Saturday, December 24, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
This weekend, however, that is all about to change. I will finally have an actual visitor, my college friend Aaron. Also, Joe will be in town, and so will FJDelgado, who I'll be meeting for the first time. All of us play poker, although at somewhat different levels. If necessary, we could probably all agree to play 15-30 limit, but more likely, I think we'll just have a drink at the bar. In any case, I'm looking forward to finally having some different people around. Then I head back home for Christmas, and then back to Vegas with Brigid and my brother.
Friday, December 16, 2005
So, yesterday (Thursday), after I got up around 4pm, I decided I'd try to make it to the tournament. I've been reading Harrington on Holdem Volume II, which is an excellent book about tournament strategy, so I decided I would do some last-minute reading before heading out. I've reached the part on Heads-Up (1v1) play, which is only useful if I make it to the final two... little did I know this would be the case later on in the night. However, the tournament was over after only one heads-up hand, and I didn't play it quite as Harrington suggested anyway. So, I guess the last-minute studying was kind of useless after all.
There were 59 entrants and about 50 rebuys, for a prize pool of I guess $21,800. First place is supposed to get 26% but this didn't quite work out when I did the math, so I'm not quite sure what the deal is. Anyway, I received nearly what I think I was supposed to. Here are some highlights:
Tournament lasted exactly 6 hours, going from 7pm to 1am.
Dealt AA once, raised in early position (EP), won the blinds.
Never dealt KK or QQ.
Dealt JJ twice. The first time was in the first hour, and a short stack (550) had gone all-in in EP, and was called by the player to my right. Since my hand was quite strong and I like to play a risky style to accumulate a big stack (and I hadn't used my rebuy yet), I just called. I figured that someone behind me with a weaker hand would be more likely to play, possibly even raising all-in to try to isolate the original all-in. People sometimes do this with relatively weak hands like AJ or 99, and if my JJ held up, I would be easily the chip leader at the table. Being chip leader is a position I am quite capable of exploiting. By just calling, however, I'm inviting AQ to play, too... a hand I'd rather have fold. This was a risk I was willing to take. I'd rather have a player with AK fold, too, but I think AK would call even if I raised all-in (I had about 2600 total I think). Even though I had only called, everyone else folded. The flop came 346, and, to my surprise, the guy to my right went all-in, betting 1550 at a 1700 pot. This is an unorthodox move, and it caught me off guard. What could he have here? With one player all-in, I can rule out a complete bluff. My opponent must think he can beat the all-in player. Usually people will only bet in this situation if they have a very big hand. So, my initial thought was that he must have a set, probably 66. It was also possible he had AA or KK. With these hands, though, he should be betting only 500 or so, trying to draw more of my chips into the pot. I decided that a hand like 88 or 99 was much more likely. Also possibly AK. These are hands that are probably ahead of the all-in raiser, but are still quite vulnerable and thus would like to get me to fold. So, I called and was surprised to see that he had only AJo. The other player had 77. The turn was a 9 and the river a 5, giving the all-in player a straight, but I won the 3100 side pot and came out ahead.
The second time I had JJ I raised and just won the blinds and antes.
Never dealt TT or 99.
I was dealt a pair higher than 88 only three times in six hours! Perhaps this isn't all that surprising. If I played 221 hands, I should expect to get a pair higher than 8's six times on average, so getting them only three times isn't all that ridiculous. Also, I may have played fewer than 221 hands, I'm not sure.
By the time we were down to ten players, there were two tables of five players, and I had the second biggest stack at my table. Two or three players were super short-stacked, but ninth place paid out over $900 and tenth paid $0, so people were playing very tight to try to get into the money. Fortunately for me, the big stack at the table was sitting to my right, allowing me to fold whenever he entered a pot, and steal the blinds and antes whenever he folded (this player would eventually be the tournament's second-place finisher). We had ten players for quite a while. Finally, I was in the small blind and an extremely tight, somewhat passive old pro raised under the gun. I figured him for at least AQ or 99, probably better. The next two players folded to me. I raised all-in with QT. Since the raiser had the third biggest stack at the table, he could have just folded his hand here and coasted into the money easily. He had been playing so tight that I thought this was his main goal, so I figured he would likely fold unless he had AA or KK. Actually, he called with AK! Even if I had AQ, which is about the best he could hope for, he was only a 74% favorite. Against any pair he is at only around 45%. Against a complete bluff he was only about 65% to win. So he was risking a sure $900+ here unnecessarily. Anyway, my QTo was 36% to win, and I caught a queen and knocked him out. The short stacks thanked me, and I was the new chip leader.
We consolidated into one final table of nine players. After a few hands I realized that players were still hanging on and just trying to move up a spot or two, even though 8th, 7th, and 6th paid only $120 or so more than the next lower finish. This was a great situation for me, as the chip leader. I started going all-in about 75% of the time if the players had folded around to me. With a stack of about 40K, I was picking up 2K or 3K each time I did this. Before I knew it, I was up to 60K, out of 160K total on the table. People were noticing what I was doing and even grumbling about it, but I wasn't showing my hands, so they didn't realize just how indiscriminantly I was raising. At one point, though, a micro stack smaller than the small blind limped in. The players in the blinds were particularly tight so I just pushed all-in with J4o. I figured people would see that the all-in player was on the brink of elimination and not want to risk their stacks at this point. I was right, and despite losing the main pot, I still added a bit to my stack from the side pot, which consisted of most of the blinds. The downside was that I had to show my J4o, and now some people were clearly determined to catch me bluffing. One guy actually complained to me. He thought I should be letting more hands in to try to knock out the short stacks. I didn't respond, but obviously, I didn't want the short stacks knocked out at all, since they were the whole reason my strategy was working so well.
I kept the big stack until we were down to four players and I started losing some hands. My J9 lost to AT, my J8 lost to AK. I had the second biggest stack when I found ATs under the gun. Four handed, this is a big hand. I considered a normal-sized raise, but one of the players at the table had recently started raising me all-in whenever I did that. So, I just went all-in myself. The big stack called me with JJ, and I was on the verge of elimination. Fortunately, the dealer put two tens on the board, and I sucked out and became the chip leader again.
When it got to be heads-up, I had about 100K and my oppenent had about 65K. First place was about $1300 more than second, and the Mirage rules forbid deal making, so we had to play it out for high stakes. The blinds were 2K, 4K with antes of 300, and I had the small blind and the button. I looked down at A3o, a good hand heads-up. I raised to 12K, looking for a call because I would have position on the flop. My oppenent raised all-in for another 50K or so. This is the player who had been re-raising me all-in quite frequently in the past 45 minutes or so. As a result, I somewhat recklessly decided to call him. Fortunately, my hand held up against his KJs (I was about 54% to win), and, for the first time ever, I had won a live tournament. They even gave me a framed picture of myself sitting behind all the chips!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
The most recent video I got was World Poker Tour: Bad Boys of Poker. Here's how Netflix describes it:
Five of the world's greatest players go head to head at this ultimate Las Vegas showdown. Three-time WPT winner Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, Paul "The Truth" Darden, Phil Laak, David "Devilfish" Ulliot and WPT satellite tournament winner Mark Richards hit the tables to prove who's the baddest poker player on the planet. Extras include commentary by Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak, player bios and outrageous World Poker Tour clips.
Most of these guys are entertaining, and I was interested in the commentary by Esfandiari and Laak, so I decided to give it a try. It was well worth it. The commentary by "The Magician" and "The Unabomber" was consistently amusing and, when they would describe what was going through their minds as they played, even insightful (unfortunately they did this only a few times). They had interesting and funny stories to tell about the other players. According to Esfandiari, for instance, Devilfish is "the most funnest guy in the world to go to a strip club with." Also, both Esfandiari and Laak are in awe of Gus Hansen (who isn't?), although they jokingly talk about how lucky he is. They say that Gus is coming out with a book in the near future, which is the first I've heard of this - I'm excited to read it. Anyway, as a person who now plays so much poker that it sometimes gets a bit draining, I found it encouraging to see how much fun these guys still have.
Next DVD: Howard Lederer: "Tells" All
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Basically what we are looking to do is just give someone some nice shirts to wear when they play all the time in cash games our tournaments. In exchange for you doing this we will list you as a featured pro on your website. I am the largest site and have license deals with Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Phil Gordon, Erik Siedel, Amir Vahedi, Greg Raymer and more. This gives you instant credibility. This way you can work with other people to sponsor you into big events etc. All we ask if you get another sponsor to pay for the WSOP etc…is that you still wear our logo also as well as his on the same shirt etc.Not all of this is perfectly clear. (He is "the largest site"?) I guess the idea is that by putting my name alongside those of a bunch of big-name pros, I might be better able to convince somebody else to sponsor me for tournaments. Hmmmm.... rather enticing. It might even work. However, I feel rather uncomfortable misrepresenting myself like this. Besides, the fact that I've never even played a major tournament would be sure to come out at some point, and I imagine any potential sponsors would have a problem with that last part: "you still wear our logo also as well as his on the same shirt etc."
I think I should call the cardroom guy back again.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Recently I've been playing earlier in the evening because I haven't been awake very late. Unfortantely, the Rio usually only has one 2-5 NL table going at this time, and it takes a while to get a seat. Also, the game doesn't seem quite as wild as it was a couple weeks ago, especially in the early evening. Still, it's the best 2-5 NL game I know of. Also, they have three different poker magazines available to help pass the time while I wait for a table.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Most of the big-name players now are sponsored by internet poker sites to play in the major tournaments and wear gear baring their name and logo in exchange for the entry fee for the tournament. Many unknown players are being sponsored, now, too. I met two such players yesterday playing 2-5NL at the Wynn. One guy sat down to my right wearing a polo shirt with "goldenpalace.com" written all over it. He said he had just come in 10th at some $10K event over at the Plaza. They sponsor him because he is the winningest player on their website, having made around $400K playing mostly $150-$300 limit. He came to play $2-5 because he wanted to play with his buddy, who was already playing at the table. They were about 21 and still in college in Chicago. Anyway, the details of his sponsorship is that they pay the $10K entry fee, but he has to pay his own travel expenses.
Another player at the table was a girl in her late 20's (I think) wearing a "cardroom.com" hat. This is a relatively unknown website, but I had met a guy on the strip a couple months ago who worked for them. He gave me a t-shirt and his email address, and he told me that cardroom.com wanted to sponsor some players. Needless to say, I tried emailing him; unfortunately, I got no response. When I saw this girl with the hat, though, I asked her where she got it.
"They sponsored me for the $1500 tournament today," meaning the first of the big tournaments at the Bellagio. I told her about my encounter with the cardroom representative on the strip.
"Oh yeah? What was his name?" she asked.
"I think it was Josh."
"Oh, ok. He doesn't work for them anymore. I could give you Todd's number, though, if you want."
She told me that they don't pay the entry fees. She didn't explain it very well, but from what I understand, cardroom will add 30% or something to any winnings that you get. While this would be nice, I'd prefer to just get the entry fee paid for, since that would decrease the volatility a lot more. Also, I imagine it would make tax season a bit more complicated. In any case, I figured it was worth looking into.
So, I got Todd's number. Just a few minutes ago I called him and left a message. Somehow I doubt anything will come of it, but it's worth a try.
Monday, November 28, 2005
As the night went, word went around about my chosen profession, and several people told me that I had by far the most interesting story they had heard from anyone at the reunion. I expect this is largely because my classmates are mostly boring, but nonetheless, I appreciated the attention. The former "jocks" tended to be particularly impressed, since many of them play poker themselves, but not professionally. My more intellectual acquaintances from high school generally thought that what I was doing was cool, but I also got one or two disapproving reactions. One girl reacted with a part horrified, part incredulous "noooo!" This is the same reaction my mother initially had when I told her that I was seriously considering moving to Vegas. I guess they both had expected I would have chosen to do something useful with my life.
Strangely, nobody got particularly fat. I guess they stayed home. Still surprising, though.
As a side note, my former friend (the class president) failed to give me my fantasy baseball winnings at the reunion. It's sad, really; he was one of my best friends, but obviously my dignity requires that I no longer speak to him. The season ended almost two months ago!
Seriously, though, Alex - give me my money.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
On Friday night is my 5 year high school reunion. I imagine there will be some comical interactions when people ask me what I am doing nowadays and I tell them "playing poker in Las Vegas."Even here in Las Vegas, most people I meet outside of a poker room have a hard time believing that this could really be all I do to support myself. Still, the incredulous people are usually easier to deal with than the really hyper-interested people, who will undoubtedly feel it's okay to ask me how much I'm making. I'll have to come up with a satisfactory answer to this question before Friday. Usually I just say "I'm not getting rich, but I'm paying the bills." I guess that's a good enough answer. After the reunion, I'll post again and let you know who got fat.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
1. At least half of the blog's entries need to be poker-related.
2. I need to actually like the blog.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I shouldn't even be posting this because it's almost certainly unprofitable for me to tell other good players about this, but the Rio poker room is a gold mine, at least on the weekends. The players at the 2-5 NL game there play like low-limit or relatively weak 1-2 NL players, and there are usually five or six people drinking alcohol at any given ten person table. The games are just unbelievable. When I told some of the other players that I like playing at the Wynn, they thought I was crazy. "The games there are really tight... the players are just too tough," they would respond. Well, in light of my recent discovery of the Rio, I have to agree with them.
Let me describe one hand to you. There are a few guys at the Rio who are actually quite good. One of them, a skinny Asian guy of about 40, was at my table on Friday, and he was just running over the table. Of the winning players I saw at the Rio, he was by far the most loose- aggressive (actually, I was the only player who was close). By bluffing people out whenever he sensed weakness, he was winning nearly half the pots at this ten person table, and had built up a stack of over $1500. Nobody else at the table was willing to risk their whole stacks without super-strong hands, and he was capitalizing on their risk-aversion. Fortunately, I don't have the same problem, so when I had AQo under the gun, I just limped in. Normally, it is not correct to try to limp-raise with anything weaker than QQ, but AQ0 is so much better than the average hand this guy was raising with that I felt it was worth a shot. I had about $300 behind. Sure enough, he raised to $25, and when it got around to me, I re-raised it up to $90. After a few seconds, he pushed me all in.... at this point I wasn't quite so happy with my hand. There was now a decent chance he had me beat with AK or even KK, but with almost $200 in the pot and his $210 bet, I was getting almost 2-1 odds on my call, and I couldn't justify a fold. Besides, I still figured there was a very good chance I was either way ahead or only slightly behind (like for instance if he had AJ or 99, respectively). I called and won a $600 pot against his KJo.
There are several other hands worth posting about, too, but I want to give a quick review of the Palms and the Rio, like I did with the Bellagio, Wynn, and Mirage earlier.
$2-5 NL $100-$500 buy-in. Also sometimes a $5-10NL game.
Very small room, only 4 or 5 no-limit tables and maybe 8 limit tables. This sometimes results in long waits.
Parking is pretty easy - I like to park outside. The walk is reasonably short.
The bathrooms are the most accessible of any poker room I know.
Weekends often get overflow from the very popular club scene, which can be quite profitable. However, this has attracted some very good regulars who make the games very tough when the fish aren't swimming. It also means there is good scenery (ie club girls walking by).
Floorpeople and dealers are reasonably good.
I think they have shuffling machines but I'm not sure.
Fast food reasonably close.
I can't remember what the rake is.
$2-5 NL $100-500 buy-in
Small room; only a few games at a time.
Parking can be a pain. Also the walk from the garage to the poker room is ridiculously long.
Update: Actually, the parking is very convenient if you go to the right parking lot. The one off Flamingo is much further from the poker room than the one off Valley View.
Rio attracts a loud, raucous, drunken crowd, and this spill sover into the poker room. Like I said, it's the easiest money I've found so far (although 1-2NL at the Stratosphere is very weak too).
Floorpeople and dealers are friendly and helpful, but they don't always seem to have a good grasp of the rules, or don't enforce them very well.
Some tables have shuffling machines (which I like because it makes the game go faster).
The buffet is good and right across from the poker room, but I've only been once.
Rake is unusually high. All the casinos I know of take at most $4 out of each pot. The Rio takes the fourth dollar out when the pot reaches $40. For comparison, the Wynn takes out the fourth dollar at $120 I think.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Despite all this, I think I'm heading back to the no-limit games soon. My hourly earn is not my only objective, as I discussed in another earlier post. Playing 4-8 limit at this point in my career not very productive in terms of improving my game. For one week, it wasn't so bad to go back and realize what I huge advantage I now have over such inexperienced players. Watching the other players allowed me to review all the basic tells and mistakes that I am always looking for at the bigger games but hardly ever see, and it reminded me of what types of mistakes beginners tend to make and the ways in which people react to bad beats. Now I'm ready to get back to improving my game against the better players again. Besides, my main motivation for playing the low-limit games was that I had a friend in town; that is no longer the case.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Last week, as I said, there was a big tournament at the Bellagio and so the poker room was rather crowded. Dave Naif, a white, well-groomed guy of about 65, was holding the list for the 2-5 NL game while walking around the room, so I waited at the podium, where he is supposed to be. It took a ridiculous ten or fifteen minutes before he even returned to his post.
"Hi, Dave," I said. Several nights a week for the past couple of months, I'd given him my name to put on the 2-5 NL list, so I feel like a first name basis is appropriate. Also, he wears a name tag.
"Hi," he says, confused. Evidently he doesn't recognize me. This is a complaint about Dave that I've heard voiced by other players. Supposedly, Dave once carded a regular player three nights in a row. Despite this, I figure he'll eventually recognize me, but I guess it hasn't happened yet.
This is the point where Dave is supposed to ask me what game I want to play and put my name on the list. Instead, he is scribbling things on little post-it notes. I wait patiently for a minute or two. Then Dave turns and walks away.
Five minutes later, with Dave wandering the room again, I turn and walk away, too. I haven't been back. Instead, I've been playing at the Wynn, and a little at the Mirage.
Here are some Wynn/Bellagio comparisons.
Poker room in the Wynn is much closer to the parking garage than at the Bellagio. This isn't a big deal, though, because I don't mind walking through the Bellagio, which is quite nice. Still, proximity is key.
Rarely takes more than 10 minutes to get into a game at the Wynn.
Mixed game at the Wynn is played at 10-20 stakes. At the Bellagio it is 40-80.
Lower rake at the Wynn, if I remember correctly.
More beginners playing 2-5 NL.
Slightly more attractive waitresses at the Wynn.
If I want to move up in stakes, the 5-10 NL at the Wynn is a more logical progression than the Bellagio's 10-20 NL.
Floor managers are better at the Wynn.
Floor people are equipped with better technology. They have ear pieces so they can communicate across the room without shouting. And the lists are displayed on a screen overhead, which is a common poker room feature that the Bellagio lacks.
Wynn has more transparent comps system. This is a minor factor, since I find it inconvenient to have to stop and ask someone to swipe my card whenever I come and go, which is how the comp system works at the Wynn.
Wynn bathrooms are slightly nicer.
Tables not as closely packed at the Wynn, so it's easier to get around.
Snack bar cheaper at Bellagio (but still exorbitant).
More poker stars around.
Slightly better dealers at Bellagio.
I know and like several of the regular players and dealers.
More drunk people playing 2-5 NL at Bellagio.
Also, I have recently played a bit at the Mirage. I like the Mirage for their relatively cheap $100 rebuy tournaments, cheap snacks at the gift shop (this is quite significant), and relatively poor competition. On the other hand, the tables do not have an automatic shuffler, the dealers are not quite as good, and the parking garage is not very convenient.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
For the record, I've seen Sklansky with a woman at the Bellagio, and if she is only 23, well... let's just say there's no way she was only 23.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Incidentally I've been doing pretty well in the 2-5 NL games, and Negreanu's comments are making me consider trying the 5-10 NL at the Wynn. In fact, with the way he was playing, I hope he shows up again.
Oh, and that Poker Stars Tournament already has over 1000 entrants, so it's going to take forever, and with such a large field it's probably unlikely that I'll win anything. Should I bother to play it?
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The event is October 23rd. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
"I hate this game!"
"But you still choose to come and play everyday."
"Yeah, the other day I was talking to this guy who said that if someone told him that he had to come to the casino every night for eight hours and play 4-8 Omaha, he'd be furious and crying Bloody Murder. I thought about it and realized he was right. But for some reason I come here and do it anyway."
Incidentally, I won only one pot for the 2 hours I was there and lost $200.
Earlier tonight I went to the Wynn, and the only table with open seating was the 10-20 HORSE game, where they switch off between holdem, Omaha 8 or better, 7 card stud 8 or better, Razz, and 2-7 triple draw. At first I decided to just wait around because I don't know how to play most of those games well, and barely know the rules to a couple of them. Then I decided to play anyway. I've been so focused on no-limit holdem that it's become rather intense, and I figured it might be fun to try something different. The first game was O-8, then deuce to seven. This was the first time in my life I had ever played this game. The first hand I showed down 76432, the second best hand possible. The next hand I ended up with 87542, and my only opponent had 87543. After staring at the two hands for about 10 seconds I finally realized I had won the hand, triumphantly sliding out my 2 for my opponent to see (he still hadn't figured out who had won either, and neither had the dealer).
Daniel Negreanu had been hanging around and it turned out he wanted to play in our game (just for fun obvioiusly), but the table was full. We were just starting another round of 2-7 triple draw, and one of the players at my table said, "Daniel, play deuce for me," meaning he wanted Negreanu to use his chips to play the round of deuce to seven.
"No, the other players don't want me playing, especially not with all the raising I'm gonna be doing!" Negreanu then sat at the 5-10 NL game instead. That's the closest I've come so far to playing against one of the poker stars.
Despite mostly playing games I'd never played before (or hardly ever), I made $300 in 2 hours. Not bad.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Despite this, I decided to go play in the daily tournament tournament over at Binion's. I've played in this tournament a few times, once sitting next to Cory Lidle. It was also the first place I ever played a live tournament, on the first night I was in Vegas about two years ago, and place second (my friend Ben from college actually came in first). I hadn't played in a week because I went back to Washington DC for the weekend, but I just felt like I had reached the point where I am likely in the top 3% of the players in a relatively cheap tournament like this ($110). Despite not getting a real hand the entire first hour (just stealing the blinds here and there), I was able to place second with some help from a stretch of good cards when the field got down to around ten players (at which point they brought us all over to the well lit "Binion's featured table"). This is only the second time I've placed in the money ina live tournament (I've come in first a few times online), and let me tell you, it is exhausting. I was there for only four and a half hours but my concentration level was so high that now I feel like a ran a marathon with my brain. I'm glad it didn't take much longer. When it got down to heads up I had about $35K and my opponent had $53K. It turns out that the winner also gets a T-shirt and a free pass to the "tournament of champions," to be held November 6. The other guy had actually won the late-night tournament the previous night (which actually finished after midnight, so he won two tourneys in one day!), but he wasn't going to be able to make the TOC, so that was given to me instead. He and I discussed just splitting the rest of the prize money, and I would let him take the T-shirt (which he wanted really badly for some reason), but he decided to play it out instead. He caught some good hands against my not-quite-so-good hands and that was it. I really felt like I could beat him because he was playing way too tightly, but after he got me down to about $15K and the blinds were $3k-$6K with a $600 ante, I pushed all-in with 78o, and he called and won with AKo , a hand well within range for even his overly tight hand selection. That's poker.
If this post was rather boring considering that it was a reasonably exciting story, it's because I am really quite exhausted right now. I can't imagine playing the WSOP events, which take way longer than 5 hours I think. Then again, it was good that I was able to keep up my concentration for so long... maybe I'm just exhausted now because I'm out of "poker shape" after my week long break. Yawn.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
1. I spent over $1100 getting Nevada licence plates on Friday.
2. I was a passenger in a car with Arizona licence plates this weekend that was pulled over for speeding. The driver admitted to the officer that he was over 10 months late getting his plates. The officer let him off, and the fine would have been a mere $180.
Why do I bother to follow rules and regulations?
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I've been a bit sick recently, but I started getting pretty bored staying in my room all day, so I decided to go play for a couple hours. Playing 2-5 NL, my stack was up to $400. The player to my right was a guy named Bobby who I see at the Bellagio a lot. Bobby is about 45 years old, a very solid player who likes to bet his strong hands aggressively on the flop when he gets them. Earlier I had been chatting with him, and he told me he had only been playing for 10 months, but had once placed first in the $500 daily tournament at the Bellagio, which is pretty impressive. I also know from chatting with his wife at the Bellagio (she is also a good player) that he is a successful investment banker from Florida. Anyway, he's a pretty solid player. Here's how the hand played out.
I was in middle position, fourth to act after the big blind. The first player and Bobby limped in and I threw in a raise to $25 with T2 clubs. Obviously, this is not a hand I should usually play, but like I said, I am still in a learning phase to some extent. I had been playing very tightly up to this point and wanted to see if Bobby would call my raise before the flop. He had about $500 behind. Anyway, I got three callers: a very loose player one off the button plus the two original limpers. Now there was about $105 in the pot and the flop came 986. The 8 was a club, the others a heart and a diamond. The first two players checked and I bet $75 hoping to win the pot. The next two players folded and Bobby, as you might have expected from the effort I put into describing him, called the $75. This was a big surprise to me, as I knew if he had an overpair or a nine (or better) he would raise me, and if he just had a hand like A6s or AJ he would probably fold. His call told me he probably had a 7 for the straight draw, possibly with an A or maybe a pair of 6's or 8's. He also might have had JT, and there was an outside chance he had a 9 high straight and wanted to slow-play it.
Turn was a 4. Two diamonds on board now. Bobby checked. I had $300 left. I could continue my bluff, or just check. An all-in bet here into the $250 pot would look an awful lot like an over pair, a set, two pair, or something like that. Bobby would probably fold unless he already had his straight, which I thought was very unlikely. Despite all this, I checked.
The river was a 2, giving me a pair of twos. Bobby bet out $100 into the $250 pot, an oddly small bet, especially for Bobby. The 2 could not have helped his hand, so I figured either he has had his straight all along and is finally betting it for value while he has the chance, or he missed his draw and is trying to get me to fold AK or AQ, which Bobby probably figures are my most likely hands in this situation. One thing about playing against solid players is that they are usually easier to read because they don't make dumb plays. This helped me rule out a hand like a pair of 6's or 8's. If Bobby had these hands, he could already beat AK or AQ and had no reason to bluff. So, I had to decide if Bobby already had his straight, or if he had something like A7s and was now trying to win the pot after I showed weakness on the turn. Facing a $100 bet into the $250 pot, I only needed to be about 22% sure that my pair of 2's would win for a call to be correct. That, coupled with my curiousity about Bobby's hand, led me to call the $100.
As I put my $100 in the pot, Bobby asked "do you have a 6?" What? Bobby put me on a 6 here?? He turned over 56 for a pair of sixes. Embarrassed by calling with a hand that couldn't beat that, I morosely pushed my cards face down to the dealer. For those of you who are poker players, what was Bobby thinking when he bet that hand on the river? Would you have pushed all-in on the turn? And, would you have called with the pair of 2's at the end? This hand completely befuddled me. I'd better get back to my reading.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The reason I bring this up is that before moving to Vegas, men had winked at me several times at the poker tables, which is something I find both off-putting and intriguing. Nowhere else does this happen. The last time I can remember being winked at by a man outside of a poker room is... well, never. I'm pretty sure it happened when I was a small child but I can't really remember any instances. In the poker room, it tends to happen after I laugh at a witty remark someone has made, but on TV shows (my only other frame of reference for the meaning of winks) it seems to mean something like "what I just said isn't really true, don't tell anyone!" Anyway, I've laughed at witty remarks in many other venues and nobody ever winks at me anywhere else. I just wanted to share this odd little observance about poker rooms.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Success at no limit poker is much more reliant on the psychological side of the game than is success at limit poker. Since I am more technically oriented, I suspect that I have more potential to be an excellent limit player than no limit. Why, then, have I been spending my time playing mostly no limit holdem rather than limit? Two reasons: First, I have to admit, no limit poker is more exciting. More hands are playable before the flop, and more money can be won or lost on a given hand. The second reason I have been playing no limit is actually a consequence of the first reason. Since no limit is more exciting (and also because of the TV coverage), it attracts a lot more players who don't know what they are doing. Actually, the really really low limit tables have the most of these types of players but I'm comparing 1-2 or 2-5 NL with 8-16 or 15-30 limit.
Anyway, the point of all this is to say that I've decided to play mostly limit poker for a few days and see how it goes. I think I'll probably play 15-30, which I have played a few times before and feel pretty comfortable at. Of course, if another table looks pretty wild, I'm willing to go wherever the money is at.
Friday, September 02, 2005
When I got back to the poker room and walk up the steps to the high limit area, Nikki and Bijou are just leaving. I tried to quickly come up with something to say to get them to stick around, but all I could come up with was "leaving already?" which sounded stupid in my head, so I just said "bye, have a good night." "Good night," said one of them and they left. I was surprised to see that their obnoxious European friend was still playing. It occured to me that this eliminated one of my reasons for not hanging out with them, and I thought momentarily of pursuing them. Because I'm not retarded, I immediately realized that this was a ridiculous idea and sat down in my seat. While the blinds approached, I tried to decide whether to keep playing. I did not feel overmatched at this table by any means, but the stakes were really too high for me to justify continuing to play any longer without the huge advnatage I had over my opponents when Nikki and Bijou were playing. I was still having fun though, so I decided to play one more round and then leave. "Tonight is going to make for a great blog entry" I thought to myself. "Don't fuck it up by losing all your money before you go." I resolved to play very tightly and probably just fold all the rest of my hands.
My first hand, in the big blind, was QQ. There were two limpers, the SB called, and I abandoned my tight-passive vow and raised to $120. Everyone folded and I won $60. Two hands later, on the button, I played 97o after several players limp in. This was another flagrant violation of my vow of tightness. The flop came 994 and it was checked around. The turn was a 7, giving me a full house. It was checked to me, I bet $60, and everyone folded. The guy to my right, a Venezuelan man who I had difficulty understanding and who sometimes resorted to speaking to me in Spanish (which I do not understand), told me "good bluff!" and tried to get me to admit that it was a bluff. I just nodded and thanked him when he persisted in saying things like "that was a good bluff...right??" A few hands later something possessed me to limp in with 7d5d and the flop came 6s 8s Tc, giving me an open-ended straight draw but also putting a flush draw on the board and a possible higher straight. A 9 came on the turn, and a K on the river. I bet both times and split the pot with someone with 78s. Eurofriend was compelled at this point to announce several times how obvious it was that we both had 7's.
My stack now stood at a bit over $2000. I folded a hand and got ready to go because I was due to put in the next big blind. Before I got a chance to leave, though, someone came back from a break and bought the button, meaning he put in both blinds and I got to play one more hand for free. So I was halfway out the door when I looked down at my hand and saw KsKh. So much for not playing many hands. The Venezuelan limped in and I raised to $100. A player to my left called, Eurofriend called, and either the blind or the Venezuelan called (I can't remember which). All of them had my $2000 covered, and at this point I was just hoping I didn't have to commit too many chips to this pot. I was hoping for no ace on the flop, in which case I would bet and hopefully take it down right there. Well, the flop came 2s 7c Kc, giving me top set. I bet $200 into the $400+ pot, making myself look possibly weak, inviting others into the pot and possibly to raise me. The man to my left folded and, to my delight, the European friend of NIkki and Bijou raised to $700. The next player folded, and the action was back on me. I had about $1700 left, enough to call the $500 and raise another $1200. I figured Euro-friend for KQ or something, but since there was only one king left in the deck and he was a weak but aggressive player, a smaller pair or a flush draw was probably equally likely. None of this really mattered, though, since there was really only one thing for me to do here.
"I'm going to go all-in," I announced without touching my chips.
Euro-friend looked at me with dismay. "Are you serious?" he asked, and I just raised my eyebrows and nodded. The Venezuelan guy left at this point for a smaking break.
"Well, I know we both have flush draws," Eurofriend said, "the only quesiton is, do you have the ace? The only thing that beats me is the ace high flush draw." Clearly, he was implying that he had the queen high draw. I said nothing and just sat there and waited for him to make his decision. I was almost indifferent to whether he called or folded here. His calling has a slight positive expectation for me if he does indeed have the flush draw, but obviously I wouldn't mind if he folded and didn't make me sweat it out for the pot, which was already almost $2000. If he didn't really have the flush draw I would prefer he called, but he had no real reason to lie about this here. He asked me how much I had left, and, after a couple of minutes, he finally called.
Not willing to look anywhere but at the table lest I not be the first to know what cards have come out, I watched and hoped that no clubs would come or that the board would pair. It was all I could do.
Turn was black: 8 of spades.
River was black: 3 of spades.
I showed my three kings, Euro-friend mucked his cards, and I raked in what was certainly now the biggest pot I'd ever won, or even seen for that matter.
The Venezuelan guy came back from smoking right after I showed my kings. He pointed at the cards on the table in shock and said "somebody had two kings??"
"Yeah, those were mine," I responded. He put out his fist for me to punch and then asked me for $100.
"How about just 30?"
"No! Why would I give you my money?!"
The guy to my left laughed and put out his fist. "You can punch MY fist for only $20!"
A few hands later (I was now sitting out), I had finally finished racking my chips. It was $4358. Assuming he really did have the flush draw, I had had about a 75% chance at that pot. I'm not quite sure how I'd be feeling right now if the cards had fallen the wrong way. I gave the dealer $5 and got up to go to the cashier. On my way down the steps some guy who I think may have been friends with the Venezuelan guy said "wow, good job!" and scratched my belly, which I only mention because it was so bizarre and creepy.
As I was leaving the poker room after cashing out, I crossed paths with Brian from the "Tilting" post. Although I don't like him, I was in a good mood and said "hey, how ya doin?"
"Good night?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, and smiled to myself. Yes. Yes, it was.
"Wow, what the hell are THEY doing in the poker room?" I asked rhetorically. I'm not really sure if they can be considered big celebrities... I mean, they are known more for they're families and their partying than for their talent (particularly in Nikki's case), but still, these two would have to be considered among the most prominent and attractive young female socialites in the country today. Among poker players, who get a kick out of seeing ANY hot girl, this is a pretty significant sighting. I certainly wouldn't have expected to see them in the poker room. The guy to my left comments "if you want to play the lottery go over there and talk to them. If they like you, you're rich. I wish I were smoother... I'd go over there myself." I point out that they are already with a guy, but only one.
I assumed that Nikki and Bijou were just here to pick up a friend or maybe sit and watch someone play, but ten minutes later I notice that they are actually playing over at a 10-20 NL table. In fact, it is the same one where there had been a fight not long ago. I also notice that there are about four open seats at their table.
There are two general principles that every good pro poker player needs to understand. One is that no matter how good or bad you are, you will make a profit in the long run if your opponents are worse than you, and you will lose in the long run if your opponents are better than you. This is why I can make a living playing poker and why some players much better than me actually lose money. They are choosing much more skillful opponents. The second principle is that in the short run, anything can happen, and if you are playing at limits way above your head you are liable to run out of money before you have a chance to make any.
Now, 10-20 NL is a limit significantly higher than I had ever played, but if Nikki Hilton and Bijou Phillips are anywhere near as good as I am at poker, I figured it would be worth my $600 buy in to see it and be able to say I sat at their table for a while.
I told the guy who pointed out Nikki and Bijou that I'm thinking of heading over to their table. "Really? 10-20? You can afford that?" "Not really, but it's probably worth a shot, look who's playing over there." I got up and walked over to the guy in charge of the high limit tables and asked if the seats were open. He said they were. I also scanned the other players at the table to make sure none of them were any of the superstar players that occassionally play here are at the table. Nope, one of them was Nikki and Bijou's friend and the other two I didn't recognize. I returned to my 2-5 table to get my chips and tell the guy to my left that I'm leaving. "Where are you going?" he asked nervously. "Over to the 10-20 table," I answered even more nervously. "You should go, too," I tell him. "You'll be one of the better players at the table." I then folded one hand at the 2-5 table and carried my remaining $340 in chips over to the $10-20 table. The minimum buy-in here is $600 with no maximum, and I had about $800 on me, including my chips. I told the guy running the table that I'd like to sit and handed him my chips and $300 in cash. As I was standing there waiting for him to retreive my chips, I felt my knees getting weak and my hands getting shaky, so I picked a seat and sat down (two to Nikki's left, three to Bijou's, but around the corner of the table so they were just across from me). To my right was an open seat and then a man in his forties, and to my left was the dealer, two open seats, and then Nikki and Bijou's friend, over on the other side of the table. To Bijou's right, across from the dealer was another man in his forty's.
After sitting down, I said hi to everyone at the table, and the guy to my right said hi, and Bijou smiled at me. I smiled back and looked away but I was aware that she was still looking at me. Eventually I looked back at her again and smiled. A little later she was whispering to Nikki while glancing up at me. This sort of thing (mild flirting I think?) continued all night actually, with Bijou sometimes singing along with the casino's background music and even dancing a little in her seat when she caught my glance. After a while I started just laughing and raising my eyebrows at her for doing this, although I won't pretend I didn't enjoy it on some level. Also, sometimes when she or Nikki were in a hand that was somewhat intense she would look at me and grin and silently giggle at the situation. At one point we started talking about Phil Ivey, whom she is a big fan of, and I told her that he was playing thereat the Bellagio tonight, and she seemed quite impressed. Now, I'm not the type of guy who flirts or is accustomed to being flirted with, so I might have been misreading the situation, but there is no doubt that Bijou was focusing quite a bit of attention on me and I am pretty sure there was nothing on my face or shirt or anything like that. Anyway, enough about that. (Actually it was probably too much info for my girlfriend... I love you Brigid! Please don't hate me.)
By the time my thirty-two $20 chips arrived and the big blind came around to me (just a couple of hands), Nikki was on the button. Her friend, who had a European accent of some sort, was explaining, in a tone that could not be construed as anything but condescending but which I guess he must have thought was charmingly enthusiastic and helpful, that "you are in the BEST POSITION IN POKER, Nikki! You get to act after everyone else has already gone!" Nikki didn't seem as excited about it as he was. I asked her if this were her first time playing and she answered with a curt "no," so I didn't ask her anything else.
I put in my $20 blind bet and reminded myself to conserve my chips. If I ran out I wouldn't have enough to buy back in again. Looking around I noticed that I was significantly short-stacked, with everyone else with at least as many chips as me and also stacks of $100 bills. On this first hand, everyone except Nikki and Bijou limped in. I had 64o and checked my option, and the flop came JT5. The SB checked and for some reason I decided this was a good chance to bluff and put out $60 into the $80 pot. Euro-friend folded reluctantly after 15 seconds or so, the next guy called, and the SB folded. The turn comes 6, giving me a weak pair. I bet again, this time $120, and won the pot. If I had lost I would have been down to $440, but fortunately my foolhardiness paid off and I was up to $760. Nikki's friend then told me he folded pocket 6's.
I want to mention that Nikki, Bijou, and their friend all smoke, but only their friend seemed to think he was above the rules. He complained about having to stand 6 feet from the rail when smoking, and also complained about several other rules such as talking during the hand and talking in foreign languages.
A little later the guy I was talking to at the $2-5 table arrives and sits to the left of the dealer. He asks me how the table is and I tell him "they haven't played any hands yet." Around this time Nikki starts playing a lot of hands and wins several hundred, probably over $1000. In one of the most unpalatable displays of either condescension or ingratiation, I'm not quite sure which, Nikki's European friend led a round of applause each time she won a pot. "Yeah, Nikki! Good for you!" and Nikki smiled uncomfortably and gave the trademark Hilton forced "thank you." Even another player at the table joined in the applause whole-heartedly along with a railbird or two. I have no idea how these people could have considered this appropriate behavior. Nikki kept on betting and winning pots. Bijou joked that people must have been afraid that Nikki would bet one of her hotels and they wouldn't be able to call. Anyway, towards the end of Nikki's rush I limped in under the gun and my friend from the $2-5 table raised to $160. Nikki and the big blind called him. I folded my 98s. The flop came KJ4, the BB checked and the guy from $2-5 went all-in for about $400. To his dismay, Nikki called and the BB folded. He had 99 and Nikki had K7. The turn and river were 9-less and the $2-5 guy was knocked out. After another applause for Nikki, Bijou said "you're playing like Tobey!" which I assume was referring to Tobey Maguire, who is an excellent tournament poker player. By the way, Spiderman 2 was awesome. Go rent it if you haven't seen it already.
Around this point, Brian, from my "Tilting" post, walked by the table and took a look. This was the first I'd seen him since that post and I was hoping he wouldn't realize how much dead money was at this table and decide to sit down. Fortunately, he went on without a word.
It was probably about 4:30 AM now and I was getting pretty hungry. As this was a must-move table and I knew either Bijou or Nikki is next on the list, I decided to wait until one of them moved and then go get some food. It occured to me, though, that the three of them might all just get up and leave once they realized that they would have to be split up for a little while. In fact, this did become an issue. Fortunately, the floorman, a player at the table, and I were able to talk them into sticking around. Before long, we tell them, more seats will open up on the other table and they will all be together again. "Yeah Tina, you can just come back here and hang out with us until we get to move," suggested Bijou, who called Nikki Tina occassionally for some reason (at least I think that's what she said). Indeed, about 20 minutes later both Bijou and their friend moved to the new table, and I moved shortly after. This was a full table of nine or ten players, so I could no longer focus my advantage on the three or four weak players was playing with before. This table had a few players who are quite good.
After a few rounds I picked up AQo on the button. There had been about 3 limpers, including Nikki Hilton. I had $1000 in front of me, and everyone had me covered. Anyway, I raised to $160, and everyone but Nikki folded. So there was almost $400 in the pot. The flop came Ad, Kd, 7h. Nikki bet $60, I raised to $200, and she raised to $400. Up until now, Nikki had shown a pattern of betting on any pair, fitting into the over-valuing hands stereotype that I mentioned in my previous post. Still, it was also entirely possible that she could have something better, or maybe even a flush draw, I wasn't sure. Anyway, I figured that most likely I was ahead and I was afraid that if I re-raised her, she might fold with a king or seven. Even though there was a chance she would catch three of a kind or a second pair with those hands, I was about a 85% favorite in this situation, so I didn't want her folding. On the other hand, she was likely to keep on betting with these hands if I just kept calling. So if I called her here on the flop, I would have only $440 left. I figured there should be plenty of time to get that all in by the river, so there is no real rush to get more money in right now. So, I decide to just call her $200 raise on the flop. The turn was a four I think, not a diamond. Nikki bet $200 again and I called. I had $240 left and the pot was now about $1600. The river was another non-diamond, a 2. Nikki bet $400 and I called with my $240. If Nikki had two pair or better I was done for the night. I would say I was about 70% sure I was ahead. She turned over Q7 for a pair of sevens, and I pull in a pot worth almost $2100, almost certainly the biggest I've ever won.
A little later, just before 6 am, my $2100 had dwindled to about $1900 and decided I needed to go get some food. I picked up a $15 comp card and headed off for Cafe Bellagio, hoping Nikki and Bijou would still be reaching into their wallets for more chips when I returned.
Check back soon for the dramatic conclusion!
As I'm waiting for my table, I hear somebody yell "Hey Boston!" in my general direction. As it is not uncommon for me to where a Red Sox hat at the table, I turn around and see an attractive Franch Canadian woman I had played with the night before calling to me from the rail. Being French Canadian, she takes frequent smoking breaks. Smoking is not allowed in the poker room, so she was just outside it. I walked over to her.
"What did you have on that hand?" she asks me.
"I couldn't sleep last night. What did you have on that hand I folded last night?"
The previous night I had called one of her raises pre-flop with KJ diamonds and the turn had two kings and two diamonds, one of them an ace. I checked and called assuming she had an ace, and then on the river (a blank) I bet out $85 into a $150 pot because I assumed she would just check it down if she had an ace. After thinking for about two minutes she laid the hand down and asked what I had. I told her "I had a flush draw" but nobody really believed me.
Although I couldn't imagine why this would keep someone up at night, I figured I was unlikely to see this girl again so I told her the truth: I did have a flush draw, but I also had three kings. She told me she had had pocket tens.
At this point I was called to my 2-5 NL table, where there are two more attractive girls playing. Most tables have either zero or one, but two is not all that uncommon. There are at least three reasons it is good to sit at a table with attractive women. First, they are attractive. Second, I think other players at the table tend to play worse. Most importantly, usually girls are not particularly good, and they nearly always fall into one of two categories: they either play extremely tight and passive, meaning you know you can confidently fold if they ever bet, or they vastly overvalue their hands, meaning they will pay you off if you catch top pair or better. This second type is slightly less common, if only because they don't last at the tables very long. Unfortunately, this table is a "must-move" table and before long I am moved to a new table. I get into a conversation with the guy to my left, who likes to point out any hot women who walk by (this is common practice at the poker tables, actually. Personally, I prefer to pay attention to the game, but really, I can't concentrate on the game 100% of the time anyway, so I don't mind too much). All of a sudden there is shouting behind me and I see people standing up to see what is going on. I turn around to see two men fighting over by the 10-20 NL table. One of them already has his white shirt pulled over his head hockey-fight style, but both of them are still throwing and connecting punches. I see a floorman just chuckling at all this, which I find odd because, well, isn't it his job to try to stop this or at least call security? After a another ten or twnety seconds the two men were finally pulled apart. A crowd had formed so I'm not exactly sure if one of them "won" the fight, but I saw the guy who had had his shirt over his head going to the cashier and then leaving, and he looked like he was fine. At this point a single security guy showed up, which was pretty funny in a "too little too lat"e kind of way, and also for its stark contrast to "Ocean's 11," where they made it sound like security is ready to pounce at a moment's notice. I guess that's only when there is money at stake.
Back at my table the players are all talking about the fight. Someone says, "I played with that white guy before, he was really cool actually." Another person says, "yeah, I talked to the black guy at a table once, and he was a nice guy, too." Hmmmm. I am a bit skeptical and ask "they're BOTH nice guys?" "Uhhh.... I guess I didn't really get to know him all that well." Later, I ask somebody what happened, and supposedly there were some harsh words exchanged at the table, the white guy got up, and when he return he was holding a chair, which he used to hit the black guy over the head. The black guy got up and was able to pull his adversary's shirt over his head, and I guess I pretty much saw the rest. Frankly, though, I'm not really sure about this part of the story or who actually hit who first.
All of this happened in my first forty-five minutes at the Bellagio. It was now probably around 2:15 am. I'm going to stop this post here, but I'll be posting the next one soon because things were just about to get interesting.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Now, this is a guy who uses as a card-protector a lighter in the shape of a hand with its middle finger up that says "fuck you, fuck you..." when you turn it on. Much of his personality coincides with the sentiment of this lighter. He's actually not a bad player usually, but on this particular night he went on major tilt after seeing me win a few medium-size pots with poor hands. It's true that every once in a while I will throw in a raise on a whim. Essentially, I'm trying to stealing the blinds and the limps, but it also keeps me interested when things start to get a little dull, and makes me very unpredictable, I think. I don't think it's particularly profitable to do this except that it keeps me interested and will occassionally put another player on tilt.
Anyway, at one point I raised to $30 with T5s and Brian, which is his name I think, called me from the big blind. One of the limpers also called. The flop came 25J and Brian bet his last $30. There was a fold and I called the $30 because the pot was now about $125. Brian had 850, and I won.... this was the point at which he decided to announce that he would be raising me whenever I raise. "I've seen you play before. I know how you play." I take note of this but decide not to change my strategy, which is to raise with my very strong hands, and occassionally with not-so-strong hands. Brian later says that he was down $1400 on the day at this point, which is really a lot for the $200 buy-in game that we were playing.
Anyway, several hands later I get KK in middle position and raise, as I normally would, to $25. There had been one or two limpers in front of me. Three to my left Brian pushes all in $160 with QQ, and the next guy calls with about $75 left, and I call the $160. Anyway, I lose the main pot but win the side pot as the other guy catches his flush with AJs.
The next time I raise I have JJ and raise to $35 in early position. Brian raises, and everyone else at the table, who have all heard Brian's earlier threats, is unafraid. Five people are in on the flop for $118 each. Flop came AT8 and I fold to a $100 bet... AJo wins, and Brian says he had KJ.
Later, I have KJo and decide to raise to $35 to try to steal the blinds. True to his word, Brian raises me to $115. Everyone fold this time, and I decide to call. I have another $240 in front of me, Brian has me covered. Flop comes QT4 and I go all-in (which I now think was a bad play, since Brian is not going to fold many hands here, since he is tilting and thinks I am hyper-aggressive). He calls with AA and I lose my stack. Ugh.
I left an hour or so later without any money. Brian has about $1800 in front of him at this point. Bad outcome, but a very interesting night for me. I think I played okay, but got unlucky when Brian caught AA on a hand I decided to raise, and then I caught a straight draw that didn't make it. I'll let you know when I encounter Brian again.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Although I didn't realize it when I moved out here, the desire to win and the desire to improve are at odds with each other. This conflict didn't really occur to me until around when I played at Boulder Station, chronicled in an earlier post. If I all I want to do right now is make money, I could just play in the crazy Omaha game at Boulder Station. However, that would be a complete waste of time in terms of improving. On the other extreme, last night I was playing more aggressively than I usually do, and because I got to see other people's hands very often, I learned a lot about how other decent players play and how I can expect a table to react if I start playing aggressively. For a new pro poker player, this is invaluable information. But, of course, I lost $1000. I imagine the theoretical extremes would be to sit inside playing 8 hands of online poker at a time (which I hate, but I can probably earn a lot of money doing), versus buying into the game where Chip Reese plays (Gus seems to have skipped town) and losing my entire bankroll while observing first hand the best players in the world. So I guess the questions I'm struggling with are these: is $1000 > invaluable? How can I best balance improvement/profit? What game should I be playing, and should I be trying to play optimally or should I be experimenting with different styles? For now I think I'll continue playing in tough but beatable games like the $2-5 NL games that I play most often.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
It turns out that about 75% of my neighbors are insane. Okay, that's not really a fair assessment; I shouldn't assume that people who decide to play low-limit half-kill Omaha at around 3 am on a weekday morning are representative of my average neighbor. More representative would probably be the people leaving home when I am returning at 6 am. Anyway, the Boulder Station poker room is complete chaos. Lee, the pit boss, is a nervous wreck who consistently makes poor decisions while bending over backwards trying to fulfill the many requests for table changes and chip rebuys from the players in the room. He becomes impatient with players, dealers, and (most often) himself if anything takes more than two seconds to be settled. This is in stark contrast to the pit bosses at the Bellagio, who spend most of their time chatting with the players, but still manage to fulfill all their pit bossing duties. Also at the center of the insanity at my table is a guy who I think is named Anthony, but who was also responding to "J.R." Anthony, a somewhat large black man, is talking continuously ("raise? Really? Why would you want to go and do something like that?"..."put a king out there dealer!"..."oh no! Hector the Connector is in!") and is trying to collect $25 chips whenever possible, which necessitates brief but frequent pauses in play when he asks the dealer for green chips, and also when the dealer has to make change for him whenever he bets. The dealers clearly know him and try in vain to employ any strategy to get him to shut up. A dealer named Mike tries telling Anthony he's changed his name and will not respond to "Mike" anymore, but this doesn't really help much. At the room's chaotic peak, Lee, who has just ended a confrontation with an Asian woman who was yelling something at him about table changes, tells Anthony that a seat at another table is open and he could take it. Anthony says "okay, right after this hand," and inexplicably Lee proceeds to walk around to my side of the table to tell the Asian guy sitting next to me that he can have the seat at the other table. The Asian guy gets up and moves (Anthony doesn't notice this). When Anthony realizes his seat at the other table is taken, he complains to Lee and Lee makes the Asian guy return to his seat next to me, but now Anthony can't decide which table he wants and plays a few hands at each table over the next five or ten minutes, making the Asian guy switch tables at least twice. The hispanic guy to my right is getting upset about the table switching and starts swearing and throwing his bets and cards. At one point he hits another player with a chip when he bets, and another time he throws the cards clear off the table while folding. Meanwhile, there is so much betting and raising in each hand that the dealers have almost given up bothering to try to make sure that the players are contributing the correct amont to each pot. When finally I get up to cash out, Lee is apologetic with his slowness in counting my chips despite his rather frenetic pace, and I have to tell him to take his time.
Despite the insanity, the poker room was pretty nice. They sell food at reasonable prices, they have a coffee maker and water cooler in the corner so I don't have to wait for the waitresses or give them tips, and they have above-average comps, including a $250,000 freeroll tournament that I qualify for if I play there for 50 hours this month (supposedly there could be 1000 players though...the tourney starts Sept 10). Still, I'm not sure if I can stand the chaos for another 45 hours. The only thing that will bring me back is the fact that the casino is less than five minutes away.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
I was thinking about this the other day when Gus walked into the poker room with a stunning blonde on his arm. While I appreciated the scenery, which included one of the few sets of real breasts I've seen since I arrived in Las Vegas, I felt somehow disappointed in Gus. I'm not sure why exactly; most of the rich people in Las Vegas, poker players included, seem to have trophy wives. So I guess it should have come as no surprise that a young, self-made, intelligent, reasonably good-looking rich guy like Gus Hansen would have one as well (I'm not sure if she's actually his wife). For some reason, though, I had viewed Gus as a more down-to-earth type. I guess it was about time I was disabused of that illusion. Now, even in the poker room, I could not pretend he and I were alike.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
A little about me: as recently as mid-June, I was toiling away in a windowless office in Washington DC. Every month or two I would go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas and come back with hundreds and hundreds of dollars. This was a lot more money than I was making by sitting in the windowless office everyday. Long story short, I'm subletting my east-coast apartment, and today I'm sitting in my new apartment in Las Vegas calling myself a professional poker player. My office is still windowless, but now I can come and go as I please, and well-endowed women in skimpy outfits bring me free drinks.
I play mostly $200 buy-in no-limit holdem. I'm not particularly good, but fortunately, I don't have to be. I am living off the poker craze that began a few years ago after Rounders came out and ESPN started showing viewers what the players were holding. The tables are littered with incompetent, drunk, and superstitious players who provide me with my income. I honestly believe that in under 10 hours I could teach anyone with an IQ above 100 to win money at these tables. It is a bit harder to win enough money to live off of, but not all that much harder.
Maybe I'll try to make my next post be interesting. No promises.