Friday, September 30, 2005

I hope they got something

The charity game at work was somewhat of a disappointment. Where we had 11 people signed up, only 9 played. The sidebets didn't come through much either. It was rather sad showing. In fact, the big bowls of pretzels, chips and salsa is still out in the atrium area this morning.

Still, the 9 that showed up were determined to win. After noticing that the people in charge were mostly winging it, I stepped up to smooth out the process. We started with T155 and blinds of 1/2. Blinds would double every 15 minutes. I figured that there would still be some action and give people some time to play.

The crew was a motley one. In the one seat was a guy from the review team. He liked to play a lot of hands. Seat 2 had the Advisor rep. He runs a home game now and then which I have yet to attend. Seat 3 is your humble blogger. Seat 4 had Smartwick, a phone rep I have played against before. Seat 5 had a techie who looked like he was ready to go out to a club. Seat 6 was one of the managers who was also one of the game's organizers. Seat 7 housed another web guy as did seat 9. Seat 8 had the one guy I thought might be the wildcard. He works as a trader so I thought I would keep an eye on him.

I am wondering how this game might flow. In my head, I keep thinking "Paaaaaaaaaaarty Poker!" Little did I expect how passive things would be.

With the side bets that were place, the trader and review guy got some extra chips. They would put those chips to battle early and often. Review guy gets an early straight to inflict some damage on the trader. For some reason, the trader thought his pair of 6s would be good. Trader would go out soon after club man dumped some chips with his A 4o to a higher kicker.

I sat there folding hand after hand. I was intent on winning this thing. Afterall, I have a rep to live up to as the Good & Plenty Championship winner! I finally do enter a pot with A Ko. I raise it up and get 2 callers. With a K on the board I follow up with another bet just to have everyone fold. That is pretty much how this game would go. I would make a bet preflop, have players see a flop and maybe a turn just to fold. Little did they know what I was playing.

We were down to 6 people when I opened my game up. I knew the group was rather passive so I went on the warpath, especially against the big stack. I used position on him a couple of times to pull off some successful bluffs. I caught his tell right away and put it to use.

I dropped the line about being the current Good & Plenty Championship Champion to intimidate my opponents. I think it worked.

It was with 4 left that I pulled in line with the big stack and passed him up. With 6 4 in the BB, a small stack on the button just called. The SB folded and I check. With a flop of Q 8 6, we both checked. When a second Q hit on the turn, I bet out. He re-raised. For only 50 more, I had to call. I was pretty sure he wasn't slow playing a Q. In fact, no one had done anything tricky in this game, something I had noted. Sure enough, he had an overcard. No help and we are down to 3.

I have the lead now. The Advisor guy is on the short stack with the webbie at a slight disadvantage to me. Once again, I would hit the slot machine in the BB. Button folds, SB completes and I check with 10 7. The flop is a blogger table's nightmare or dream depending on whether you hold the Hammer or Pocket Rockets. 7 7 2. But knowing this wasn't a blogger table, I breathed a sigh of relief. I flop trips and slowly check. Advisor checks. Turn is a Q. There is a chance for a flush now but not much else. I check again hoping he will bet. He comes out firing. Bingo, the Q must have helped him. I push. He calls with his Q and has the river waive bye bye to him.

We are now heads up. I have what may be either a 4 or 3 to 1 chip lead. I am feeling very confident at this time. Maybe too confident. In the SB, I just call with K 8o. My opponent pushes. I gave it only a quick thought. Though he hadn't raised too often, I was thinking he didn't have much of a hand. Of course, I should have thought this out a bit longer but I was willing to roll the dice to end the game quickly. I called his all in and told him that I was willing to take a chance with my K. He looked at me like I was crazy, even asking me in a shocked tone if I did call. He turned over A A. Oops! Yeah, should have thought it out. Flop comes 10 4 8. Hey, I have something on the board! That is a start! Turn is a beautiful 8. River is a rag.

I cracked aces to win! My prize is chip set to be delivered to me at a later time. Overall it was a good time. We raised some money for charity and got to play poker at work. And I thought it was only those FTP guys who got to do that! The only disappointing part was not getting to drop the Hammer on someone.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Charity overlay?

With about a half hour until the cards are in the air, there appears to be only 11 people signed up. I think first place is a some kind of chip set. No clue if second place gets anything.

Which got me to thinking. If they went and got a good chip set, and maybe something for second, and if half the buy in is going to charity, is it possible for a charity event to have a huge overlay?

I got stuck with some work so I wasn't able to go across the street to get some beer in me. I always play better with some barley-pops in my belly.

Let's see if I can lay the hammer down on someone!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Charity poker

If you came here looking for Bash stories, go here.

Tomorrow I will be partaking in a charity poker game. Half of the $20 entry goes to the United Way or somewhere else. The other half to some sort of prize(s). Not quite sure what prizes are being given away or what the structure might be.

My gut feeling is that this could be a joke. If there are people who do not have a clue how to set up a tournament running the event, it could be a disaster. But it doesn't matter too much because it is for a good cause.

Plus, they are encouraging side action. Get this. If you aren't going to play, you can place a "bet" on who you think may win. For your $10 donation, you can win something if your player does win. Plus, for every bet the player receives, they get extra starting chips. Uh, ok.

Makes me feel like trash talking others. I mean, do they understand they are going up against the Good & Plenty Championship Champion? I may have to go buy a box and spill some out onto the table...

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Good & Plenty Championship

When poker players really want to play their game, they will find a way to get it done. When you find yourself outside of Philadelphia wanting to get some action going, you just need to adapt to your surroundings. Of course someone will always have some cards on them or in their luggage. But what do you do when you don't have any chips?

Head to the candy section!

As you can see, Good & Plenty can substitute for chips. The whites soon became ones while the pinks became fives.

Dr. Pauly suggested we have ourselves a quick little SnG before heading over to the Bash at the Boathouse. I guess the room that Pauly and Derek were in had some ventilation problems as their was an odd skunky smell in the room. Didn't matter. We did some re-arranging to the room to make the playing conditions more comfortable. The couch was pushed to the wall, the table pulled out of the corner and the chairs from the bedrooms brought in.

Pauly, Derek, and Bobby Bracelet put down $20 to compete with me for the now to be converted title of winner of the Good & Plenty Championship. It was winner take all. They also could have the candy if they wanted.

I took control early when I saw a flop for cheap with A 7. I was heads up with Pauly where an A hit the flop. He bet out and I just called. I was trying to figure out if he had an ace or not. I was not positive he did, but concerned about my kicker and if it would play. When the turn put a Q out there, I called his bet again. The river paired the board up. Now Pauly applied the screws to me. He pushed all in. At least my concern did not have to be focused on my kicker. It was whether he had A K or A Q. I thought a bit and decided to call. He was running a bluff. The good Dr. was out early.

Next, I would knock out the 860th best poker player as of June 2, 2005. I can't recall how I did it, but Bobby Bracelet was gone. He had some good hands, but none of them held up. Now it was down to me and Derek.

I had roughly a 3-1 lead on him. My thought was to lay back a bit and then bully him later. Blinds had gone up by now and we came to the realization that they Good & Plentys may not be enough. Beside they fact they liked to roll around, blinds were too high (40/80) to keep counting whites to toss out there. Once again, we had to improvised. So we stole an idea from the European casinos. We introduced placards to the game. Ok, they were sugar packets, but they did the job. They were given a value of 10 and play resumed after we ran the whites off.

Derek played some good cards, hitting some gutshots to take down some pots. I thought I would have him gone when we saw a flop of 7 5 6. I was holding 6 4 off while Derek had a powerful 4 2 off. I was in a commanding position. Until the 3 hit. I went from winning to splitting a pot. Soon I would be behind.

Derek finally got a monster hand and played it well. The Hilton Sisters came through for him. I thought my pair may have been good. I put him on an A and just making a move. I went from being a leader to short stacked just like that. Blinds were pretty high and I was desperate. So desperate that I made my next move blind. I pushed all in without looking. It worked. I am back in the game.

Then came the big blow for Derek. With K 2 suited, I pushed again. I hit runner runner for the flush. I now had control again.

On the next hand, the game would end. Not able to even fully call the big blind, Derek was finished off by the powerful 10 7 offsuit. The 10 paired and I was declared the Good & Plenty Championship winner.

There is a lot of pride that goes with winning an event like this. I took out 2 formidable bloggers as well as a WSOP player. I also paid for the beer that I believe helped me attain victory.

Too bad I couldn't carry that over to the cash game. I knew it wouldn't be pretty. NL ring games are not my area of expertise. When Landow bluffed me out of a pot with his 6 6 , forcing me to fold K K when an A hit the flop, I could feel it slipping away. But at least I dropped the Hammer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blogger Birthday Bash

One last day of the Vegas trip is still coming. But there is a blogger tournament report to kick out. 67 of the best (?) bloggers on the net ponied up their cash to participate in the Dr. Pauly Birthday Bash on Titan Poker. How Pauly found time to play himself is beyond me. The man just got back from Europe and is working the Borgata Open in AC. Does he ever take a break?

My first table was interesting. Didn't recognize a single person. I also didn't recognize any hands. I got crap for the first two orbits. I did learn that "crap" is a forbidden word on Titan though. Yeah, you cannot say crap but you can say turds. And bitches.

So since I am not getting any cards, I loosen up a bit to get some chips. With Q J suited, I raise it up from EP. Get one caller. Flop is all low 3 6 8, two diamonds. I bet half the pot and get called. Turn is a 2. I bet half the pot and my opponent folds. Back above where I started.

Tourney seems tight. Takes about a half hour for someone to bust out. And for me to get moved to a new table. I don't recognize any of the players here either. Poker Bully mentions his site. As I go to check it out, something strange happens. I get some cards. Raise with A Q but no action. Raise with A A and no action. Raise with the Hammer and someone pushes all in. WTF? At least I got to play some poker without doing anything too stupid.

I then get moved AGAIN! This time to a star studded table. Easycure, SirWafl, Poker Geek, and Gracie.

I pony back and forth here getting some chips and giving them back until I lose a big hand from the small blind. I just call with 10 3. Flop comes 2 10 K. I check and call the bet. Turn is a 10. I check raise him. On the river I bet 500 and just get called. He shows K 10 for the boat. Ouch! The break soon comes and I am at 565. Dead last among the living. That puts me at 52. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.

Once action gets going I look for something to move with. The BB soon comes around and with 9 9, I push my 485 in to take on the two limpers. SirWafl calls right away and I think I am toast. He shows K Q spades. Flop is J J 10. Ugly. Turn a 2 and the river a J. I double through.

Couple of hands later, I get A A. With 2 limpers, I pop it to 350, looking like I want to buy it a bit. But it folds around. Damn. But I am at 1490, close to the start.

But just for a while. Blinds come and go. I then make a move with K 10 suited in EP but get re-raised by Poker Geek and have to fold. I try it again later and get the blinds. Then I begin to bleed some chips in the blinds as the cards have abandoned me again. I double up with K J against 5 5 but I give a chunk back when I try to drop the Hammer but run into J J. I called his all in bet simply because I had to try to drop the Hammer on someone.

I then bounce back up again with A J clubs hitting the flush on the turn. Sorry EZ.

I don't see many hands up into the break. The big stack is using his chips to push me around in the blinds. Then a push monkey comes in to my right. I am just begging for something to fight back with. Finally I get A J suited (diamonds) but run into A J suited (hearts) to split a pot.

A few hands later A K shows up and I double up. I need one more double and I can make a run for the final table. Then the ladies show up- the Hilton Sisters. They look beautiful. The big stack makes his usual raise again to 1000. I push my 3700 in. He calls and shows- K K! FUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGG! 8 10 J flop. Not too bad. A 9 would save me. Nope. No 9 or Q and I am done in 21. See ya! Those bitches let me down.

Overall I am ok with the way I played. Could have been more aggressive in some spots but feel I did ok considering I haven't played many tournaments over the past quarter. I don't know if I will keep money over at Titan. Software is blah, but play is soft. I may grind out some on the limit tables before moving on. I just hope they don't need for me to fax pictures and stuff to withdraw.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Playing on a mattress at the Castle

Having just won 3 bills in the Crazy Pineapple tournament, I looked to unwind a bit by passing some time at a Pai Gow table while my friend played his 2/4 game. I didn't quite have the success playing Pai Gow as I did Crazy Pineapple. Broke even but got a couple of beers.

From there we headed over to check out the new "poker room" at Paris. I put it in quotes as it isn't a room. It is a roped off section by Gustav's bar. I believe 8 tables, of which only 1 was going. Another 2/4 game. We figured we were better off going back down to the Excalibur than checking anything in mid Strip.

After going up to the room to wash up a bit, I went down to the tables hoping for a chance to spin the wheel. I was placed up front of a table right by the rail. The table looked like a mattress has been stuffed under the felt. It raised up at least 3 inches from the rail. I felt I could sleep on it if necessary. It also felt like a TV table. The rail would get packed with people just watching. They would catch the action, put at players and inform someone of just what happened. Weird stuff.

The table itself sucked at first. It was all locals except for me and 2 others. Each dealer knew these old rocks that were sitting there. It didn't take much to figure some of them out either. The two old ladies played tighter than tight, never raising and chasing with their aces and suited cards. Two of the men played just the best hands and raised only after they had a made hand. Two others were really loose and calling 2 or 3 bets just to fold on the flop or turn. The tourist just plain stunk. I don't know if he ever played before but he burned a rack and left.

Things didn't start well for me. I had K K cracked by a guy who sucked out an A on the river. My set of 9s saw a runner runner for a flush. I was quickly down half a rack before I chipped up a bit.

I missed an early opportunity to spin the wheel when I would have had quad 5s. But I folded my Q 5 suited in EP. But I got my chance later on. With K 2 in the BB, I got to see a free flop with one of the old ladies and 3 other limpers. Flop came 6 2 2. Knowing that these people wouldn't fold with over cards, I bet out 4. Sure enough 2 callers. On the turn, the case 2 hit. I made another small bet of just 4. The old lady called. I then bet 6 on the river. She sat there thinking. I even told her I had the 2. She called anyway. From there I got the huge sum of $20 which was doubled up to $40. Not bad. I'll take it. It basically got me back to even.

But it also seemed to be the impetus for me to knock the table around. I went on a nice roll from there. My good hands filled out nicely and I my K K and Q Q weren't cracked. I took down a nice pot when the Hiltons held up against 2 other players with ace rag. I didn't like the K on the turn but kept firing away with them calling with nothing.

I also got quite a bit of table respect from it. There was one curmudgeon at the end who didn't like my raising. He would reluctantly call me down with any pair. What he didn't realize was how I could read his hand with the way he raised pre-flop. He would bet 6 with A A or K K. He would bet 4 with J J or 10 10. He just called with A K. I noticed that right away and folded some hands that I was tempted to call down with pass the turn, but got out when a J or 10 hit and he was betting again. If he didn't hit the flop, he became very passive.

Thankfully some of the rocks dumped their chips and left. Some younger more aggressive blood hit the table and then it got fun. I was talking with a guy who just moved from Seattle and was involved with video production. No, nothing good, just commercials. I slow played A A vs him hoping to get them cracked but they held up. I never did get the rockets wrecked during this trip. But I didn't mind that. It might be +EV with the wheel spin but it has to be bad mojo. Another guy who used to deal at the Excalibur took a seat. He compared notes with each of the dealers. As it turned out, there was another dealer from the Stratosphere playing in the 3 seat.

I played to until just pass midnight and took off when the table got short. I had been drinking bourbon all night just so I could get to sleep. My friend was snoring pretty bad and waking me up. I figured I could get drunk and to sleep before he showed back up.

But before I did, I played one last hand. I tried to drop the hammer on the rock that was still there. He called me all the way down and showed K high to win. Old fart! I still walked away with 3 racks though. It was a nice night.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pineapple de loco

Wednesday seemed like a normal day. We were up and about, deciding where to go. The thought of a tournament seemed like a good idea but which one was somewhat the question. A question that could be answered on the road, er walk.

We headed across the street from the castle to New York New York and over to the Monte Carlo. The plan was to take the tram to the Bellagio and figure out what to do. I had to show Cor THE poker room in Vegas. I really wanted to sit down and play. It hurt to stand outside explaining Bobby's Room and the higher limit area. But my friend wasn't comfortable playing 4/8 so all we could do was watch the half dozen tables clacking their chips around.

I had to get out so I suggested we go across the street to Ballys for the 11 (or was it noon) tournament. I knew they had a tourney around this time so it seemed like a great idea. I like Ballys. I can't quite put my finger on it but there is something about the place that feels good. I know it isn't that long ass walkway/escalator thing out front. I HATE THAT! But inside it feels good. Same with Paris. I will probably miss Ballys if/when they tear it down. Once we finally got inside, we headed over to the poker area. Yeah, poker area. Any place that doesn't have walls is a poker area. I quickly inquired about the tournament and whether they had spots available. We were told yes and to head to the cage. At the cage I handed over $50 to enter the tournament. Just after I did this, I hear it wasn't the no limit tourney I was expecting, but Crazy Pineapple. I had no problem with this but I kinda felt bad about my friend. I am positive he had no idea how to play. I quickly tried to explain it is like no limit with a bit of Omaha but simply told him to play like it was no limit. I left it up to him as to whether he wanted to play or not. I was happy he decided to give it a whirl. I guess he truly wanted to play some kind of tournament.

The game started with 26 players. Top 4 would pay out. We were given 1500 in chips to start and blinds of 25/50. I was able to quickly deduce my table as being not that tough. There was one old guy who knew what he was doing. Then there were the two guys who truly had no clue how to play Hold Em, let alone Crazy Pineapple. I took my time waiting a couple hands before doing anything. I acted with A K hearts, J diamonds. I raised 3.25x the blinds. I got two callers, one the old guy who had already scooped some pots and one of the clueless. Flop came out and totally missed me. There were two of a suit out there. I made my continuation bet and was called by the old guy. Hmm.... Turn is another miss. I bet again. He calls after thinking a bit. I like that. River doesn't put the flush out there. I know the only way to win is to bet. But I have like 650 behind me. I bet 400. I thought this out quickly and came to this conclusion: An all in bet looks like an attempt to buy it. If I get raised, I can bail and fight back with a good hand. But a 400 bet looks like I have decided I might get him to call if he has anything. I put him on the flush draw (where he won his other pots) and figured he missed it. Needless to say, I was relieved when he folded.

That is basically all I played before the first break. Cards weren't coming my way but that wasn't a big deal to me at this time. I had a decent stack to work with until I caught something. One entertaining moment was one of the clueless guys. He called down a couple of hands just to fold on the river. He bled chips. One guy who started the tourney late came in and cracked his aces. The loser got so pissed that he flinged the cards at the guy. The winner looked at him and flung his own cards back at him! I was stunned at first but then smiled when I when I looked at the winner. I liked his retaliation. Only idiots get pissed when their aces get cracked. It happens. If you are scared then go to the Castle and play cards.

I don't believe I won another big pot after that. Maybe another small one before I got moved to the same table as my friend Cor. We were down to 2 tables now. Once I sat down I saw Cor make a great call and take down a pot. His pot odds were there and more importantly, he probably had the best hand at the time. He did and was stacking chips. At this time I was happy to point out the Brewers were pounding the Reds. An omen?

Suddenly they took us down to the final table. I was kinda surprised as I didn't notice a bunch of people had busted out. We started the final with 9. I looked around and it appeared I was the short stack, if not at least one of them. The old guy had a healthy stack as did a Braves hat guy. But the true talk of the table had to be California flag shirt. Cal flag shirt had been making some interesting calls along the way and winning pots. I would soon have my own showdown with him. But for now I needed a hand to double up on.

We lost a couple players when my friend Cor goes out on a bad beat with Cal flag shirt. His J J got beat by a straight on the river. Cal flag took out two players on that move where he simply got lucky to beat the other dude's set of 5s. We are down to 5 players when I suggest a save of $50. The old guy who still has a decent stack agrees right away. But the other 3 don't say a word. I am shocked as one guy has less than me and the other barely much more. No one says anything and a save isn't going to happen. Screw them. I am still needing to double up.

Then my opportunity came. I made my move in late position with a pair of nines down. I pushed and was called by a slightly bigger stack that had 3 3. I double up. A couple hands later I double up again with K K vs. 9 9. Sweet. Suddenly I am the chip leader. We lose the other two and I am in the money. Old guy is the short stack. I probably have Cal flag shirt by 3-2. Old guy is blinded down and forced to play a couple hands that he keeps on winning. Damn. Get busted out already.

I then make a big mistake. I see a flop from the BB with A Q 3. The flop is Q J 6. Cal flag shirt makes a big bet. Old guy is already all in. I look at him and ask why he isn't calling it down. I think about whether he is trying to steal the pot or not. I think he may have a J at best. What I didn't recognize was why he was making the bet. It never occurred to me that he may have a monster. So I push he all in, which he quickly calls. He turns over his set of jacks. Damn. I give up a good lead. Old man soon busts out and I have second place, but my stack is pitiful. Blinds are up and I have basically two hands to play. End result: second place.

I won over $300 so that ain't bad. Gave the dealers a tip and walked away happy with my success at Crazy Pineapple. I declare myself the Crazy Pineapple Champion of Great Milwaukee. Afterall, who can question that?

Now where is that Pai Gow table?

Coming up: A final night and day in the Excalibur.

Monday, September 12, 2005

At the Trop, Aladdin and MC

I got my butt handed to me yesterday in a 3/6 game on Party. Three big pots went across the table that should have been mine. The one that hurt the most was the clown playing 7 9 hearts to a raise, then hit runner, runner, on a gut shot to get his straight. Man, was I pissed. Then someone played their K 9 off to a raise again to crack my aces when he hit trips on the turn. It killed a good run I was on. However, it showed me how bad they are at the 3/6 level. I will be back.

On Tuesday, I woke up wanting to do something different. I had the intention of making my way up the Strip to hit the tournament at the Aladdin. But since it was early and the Tropicana was just across the street, I wanted to check out their new poker room. I wouldn't have known it even existed if I hadn't read the report on LasVegasVegas.

After wandering around the Trop, we found the poker room off by the MGM side. There was one table going, spreading 2/4. Since they had 2 seats available, me and Cor sat down to play a bit. I didn't want to play low limit like this but there was nothing available. Plus, I thought it wouldn't be a bad thing to do some fishing.

At the table were a couple of young guys who claimed they hadn't slept in 24 hours. One even claimed he was making tuition. At a 2/4 table? That could take a couple weeks. Dude on my left was killing time before heading back to Atlanta. He had come to Vegas, moved on to San Diego and Tijuana, and was back before going home. He had a blast in Tiajuana. Of course, who doesn't? There was tight playing black guy across from me who claimed he wasn't getting any cards. A mullet wanna-be older guy sat down to play every hand. He quickly went through a rack before leaving. Thankfully he came back to donate some more later. But the star of the table was the old guy on my right. He was cracking some people up. Telling old jokes. I didn't catch him but he kept some of the guys in stitches.

Play was typical for 2/4. Slow, people drawing out on every hand. I didn't catch much for cards. When I did, I tried to take advantage of the table by playing them hard. After that, I bluffed a couple of hands to win some pots. But that was few and far in between. So I did what any good blogger would do to liven a table up. In the big blind, I raised it up without looking. I told the black guy I would do it. I raised and kept the 3 callers. Interesting. Flop comes and I bet again. Turn card is placed on the table and I am betting.

They both fold.

I hadn't even touched my cards and they were gone. Lucky for them too. I had a K high straight on the turn. Sweet.

We played for maybe an hour there. The table was getting boring. Also, I noticed all the dealers were from China. Must have a factory over there. Before leaving though, this one youngish couple sat down. I found their play to be rather predictable. They were playing the any ace, any suited. She had a decent looking rack as well. And I ain't talking chips. They played one hand heads up that defied any logic or reasoning. The got into a pre-flop raising war with each other. Because they were heads up, the dealer let them go (though technically it was wrong I believe as there was one other player that had limped but folded to their raises. It should have gone unlimited on the raises after the flop. Anyone can correct me if the dealer was right). They had to raise each other about 7 or 8 times. All the while, the dealer is telling them to just check it down because they were together. He tried to explain that only the casino would benefit on the rake. But the girl didn't listen. She even bet out on the flop too. It turned out she had Q Q and he had A A. With the 2 aces on the board, he had quads. Could have spun the wheel at the Castle.

We soon got up and walked across to the MGM to check out their room. There were a couple tables in action as we walked about. We then saw they were getting ready for their tournament. I believe it was a $60 buy-in with no rebuys. But it was sold out. We then talked about the Aladdin and went north to check it out.

We grabbed lunch at the cafe before going to play poker. For some reason, we passed on the tournament. I don't know if it was too high of a buy-in for Cor's taste or if we decided to pass on it. Instead we got involved with a new 3/6 game. This is where I was reminded of what a bitch variance is.

The 2 seat was red hot for catching flops. I had my K K broken by quad 3s on the flop. I didn't pay him off as the J hit the river to pair the board but the Aladdin paid him to the tune of close to $500. Same guy would hit flush after flush with crap. He was taking down good sized pots before he had to leave to catch his flight. The lady who took the seat when he left did the same thing. Played any two suited to the river and caught her flush. It was disgusting.

I did make a great play. I had taken control of betting out the hand. I had two pair and one player on a flush draw and the other on just top pair. Problem was their was a flush and straight draw on the board. On the river, the flush wasn't there. It was checked to me. I knew the guy on my right didn't want to call a bet. But the guy on my left drinking the Coronas may have hit the straight draw. I was about to check when the guy went to muck his hand. The dealer told him to wait. Instantly I changed my mind and bet it out. He quickly mucked his hand, but not after showing my friend what he had. The other player folded and I started to stack chips. Turn out the guy did hit his straight but was too focused on making the flush that he didn't recognize it. You need to pay attention when in a hand. Needless to say I was disappointed when Corona left.

In the 3 or 4 hours I spent at the table, I had to be down about 90% of the time. I would have had a losing session if I hadn't had a mini rush. It started with 3 2 off in the BB and 5 limpers. For 2 bucks I had to call. I even told the big blind I had to put the 2 bucks in the slot machine and get lucky. Flop came 2 2 J. I took down a nice pot. A couple of hands later I have A A and take down another good pot. Then A J suited. Get a flush for the good guys for once. I leave up 7 bucks. Victory was mine!

There was another incident of a local sitting down, playing for a half hour and then disappearing for an hour. Why casinos tolerate this I do not understand. Why players pull this shit is even a better question. The Jersey girl wanted the chair pretty bad too. But she had to wait for someone else to bust out because this old fart felt it better to talk with every dealer and old player in the room. It is funny the excuses you hear from the dealers. They say if he is gone by the time 2 dealers push in, the chips are picked up. However, none of them have a clue how long the player has been gone. Thus, nothing is ever done. Except for keeping people that want to play poker waiting.

We then made our way down the Strip to the Monte Carlo. We stopped into the sports book to watch the Brewers game for a bit. The poker room had little in terms of waiting but we decided we should eat something first.

That was a mistake. I had the chicken Parmesan. It was pretty damn good. But it gave me so much gas I was dying. I had to take frequent walks to the mens room to relieve myself. I had started on a 2/4 table but moved to the 4/8 half kill when it started. Some real interesting people in this game. Two locals down by me, a lady and an old man that kept acting like experts. On the other end was a tourist and his wife from Texas. Some guy who liked to bet a lot was over there too. An extremely passive player was across from me. But the buzz cut was the best though. Buzz cut had his aces cracked about 5 hands into the game. Why? Because he slowed played them. He rarely raised pre-flop. So he slow played the aces and lost. Can't remember what to, but he started crying afterwards, "I hate aces!". As tempted as I was to laugh out loud at him, I didn't. I hate aces. I hate aces. He said it a couple of times. Dude, if you hate aces, you are in the wrong game. Go play tiddlywinks. You hate them because you play them like a pussy, expecting them to win every time. Hint: They don't. Besides, if you play them that bad, you should be over at the Excalibur spinning the wheel. Instead, your stupid self is at the Monte Carlo.

Not much happened for me at the MC. I cashed out with 2 and half racks. My gut was killing me. Plus, buzz cut took off. He had rebought and looked to be done. Then he pulled one out of his ass. He called 5 bets preflop and had all his money in on the flop with 5 5. He made his set on the flop, cracking a guy's aces. I was stunned. I sat back shaking my head. The Texan whose aces were cracked noticed me and asked me in a pissed off tone "You think I played that wrong?". I just replied calmly, "No sir, you played the hand as you should". He asked me again and I said the exact same thing. This time he knew I meant that guy was beyond stupid and doesn't realize how lucky he got. When buzz cut left I did so as well.

Coming up: Crazy Pineapple!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Making a hand before leaving

Maybe the first sign the trip would be successful was at the airport. We had decided to try and catch an earlier flight by going stand by. Though we were assured there was plenty of room, there was a crowd up by the gate. But the attendant quickly issued us a seat and we were good to go. Catching a flight to get you into Vegas 3 hours earlier is just like scooping a sizable pot.

I survived the flight and the 60 year old horny woman behind me. I could tell she was from the south side of Milwaukee by the number of times she said "yooz boyz". She was determined to have a blast and walk around a casino in her night gown. That was a sight I didn't want to see.

We checked into the Excalibur rather quickly using their check-in kiosk. Damn good machine. I don't know why others were standing in line waiting for a human. We were in and up the elevator within 5 minutes. Then again, maybe this isn't the best idea. Check out the beautiful view we had.

Some get a strip view, we got the great 4th floor brick wall view. Then again, we weren't going to spend time in the room. I was there with my friend Cor and he wanted to play some poker. More specifically, a tournament. The Mandalay Bay 6 was in about an hour so we started to walk on over.

When we got there we were informed it was already sold out. They also mentioned to get there early for the morning tourney too. What? Apparently their tournies are selling out fast now. I was disappointed as I recall them being nice and soft. Instead, I was sitting down at a 4/8 with a 1/2 kill while Cor took a seat at the 2/4.

Things started slowly and I didn't get anywhere. Kings ran into a set of Jacks but I bailed on the turn knowing I was beat. I played loose at first but then tightened up quickly. I like to play some pots early to settle in and project a weak image. This will usually get me some bigger pots later.

As I dipped down, Cor took down a bonus jackpot with quad Kings. Bastard didn't even tell me!

I watched as one old grouchy guy with retarded maniacal smile got pissed at a solid player. He claimed he checked when he didn't. Got really pissed about calling the bet. Yep, 8 dollars pissed him off. He kept crabbing about it for the next orbit. Meanwhile, two other players disappeared. This is something that I would see a lot of. The locals liked to just be in the poker room. Doesn't matter if they play. Put their chips down, play some pots and then walk around for the next hour. But at Mandalay, they have a 3 man walking rule. If a 3rd person gets up, they lose their spot. The floor will rack their chips up and give away their seat. So if you had to piss bad, you were kinda screwed.

The table changed players up a bit. The only solid guy left for the tournament only to return 20 minutes later and be a victim to the Hammer. The table was getting boring so when the Hammer showed up, I decided to drop it on them. Got two callers. Flop came A J 7. I bet it again. One guy folded, and the solid guy looked at me, said he wanted to see one more card and called. Turn was a rag and I bet it out. He quickly folded. I slammed the cards down and yelled "Hammer!". Solid guy gave me credit and didn't take offense. Others were confused and whispering with each other.

We played just a couple of hours before hunger set in. I cashed in up a couple of bucks and we headed out to get something to eat. Cor wanted the Luxor buffet so we ate there. It wasn't bad. Wasn't great either. It did sit in my stomach taking up precious room that had been reserved for beer.

After dinner and an impatient blackjack session, it was off to the Excalibur poker room to play the spread game. During one of the numerous sessions at the castle, I learned that they may be moving the poker room. Word is the sports book is taking the space in the poker room. Where the poker room is going is unknown. Supposedly it is not going where the sports book is. Why they want to move a nice active poker room is a mystery to me.

The play in the castle is so soft. Like a stripper's ass soft. I doubled up in a couple of hours playing a tight game. I probably came off like an asshole to one guy too. Just as I sat down, this guy who claimed to be an "ex-everything" (like a Marine, weapons specialist, cow farmer, other bullshit) said he wanted to kick Michael Vick's ass. I told him he was a fool. Vick would beat him senseless. He responded that he would get him from behind. Yeah, Marine my ass!

I talked with the guy on my left a bit. He was from Chicago sporting the Walter Payton jersey. He was getting some good hands busted on the river. But he wasn't going to leave because the other black guy on the other end of the table was terrible. He called down many hands. Time after time he would fold on the river. I kept betting into him like a madman and taking his chips. That is until I went card dead and folded for what seemed like forever. It didn't matter much as we were having a good time.

Somehow the conversation turned to cow tipping. We argued whether it was real or not. I know people who claim to have tipped cows but I myself never have. The dealer and Payton insisted it could be done while ex-everything, who lived on a farm with cows, said it was an urban legend. Either way, it was fun arguing with this drunk guy and taking his chips away.

I called it a night around 3 when the table broke up. I had doubled up so I was content. I knew I would be back. This table would be a reflection of how the Excalibur would play out.

UP NEXT: Checking out the Trop, playing blind, suckout session at the Aladdin and the moron at Monte Carlo.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Successful Vegas trip

Just got back from Vegas where I had a very nice run at the poker tables. I didn't make major mad money but did very well. In fact, I didn't have a single losing session.

Hell, I even played the Crazy Pineapple tournament at Ballys and came in 2nd. There will be more of trip report coming later. But to sum it up quickly:

The games are softer than ever in Vegas.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Turn that frown upside down

After much delay, I finally had purchased Poker Tracker and put it to use. It took me a while to understand what some of this really meant. I guess that is the reason I should buy the Poker Tracker Guide sometime soon to make sure I am getting the optimal use of the software.

But after feeding it my Party Poker, Full Tilt and PokerRoom hands, it gave me that green frowning face. It said I was Semi Loose Aggressive/Passive. I took it that because it was a frowning face that it wasn't good. I saw there was a smiley face that meant I was aggressive after the flop.

So after I started playing on PokerShare, it showed I was still a frowning face on there site too. And I had to admit they were right. There were too many bets I was giving up on the turn or river because of possible flushes, straights, or feeling my opponent had a set. But what I realized was I could also bluff it out, making them believe I was the one who hit it.

Then I started to watch the icons that were being generated for others. Soon I was able to use their tendencies against them. I then began taking better notes. I like to think my play improved as I got use to a more aggressive style, but Poker Tracker helped as well. A good example is one player in particular. Table after table, I somehow got the button to his BB. I tend to steal but usually with a good hand. I noticed that no matter what, he would raise me back from the big blind. He was willing to defend it to the death. Or so it seemed. I would give the continuation bet on the flop and see the automatic raise. I noticed the pattern and started to simply call. But on the turn, I would again bet out, but re-raise his raise. It worked again and again. Needless to say, he is one player that I have taken a lot of money off of.

But not as much as the guy who is seeing over 77% of the flops. He showed up at a table with me tonight on my right. Again and again I raised him and took a nice amount off of him. Finally I have someone I can search out and beat up.

So after tuning my game, a great thing happened yesterday. My green frowning guy turned into a smiley face. I celebrated by going out for buckets of beer with a friend. Best yet, though I didn't play great at times tonight, he never frowned.

My great run at the UB skin PokerShare continues. I am up over a grand there. I feel my game is pretty good at the 3/6 tables there. Time to move up to the 4/8 soon and check out how different the game is there.

But I also am curious at to what the best icon truly is on Poker Tracker. Do you want to have the money bag or eagle? I have seen players with them and they seem like they may be too tight and only aggressive with big hands. Any feedback on the optimal icon for PT is appreciated.

In less than a week I should be chatting up Linda at the Bellagio where I intend to try the 8/16 game. I also hope that a slower pace live game can result in the same gains as playing online. It would be rather discouraging to sit down, see a bunch of crappy hands and toss them away, just to see good hands cracked. But I am confident of some good sessions.

Less than a week to Vegas. Friday will suck.