Friday, January 19, 2018

Shouldn't the Dealer Have Told the Floor This?

This takes us back to my first Saturday in Vegas last month, my first full day in town.  Also the first poker I played this trip.  I decided to spend the Friday night I arrived in town seeing The Last Jedi, which premiered that day (or, more accurately, the evening before).  I determined I had to see it right away before it got any more spoiled for me.  You see, some dick on Twitter tweeted out a spoiler that morning.  It wasn’t a dick I follow, but somebody I do follow thought it would funny to retweet that dick's spoiler tweet.  I was not amused.

 Thus, my first poker of the trip took place at the $340 tourney at Venetian, a tournament I've mentioned before—I really like that one. I guess I'd like it even more if I ever cashed in it. Well, ok, I did cash in it once, but that was the two-day version of it.  The single day version of it has yet to be a winner for me and this time was no exception.

I arrived about half way into the first level and the very first hand I was dealt was the dreaded pocket Kings.  Guess how it came out?  OK, it wasn't a total disaster.  An Ace hit the flop and I was able to get away from them fairly cheaply.  A few levels later I got my second pocket pair of the day.  You got it, Kings again!  This time I flopped the second nut flush draw on an all-spade board.  My c-bet took it down.

I lasted to the 7th level, but by then I had a really short stack, definitely fold or shove territory.  They broke our table and I moved to my new table with my pathetic stack.  I recognized one of the players at the new table.  I had actually seen him walking around earlier so I knew he was playing in the tournament.  It was successful pro and WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller.  I had actually seen his picture posted on Twitter once or twice recently as the winner of some low buy-in Venetian events.  I've stated before that I don't recognize a lot of poker pros but I immediately recognized Dan.  That's because I once spent an evening watching him play against our pal MemphisMOJO when they were playing for the Seniors bracelet back in 2014.  I wrote about it here.

I wasn't thrilled having a bracelet winner at my table, as I'm sure you understand.  Worse, he was one seat over from me on my left.  Ugh.  I didn't say anything to him—in a situation like that, I'm always looking for some clever way to acknowledge that I know who they are instead of just saying, "You're Dan Heimiller, right?"  It didn't happen while I was playing. And honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to kick him for making that bad call and knocking MOJO out of the Seniors event back then.

Meanwhile, with my short stack, I looked down at pocket 6's in early position.  It folded to me and I thought I had to shove.  The guy on my immediate left shoved too—he had me covered by a ton.  He said to me, "I'm giving you protection."  Everyone else folded and he showed Ace-Jack.  I survived the flop and the turn.  But not the Jack on the river.  I was done.

For some reason, I felt compelled to say hello to Dan.  During the brief time I was at his table, he had spent most of his time looking at his phone, not really engaging with anyone.  I got up from my seat with all my stuff and waited for him to fold the next hand.  Then I said that it was honor to play with him, however briefly, and put out my hand.  He shook it and just said thanks.  I added, "You're a great player."  He pointed to his stack, which was on the short side and said, "Well you can't tell by my chips."  And with that I took off.

Later that night I was playing cash in another room.  I won't mention which one because I don't want to get anyone in trouble if I'm right and the dealer make a procedural error.

My results in this cash game were unremarkable.  I somehow managed to lose only $20 while continuing to be card dead.  There were no hands worth reporting on.  Well, none of mine, anyway.

But something interesting did happen.  This particular room has high hand bonuses and the payout for a Royal is $500.  The pot must be $20 to qualify for any high hand bonus.

There was a small, heads up pot.  A player who was fairly new to the table made a bet on the turn and didn't get a call.  The dealer flipped the board cards over and started pushing the pot to the player who had bet.  That player struck me as either a newbie poker player or perhaps just a newbie at playing in a brick and mortar poker room.  Anyway, he turned over his cards, which were the Jack-10 of hearts.  I hadn't been following the action much but I had noticed at one point that a Royal was possible on this board.  The turn card was the Queen of hearts and the flop contained the Ace and King of hearts.  At least, that was my memory.

The way the player turned over his cards without saying anything, I'm really not sure if he did it because he knew about the bonus or if he just wanted to proudly show his Royal.  After all, if I was in a room that didn't have a bonus for it, I think I'd show a Royal if I had one anyway (note:  I have never had a Royal in any kind of real poker game).  The dealer apparently hadn't paid much attention either.  He looked at the two exposed cards, froze, and then said, "Was this a Royal Flush?  What was on the board?"  A few of the other players, including me, confirmed that it was indeed a Royal. By now, however, the board cards he had turned face down had gotten confused with the muck.  But he seemed to have two stacks of four cards each that were isolated.  He turned over one stack and it was all black cards, definitely not the board.  He turned over the other stack and sure enough, the Ace, King and Queen of hearts were all there, with some other random card.

But then he had to make sure the pot was big enough and that was a big deal for him.  He counted the pot--$17 he was about the push to the player with the Royal.  There were two dollars in the rake slot about to go down the chute and another buck right next to the slot for the promo drop. Yep, $20 exactly.  And then, he even re-created the betting action mentally to confirm the $20.  Again, he convinced himself it was $20 and thus qualified for the $500 bonus.

He called the floor over.  I expected him to show the floor the Royal but also explain that he had had to turn the board back face-up because he had flipped it over before he saw the player's Royal cards.  But that didn't happen. Instead, he went into a long explanation about the pot and the rake and the jackpot drop and how it all totaled $20.  He repeated this at least twice to the floor.

But at no point did he ever say anything about having to flip the board back face up to verify the Royal.

Is that ok?  I mean, I would think for his own sake he would want to make sure the floor knew that.  I actually wondered if, upon hearing this, the floor would call surveillance and have them verify that the board was what he "re-created" before paying out the $500.  But the dealer didn't mention it.

My thought is, he could easily get in trouble for it.  If someone looks over the footage and sees what he did, they would confirm (or worse, deny) that the Royal was made.  Wouldn't they want to know that he had pointed this out to the floor?  Would he get in trouble for trying to cover up what he did?

Or….is it a case of them routinely checking the tape on any high hand bonus payout so he didn't have to call it to his floor's attention?  I only thought of that when I was writing this up just now.  I don't know how it works.

All I know is if I was that dealer, I'd sure as hell cover my ass by letting the floor know exactly what happened. I would think if you're a dealer and anything out of the ordinary happens—especially if there's a bonus involved—you'd want to let the floor know. If somebody in surveillance did see it, they could easily think that maybe the dealer was cheating for the player to get him the bonus.  And if somehow, we were all wrong and the player really didn't have a Royal Flush, oh boy.  I said that I thought the player was a newbie. I can't recall if he won any other hands this way previously—it's at least remotely possible he turned over his cards because he thought he had to to claim the pot.

Can you imagine if they gave the guy the $500 and then later someone noticed the tape, saw what the guy did, examined it further and saw there was no Royal?

Maybe it's nothing.  But I thought about it a lot.  Any dealers/floor people out there think this was handled poorly by the dealer?  Or is it standard?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where and When? The Tony Bigcharles Game

This post concerns the famous (and infamous) Tony BigcharlesI'm sure most of you follow his adventures to at least some degree.  If you have no interest in Tony, you can skip this post and come back in a couple of days.

So if you do follow Tony, you know he just now returned to Las Vegas.  He left Toledo (via Detroit) very suddenly, mysteriously leaving behind his clothes and luggage (and who knows how many pizza turners).

Whenever Tony relocates, it's fair to wonder how longer he'll remain in his new "home" this time, and where he'll go to next.  He never stays one place very long, as we all know.

So I started thinking someone should start a pool to bet on where Tony moves to after he inevitably tires of Vegas, and of course, how long will that be?  Sadly, I don't have the time or the desire to set up an actual pool for this, you know the kind where people bet actual real money on this and someone holds the money until Tony leaves town and we have a winner.

Besides, with two factors involved (where and when), it might be difficult to determine a winner.  What if one person nails the date but a different person gets the location and nobody gets both.  Who wins?

If someone wants to do this as a real pool, be my guest.  But for now, I just thought I'd throw this post up here and let people give their best guesses in my comments section below.  There's no cost to play--and also no prize for the winner(s).  

So just post your best guess as to when Tony will leave Vegas.  And also where he will go when he does.  Actually that could be tricky.  Sometimes Tony makes very short stops on his way to his next "permanent" location.  If I'm not mistaken, last time (before this) he returned to Vegas, he couldn't catch a flight at the right time (or right price) to Vegas so he flew to Phoenix, spent a day or two there, and took a bus into Vegas.  So I'd say he has to stay at least a week at his new location for it to count.  I think that's fair,no?

Again, this is just for bragging rights, no prize, but feel free to guess away.  Does Tony leave Vegas next month, or March (give a specific date, person closest wins) or even later?  Is his next home Reno?  Los Angeles?  Louisiana?  Toledo?  Louisiana?  Some part of Florida?  Give it your best shot.

Note:  If you are wondering about this picture below and what it has to do with the subject of the post, I will remind you that it is well known that Tony hates girl-on-girl action.  So it seems appropriate, doesn't it?  I mean, I could have just posted a pic of TBC himself, but I'm sure everyone (but Tony) will agree this is better.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Andrew Neeme/Brad Owen Meet Up Game

In my most recent Ante Up column (here) I talked about how the new Westgate poker room is working with Vegas Vloggers (i.e., video bloggers) to promote games.  Well, as it turned out, vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen (both mentioned in my column) were hosting one of their Meet Up Games (see their Facebook page here) on the first Wednesday I was in town, the Wednesday before Christmas.  Once again, Westgate was the host.  But unlike their usual meet-up games, this one was going to be 2/3 NL instead of 2/5 NL.  That made it very appealing to me.  I really couldn't pass this up.

I arrived a bit late and all the tables were filled.  They had five tables of 2/3 ready to roll before they even started.  They could have easily had a sixth table going, but there was an issue with the sixth table.  There was some kind of lighting fixture hanging over it and apparently security insisted they not use that table until the fixture could be removed.  I assume it was interfering with the cameras.

So I had to wait. Fortunately, I had called in to get on the list, and I was near the top.  As they started getting cards in the air, I was walking around the room and looking for familiar faces, I assumed I'd see more than a few people I knew. But no, I recognized only one, aside from Andrew and Brad, who I had never met before but of course recognized them from their vlogs.  The familiar face was my friend Donna, who I've been running into in poker rooms for at least five years.  It was Donna who gave me the title of the blog post here and she's been written about in several posts over the years. I said hello, and I also saw her warmly greet Andrew; obviously they were pals. 

Well, I didn't have to wait long to be called.  And wouldn't you know it, the available seat was the one immediately to Donna's right.  I took my seat, said hello again and got settled in.

Almost immediately the fellow on my right said to me, "Are you Robvegaspoker?" (except he used my real last name).  I was taken aback, looked him over, said yes, and he replied, "You blogged about me."  I really didn't recognize him, but I played a wild hunch.  "Would you be Austin Bluffs by any chance?"  He laughed and said he was.

Who is Austin Bluffs?  Well, if read this recent repost (here) you know and you also know why I thought to repost that story.  Or part of the reason.  The reason I thought of Austin that night was because of something that happened on the day before I drove to Vegas, while I was packing.  Aria was doing a live Periscope.  I was watching it.  I actually made a comment to them while they were live (I think it was about their innovative Big Blind Ante).  And for a second I saw someone else who was watching say something like, "Robvegaspoker?  You blogged about me."  I didn't have time to react and it really wasn't of interest to the guys doing the Periscope or the rest of the audience so I didn't respond.  But I took notice of it and remembered to research it later that night, after I was done packing. I did see the comment long enough to see the name "Austin Bluffs."

When I researched it, I found my old post and remembered the story.  I considered it worthy of a repost whenever I needed a post and didn't have time to finish a new one.  So, when this seemingly total stranger said I blogged about him, he was the first person that came to mind and I was right.  But there's no way I ever would have recognized him from that one night of poker we played....he didn't really become noteworthy to me until several months later, when I got his tweet.

So this was one of two incredible coincidences.  First of all, running into Austin twice within a week's time—once online, then once in person— after having no contact at all with him for over four years.  And like me, Austin doesn't live in Vegas.  He was just visiting, heard about the meet-up, and showed up.  And because my face is plastered all over the internet, he recognized me.

The second coincidence is that my seat at the game was immediately on his left.  Furthermore, as I said, Donna was immediately on my left.  So I was sitting between the only two people in the room that I know, just totally by the luck of the draw!  I mean, is it a small world, or what?  (Despite that, I wouldn't want to paint it). 

Donna heard this and said, "You blogged about me, too."  I acknowledged that I had.  Actually, I've mentioned her several times.  I mention again how much I liked her "duck and a schmuck" name for the King-deuce hand.

So I got to spend the evening catching up with Donna, and also chatted quite a bit with Austin.

There were two "crazy" additions to the normal game of hold'em for this game.  One was "bomb pots."  Every time a new dealer pushed in, everyone at the table would put up $5 for the first hand.  That was part of the pot and there was no preflop betting.  Everyone saw the flop.  So the pot started at $45 (if the table was full) then the betting on the flop, turn and river was the same as always.  So you didn't really want to get pocket Aces when it was a bomb pot cuz you couldn't bet anyone out of the pot preflop, and you'd be facing 8 other hands that all would see the flop.  This was actually kind of fun as a change of pace.  I wouldn't want to do bomb pots more often than once every half hour and I wouldn't want to play in a game that had them regularly.  But it was a nice change of pace.

The other thing was "The Button Game."  Whoever had the button had to put $5 on the button—literally on the button.  When the button passed, the next person on the button put another $5 on it.  That money, however much it grew to, could only be won by the player on the button if that player won that pot.  Then it would start all over at $5.  I think during the time I was there, the largest amount I saw the button prize grow to was $50.

Apparently each table was making up their own rules regarding these side bets.  So someone suggested that we do $10 bomb pots, which I think we did once.  Someone at the table suggested $25 or $50 bomb pots.  That was getting a bit ridiculous.  We went back to $5 bomb pots.

They even let us make up our own rules about straddling.  The Westgate doesn't normally allow the button straddle (yay!) but for this game, if no one objected, they allowed it (I didn't want to be the spoilsport, so I didn't object).  But it was up to us to decide if they did it the "right" way (first action is UTG) or the "wrong" way (first action is the small blind).  They decided on the wrong way.  Since the people who wanted to button straddle were far enough away from me so that it would affect me when I was the blinds, I didn't offer my opinion that the way they were doing it was wrong.

The problem with the game for me was that I was extremely card dead.  Totally, horrifically, card-dead.  It was appalling.  I think I won only one pot all night.  It was with Aces.  I opened to $12 and had three callers.  The flop was King-Queen-x rainbow and I bet $25 and got one call.  The turn was a 10 and we both checked.  The river was deuce and my $35 bet went uncalled.

That was it.  I didn't lose any big pots—I just didn't get enough good cards to put much money into any pots. It was awful.  So of course I didn't win any bomb pots or any button bounties. 

Those side bets were fun, but they did contribute to my losing my money faster than I otherwise might have. I had to call it a night.  A losing night.

Although Andrew and Brad were switching tables periodically, neither of them made it over to our table.  So before I left, I made it a point to go over and introduce myself to them, and to thank them for hosting the game.  I have to say, they are both super-nice guys.  They thanked me for doing some retweeting of their tweets about the game.  I told them that I mentioned their games at the Westgate in a soon-to-be published Ante Up column.

After taking off, I realized they would both be perfect subjects for Ante Up profiles.  So a few days later I contacted them and they both graciously agreed.  You should be seeing their profiles in Ante Up (and here) in the coming months.

It was a fun night, but man, I wish I could have seen better cards.