Monday, September 24, 2007

My Celebrity Look Alikes

This was an older picture. It did pick up Jeff Daniels who everyone says I look like.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Win In Vegas!

For the first time in I don't know how many trips to Las Vegas I finally left a winner!

I met up with Bill and Chris in the airport in Phoneix on Friday morning and made it to the 4 Seasons before 9:00 AM. Our room wasn't ready so we had a little breakfast and caught up on each other's lives for a while.

Our gambling did not start until around lunch time when we took a cab down the strip to Bill's Gambling Hall (the old Barbary Coast). They did not have any BJ tables that looked good so we moseyed next door to the Flamingo. They were just shuffling brand new decks for the $5 minimum tables and had open tables so we sat down.

The one first for me and the boys on this Vegas trip was that the waitress at the Flamingo actually brought us our drinks for the second round before we even had to ask for them. We were shocked at the level of service. It was also nice to have a dealer openly root for us players in the hands instead of being a stone faced robot. We all started cold, but I went on a streak and ended up $143.

I decided to take my winnings to the Flamingo poker room and see what I could do. The boys were heading back to the Mandalay Pool since the sun had finally come out.

Luckily, I found the softest 1-2 No Limit table in all of Las Vegas. Nobody liked to raise preflop, but everyone was willing to come in for $2. Pots were routinely 7-8 handed. I was short stacking it with only $100, so I figured I would raise my really strong hands preflop and push hard on the flop and hope they hold up. I would also look for opportunities to get in really cheap and flop a monster.

I really won all my money with 2 hands back to back. The first one I picked up pocket Kings in the big blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and two callers behind me. The flop is Q-Q-9. I bet $30 and get one call. An Ace hits the turn and it goes check-check. Another Queen falls on the river pretty much assuring me that my opponent was not slow playing 3 Queens. I am all in for $45 and he calls with J-9. There's my quick double up.

The very next hand, I pick up A-K in the small blind. I raise a bunch of limpers to $15 and get 3 callers. Flop is A-J-T. I bet $60 and everyone folds. There's a quick $135 in two hands. I finish the session up $125. I am off to a great start!

After a few hours of poker, I check in with the guys to see how the pool scene looks. They call back from the "Adult" pool and tell me I must come right away and bring $50 for the conver charge. I lathered on the sunscreen and headed out to the beach. It was definitely worth the cover charge. I laid around and drank Coronas while watching drunk and topless girls prance around the pool. Life is Good!

We made dinner reservations at Rao's in Caeser's that night and I had made plans to meet up with my friend, Jason who lives in Vegas. We had a good dinner with some really over priced wine. Jason is doing well with his new job working for the casino owner of the joints in Mesquite and playing quite a bit of golf.

Chris and Bill were ready to go downtown and I figured I would tag along. Our first stop was the Golden Nugget. Again we could not find a good cheap table so we walked next door to the Horseshoe. Now it's just called Binion's and they have done some minor remodeling. New carpets and floors and they have made the place a little less cluttered.

My morning luck was not carrying over and I lost a quick $79. Bill and Chris wanted to try their luck at the 4 Queens, but I decided to jump ship and go to the poker room.

Binion's poker room is one of my least favorite places because it is so dark and dirty and nobody from their staff is very friendly. I was immediately placed at a 1-2 No Limit table. It was only 6 handed and it took them moving a couple of players before I realized that I was sitting at a must move table. The floor person had not even mentioned it to me when I sat down and what was worse is that she had not written my name down to move to the main game. I said something to the floor after they had moved two people that had sat down after me and I finally moved to the permanent game.

This game was much tougher than the one at the Flamingo. I bought in for $100 and I was fluctuating right around that amount for the first 90 minutes. During the game I made my classic Las Vegas blunders again. I had Ace-Jack of spades in the blinds and limped preflop. The flop was 8 high with two spades. I checked, an early position player bet and the middle guy called. They both had a lot of chips and seemed like decent players. Since the board was so low, I thought a big raise might also represent 9s or Tens as well as a flush draw. I raised all in for a pretty good amount. The first guy folded, but the last guy called with his pocket 10's. Once again, my draw did not come in. Although I was favorite on the flop, I am really starting to reconsider these types of moves when it comes to cash games. I just don't know if I can get the players to fold often enough to make it worth it.

Here is another hand that I may have misplayed. I have 9c-Tc on the button. I raise 4 limpers to $15. That may have been the first mistake. I was not playing many hands so I thought my raise might narrow the field. It did and I got 2 callers. The flop was Q-J-5 and I think there were two hearts on the flop. They both check to me and I bet $30 with my open end straight draw. I then get check raised to $100. So there's $175 in the pot and it's $70 to call. Now I cannot remember if I had enough money to make this call or not.

If $70 was all I had left then I guess it would have been right to call with two cards to come. Instead I folded. Basically I did not do a thing right that entire hand.

I ended the night down $49, so just a minor loss.

The next day most of my poker was back at the Venetian. This was another soft table, but not as easy as the Flamingo. Unfortunately I was not getting any traction and I was hovering around my $200 buy in the for the first 3 hours.

One hand I was not sure about: I have QJ in the small blind. Two limpers and I complete and the Big Blind checks. The flop is K-Q-J. I bet $10, the BB folds, one limper raises to $30, and the button calls. I call as well. The turn is an Ace. I check and the other players end up all in. I fold.

The raise on the flop worried me, because someone easily could have a better two pair. If it's just one player raising I think I may have reraised. The smooth call from the button may mean he's slowplaying a straight. It turned out that I saved a lot of money since they both made the straight on the turn. I still don't know if that was the right move though.

My time at the Venetian was pretty boring until the last 30 minutes. I was getting a little irritated that I was not really flopping any monsters. I was only winning or losing $20 at a time and still had just under $200 in front of me.

Finally a big hand comes up. I have A-5 in the small blind. The flop is X-X-5 and there are at least 4 players in the pot. I check and everyone checks behind me. The turn is another 5. Now I lead out for $10. I get the BB to fold and UTG raises me to $30. Everyone folds back to me. I reraise to $100. Now he goes into the tank for a couple of minutes. The longer he thinks about it, the more I think he has the other 5 with a weaker kicker. He finally just raises me all in and I call right away. We both turn over the same hand. I curse my rotten luck and he is happy because he was afraid I might have a higher set for a full house. All that excitement for nothing.

A little while later I pick up AJ of hearts in middle position. I raise a couple of limpers and everyone folds behind me. The BB calls along with one of the limpers. The flop is all hearts and I finally flop the monster. The BB who was one of the better players at the table, bets into me for 1/2 the pot. The limper in the middle folds and I smooth call. The turn is a blank. This time he goes all in. I double check my cards and call. He had the K-5 of hearts for the 2nd nut flush. I doubled my stack right there, up to $400. What a great feeling when you can call with the nuts!

I left soon after to catch a movie with Chris. After watching Brave with Jodie Foster we headed back to Mandalay Bay to see if we could find a $10 black jack table. After wandering around for 30 minutes without any luck, I decided to head for the poker room. In my previous trips to this poker room they did not spread No Limit poker. Now that's almost all they do. I found immediate seating at a 1-2 table and bought in for $100.

My very first hand I pick up KQ and raise. A young hispanic guy with a cocky attitude calls from the blinds. The flop is misses me completely. He checks and I bet $15. He check raises me to $30. I fold and he shows pocket 2's. He was bluffing with the best hand, but for some reason it pissed me off. This is a weakness in my game. I should not care who beats me or who I beat. Just look for the best opportunity to win money.

Eventually I was whittled down to $50 and bought another $100. Then my luck began to turn. I picked up pocket Queens and raised from early position. The button called me. She was a decent player so I figured she had a decent hand and that also she may lay down to a continuation bet. The flop had an Ace. I decide to see if I can get her to fold and bet $15. She calls. Now I'm done with the hand. The turn is a Queen. Ok maybe I'm not done. I check and she pushes in her last $50. I call and she shows Ace-Ten. My three of a kind holds up and she goes home. Nothing like hitting a two outer to get someone's stack.

Later in a limped pot with 6 players I am playing Ace-6 in the small blind. The flop is A-8-8. Since there are so many players in the pot, I just check to see what happens. Everyone checks around. The turn is a 7. Now I decide to see if I can win this thing. I bet $10 and I get two calls. I am still not putting a lot of money in this pot because someone could be slow playing an 8. The river is a beautiful Ace. I bet $30 hoping for calls. The BB next to me curses and throws his hand away. The big breasted brunette at the end calls out of curiousity I guess because she mucks after seeing my hand. The big blind claims he had 7-8.

I believe that's what he had, however I can't believe he threw it away so fast. Did he even consider that I might have pocket 9's, tens, or jacks? However I was happy that I hit another two outer to win a pot.

I finished the Mandalay session up $46 and I finished the trip up $305. Finally a winning poker session in Las Vegas!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Run Goot!

Wow this is post number 200. I wish I could say I was a better writer now than when I started. I know I am a better poker player even if my bankroll doesn't quite reflect it. I read some of my old posts sometimes and chuckle at what I thought were the right plays back then.

Now on to the new poker content.

I am on quite the heater in the Wednesday Game at Greg’s. I have been playing in this weekly game for 14 months and have played 31 tournaments. After updating my stats with my second place finish last night, I have a Return On Investment of 35% on Wednesdays. I have also been running pretty good online as well.

Two nights ago in a quick 20 minute session I busted my opponent’s pocket Aces twice. My total poker bankroll is $825 which is up from the $564 at the beginning of the month. Just in time to really pump it up in Vegas this weekend right?

Last night’s game was a lot of fun. Medical Kory made a triumphant return and he brought his friend Vince with him as well. That gave us 7 players. With Craig and Kory both showing up they caused everyone else to gambool and helped generate 6 additional rebuys. The total pot available was $260.

Early on Craig was catching a huge rush of cards. Not only was he catching good cards, but his opponents were also catching good cards, just not quite as good. That is the perfect storm to build a huge chip stack.

My situation was the exact opposite. I had absolute crap for the first 45 minutes. I won one hand when I raised KQ in early position. Vince called and everyone else folded, because they knew I was playing tight. The flop was 10-9-X and I followed up with a continuation bet. Vince was going to fold, but then started thinking about the clock and how long he would have until the rebuy period was over. I made sure to mention that he had plenty of time left and he eventually folded. So it was 45 minutes in and the only hand I had won with was a bluff.

Of course the next hand I had 9-10 suited under the gun and decided to get frisky and try again. This time I only raised 2x the blind to make it look like I had a really good hand. I had 4 callers. I flopped an open ended straight draw but there were two hearts on board and I had clubs. I checked and hoped to get there cheap. Somebody only bet 200 and I had the odds to call so I did along with everyone else. The turn brought a possible flush on the board. I check folded and gave back some of my winnings.

My stack had whittled down to about 2500 and I picked up 10’s in early position. There was about 3 minutes left in the rebuy period. If I rebuy, I get 3000 in chips, so at this level I am not afraid to go broke. Craig and Kory had been raising every pot so I limped in expecting Craig or Kory to hold form and then I would come over the top. Sure enough Craig, raised and I got to move in against his pocket Kings. Nice timing there Poker Bully. I could not trip up and I was busted. I rebought in for another $20 and stacked my 3 peach colored $1,000 chips.

Greg had acquired a pretty large stack by this time and proceeded to bust two players at once with his pocket Jacks against KQ and QT. It definitely looked like it was going to be Greg or Craig’s night.

I still was not getting any cards, but I just kept hanging around while everyone else took turns busting to Craig or Greg. Finally I survived until it was 4 handed with Devin, Craig, and Greg. Devin and I each had a decent amount of chips, but we were still dwarfed by Greg and Craig. Then something beautiful happened.

When watching the final table of the biggest poker tournaments, I often wonder how an uninvolved player keeps from cheering when somebody else goes out and he moves up the money ladder a substantial amount. Everyone on TV celebrates like a jack ass when they win a hand that does nothing immediately for their bankroll, but you never see the celebration when someone else is eliminated. I don’t get it. Both celebrations are rude, but being rude does not seem to stop anyone.

The two chip leaders, Greg and Craig, got involved in a big hand. Greg turned a well disguised straight and was letting Craig bet into him. On the river, Craig hit two pair and went all in. Greg called and took a huge chunk of Craig’s chips. Greg celebrated quite loudly while I happily shared with Devin that we were both now back in the tournament hunt for 2nd place.

Craig still had as many chips as I did, but it gave Devin and I hope. Now the blinds were 200-400 and I started to play more aggressively pre-flop. Devin had a sizable lead on me, but I still had a little room to maneuver before it was all in or fold time. I think I had around 5,000 left.

On the button I picked up pocket 8’s and raised to 1000. Devin then went all in. Even though he had me covered, by a decent amount, I had the feeling that Devin was getting impatient and that this may be one of his shove it all in and double up or go home moments. The question for me was did I want to take a coin flip now or wait until I am the one putting the pressure on someone else? Thinking about it now, since Devin had me covered and was in decent shape, he should have a pretty good hand. I called and he turned over AK. Amazingly my hand held up and now I had a decent stack to work with of about 9,000.

After a few more hands, Craig raised all in from under the gun for about 5000. I picked up AQ in the big blind and called. Craig tabled K-5 suited. I had ribbed Craig earlier in the night about how he always builds a huge stack early and then goes a little crazy and loses it back. Sometimes he catches himself before he goes all the way to broke, but tonight there was no stopping him.

In a cruel twist of fate, he flopped a 5 and I thought I was going to give the monster new life. Luckily an Ace came on the turn and the river was a blank so I added a nice chunk to my stack and then there were only 3 left.

With 3 left and 2nd place paying at least $72 we all tightened up. The blinds had gone up to 400-800. Devin only had about 4-5x the blind left and was managing to survive for a few rounds. A lot of hands were won preflop or on the flop with small bets.

There was one interesting hand when I picked up A-8 on the button. Normally that’s a raise, but I decided to just call and keep the pot small. There was a good chance that Devin would fold in the small blind for a half a bet anyway and Greg was not raising very often. I flopped an Ace against Greg, but the board was all spades and I did not have one. Greg checked and I bet 1000. Greg called and I figure he’s trying for the flush. Greg has me covered by a lot, but he also knows that if he doubles me up, I will take the chip lead. The turn was another spade putting 4 spades on the board. Greg checked again. What should I do?

The pot is now 3800 and I want it. I could check it through, but then I figure I am facing a big bet on the river from Greg. If I bet a normal amount of ½ the pot about 2000 and Greg raises me, then I can’t call and I lose another 2000. I decide to bet small. It looks like I want a call and if Greg calls or raises, I am done with the hand. My plan works perfectly and Greg folds his Ace, because he does not have any spades as well.

Finally Devin gets desperate and pushes all in. I call with pocket 5’s and Devin tables pocket 4’s. My hand holds up and I am in 2nd Place!.

Greg and I count up our chips and I have just under 20k and he has just over 26k. Since the blinds were still 400-800 and it looked like it would last a long time, we decided to make a deal. I took $110 and Greg took $150.

Tomorrow it's back to Las Vegas with Bill and my friend Christian from New York. I am going to try and bring my digital recorder with me to help me remember some hands. I will make sure this trip to take my time with my decisions and make sure I remember to watch for tells.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wednesday Night Hi Jinks

I started out well picking up pocket Jacks two times and winning some small pots. I folded the best hand with JJ once against Devin when the card that completed a flush and straight draws hit on the river. The pot was 1200 and I folded for another 200. I just didn’t see what I could beat except a bluff. Since Devin doesn’t bluff much or when he does, he makes it a big bluff so he can bust and go home, I folded.

The later part of the game began to get really crazy. Craig was back and was pulling off some really risky bluffs.

In another hand with Craig, Scott, and Greg. Craig bet, Scott raised all in, and Greg called all in. Now unless you have a really strong hand, this is an easy fold if you are Craig. However Craig announced, “I think they both are full of shit.” Craig eventually folded a high pair. Scott turned over a straight draw and Greg turned over a flush draw. Unbelievable!

Craig was crippled when he tried to go all in on the last hand before the rebuy period was over. He lost the hand but still had 325 left. It was all in the next hand. I picked up pocket 6’s and was ready to protect my hand. Instead Greg raised to 600 on my right. I chastised him by asking him if he was sure he was ahead of Greg. He said, “I think I am ahead.” I said, “You better know if you’re going to raise me out of this pot.”

I folded my 6’s. Then Mike went all in and then Greg called all in. Now I am happy to have folded. Mike turned up AK and Greg had pocket Queens. Mike hit a King on the turn and raked a big pot.

Later with the blinds at 100-200 and 5 handed I picked up pocket 5’s in the cut off. Scott was the big blind and Greg limped in. I raised to 600 and everyone folded back to Scott. He called and Greg called. The flop was K-2-3 rainbow. They both checked to me and I bet 500. Kind of a small bet but enough to find out where I was at. They both called.

The turn was another King. They both checked again. Figuring I could easily represent a King, I bet 1000 this time. Apparently they weren’t thinking about me having a King because they both called again.

The river was a 9 and they checked to me. By now I figure that I must be beat. Someone is trying to slow play a King or has a larger pocket pair than me. Greg turns over A-3 for Kings and 3’s. Scott turns over 9-3 for Kings and 9’s. I muck in disgust. They usually have enough respect for me to fold a crappy pair like that. Especially when the blinds are this high. Instead I get rivered by the guy holding a pair of 3’s with 9 kicker who lucks into pairing his kicker on the river.

The blinds went up to 200-400 and now I was in the 9-10 BB level. I picked up Ace King in the cutoff. I thought about pushing all in, but I wanted to make some money on this hand. I raised to 1200. Mike folded and Greg folded. Devin called which I was happy about, because he probably had crappy cards.

The flop was Q-3-4. I had decided when he called that I was going to push all in no matter what the flop was. I pushed in my last 2000. Devin announced, “This is the worst call ever” and turned over 2-5. He had an open ended straight draw. He pretty much had the odds to call on the flop, but the preflop call was atrocious. I fade the turn, but the river brings a 6 and he makes his straight.

I am almost finished with the latest book on poker tells I have been reading. I picked up a few last night:

I saw Craig do a tongue thrust when he bluffed a pot. I saw Devin pacifying himself many times with hands on his face when he was weak. I saw Greg do the same thing a couple of times as well.