aces Cracked wins the amount of the pot. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the best full houses made win $150, $100 and $50 twice a day. On Wednesdays and Sundays, players who win pots with all four flushes get $150. And on Saturdays, the high hand of each hour wins $50. The minimum high hand is aces full of deuces and if no hand qualifies the money rolls over into the next hour.
WESTGATE:  The room is working with popular Vegas vloggers (that’s video bloggers) to host games there. The Trooper, a.k.a. Tim Watts, hosts a regular game every Thursday at 6 p.m. It’s $1-$3 NLHE with a $100-$300 min-max. PokerKraut, Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen have hosted games and Westgate is interested in regularly scheduling them. These games are well-attended and a lot of fun. They do come up with a few twists on regular poker rules for these games. Some of the ones have filled five tables. Westgate is more than happy to let the vloggers record the games for their vlogs. So if you show up to one, be prepared to appear on YouTube a few days later. 
The Westgate hosts an industry freeroll Tuesday nights at 7. Casino workers are eligible to compete for a $300 prize and there’s no cost to enter.
SANTA FE STATION: The rebuy for the $50 weekly Omaha/8 tournament costs $20.

Meet Jason Sanborn
The South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas recently named Jason Sanborn poker room manager.
How did you get into poker? I started working in a casino at 18 and shortly thereafter lessons to deal poker were offered and I jumped on the chance. After working a few years in Michigan, I moved to Vegas and have worked exclusively in poker ever since. After working as a dealer, floor supervisor and shift manager in many locations, the opportunity to lead my own room came up at the South Point and I couldn’t be happier.
Why should poker players play at South Point? South Point is a place where you can still get a fair gamble without having to worry about incidental fees and inconveniences. Close parking, limit or no-limit games and friendly staff are the hallmarks of our room. Regular promotions include a free-roll that runs for three months and gives out $185K-plus. Plenty of football promotions make this the best time of the year to be at South Point.

What do you do in your spare time? When not on the clock, I like to golf, bowl and spend time with family. I have two great kids and a wonderful wife. Vegas truly has been good to me and I look forward to many more years here in Vegas and at the South Point.

Meet Gerry Boone

Gerry Boone manages the Suncoast poker room in Las Vegas.
How did you get started in poker? My father and grandfather were avid poker players. They would let me sit in on
their home games when I was young. They mostly played lowball. My dad made me memorize, “Roses are red; violets are blue; don’t draw to an eight and don’t draw two.” I have been at the Sun- coast for almost six years and in my current position for three.
Why should people play at Suncoast? We offer the lowest rake and best high-hand promotion. It’s $3 max on all games and progressive high hands start at $50 for quads and $100 for straight flushes and royals. You don’t have to op them. We’re the only place in town that offers low-limit stud/8. Players earn $1.25 per hour in comp dollars. We’re giving away $16K-plus in football promotions this season. We have excellent restaurants, great air quality, big screen TVs, new carpet and friendly dealers.
What do you do in your free time? I enjoy spending time with my four beautiful granddaughters.