Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Can You Tell The Difference....

This was a frustrating night at the Mirage on a Saturday night earlier this month.  It was frustrating because it was a good game and there was a human ATM there and I was just too card dead to take advantage of the situation.

As I was taking my seat, I recognized someone at a table across the room.  It was the one, the only....grrouchie!  I waved to him and I thought he was waiving back.  But it turned out he was merely waiving to the floor because he had just been called for a table change and decided to stay where he was.

I was much too lazy to get up to say hello to him, so I tweeted out that "I spy @grrouchie."  Now I had noticed that our mutual pal Alaskagal was dealing at the table he was sitting at.  Well, although grrouchie didn't notice me, AG did (I had briefly said hello to her earlier when I was there getting my comp for dinner).  She told him, "Rob is here...he's over at that table."  And he must have seen me because he said to her, "Oh, you mean that old bald guy?"  Harummph.  I'm not bald.  Not yet, anyway.  AG was surprised, not realizing he was kidding.  "You never met Rob?"  Anyway, he tweeted out that AG was dealing to him and not me.  At the time, I thought it was in response to my tweet but he insisted he sent that tweet out before he saw mine.

Let me tell you about this human ATM.  The first unusual thing I saw him do was when he was down to his last chip.  He had gone all-in against someone and lost.  Turned out he had the winner covered by a buck—one lousy buck.  The dealer asked him if he wanted to get more chips  and he didn't respond.  So she dealt the next hand and he put his last dollar in blind.  Guess what?  He lost.

Now up until then I assumed he was pretty much finished.  You've seen this, right?  A guy doesn't feel like cashing in his last few dollars so he just plays them until he loses.  He is too lazy or too embarrassed to go to the cashier to get cash for his last couple of chips.  And since he doesn't know when he'll be back (and if he's a tourist it might a really long time) he doesn't want to stick the chip(s) in his pocket for next time.

Well that's what I thought this was.  But to my surprise, when he lost the buck he pulled out his money and bought in for another $100.  WTF?  If he was gonna rebuy anyway, why the well would he play his last buck like that instead of buying more chips first and just having a playable stack in the first place?  I mean, what did he hope to accomplish with that one buck?  A double up?  OK, a triple up?  Yeah, then he'd have three whole bucks to play with.  How many times would he have to shove and win in order to work that one buck up to something he could actually play poker with?  Seemed absurd to me.

Anyway, from that point, I saw this guy just basically give away between $500-$700, $100 at a time.  He would either shove or call a shove and lose every single time.  Seriously.  Now, I can understand the shoving—he was bluffing and hoping to get a call, or perhaps overvaluing his made hand.  But sometimes he would call and the other player would show a rather mediocre hand—and he just mucked without showing.  I was thinking, "Why did you call a shove if you couldn't even beat a hand like that?"  It happened too often for me to believe he was calling with draws (that missed) every time.

I texted grrouchie that I was in a really good game and suggested he join me.  He did, but unfortunately by the time he made it over the game had changed.  A few of the looser players had taken off.  And as for the human ATM, he finally got tired of losing money $100 at a time.  So finally, he rebought for $300.  And after a hand or two, he started playing a little more sanely.  The raises were smaller and he was able to find the "fold" button a lot instead of the "raise" and "call" buttons.  By the time grrouchie sat next to me, he was able to accuse me (legitimately) of misrepresenting the game.  Sorry, man.

Once there, the grouch man proceed to insult an entire European nation.  The most aggro player once he got there was this guy with a foreign accent.  Grrouchie finally asked him where he was from and he said France.  So grrouchie said, "Gee, your head is not nearly as pointy as I would have expected."  The guy was taken aback but I think the language barrier probably saved grrouchie from getting punched out.  He acted like he had no idea what grrouch was talking about (probably because he didn't).  So grrouchie explained that he was making a Coneheads reference.  Well, no wonder it fell flat.  It's a pretty dated reference. I doubt the guy from France had ever heard of the Coneheads.  I mean, has anybody even thought of the Conheads in the past 20 years?  And I'm including Dan Aykroyd in that.

Anyway, there was a female dealer at one point and for some reason she started telling this story about this weird question a player once asked her.  This took place a few years back when the rodeo was in town.  This cowboy had been playing for a few hours and then cashed out his chips.  The lady dealer telling the story happened to be flooring this particular evening. 

So the cowboy went over to her and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?  It's a little's a little out there."  He was obviously embarrassed.  She said to him, "Sir, I've been dealing poker in Vegas for years.  I've heard it all.  Nothing can shock me."  So he asked her, "How can you tell the difference between a girl who's going to the club and just walking and a working girl?"  We all laughed and grrouchie gave his answer which for the life of me, I can't recall. But I'm sure it was both witty and insightful. 

But of course, if you've been reading this blog regularly you know the right answer.  I said, "It's easy.  The hookers are dressed much more conservatively than the club girls."

The dealer thought about that for a second and said, "I think you're right."

Of course I was right.

I played three hours and wrote down only four or five hands.  Looking them over, none of them are worth talking about.  Sometimes that doesn't stop me, but this time it will.  The one hand I got into with the human ATM when he was giving away money ended up being a split pot between the two of us.  Otherwise, won a few small pots, lost a bunch of small pots (or they were small when I folded).  Ended up booking a small loss.  I was just too damn card dead to win or lose a lot of money.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"We Find the Defendants Incredibly Guilty"

This past Saturday I found myself at the Bike in glorious Bell Gardens, CA.  OK, I didn't exactly "find myself" there. That implies I either had a huge epiphany about the very nature of my existence while there, or that I suddenly appeared there without any idea how I got there.  And I know precisely how I got there.  I drove there.  And drove there.  And drove there.

Traffic was miserable even by Southern California standards and it took forever to get there.  And that was with the help of Google maps, which had me take a different route than I normally take. If it took this long with the "best" route that Google could come up, I can only imagine how long it would have taken with my normal route.  It probably would have taken less time to get to the MGM poker room from my house than it did to get to the Bike.  Well maybe not MGM, but perhaps SouthPoint?

When I finally arrived, I had to wait for a seat to open up at one of the two 2/3 games they had going. Finally two seats opened up at one table, and they called me and the second person on the list to take seats.  However, there were two people at the other 2/3 table that wanted to change tables.  So the floor person reserved the two open seats at one table and told me that would get a choice of seats at the table that was full when the two players moved to their new game.

This happens all the time and should be no big deal.  So I waited at the table I was assigned to with my money in hand and watched as the current hand was completed.  I figured the two players would both move to the other table as soon as the hand was over.  But instead, they were both dealt new hands.  Neither player was the button, or the blinds, for that matter.  I didn't understand why they weren't moving if they were so interested in getting away from that table that they had earlier made a formal request to move.  And of course, when they were just now told that seats had opened up at the other game, they both said that yes, they still wanted to move.

So the next hand was completed and both of these two clowns took yet another hand!  And I was standing there like an idiot waiting to sit down and play.  Meanwhile there were two open spots at the other game.  And then a third spot opened up at that table and it was filled by someone who was lower than I was!  So I in essence was skipped over for a seat due to the extreme rudeness and lack of consideration by these two players who had told the floor they were going to move and then stayed in their seats! 

I was just about to find a floorperson to explain what was happening when a couple of players at the other game shouted to her that they were short-handed, and since there was a waiting list why weren't they filling the seats?  By this time my name had actually been taken off the board and I wondered if I was going to get totally shafted.  To be honest, if it hadn't taken me forever to get there, I might have been tempted to just say, "the hell with it," and left the casino.  But anyway, when the other players complained the floor finally took action and told the two players they had to move right then and there or they wouldn't get their damn seat change.

One of them moved and the other decided to stay at the game he was at.  So the floor told me to take one of the two open seats at the table where everyone had left.  If not for the selfishness of the two players, I could have done that 10 minutes earlier and been playing already.

I don't blame the Bike, the floor people are busy and it's hard to keep on top of things like this.  It's the players that are to blame.  Sadly, this is not a surprising experience for the Bike.  There are a lot of inconsiderate people who play there.  Players Casino in Ventura has a much higher class clientèle.  But I don't get it.  If you say you want to move, and you are called to move, why they hell don't you move?  I can see someone playing the button.  But if the button is not on you or about to come to you, get the hell off your ass and move and don't inconvenience the new player and the players at the other table by hanging around.  This is just common courtesy.

Anyway, there was a nonagenarian two seats to my right. For a long time, I just thought he was some random older guy. I didn't recognize him but eventually his voice started sounding familiar.  And people seemed to know him.  OK, so he was a regular at the Bike, no big deal.  But the more I heard the voice, the more it sounded familiar.  And then I heard him mention that he was going to be on television that night, at 10 p.m.

And I realized it was Bill Macy, the actor.  He is most famous for playing Bea Arthur's husband on Maude.  I'm sure I saw every episode of that show.  And as I was thinking about that, it took me some 20 minutes to remember that I had seen him at the Bike before, a few years back.  Initially I couldn't remember anything about that meeting, and I assumed I hadn't even interacted with him.  In fact, my first thought was that I had seen him at another table.  But the more I thought about it, I finally starting thinking that I may have blogged about running into him.

And sure enough, I searched my blog and found the post here where I talked about playing with Bill Macy. It was over fours year ago and I haven't seen him since.  But there he was on Saturday.

By this time he had started chatting up the woman who was sitting between us, who used to live in L.A. but had moved to Arizona and was back in L.A. this weekend for a wedding. They were having quite the conversation.  Bill was interested in finding out why the lady moved to Arizona.  I suppose someone hearing this conversation might have thought that Bill was possibly hitting on this woman but that wasn't the case.  For one thing, there was a huge age difference.  For another, Bill has apparently been happily married to the same woman for over 40 years.  And finally, I'm sure Bill was sharp enough to realize that the lady he was chatting up was, shall we say, playing for the other team.

But I heard Bill tell a few other people where they could find him on TV that night, so I kind of felt he was maybe eager to talk about his career.  I had heard him say that he'd like to still work, but no one will hire him. "I can't get arrested," he said.  I guess there aren't many parts for 95-year-olds.  Suddenly, I remembered that Bill had a very small role—one line, in fact—in one of Mel Brooks' first movie, The Producers.  And it happens to be one of my all-time favorite films.  Note: I am referring to the original 1967 film, not the musical remake from 2005 which no one liked.  Well actually, I liked it, one of the few who did.  But it's nowhere near as good as the '67 original.

As I said, Bill had one line in the movie but it (and his delivery) was very memorable.  The line is, "We find the defendants incredibly guilty."  I guess I should have put a spoiler warning first but seriously, the movie is 50 years old!  And it won't ruin a thing, trust me.  It is genuinely one of the funniest movies ever made.  You can actually find Bill's scene here.

So instead of telling him I loved him on Maude, I said to him, "Weren't you in The Producers?  I still remember your line...."  And he said "Yes, I played the jury foreman. I had one line."  And he started to quote the line.  And to prove that I remembered it, I said it with him.

Mr. Macy was blown away that I remembered.  I think I made his day.  "I can't believe you remembered that one line.  I just can't believe it."  Well, I said, it's one of my favorite movies.  And he proceeded to tell everyone at the table how great the movie was and that they should definitely see it.  Then he made sure to tell him he was talking about the one with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

And then he asked me, "Do you know how I got that part in The Producers?"  Of course I did not.  So he told me.  He said that Mel Brooks had seen him in a play he was in. Being an actor, he not only mentioned the name of the play but the address of the theater in New York (both of which of course I've forgotten).  There was no curtain call for the play so Mel went back stage to see him after and told him that he was making a movie.  Unfortunately, he had cast all the parts but if something else came up he'd try to put him in it.  Well a couple of days later someone from Mel's company called him and asked if he'd be interested in a small part.  He said of course he would.  Bill told me he got $200 for the one line performance and that it was his first movie.

Then he mentioned another movie he was in, Steve Martin's The Jerk.  And he told me his signature line from that film, which was "Damn these glasses."  Of course I've seen the movie many times but I didn't remember that line, but you can find it here.

Anyway, about 15 minutes later, long after we had moved onto other topics, Bill turned to me and said, "I just can't believe you remember that one line. That's impressive."  The women sitting between us agreed with him.

Well, I was actually there to play poker so let's get to that.  The very first hand, I was dealt pocket 5's. I limped in with a bunch of others. The flop came Queen-8-5, two hearts.  Someone bet $7 and I made it $20; only the bettor called. He checked a blank turn and I bet $35 and he called.  An 8 on the river filled me up and I bet $60 after he checked.  He thought for awhile but folded.

In the small blind with Ace-King of hearts, I called $15 and it was three-way.  I checked a King-high flop and called $20.  It was heads up. The turn was a blank and I checked but he checked behind.  I led out for $35 on the river (a blank) and he folded instantly.

Next time I was the small blind I completed with Queen–9 of hearts.  The flop had a 9 on it and two hearts.  I called $10 and we were heads up.  I caught the flush on the turn and led out for $20, he called.  The river didn't pair the board but it did make a straight very likely.  I bet $25 and the guy made it $65.  Damn, did he have a bigger flush?  I thought about it and figured he could easily have the straight.  So I called.  He did indeed have the straight.

I was up almost $200 and it was early.  Then I had the misfortunate of getting pocket Aces.  There were multiple limpers so I made it $18 and got three callers.  The flop was Jack-Jack-8.  I c-bet $30, the player behind me called, and the next guy shoved. He had nearly $300.  I had him covered.  After the last guy folded, I went into the tank.  It was so easy for him to have a Jack there.  Or pocket 8's.  I couldn't see risking so much on a paired board, especially two face cards.  I folded my bullets.  The next guy tanked longer than me but finally folded 10-9 face up.  The shover kindly showed his hand—Jack-10.  I'd made a good lay down and it hadn't cost me that much.

Then I went card dead for over an hour.  At least I was enjoying my conversation with Bill Macy.

Finally I got Aces again.  I opened to $12 and it was three-way.  The flop was Jack-8-6, rainbow.  I made a c-bet of $20 and the next guy made it $40.  Last guy folded.  I called but was obviously concerned.  The turn was a blank and after I checked he bet $50.  Did he have a set?  Two pair?  I thought about letting it go but then I remembered that this was the Bike, and it wouldn't be surprising to see someone play just top pair this way.  I went ahead and called.

The river paired the 6.  After I checked, he checked behind, and then said, "I have two pair."  Well, I did too with the paired board.  He had Jack-rag and his second pair was the 6's on the board, same as me.  I showed my Aces and swept the pot.  The guy said to me, "I played that really dumb."  I didn't respond.

But I do have a question for you.  In that situation, when the guy says "I have two pair," can that possibly be considered angle-shooting?  I recall that back when i was first learning the game, and I heard someone say that, I might think I was beat if I wasn't considering the pair on the board as my second pair.  I mean I know there were a few times when I was starting out that I mucked a bigger pair than the villain had when he said that because I was only thinking of the one pair that I had.

So in that situation, I might have thought, "Two pair?  All I've got is Aces, I'm beat."  And maybe he had Jack-8 and he didn't need the paired 6's to give him two pair, so even if I saw it, I'd muck the Aces even tho I had the better hand.  Like I said, I know I did this a couple of times in my old 2/4 days.  And I've even read articles warning newbies about this—to be careful about that because calling his hand two pair—even though it's accurate—can be misleading to the inexperienced player.  So is it an angle-shooting?

I would never say that—I would never declare that I had two pair in that situation.  But then, I rarely declare my hand, I just show it.  I only declare it if it looks like the dealer is having trouble calling it (which does happen occasionally) .

This being the Bike I thought it might be more likely that the villain was trying something on me, but I'm not saying he was.  Of course, the other player (in this case me) is always responsible for tabling the winning hand.  Any thoughts on this?

Well, I had to wrap it up soon after that.  My new best friend Bill had already left, and I had lost some poker time due to traffic.  I cashed out up $150.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The New Westgate Poker Room

In case you hadn't heard, The Westgate opened a new poker room last month.  Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they re-opened their poker open, since they had a poker room and closed it a couple of years ago. This was kind of a surprise development, as mostly all you hear about these days is poker rooms closing in Vegas.

Well, it turned out that when management at the Westgate decided to get back in the poker biz, they called my bosses and colleagues over at PokerAtlas and asked them to set up our TableCaptain poker room management software in the new room.  It was actually up and running before the room opened.

That was pretty cool.  This is the first Vegas room to use our software.  You might recall that I mentioned that the Bike also uses that software, so I had seen it action a few times before.  That meant that before going over there, on the first Saturday I was in Vegas this month, I checked on the PokerAtlas app and saw that they had a 1/2 game running with a small waitlist.  You can actually open the waitlist on the app and see the names on it.  So if you're on the list, you can check to see how close you are to getting called into a game.  Sweet, huh?  You can also access all this information (including tournament clocks) on the PokerAtlas website too.

Once I saw they had a game going, I headed over that afternoon.  It was definitely on my to-do list for this to check out the newest room in town this trip.

I think the room is in the same location it was when it closed a couple of years ago—a location I never saw.  It was more-or-less part of the main casino last time I played there.  But I had heard they moved it over into the Sports Book (or adjacent to it) before they closed it down.  And now, the room is in the SuperBook (which is what they call the sports book over at Westgate, I believe it's the biggest in town), or at least across from it, near a snack bar.  The room has six tables and is pretty nice for a small room.  It is roomy, that's really nice.  The tables are not jammed together.  But the one minor issue I have is that the games are 10-handed.  I suppose for a small room just trying to build a clientele that's understandable.  They will have trouble getting multiple games going until they get established. 

And before you ask—yes, they still offer free parking over at the Westgate.  At least for now.

They are offering a lot of games—limit hold'em, limit Omaha, PLO—but from what I've seen on the app they are getting 1/2 NL almost exclusively (as you would expect).

The location in the sports book is both good and bad.  It's good when there are lots of sports on and the book is hopping. But late in the evening when there's not much going on in the sports world—even on the West Coast—there won't be much foot traffic near the room to draw from.

And the location of the casino itself is hardly ideal.  They will have to get some local grinders to leave their favorite rooms and give it a try. There of course will be plenty of tourists and convention goers staying at the Westgate to draw from.  But without the regs to get the games going, it will be a struggle.  But they just opened and the word hasn't really gotten out yet.

The Saturday I was there was actually the first Saturday of the college football season.  So of course the sports book was jam packed.  When I got to the poker room there was one 1/2 game going and an single open seat, which I grabbed. The buy-in was $50 min - $200 max.  According to the board, they also offer the same game with a $100 min - $300 Max. Obviously they're experimenting to see what works best for them. I didn't recognize any of the players.  I also didn't recognize any of the dealers, who were all first-rate.  It was a loose game, there weren't a lot of quality players at the table. I didn't get the impression that most of the folks at the table played poker all that regularly.  I figured that one or two of them were locals and the rest were tourists or maybe mostly sports bettors who wandered in from the SuperBook. 

I only took notes on two hands, but both were favorable.  I was the big blind with Jack-9 of hearts.  By this time I had  lost about $60 of my $200 buy-in, not winning a hand.  I flopped the flush draw, with the Ace of hearts on the flop.  I called $10. I think it was three-way.  The turn was the Queen of hearts, giving me the second nuts.  This time I led out for $25.  The guy who bet the flop called, the other guy folded.  The river was a blank and I bet $40.  He tanked forever and finally called.  He showed two pair and I had a decent pot.

Later I had pocket Jacks and opened to $10 and had two callers.  The flop was Ace-10-6, rainbow.  The big blind donked out $15 and I called, the other guy also called.  Yeah, the Ace was a bad card for me.  But honestly with the level of play I had seen in this game I couldn't rule out the possibility that he was donk-betting with just a pair of 10's or even 6's.  It seemed cheap enough to see what happened on the turn.

And lucky me, the turn was the Jack of hearts, the second heart on the board but more importantly giving me a set of Jacks.  Same guy bet $20.  I thought for a bit and then made it $50.  What happened next was apparently the key to the hand.  There was a player behind me who the action was on.  But before he had a chance to act, the first guy saw my bet and asked, "How much is it?  $50?  I call."  The dealer told him to hold up, the action wasn't on him.  So now it was on the third guy, who had just barely $50 in his stack.  He counted his chips, tanked for quite a while and then said, "Well, since I know you're gonna call (referring to the player  who had called out of turn), I'll fold."  The other guy indeed called and it was heads up to the river.

That river was the King of diamonds, not exactly a card I was hoping for.  There was now four to a straight on there.  And this time the guy led out for $50.  Oh crap, did he have a damn Queen?  There were all kinds of Queens in his range...pocket Queens, Ace-Queen, Queen-10, Queen Elizabeth.  You name it.

I started to think of that classic line from the TV commercial, I think it goes something like,  "I don't always fold a set of Jacks, but when I do, there's four to a straight on the board."

But the thing was, he was a loose enough (and bad enough) player to have all kinds of things in his range.  Ace-X, 10-X, who knows.  I figured he must have at least two pair but I could beat that.  I didn't like it but I made the crying call.

And he said, "I just have an Ace."  Whew!  I showed my set and he showed the Ace with a low card.  Not even two pair.  Not even a good kicker.  I was happy to take the pot.

After I stacked my chips, I suddenly remembered the third guy saying that he folded because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  Well, my curiosity was aroused.  So I said, "That hand where you folded because you know the other guy was going to call....would you mind telling me what you had?"

He said, "Well, I would have had a straight."  Holy crap.  I said, "You would have won if you stayed in?"  He said yes.  "But it was for almost all my chips."  Hmmm.

Of course, at the time he said it was because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  At the time, that sounded like, "Well, at least one of you has me beat."  But if he was on a draw....well that is very different.  On the turn, we both had him beat.  But if he hits his straight (as he apparently would have) he'd beat us both.  The only way that fold makes sense to me (and not really) is if he figured that one of us was drawing to the same straight and if he hit it he'd split the pot.  Then he wouldn't have had good odds to call.  But the fact that the other guy was going to call actually gave him good odds to call, right? 

It seems I got real lucky there running into two pretty weak players who accidentally colluded to give me the pot!

Now that I've written this up, I realize I should have played a lot more poker at the Westgate this trip, but as it happens, I never had a chance to return.

I left after a couple of hours with $110 profit.  And I'm happy to report there was about a four person waiting list when I cashed out. 

Nice little room they have there.  I hope it makes a go of it.