Saturday, June 28, 2008

Three Strange Days

The last few days have been interesting, to say the least. Wednesday I played a three hour 2/5NL session at the Venetian. The net result was +$1,000. It was a bunch of small pots, a few large pots, some bluffs and a lot of folding. But, strangely, there were no really memorable hands. My table dried up, so I picked up and went to play another $130SNG.

I did not cash in this SNG. It was the third level, I had just raised to T300 with AQs, and I got re-raised to T700. I had T900 remaining and it was a narrow split between push and fold against this opponent. I elected to push. He called and showed AKo. The board came all blanks and I was done. I was fine with that. However, my opponent opined, “I thought you were better than that.” and several other apparent experts nodded in approval at his scholarly knowledge of the game. I just smiled and got up. Whatever.

I then played some 1/2NL with Don and Mookie. It was a somewhat entertaining game but I only got involved in a few pots, all of which involved me missing with a big ace. We decided to get something to eat. While eating, I mentioned that I still have to use up my $100 food comp at the Rio. The plan was to take Mookie and Mrs. Mookie out for a nice dinner. It is something that I really wanted to do to thank them for their hospitality last year. It was supposed to be the Mookies, Me, Don, and CK.

When I called the next day for reservations, the Harrah’s reservationist got me hooked up with the required reservation quickly. As I was about to conclude this quick, efficient discussion, she asked me for my credit card and informed me that there would be a $25/person charge for cancelling the reservation less than five hours before the meal. I said, “I am sorry, but that is too inflexible, never mind” and hung up. My thoughts were to just do the same thing on the spur of the moment.

I then headed back to the Venetian and played a miserable seven hour session. In addition to being really card dead, I lost two huge hands. I will describe them here, not because I am interested in discussing strategy, and not because I want sympathy. And they are not bad beat stories (I was behind both times.) I simply want to illustrate that some days really suck, like at any other job.

The first hand started with a young punk, new to the table, raising $20 UTG. Several people called behind him. I called with ATs in LP. I was looking for a flush or Broadway or two pair. Not an ace or a ten. The flop came 844, with two of my suit. He bet $35 and all folded to me. I called for the flush draw. The turn came 8. He hesitated and then checked. I checked behind him. The river came A and he checked again. At this point, I put him on a big pair, KK, QQ, or JJ, or possibly a big ace. I felt that he either would fold to my bet or that he would pay me more often than I would pay him, so I bet $200, about the pot. He came back over the top of me for $170 more (he started the hand with a little more than $400.) I was then feeling like I was most likely beat, but there was almost $800 in the pot with $170 more to call. I found it really tough to fold, so I called. Yes, I was beat. I would have been happy to lose if he had showed me AK or AQ. I would have been slightly annoyed about losing if he had showed me AJ. I would have been a little surprised if he had showed me AA, 44, 88, A4 or A8. But he didn’t show me any of these hands. He showed me J8o. I was totally irate. Seriously, WTF, dude? I got over being irate in time for the next hand.

A little later in the session, I was on the B with AsKh. All folded to me, I raised to $30, and the BB called me. Heads-up to the flop, I saw Ad5s4s. He checked to me, I bet $45, and he raised to $200. I didn’t think he was a great player, but I also didn’t think he was terrible player. I considered a pair and a draw, 44, 55, A4s, A5s, Kqs, AK, and AQ. I also considered stone cold bluff, but not very seriously. He only has $300 more to bet and I couldn’t fold after calling a bet, so it was push or fold time again. Again, I elected to push. He went into the tank. Eventually he called and showed me 55. Dude, why did you think for so long? Have you ever folded a set on the flop in your life? I know some people have, but not you. Later, I ran this one through PokerStove and it is 60/40 for him, assuming the range I gave you, minus worse hands, and assuming he is incapable of folding any part of that range. So, on the whole, it was a marginal decision on my part, not terrible, not great. Later in the session, the same player got all-in against another player on a paired board. He proudly turned over a suited ace for the nut flush and announced “Nuts! “ The other player turned over his boat and dragged the pot. Shit! He was a donkey after all.

But, at the time, I was feeling that I really hate my job. And I hadn’t really wanted to go to work that day anyhow. This is really what I was thinking. And, like any other job, it has its good days and its bad days. And, like any other job, it is often not fun, but you get paid for doing it. I had strongly mixed emotions. I was elated that I had accomplished what I had set out to accomplish. I was depressed that I had found myself in another job that is less than perfect. But it was a really perverse pleasure that I was in this place and I mostly liked that part of it.

I got startled back to reality very quickly. My phone rang. The person on the other end gave me some really disturbing news: They had reason to believe that some of my personal information could now be easily compromised and there was not a fuck of a lot that I could do about it while I was sitting in the Venetian Poker room. I don’t want to get into the specifics of what was compromised or how, but I was then ripe to be the possible victim of identity theft

I decided to go back to Don’s to mull over my options as far as how to best protect myself from this unexpected threat. It was the right play as I could no longer focus on my game and I was no longer hungry. Also CK had bailed on dinner to play a WSOP event. Good thing I didn’t give those Harrah’s fucks my credit card.

I considered calling each of the credit bureaus to request a fraud alert from each of them. I also considered signing up for Lifelock or a similar service. Such services do the fraud alerts for you. They charge a hefty fee for doing so, but they also make things right if the fraud alert alone does not prevent identity theft. A simple actuarial analysis shows that Lifelock is -EV. However, in the case of a low probability, high cost event, fear is the key factor, not the EV. My life insurance policy is definitely -EV, for example. I check BBB Online. BBB tells me that they are not terrible. This article I found breaks it down nicely. I decided to sign-up for a year of service, with a pro-rated refund promised at any time I cancel. I made a few other required phone calls. I finally could relax a little. I was supposed to meet Don and Mookie at the Bellagio for some 2/5NL donkery the next morning, so I called it a night.

Okay, that was only two strange days, but I am totally out of time. Tune in next time for a blow-by-blow description of the donkery I experienced at the Bellagio today. Thanks for reading and good morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where Has All the Time Gone?

Where has all the time gone? I ran good, then I ran bad, then I ran good. Then Weak Wife and Weak Baby came to visit for the better part of six days. I don't feel like boring you with the details of my play from a week and a half ago, so this post is going to be about their visit and my time off.

We first stayed at the Venetian for two nights. Our stay was very nice there, but it was not quite as good as we would expect from the Venetian. Don't get me wrong, all the nice things you have heard about the place are true. I actually found it odd that we had any issues. The first problem we had was that the room that we were assigned had someone else's luggage in it. Not wanting to go back downstairs, I called from my cellphone. They gave us a different room on the same floor, had security meet us to let us in to the new room, and had new keys (which didn't work) delivered to the new room. It was a minor hassle, but it was odd.

The second problem we had was with the alarm clock. It was not obvious that it was set, but it was. For midnight. It woke Weak Baby up. I could not figure out how to set it properly, so I just unplugged it. They spent an assload of money on furnishing the room; it is odd that they could not spend a little more on a clock/radio that does not require an operating manual.

Okay, there were two minor annoyances, but we had a really great room otherwise, and the view was excellent. We were looking westwards, across the strip, towards Treasure Island. The room was large and elegant. The bed was really comfortable. They gave us a small refrigerator for milk and baby food and such. It was just great. We were staying at the poker rate ($139 week nights, $169 on the weekend,) an excellent value.

The second night we got a babysitter so we could have dinner and see a show. We ate at B&B. It was really a great meal. After dinner we went to see Spamalot. Both being huge Python fans, it was hard to not enjoy the show. Like all Vegas shows, it was cut down to get you back to the gambling as quick as possible. This show ran 90 minutes. The Broadway show runs 140 minutes. I wonder what parts they cut out? I hope it was not an extended orgy scene at the Castle Anthrax.

The next two nights we stayed at Red Rock. These were my two full days off. I had played some poker at the Venetian, but they were not full sessions and my heart was not in it. Red Rock is absolutely first class in every way. The staff was as attentive as possible. Everything was perfect with the room. Great view, well furnished, etc, etc, etc. Here we got the casino rate ($100/night.) based on my past action. The view was great. We were looking eastwards, across the valley at the strip, from the 16th floor. You could see from north of downtown to south of the strip. It was just amazing. In addition to the already amazing array of amenities, the room had a Bose clock/radio. It did not wake us up unexpectedly.

Our stay at Red Rock was for a special occasion. Indeed, it might not have come to Weak Wife and Weak Baby coming for a visit were it not for Weak Baby's Birthday. It is hard to believe that the little girl is now a year old. Without further ado, here is the birthday girl:

In addition to having a birthday party for Weak Baby, we ate at Hachi, spent time at the spa, and I gambled in the pit. I am more or less done with with pit gambling; this stay at Red Rock and the following stay at The Golden Nugget involved a lot of gambling. Now I am done. More about that in a future post.

The final night was at the Golden Nugget. Even though I was a VIP guest with a comped room, the GN absolutely sucked. The room was just standard, had not been redone in ages, and had an old A/C unit that did not keep up with the heat and wheezed worse than I do. It also had an alarm clock that went off unexpectedly. The last time I paid for a room there, it was much nicer than the one that they comped me. It is almost like they don't want me to come back. Don't worry, I won't. Here is the view from this room:

After checking out of the Golden Nugget (good riddance, forever,) I took Weak Wife and Weak Baby to the airport, went back to Don's, did laundry, bought groceries, unpacked, etc, etc. I then went down to the Venetian and played a full session.

I played 2/5NL for three hours, up $450. I then played a $130 SNG satellite. It has two winners and pays $500 in lammers and $70 in cash. I won my first one. I played a second one, paid one lammer and $30 in cash, then dropped the rest of my lammers on the table and exchanged them for the other player's cash. The second one was not as good as the first, and I was done for the day.

I am only here for another six days, including today. I will be playing a lot of poker and then going home exhausted, I expect.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Really Fun Night

I had one good session and two more bad sessions since I last blogged about playing. I was in the middle of a an unplanned day off when my phone rang. It was Russ Fox, my friend, poker player, and noted poker author. Also, he is my accountant. Check out his mug here. And his poker books here, here, and here.

He was planning to play 1/2 NL at the Venetian. It sounded like the perfect interruption to my unplanned day off. I headed down to the Venetian. Before heading over to the poker room, I placed a few bets at the sports book. I am not a big sports book customer, and I have completely stayed out of the pit so far this trip (more about that in a future post). But, there was some significant value to my bets and I just could not resist. That and I used to be a Celtics fan back in the day. I bet one unit on the money line (+260) and two units on the points (+7.5)

I quickly found Russ in the poker room and I managed to get a seat at his table. One quick seat change and we were able to talk and play. It is good catching up with old friends. It was also good when I picked up aces, limp-re-raised them, and got put all-in by queens. The aces held and I was up $300 and change. On the downside, the Celts were down 24 points. It seemed like I was net even at that point.

Since things were slow and we were hungry, we picked up rather than leaving our chips on the table and had a bite at the Grand Lux cafe. When we were done, we were quickly seated in a different game. The play was lively and loose, but I didn't get many of the donkey dollars. One or two orbits after we re-sat, I noticed that the Celtics had made a huge comeback. After anxiously waiting to play my UTG hand, I got up and watched the rest of the game from the sports book. The Celtics held on to win and both of my tickets cashed.

I went back to the game and played until we were both tired. Russ gave me a ride over to the TI valet. This gave me a chance to see the Palazzo, where Russ had parked. I was interested because I am staying at the Venetian for a few nights later this month when Weak Wife and Weak Baby are going to be in town visiting.

It was a fun and profitable night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Have Arrived

You know you have really made it big when you have found that you have your own hater. Not that he is a very good hater. This sounds like an internet cliche, but my troll lives in his mom's basement. For real. Bad troll, no link for you. I need to upgrade my hater for better cred. At least Waffles is funny. Too bad he is not hating on me these days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Running Like Ass

Friday I had another bad session, this one at the Venetian. It only takes one hand to make a bad session and this is one of those. The donkey in question had been very active with marginal, at best, holdings. For example, there was $15 in the pot on the river with a straight to the nine on the board. Donkey leads out for $15, gets raised to $100, re-raises to $200, and then he calls all-in for $500 total. He proudly shows his ten and then looks shocked when the other player shows his jack-ten. Duh.

Having taken note of this donkey behavior, I end up involved in a pot with him. I have QQ, he raises pre-flop, I re-raise and he calls. HU to the flop, it comes J62 rainbow. I bet, and he raises. At this point, there is about as much in the pot as there is left to bet. I can't put him on AA, KK or a small pocket pair. So he has AJ or JJ. I think he plays either the same way. There are six ways for him to have JJ and twelve ways for him to have AJ. I jam, he calls and shows his JJ. Oh well.

Saturday was much the same way, at the Venetian also. I got felted for a full buy-in. I had top two on a flush board and I refused to believe the flush and paid the price for it.

Sunday I found my self stuck $800 before fighting back to stuck $300. No big hands that I care to mention. At this point, I want to go back to the Rio. It is late enough in the day that there will be cash games running. Bayne called me to tell me what the board looked like, so I was comfortable picking up and going there.

I played even at a somewhat active table for a few hours. No hands of note, but one donkey said something that totally cracked me up: "Your reads are way off; you should read Cardplayer Magazine to help with your reads." OMFG LOL WTF WUT? Huge donkey...Cardplayer Magazine...Might as well tell me to watch WPT to learn how to play.

I decide that three hours of even play was enough. I pick up and move to a 5/10NL table for a change of pace. I sit with $1500. The other players are mostly good, but there are some soft spots. I get no cards at all, but pickup $200 on two different moves. The third move I make gets bitch-slapped hard. I quit, still even.

Yesterday, I was completely drained, so I took the day off. Today, I have plans to meet Mitch for lunch and some poker.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Zeus, Mostly.

Wednesday, after I posted, I went out and played at the Venetian first. I was waiting for the huge donkament crowd to die down at the Rio before playing there. After two hours and change, I cashed out for a $300ish profit and went over to the Rio. I played at the Rio for four and a half hours and cashed out for another $300ish profit. I am running like Zeus, up more than $3k in live play for the month.

Yesterday, I had some errands to run and finished up a little too late to go to the Venetian and a little too early to go to the Rio. I flip a coin. It comes up heads, I go to the Rio. The donkament is running strong when I get there and the 2/5NL list is 100 deep with only seven tables going. I decide to play a Sit-And-Go (SNG) while I am waiting.

Everything you have heard about the SNGs is true. They are butter soft and they are definitely +EV if you have mastered the $5 Turbos on Stars. That is about the skill level. Don’t practice on anything higher; it will mess up your head. It is also high variance, so be prepared to get lucky on your first try or be prepared to play a shit-ton of them so that variance can even out. I just played the one and got busted in push-or-fold land by pocket sevens when I jammed with pocket sixes.

Off to the cash game I go. I get my first really bad beat of the month and it is for all of my chips. I pick up KK in the BB. It folds around to the CO who makes it $15 to go. I make it $45 to go, he calls. Heads-up, the flop is 896 rainbow. I lead out for $100, and he puts me all-in. I feel he has JJ or TT. I insta-call. Turn comes T, river comes A. I show him my kings, he shows me his tens and takes a $1000 pot.

I am a little steamed, but it is under control. He tried to give me his chips and failed, I like that. I am a little unhappy about the bottom line, but I push that out of my head as I try to make good decisions for the rest of the session. I play on for another hour or two. Between the cold air, the annoying person on my right, and my lack of food (I forgot to put the icepacks in the freezer the night before), I am feeling like I should end it. I cash out for a net minus $600.

I had twelve wins in a row and am still up $2k and change for the trip. I had hoped for a couple more big scores in a row. I want to take a shot at 5/10nl when I get up $4k to $5k. But the bottom line is still what I am watching most closely.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Day Off

I had a great day off. I woke up late, had some breakfast, read some blogs, and pretty much did fuck-all for the whole morning. This was somewhat forced as Don was getting the carpets cleaned and we had to hang out in the one room that was not being cleaned.

In the middle afternoon, an old friend called me. She knew I was in Vegas and, by chance, she was too. She told me to meet her down at the Rio; she wanted to see the WSOP action. It is kind of funny that she wanted to see the Rio on my day off but whatever. I headed down there and got on the 2/5 list because I was early. She called me to say she was going to be late, so I sat and played.

In my second orbit, I pick up a set and stack someone with it. Just then, my friend calls to say that she is there. So, I pickup and drop my chips in my box, another $500 richer. Yeah, I am a hit and run artist. My friend and I hang out for a while, and then she had to go. Up $500 on my day off.

I head off to rent a video and then back to the crib. I am running great, obviously. Except I just ran a set into a flopped wheel in my daily quest to make Iron Man. There is a cash bonus on the line this month. I know it is sort of lame, but I want the bonus. I am off to the Venetian today because there is another donkament starting at the Rio today.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Her Name is Rio and She Finances Me for a Grand

It has been an interesting few days. I had trouble sleeping Friday night. There was no really good reason, just insomnia. I felt like playing, but I decided to take it easy, just in case. I went over to the Venetian to play 1/2NL. I beat that game for a full buy-in. I also won a $10 prop bet from Miami Don. There was an obnoxious drunk at our table. The first one to bust him gets $10 from the other. I get the drunk in before the flop for his last $50, me with QQ, him with KJ s000ted. As the dealer is running the cards, I am a little nervous about him sucking out. Not because I care about the pot, more because I want Don’s $10. The drunk whiffs, the dealer ships me the pot and Don ships me the $10; w00t!!

Sunday I start off at the Venetian; there are no cash games running at the Rio due to huge field in day two of event two. I win one big pot. Here is how it went: I pick up JJ UTG, several limpers to the cut-off who really loves to raise. He raises and it folds back around to me. I re-pop it hard, and it folds back to him. He just calls and we see the flop heads-up. It comes 883, I don’t remember the suits. I jam for his remaining $300. He calls, the turn comes J, the river comes K. I show my boat and he mucks. I ask him if he was ahead on the flop, he says he was.

Now here is the interesting question: Was he really ahead? I think he would jam pre-flop with AA. He didn’t have kings or he would have claimed the pot. QQ is possible, but he didn’t look at all upset about the apparent beat. I think he was lying. I lie all the time about what I mucked, don’t you? He probably had AK, possibly suited if he had the flush draw.

I have had enough and I head back to Don’s; I am thinking about playing The Big Game and I need a rest either way. When I arrive back at Don’s, I am on the fence about playing. Don twists my arm hard so I play. Four hours later, I take fifth for a $400 win. I am feeling too pumped to sleep so I head over to the Rio for a quick late-night session. I crack someone’s aces and pick up with a modest win shortly thereafter.

Yesterday I wake up early after five hours of sleep. I feel okay as Don and I go out for breakfast. I feel really worn when we get back. I take a two hour nap, which is really unusual for me. I get up, laze around, cook some pasta, eat, shower, pack a sandwich and some snacks into my lunch box and head off to work at around 5:00 PM.

When I get there the Rio is jamming. There are seventeen 2/5NL games and ten 5/10NL games. I sit for 2/5NL, but discover that the first table is intolerable. You want bad players, but not ones that are so bad that each hand takes forever. This one donkey had his reds, blues, and whites all mixed together randomly. He would take forever to count out each bet and he just generally pissed me off. I know I could have had the floor-person make him stack the chips properly, but the table was just not worth the trouble, so I grab a seat change card, head back to the table to grab my chips and my lunch box, and head to my new table.

The next table was filled with tight regulars. Boring. I grab another seat change card and head to the next table. It is a lively game filled with donkeys, ones that can count out bets quickly. So I settle in for a while. I don’t get involved much, but there are lots of bad plays and big pots. I finally get involved in a pot and it was huge. I have 33 in the big blind, late position (LP) raises to $30, the button (B) calls, and I call. The flop comes QJ3, rainbow. I check, LP bets $65, the button calls and I make it $165 to go. LP jams for about $300 total. B re-jams for $600. I had $490 to bet at the start of the hand. I feel I may be up against a bigger set, but I can not fold in that situation. So I call. The dealer runs the cards and I show my set. B shows his top two and mucks and LP shows his aces and mucks. I drag a monster pot.

When the big blind (BB) gets back around to me, I sit out. I pull a sandwich and an icy cold water out of my lunchbox and have a little meal. When I am ready to play again, I pull out my dessert and wait for the BB. I play a few more orbits and pick up one more small pot. I am feeling a little worn as the food kicks in, so I pick up and put my rack in my box for a net win of about $1000.

I am pretty happy now; I have had a modest work week and I am up about $2,400, including on-line play. It is time for a day off. I might read a poker book, blog a little, and play on-line a little. I still think it is a day off.