Friday, June 05, 2009

You Don't Understand; Chunks is My Dog!!

Okay, I am here in Vegas, specifically at the Illy in the Plazzo. I have been here for about 24 hours. I had hoped to get to town a few days earlier, but I had family obligations. I still have not been over to the Rio yet.

It has been a really interesting day and a half. Yesterday at 11:00am, it seemed my
landlord was going to try to sell our house and break our lease because he is getting expelled from the country. I spent some time on the phone with a lawyer while I was waiting to catch my flight being assured I will probably be okay.

On the flight, I had two drinks on an empty stomach. Then we hit some wicked turbulence. It had never happened to me before, but I ended up chundering. I did manage to get it all in the barf bag. I was shaking afterwards, and need some water to clean up. I got the water, got cleaned up. Still shaking, I spilled some of the water, some of which landed in my backpack. My backpack was open and my laptop was vent side up. It is toast.I ran out and got an HP mini. It fits in my fag bag. I am typing this post from the Illy in the Plazzo whilst on dinner break from the 12:00 Deep Stack. Chad busted out early, and CK is still alive. The cantaloupe gellato is exquisite.

The place I am saying is awesome. It is a timeshare resort. I have a one bedroom with all the luxuries, for $55/night. It is a bit more expensive than other places I have stayed in private homes, but not having any psycho roomates is a big plus.

Edits and additions to follow, as well as more posts. Sorry to be sloppy, but I need to get back to the tournament. I don't want to fall behind or leave you in the dark, so I am posting this now.

More tomorrow. I promise.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back In the Saddle Again

Well, I have done it again. I have blogged and blogged and then disappeared. There was some drama with my wife’s job, and some drama with us moving and a change in situation as far as our baby; I am taking care of her while the wife works. It has taken me some time to re-re-re-re-adjust and I have finally come back to poker. More on that in a future post. I want to write about poker, starting now.

While I have come back to playing on-line, what has really gotten going is a recent trip I took. The main purpose of my trip was my high school reunion, but I managed to squeeze in a trip to Foxwoods during this last weekend. We took a long weekend and I made it there on Monday.

Not having planned ahead, I was expecting that it might be a bit quiet on Monday. As luck would have it, there was a major tournament series starting. I made it there at 10:30am and was seated in a new 2-5nl game immediately. This was the second table.

Before I discuss the game itself, I will make a few quick comments about the venue. This was the first time I had been there in three years and things have changed a bit. The customer service used to suck; now it is acceptable or better. While it is hard to judge from one session, the last time I was there, it sucked so hard that I noticed in one session. Also of note is the change in the game structures. It used to be that they would take time for all NL games. That is no longer the case. In the game I played it was rake, and I have to assume it was also rake in the 1/2nl game. I view this as a huge improvement for lower level no limit games. Finally, I think the room is bigger still. It is hard to judge the level of action given the tournament, but I was not disappointed.

On to the game: It was all male, for the entire time, which I found the odd. It was the same way at almost all of the NL games. That was very strange to me. All of the players were dead serious for the first hour or two. No laughing or joking or anything like that. I could tell which players were the regulars without much effort. I felt really good about that; it has been almost as long since I played live as it has been since I last blogged. Even though the game was serious and filled with regulars, there were enough bad players to feed the game and I was able to play real poker against some of the better players.

This is so very different and very refreshing as compared to on-line play. I have been doing a lot of that seriously this last month on Full Tilt, and for fun on Bodog. You need thousands of hands of history on an opponent to get a good read on him/her. If you are observant, you only need a few minutes to size up your opponent live. I think I am good at that because I have a lot of experience, but I think most players can replace the huge amount of PT data with something more intuitive and psychological for live play. It is necessary; I saw more on-line hands in March alone than I will likely see in several years of live play!

I played for 4.5 hours and was involved in two big hands and few minor hands. Twice I got all of my chips in when I was way ahead. There was no question in my mind that my hands would hold up, and they did. There was not one hand where I was forced to gamble. It could not have gone much better. The first big hand was just my flopped set of tens vs. villain’s flopped TPTK. I think a really skilled player may have been able to get away from that one, but I am not sure.

The second one, I am fairly sure that my opponent was a skilled player and he did not get away from his hand. Here is how it went: I raised to $30 with 67d in EP. This is a very unusual play for me and anyone who had been paying attention would put me on something bigger….much bigger. I got one caller immediately behind me. The player that called me I judged to be really solid. With $63 in the pot, we saw the flop heads-up. I was really fortunate to have flopped the flush. The board came Ad Td 3d. I lead out for $55 and he snap-called me. The turn was a blank. With $173 in the pot, I fire again for $125 and he snap calls me again. The river comes Jc. With $413 in the pot, I jam for his last $175. He snap calls me and immediately shows his hand. He has KdQs; He rivered the Broadway when he was looking for the nut flush. With the Ad on the board and the Kd in his hand, I don’t think he could possibly put me on a flush, though I was worried that I might be wrong about him and he had the flush. Not that time. I take down a $763 pot.

I am not the kind to take a victory lap, but an orbit later it was time for my hourly break. I walked around to examine the rest of the action. Again there was a tournament in town, but the action seemed really good even so. This was around 2:30pm. At that time, there were more than ten 1/2nl games, six 2/5nl games, and two 5/10nl games. There were several very deep spots in the 5/10nl games, but some that were not so deep. I would have taken a shot if I had had more time. They were also spreading 1/2PLO, 4/8 O/8, a few very high dollar stud games and there was even an interest list for 8/16 HORSE.

So, it was great action, I had a great session, cashed out for an $858 win, and liked the place more than ever. Given how much I had hated Foxwoods, this was a big change.

I will be back in a few days to talk about what I have been playing on-line, where I want to go with poker from here, my plans for the WSOP and more. I will try really hard to not disappear yet again, but I can make no promises. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Welcome To Okie Vegas

Okay, so I am not at Okie Vegas. Scheduling is tough. We almost made it. We did make it to a Okie Vegas pre-party. The video features me filming, Weak Baby with GCox's M-I-L, Surflexus, and Gary. We were there a few days ago. We were in OKC to visit my sister. It was impossible to schedule the same trip a week later. Next year. Until then, a shout out to everyone that is actually at Okie Vegas.

I will return to blogging my most recent Vegas experience tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Playing at the Bellagio

A few days before I left Las Vegas most recently, I played at the Bellagio. The Mookies were staying there. The idea was that Don and I were going to meet Mookie there and play some 2/5NL. Don ended up not making it out to play. I got there around 11:45 am, 15 minutes before the appointed time. I put my name on the list and waited.

Because of the time of day, I only had about a fifteen minute wait. Mookie showed up a little after noon and put his name on the list. The list was quite long at that point. Based on the lack of tables, the fullness of the room, the fact that the list was not moving, and that he only had a few hours left, Mookie ended up giving up. It turns out that it was an excellent decision; hours after I sat, I heard them call him. In fact, they call the list at a rate of one name every five seconds. If you are not standing right there when they call your name, you are SOL. This is just one of the many ways that the Bellagio poker room sucks. I can name so many other ways that it sucks, that I am saving it for a future post. For now, let's just say that I ended up playing alone.

The thing that struck me most about the Bellagio poker room on this session was the extreme douchebaggery of the other players. Douche bag (DB) #1 was on my immediate right. Please notice that I did not say "sitting." Yes, he was standing and playing. He was also talking to his friends that were also standing. They were next to and around my seat. They were talking loudly. It became clear that they were all leaving soon, so I decided to just grin and bear it. DB #1 declares that he is going to play to his button and quit.

After he plays his big blind, DB#1 takes his bills and stuffs them in his pocket. "Sir, are you planning to play your button?" I ask. "Yes, why?" Because that is the rule and I want a shot at them, I think. "Because you are going to have to put your bills back on the table", I say. "Sorry, I didn't realize the poker police was here." He seems to think that is a minor infraction. Most everyone that plays any amount of 2/5nl or higher knows that the bills must stay on the table. It is perfectly fine to take them off the table when you get up to leave. It is perfectly fine to take them off the table when you get up to take a break. In that case, you return the same number of bills to the table before you are dealt in. That is not only the rule, but it is basic etiquette. He continues whining about the bills, even after the dealer confirms that I am correct and the next hand is dealt.

The next hand is my big blind, my first hand. Everyone folds to the button who limps. DB #1 completes his small blind. I look down and see KK. I raise to $35. The button calls. "Because it is you, I am going to call" says DB #1 as he is putting in his delicious $30. The flop is unconnected, off-suit, low cards. I bet $75, the button calls and DB #1 folds. He takes some sort of parting shot and then picks up. Yes, he paid his blinds and then forgot to take his button hand. The turn is a blank and I bet $100. The button calls. The river is a blank and I bet $200. The button folds and the pot is pushed to me.

After I finish stacking my chips, I stand up to put on my sweatshirt. As my hands are in mid-air, with my head not yet out of the neck of the sweatshirt, I get shoved. I poke my head through the top of the sweatshirt to see DB#2. He is a crotchety old fucker and he is trying to push past me to get into the recently vacated seat. "One moment, sir, and I will be out of your way." "Okay." He keeps pushing and is in his seat before I finish putting on my sweatshirt. I sit back down.

The button is now in DB#2's seat and he has to wait a hand before he can enter the game. During that one hand, one of the other players pauses to think about calling a $150 bet. After about thirty seconds, DB#2 calls for the clock. Not only is he not in the hand, he is not even in the game. What is next? Railbirds calling for the clock? Perhaps the janitor wants to clean trash from underneath the seat of the player whose action it is. Certainly he should have the right to call for the clock. DB#2 only plays aces, kings, and ace-king. I don't hear from him for the rest of the session.

However, DB#3, my left hand opponent, starts chatting with me. He seems like a perfectly nice person. He tells me an endless stream of jokes. There are many Jew jokes and n-word jokes in the joke parade. Sir, I would be allowed to laugh at the Jew jokes if they were funny, but the n-word jokes make me feel very uncomfortable.

DB#4 enters the scene when I get to the flop HU with him. I flop a flush and shove all-in to his raise. He goes into the tank and eventually calls. The turn and the river are dealt and then he sits there, waiting for me to show my hand. I am waiting for him to show his hand as he is immediately to the left of the button and there was no action in the last round. This is the rule, generally. At the Venetian, the last aggressor shows first. This is a deviation from Robert's rules, but I am fine either way. In this case, I wanted to know why he was in the tank so long. "You are first to show, sir." The dealer confirms this. DB#4 whines and gnashes his teeth. I relent and show my flush. DB#4 mucks and the pot is pushed to me.

A short while later, DB#2 gets up and DB#4 takes his seat. He lectures me for five minutes on the meta-game value of not pissing off your opponents. "I am sorry." He goes on. "What can I do to make it right?" I ask. He goes on. He finally gets up to play 30/60 O/8. "Good game, sir." You whiny pussy, get over it.

The rest of the session is good poker-wise, but no more rampant douchebaggery. My cards go cold, so I cash out for a $550 win. There are definitely a lot of douche bags playing poker. More than the natural distribution. But, from my limited observations here, it seems that Bellagio has more than its share of douchebaggery.

Aside from player antics, I will be comparing the Venetian poker room to the Bellagio poker room in an upcoming post. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Traveling Man

Well, it is time for me to leave Las Vegas. I am writing this post from my boarding gate at McCarran. Free wifi rules! I owe several posts, either promised, or based on ideas that I have that I have not had time to turn into actual writing. In the next week or so look for posts on my Bellagio experience, my final doings at the Rio, the one Deep Stack Extravaganza event I played, a summary of my results, my take on pit gambling, a skewering of the Golden Nugget, and more. There is just so much to write about and so little time. That is especially true when you are spending the bulk of your final days in Vegas playing poker instead of blogging.

Until next time, I give you my badly mangled song lyrics:

Donkeys have come, donkeys have gone,
Everyone trying to stack me.
Flops were so sweet, I barely got free,
Others, they only cracked me.
Sometimes at night, I see their faces,
I feel the traces they left on my roll.
Those are the memories that made me a wealthy soul.

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.