Friday, November 3, 2006

The marathon session, and a piece of Gold

Dan and I checked out Monday, with Dan having to head to the airport, and I headed over to the Wynn. My flight wasn't heading out until Tuesday at 6:45am, so I had decided to play poker all day, taking a break to watch the Monday Night Football game with Chris and Brian. I was able to get a seat in the $1/$3 No-Limit Hold 'em game. I have to admit the deck hit me pretty hard during those first four hours. I had a hand where I caught a set of Aces at the turn when someone had flopped a set and slow played them until the turn. The result of that was pretty nice. I flopped the nut straight once and got paid when it held up. My "marginal" hands were hitting the flops; my big hands were holding up, it was great. I even had time to make a nice 3-level pyramid out of the $3 chips I had. I sort of had to start stacking them higher since I couldn't spread them out to my right or left at the full table.

Eventually, I had to split to join Chris and Brian for the Monday Night Football game. That went well, too. I took the under on the first half, the over on the second half, and the over on the game. I took Dallas, too, but that bet didn't win. Boy, can Drew Bledsoe really screw up a scoring opportunity. It was his interception just prior to the half when they were on the 5-yard line and about to score that kept the half under.

I had a good time watching the game, and the break from poker was nice, but I was itching to get back to the poker game because it was going well. The game wrapped up just prior to 8pm, and I was back at the Wynn by 8:30 all rarin' to go. This time I got seated at the $2/$5 No Limit game. I was seated in seat 9, so I was on the dealer's immediate right. There was a player with a VERY large stack in seat 1, and I got to find out why shortly after I arrived. This guy kept raising and was very aggressive. It became very difficult to play with him sitting on my left. I was getting ground away when I missed flops. The guy on my right and I got to talking. His name was Jack. He seemed like a decent player, and conversing with him was a good way to pass time while I was waiting for a solid hand with which to move in. Luckily though, the player in seat 3 got up and left, so I requested a seat change. I HAD to get on the guy on seat 1's left. Being on his right was doing me no good. I've never requested a seat change before. I usually will just try and play with the seat I'm given, but I'm really glad I made this seat change. The dealer even questioned my moving, asking me "Don't you want to play your button?" I declined. As it turns out, on my first hand in the new seat I was dealt the black 5's. I limped since I was in early position, and Jack raised it to $25. The aggressive player in seat 1 called, and I decided to call hoping I'd hit the flop. Well, the door card of the flop was a 5, and when it was spread out the flop was:


Flopping me quad 5's and the nuts. I checked, figuring that Jack or seat 1 would take the lead and bet, and Jack fired out $50. Seat 1 called, as did I. The turn card was a King. This was a great card for me. I was just hoping that either of my opponents had a King since they would think that they had the nuts with the full house. You just don't usually count on someone having quads in a hand. You may even recall me saying that in an earlier blog posting. Well, I check again, Jack checks now, and seat 1 asks me how much I have left. I count it up and tell him that it's about $225. He bets $100. Now, if he's putting me on a hand like A-5 or some holding with just one 5, he knows I can't just call. The $100 represents too much of my stack, so he's expecting either a raise all-in or a fold. I made the decision here that he did have the King so I moved in. If you have a King it looks like it's going to be a split pot. Jack folded (and later said he had AA), and seat 1 folded as well. I showed the quad 5's. Seat 1 told me he was on a flush draw and I wasn't getting any more money no matter how I played it. Seat 1 and I got to talking and I found out that his name was Dan (at least I'm pretty sure it was Dan), and that he attended Marquette.

About an hour after the quads hand, a $25/$50 No-Limit game opened up in the high-limit area of the poker room. The game had a $4000 minimum buy-in. It turns out that Jamie Gold, winner of the Main Event of the 2006 World Series of Poker, was looking for action in that game. There were a couple players that bought in to play against him. While we were watching that game from our table, Jack and I got to talking about how Dan should take his stack over there and "give the big game a shot." Dan had about $2800 in chips in front of him to go with some 100-dollar bills. Dan was a solid, aggressive player, was getting cards, and was obviously playing well against us. Jack and I kept half-heartedly pushing Dan towards that game, and he finally decided to go!!

I gotta admit, I really lost interest in my own game at that point. I was trying to see how Dan did against Gold and the other high-limit rounders. My game didn't suffer too much, since I was now really only playing big hands and big suited connectors. I was checking in on Dan regularly, and I noticed that he had already nearly doubled his stack within his first 45 minutes there! I bet he hadn't counted on winning like this when he showed up at the poker room today. Our dealer told us that he had been dealing at that table prior to ours, and Jamie Gold had already gone through $50K, and he had rebought for another $50K. The dealer couldn't tell us the amounts, but he dropped enough hints to let us know his buy-ins. It wasn't too much later when we saw a BIG hand developing at Dan's and Gold's table. It turns out that Jamie Gold had flopped two pair when another player flopped a straight. The straight held up and Jamie Gold was out "100 boxes of ziti" (Sopranos reference). Dan was still doing well, as it looked like he had about $10K. I have to admit I don't really like Jamie Gold much. He came across as a real jerk and A-hole when he was on ESPN, so I wasn't too heartbroken to see him lose here.

My marathon session was still going, but as the hour got late we had to consolidate players to one table. I was sitting on a stack of about $800, but I still had about 4 hours to play yet. I dug in, content to just play big hands. I started to go on a stretch of Ace-King hands, catching "big slick" 3 times in 5 hands. I did get stung on the third one, and it's that hand that I want to talk about here. I was dealt AK and raised it to $25 from mid-early position. I received a caller from late position, and the big blind(BB) called. The flop came:


hitting me very nicely. I led out and bet $50 with my top two pair, hoping that one of my opponents might have an Ace with a big kicker (Queen, Jack). They wouldn't expect me to bet my two pair with AK, so they might raise, and with two callers, I figured one of them had to have something to be worth calling since I bet less than the pot. The BB called me. The turn card came:


He checked to me, so I bet again. This time I threw out $100. He decided to raise it to $260. Now, I decided to think about this. He hadn't reraised me preflop, so I didn't think that he had AA or KK. I also had to discount those since I held AK. He might have QQ. I would have reraised preflop with QQ, but at a cash game not everyone does, but would he have called me after the flop had both an Ace and a King? Probably not. He could have Jack-Ten, which means he just hit his straight, but that would mean he called with a bad hand out of position preflop and called after the flop with just a gutshot straight draw. That seems unlikely, but if he did call preflop with JT he would call after that flop since he was chasing the whole time. It still seemed unlikely. The likely holding was AQ. It would fit that he would call preflop with this, call on the flop, and now that he has two pair, the raise seems appropriate. I decided to call with the intention of getting his chips when he bet the river since he had to act first and he had just check-raised me again, showing strength. I call, and the river comes:


Not improving any holding I think is in play. The big blind has to act, and instead of making a large bet here, he checks!!! I really had to think about that. If he had what I thought he had he should have bet there. So now I take a minute to re-evaluate the situation. I really thought my top two pair was in the lead, but any hand like AQ, AK (unlikely), or A4 all should have bet there. So I guessed that I was either way ahead or way behind. If I'm way ahead, he's not calling any bet I make. If I'm way behind and I put a bet out, he's waiting to check-raise me here. Now it seems likely that I'm way ahead, but I don't see any value in putting a bet out here, since he can really only just call me with AQ. If he's got me beat he's waiting to pounce. The only hand that is going to just call instead of trying another check-raise or fold is AQ or AK. If he check-raises that means he's check-raised me twice, too! After going over this all in about a minute I decide to check. I haven't tapped the table twice yet when the guy in the BB says, "How do you not bet there?" He turns over 4-4, showing me the set of fours that he flopped. He follows that up with "You've got two pair, right?" I flashed the AK towards him. He just couldn't believe it. He had me pegged. You know, if he bets the river there I probably raise him or call his all-in. Either way, I should have lost a lot more chips. He and a friend/acquaintence of his told me that I made a nice check there. I still lost a little over $300 that hand, but it easily could have been my whole stack.

I still had a couple hours to kill before getting something to eat and then heading to the airport. I managed to get a little bit of what I lost in that hand back and at about 3:30am I checked with the poker room manager about getting something to eat. They comp their player's food, and they did just that, giving me a complimentary meal at the Wynn's Terrace Point restaurant, which is open 24 hours. I cashed out up about $450, so all in all a great time. After eating I went to grab my luggage, which I brought with me to the Wynn. The guy managing the bell desk seemed to know that I had left the poker room and started to make some conversation with me. It turned out that he is the son-in-law of Artie Cobb, 4-time bracelet winner at the World Series of Poker. He was an entertaining fellow, but after I got my luggage he just kept talking...and talking...and talking. I know it's 4am and there's not a whole lot of activity, but I gotta go! I eventually had to turn and just walk away. Nice guy, but man...

All in all a fun trip. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The dude folded Aces preflop??

Sunday started kind of on a down note. We had planned on everyone getting together at ESPN Zone to watch the Packers-Dolphins game, but even though we got down to the ESPN Zone shortly after they opened at 9am we found out that the Packer game was only being shown on one monitor that wasn't large, had the best seats around it taken already, and was in a smoking section. None of us really liked that idea, so we had to come up with someplace else to go. The sports book at NY NY was full, as we guessed most of the other casino's sports books would be by the time we got to one, so we decided to head over to the Hooter's casino and restaurant. Newly opened this year, they are located behind the Tropicana, and the Tropicana is located kitty corner from NY NY, so it was a short walk. We thought since Hooter's wasn't directly on the strip there may be a good chance they weren't busy. We got to the restaurant, which is located next to the pool (that was a nice plus), and the place was almost empty just prior to kickoff with the exception of a group of Packer fans that had already camped out in front of one of the big screens. We grabbed a table behind them and got to enjoy the Packers corralling the Dolphins.

We stuck around for the afternoon games since many of us had wagers on many of the different games (damn good-for-nothing-5-team-parlay-ruining Seahawks). I did all right on most of my wagers except for one bet (see aforementioned Seahawks). After the games, Chris and Brian headed back to the Imperial Palace to get cleaned up and some rest before the evening, and David headed back to NY NY for the same. Dan and I tried our luck at craps at Hooter's before leaving, and we finally found a craps table that was paying us. We played for about an hour, and although I did give back some on mine and Dan's last shots I walked out being able to pay for the food and drinks at the restaurant.

David, Chris, and Brian decided to go out to the clubs. David had an early flight and couldn't be out too late because of his work obligations, and Dan and I headed over to Bellagio to get some more poker in. We each got seated on different $2/$5 tables. We had noticed that some people were playing in Bobby's room, and as I got my seat I could see that it was none other than Sam Farha playing with two other players. I found out that the game being played there was Omaha High. According to the dealer, Sam only likes to play Omaha High. He doesn't like the split game that much, although in the regular big game they play both.

Things hadn't started out too well for me. I bought in for $300, and was down about $200 an hour in to the session. I bought in for another $100 to give me a chip stack that would at least put some sort of fear in to some of the other stacks. I was glad I did, because shortly after that I got KK. I raised it up to $25 preflop and got a couple callers. The flop came very nicely for me:

K-9-3 (two diamonds)

I led out and bet $50 and was called by one other player. This player had been pretty tight. The turn card came without pairing the board and didn't put another diamond out there, so I decided to check, hoping that my bet after the flop would be perceived as a continuation bet and my check here would then be perceived as weakness on my part. The plan would be to then check-raise. He checked behind me though, which I have to admit made me think he was now on the flush draw. Well, a diamond hit on the river. Now I have to check. He bets $50, which is too small of a bet to fold to so I call. Well, he's got AA, so my set of Kings holds up. I'm sure he was frustrated that his Aces got cracked, but considering the way the hand went I personally think he lost the minimum he could lose there.

About two hands later, this same player who just had pocket Aces was under the gun. He looks at his hand says something in disgust, flips his hand face up, and declares "Fold"! He had pocket Aces!! Apparently, getting his Aces cracked bugged him more than I had realized. I've never seen anyone do that, especially under the gun! It was really poor on his part that he showed them, though, as since he was under the gun and no one else had acted, it had a significant impact on how the hand was played. It even became more important when it was realized later that another player had been dealt QQ. Another player had been dealt AJ and didn't even try to go to a flop with it because two of his outs were gone. Personally, I think the guy's an idiot for making the play. He had a chance to win back a lot of his chips in that hand. The fact that someone was going to play that stupid just made me glad that he was at my table. That guy played at the table for about another two hours, and I don't recall him playing another hand. That's what makes it that much more crazy. Obviously, the guy was waiting for premium hands, and for him to fold THE PREMIUM HAND just because it got beat a couple hands ago made his play that much more bizarre.

I got up and went over to tell Dan what had happened, and apparently the news had traveled there already. Dan just wasn't sure which player at our table it was. Within 20 minutes it seemed like we were getting glances and some pointing at our table from all over the room. It was pretty funny! I was waiting for the guys in Bobby's room to put down their cards for a minute just to come to the door to see who the moron at our table was. That didn't happen though.

I played on for a while, and cashed out up a little over $100, so no real complaints. I wanted to stay, but I was getting too tired, and I just didn't see my stack improving over the last hour or so. It was about 2:30am. Dan was still going strong so I went back to the hotel. I had to get some sleep tonight because I knew that I would have a marathon session for my last day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Stirring up trouble at the Venetian

David and I headed down to the ESPN Zone restaurant/bar to watch the Badgers game. The sports book for NY NY is just across from the ESPN Zone so we were able to make our wagers for some of the games prior to the start of the early games. Dan was catching up on some sleep since he got back from the Wynn very late.

The Badgers crushed Purdue at Purdue's place! Woo Hoo! That's a good start to what I was hoping would be another good day. I played solid poker yesterday, felt rested, and was ready to go to war again. Dan, David, and I decided to play at the Venetian's poker room that evening. We made the trek on the Strip to the Venetian, and I got seated at a $1/$2 No-Limit table, and Dan got seated at the table behind me (also $1/$2). David got seated at my table. I was really trying to turn up the intensity so I went into my "mean" mode. I didn't speak once during the first hour and a half at the table other than when I ordered my first drink from the cocktail waitress. I would just stare ahead into nothingness really. If I was in a hand with someone heads-up they just got that same stare at them the whole time. I noticed it was quite difficult for anyone to maintain that stare with me for more than a couple seconds. It was really quite boring and hard to maintain. My chip stack did quite well. I seemed to have an intimidating effect on the table, moving all-in quietly on decent pots and then just waiting for people to fold. After the initial hour and a half I had worked my stack to over $400 from the original buy-in of $100, so I decided to completely change it up and I got chatty.

This seemed to work well, too, as some of the players who I had gotten involved with pots were now trying to get in any pot I played. I was still playing pretty tight though. At one point we got a player at our table that I think was waiting for a higher limit game to open up that decided to raise every hand to $20 or $25 preflop. He would then just move in after the flop if he got any callers. He was talking trash, but I wasn't getting any cards at the moment. So, I did the one thing that I know how to do well when I'm not getting into pots with a player...I put him on full tilt, baby. This player, let's call him Abdul since I don't know what it was but he looked like he could be an Abdul, raises a pot and gets called by two players. Now, after his being at the table 10 minutes I think a couple players had figured out his game and were waiting for him to pull his crap. One of the players from this table that I thought was pretty decent was in the hand, and when Abdul moved in on the flop this guy promptly calls him. The board had something like K-8-8 on it and the decent player showed his AA right away. Abdul didn't show his cards, but when the turn and river hit he started to muck them. Now, at most cash games if you're dealt in to the hand you can request to see the cards of any player that has a hand at the showdown, which this was, so I immediately declare before the cards hit the muck "Turn his cards up." This is usually not done as it's considered a breach of etiquette. When it is done, it's almost always done by the other player(s) involved in the showdown, not an outside player. Abdul half jumps out of his chair reaching for his cards saying to the dealer, "Don't show him." This of course is exactly the reaction I want so I sort of half get out of my chair, lean over towards the dealer and quietly say, "I was dealt in to the hand. The hand went to a showdown. You will turn over his cards." The dealer immediately turns over 3-2, showing Abdul's bluff. The fact that he was bluffing wasn't the point. It was getting Abdul rattled that I wanted. Abdul even got the floor person called over about it. It was really unfortunate that I couldn't find a hand that I could make work while he was seated with us. Believe me I tried. Abdul was almost never taking his eyes off me while I had cards the rest of the time he spent with us. Unfortunately for us, his seat opened up about 20-25 minutes after his hand being shown and he left. He was down, but I wanted everything he had.

The rest of the session went without incident, and I did give back some of what I had won, but I walked out of the Venetian up a little over $150. We headed back to the hotel, where we got some rest prior to Sunday's Packer game.