Archive for December, 2006


December Vegas Trip Poker Hands

I should have written this earlier as I’ll be a little sketchy on some details, but here are a few fun hands from my Vegas trip.

I love passive players
At the Bellagio 2/5 tables. I limp with Q9s in late middle position. The flop comes QQx. I bet 25. A guy I’ve played with before (older overweight gentleman who complains a lot about people slowing the game down when he’s pretty slow himself) calls. Everyone else folds. Turn another blank. I bet 60. He calls. River blank. I bet 60 and he calls. Would you know where you’re at here? I thought I was ahead – clearly as I kept betting trying to milk it. Thankfully I only bet 60 again. He turned over KQ. While I hate handing him the chips, I love that he never raised – he was so far out in front, we likely could have gotten it all in the middle if he had been aggressive – he is costing himself a lot of chips in the long run. The one thing I did right in this hand was lead out when the flop came. If I had slow played my losing hand, we may well have gotten it in the middle. I’d have checked – he might have bet, and then I’d raise – only losing more money for me. I definitely learned my lesson about trips with a bad kicker last time I was in Vegas when I donked off $600 to a semi-pro with 52 against A5 with 553 on the board.

Going broke with top pair
I look down to find AA. I make a standard raise at the 2/5 tables at Bellagio. I get a few callers. The flop is a dream – has a K and two other blanks. I’m in Seat 6 and bet 50, get raised to 200 by Seat 1. Well, I did WANT this flop when he called, so I’m gonna play it like I wanted it. I push all in as he only has about 80 left in his stack. He flips up KQ and I take down the pot. This might have been a great play if I had QQ, JJ, KJ, K9, etc. but he didn’t leave himself any options. If he raises here to 100 or 150, and I push, he should still be able to fold (although it would be close). Either way I’m glad he didn’t.

Gambling at Caesars
I played only a little at Caesars and will never drop a cent in their establishment again (more on that in a minute). I’m at a 1/2 table with 300 in front of me. I look down to see 56s hearts. I limp in from Seat 6. Seat 10 raises all in to 80, and Seat 5 calls the 80 (with only another 90 left in his stack (bad play on his part). I’m getting ready to leave, and have put both of them on over pairs. I’m thinking if I hit anything at worst I have to call another 90 to see the river. Yes, in hindsight this is very poor thinking and I should have easily mucked. I’m 5-1 to win this hand pre-flop, and make a terrible call here praying for 2 pair or great draws on the flop. Flop comes with a 57x. Seat 5 pushes his 90 in. There’s now 330 in the pot. I’m getting almost the right odds to call and I do. Ugh. My straight or two pair never comes and I’m out 170. I’m really not sure why I ever play the 1/2 game at Caesars. Never again.

"Call Security"
Well, I’m at Caesars with Angie at 3am. I sat down to play for about an hour at a 1/2 table (yes this is before I swore off Caesars 1/2 games). We’ve been playing for a little while, and I’m down about 75 bucks. I ordered a hot chocolate (twice before it actually came), and wasn’t watching the table when I hear "WHOA – what are you doing?" I turn to find the dealer pulling cards from the muck as she had mucked the two hands (one of which who was all in) before dealing the turn and river and was pushing the pot. How did we get here?  Pre-flop action was normal. The flop was dealt with 2 players. The flop had Axx with one spade and one diamond. Seat 2 bet half his remaining stack, and Seat 9 put him all in. Seat 2 then said "Call" quietly, pushed his chips almost to the betting line (but not across) and tossed his cards face up on the table). The dealer apparently thought he was folding face up and mucked his cards, then mucked the supposed winner’s cards, and then went to push the pot. Why no one caught it until here is beyond me – oh yeah, I remember we’re at a 1/2 table at 3am. At this point the dealer calls the floor after digging AK for Seat 9 and AQ for Seat 2 out. However, the players don’t know which Ace was which – and it was going to matter as Seat 2 could have had AQs spades giving him a runner runner flush draw. That’s the only reason it was going to matter. The floor came over asked the dealer what happened – she did a poor job of explaining it – the table tried to help. Finally the floor person starting aiming his comments at Seat 2 who appeared to be pretty timid in this situation. He started by asking what cards he had. Seat 2 didn’t know. The floor person (Dwight) then started asking "Don’t you know what color your Ace was?" "Did you have a black Ace?" "Did you have a Green Ace?" And the tone was pretty bad. At this point, I’d had enough, and told him he didn’t need to be rude, which he of course didn’t like. I told him to stop being an ass. He asked me to be quiet. I didn’t, and dropped an F-bomb. He said not to use the F word a lot. I said I only used it once. :) He was still berating the player when he should have been firing the dealer. I pushed my luck one more time, and he told me I could pick up my chips and leave. I told him I wasn’t going and he told someone to "Call Security". At which point, I picked up my chips and cashed them in. It’s unfortunate that dealers that suck this bad are employed – she shouldn’t have made the mistake, but she also should have pushed the pot before mucking the winner’s cards (yes the player should hold them too). This rule is designed to prevent this. Needless to say, it’s the rudest I’ve ever seen a floor person and I will not spend a dime in Caesars again. The small aside to the story is that Angie prevented them from calling security by telling them I was leaving on my own.

Top two vs. inside straight flush draw
Back at the Bellagio. I’ve been playing well and am up about a grand. $1500 in front of me. A table change brings us a guy with about $600. I look down at AJo. I raise in late position and get called by early position. Flop comes AJ5 with 2 clubs. Early position bets 30. I raise to 130 and the pushes all in. Ugh. Did he flop a set of 5’s? I can’t put him on that, so I make the call. He turns up 34s clubs for the inside straight flush draw. I made a great call. I am 60% to win. The turn comes the 8 clubs, and now I’m down to only 10% with my re-draw to a full house which never came. No biggie – it happens. I got it in with the best hand. The funny part is that I say "nice catch", and this guy who we’ll just refer to as Dick, tells me what a great play he made. My only claim (although he’s too interested in listening to himself justify his play which isn’t a bad play if he can take the pot down after the flop – I’m clearly not calling without top 2 or a set) was that I got my money in with the better hand. The table thought it was 55 / 45, but odds calculators don’t lie. Good play Brian.

Suck out time
Bellagio 2/5 table. I’m on the phone talking with Angie, I look down to see AA, but the guy to my left folds out of turn (3rd time he’s done this) and action keeps going so I say time, and feeling flustered, I put in a raise to 30. Action continues, but to my horror I then see that there had already been a raise from Seat 5 to 15, and 2 callers. So I get 5 callers. Ugh. This is gonna suck. Flop comes K32. First raiser bets 100. I think for a while putting him on AK and raise to 250. Hmmm…maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Seat 3 pushes all in for another 225 or so. First raiser folds (and yes he had AK). I make the crying call knowing she has a set. She turns up 33. I have 1 out in the deck. I’m out of my chair frustrated when I hear the table moan. There it is – the beautiful case Ace on the turn. I take down the pot. The lesson here is even if action is going, just call time, and then make sure you know all action up to that point. Perhaps this rule should really just be to never talk on the phone at the table. :)

Killer call
Bellagio 2/5 table. I raised pre-flop with my TT and got a few callers. Flop was a pretty 742 flop. I’m happy to take this down right here especially after Seat 4 bets 35. I raise 100 more. He thinks for a long time (which made me feel pretty good about him not having a set.) And he finally pushed all in for another 250 on top of my raise. As he was pushing in, he hesitated right before he crossed the betting line and looked at me to get a reaction. I thought long and hard. I couldn’t put him on a set, and didn’t think he had a higher pair. I eventually called. He took a long time to roll over his pocket 9’s. I flipped up my cards and took down a huge pot. As it turns out, we talked about the hand later (he was the brother of the production assistant for the WPT event taking place). He said he hesitated on purpose and as he was thinking for such a long time – he actually thought he took too long as well. Perfect read!

AK in a huge 4 way pot
Bellagio 2/5 table. I look down at AK after a lot of limpers. I pop it to 40 hoping to just pick up the pot. To my dismay, I get 3 callers. Okay, the flop better look really really good for me. K89. Ok, not bad. I’m in early position (sucks even worse). I can’t afford to give a free card with what might be the best hand, so I bet out 150. Guy to my left calls (same guy who had KQ in the first hand in this post). And the other 2 call as well. Turn is a 4. Well, if no one could raise, then I must still have the best hand. I push my last 300+ into the pot which is now covering a large portion of the table. Guy to my left folds (he had KQ yet again :) ). Second person folds! Woo hoo – only one to go. Last guy who is clearly a good player starts doing the odds calculation. He thinks a long time, and finally lays down what turns out to be the straight draw. It was pretty close for him to call – he was getting over 3.5 to 1 on his money, but it wasn’t enough for the 8 outs he had in the deck. Whew. This was a crazy pot for AK to actually win especially after the post-flop calls.


Meeting Doyle

Ahh…the Bellagio. Center of the poker universe. There just isn’t anything like it that I’ve seen. With the WPT event running, the place was packed. The pros were everywhere. Angie really wanted to just see Doyle. When we first walked in, he was there.

"There’s Doyle."


"In the big room. Why don’t you go say hi?"

"Can I go in there?"

Well, of course she wasn’t really supposed to, but I said if you want to meet him there he is. They weren’t playing yet or I’d have said she’d have to wait. After about 20 minutes of building her courage and kind of out of no where she pipes up "Ok, I’m going." She took off so fast I had to bust a few spin moves around tables to catch up with her. She was already at the door and asked Doyle if she could come in. A big smile broke out on Doyle’s face and he said yes. I walked in after her. We both shook his hand and talked for a few minutes. When we walked out, she teared up and was really floating on air.

As the trip went on, Angie would show up randomly with the camera held out to me with yet another picture of her and another pro. All in all, she got Joe Hachem (who went on to win the event!!!) and Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, Doyle Brunson (from a later meeting), Sammy Farha, and Daniel Negreanu. We also saw (no pics though) T.J. Cloutier (shook his hand), Jennifer Harmon, Laura Fink, Marcel Luske, Vince van Patten, Shaun Sheiky Sheikhan, Gavin Smith, Carlos Mortensen, Erick Lindgren, Phil Ivey, Freddy Deeb, Mads Andersen, Scott Fischman, Todd Brunson, Barry Greenstein, Billy Baxter, Chip Reese, Clonie Gowen, Cyndy Violette, David Benyamine, Dutch Boyd, Jeff Shulman, Minh Ly, Lee Watkinson, Jean Robert Bellande and a few others I’ve seen on TV but can’t recall their names.

It was really fun to see the pros as just regular people. We ate at a place in the Bellagio called "Fix". It was incredible food – we had Sea bass and Black Cod, and the worlds best Crème Brule for Angie and Banana Bread Pudding for me. I’m still craving it. The second night we ate there was the night the tournament was finishing up. When we walked in Erick Lindgren was at the bar, and shortly thereafter his buddy Daniel Negreanu showed with an entourage including his wife, his Mom, Carlos Mortensen, Gavin Smith, and several others I didn’t know. They sat 10 feet from us and had dinner. Very cool.

The WPT final table started at 5pm. The line started at 3:30pm. Angie was there no later than 3:45. She waited in line outside for an hour and a half. Then she waited inside. She was number 119. They made it to 104 before she finally gave up around 8pm. As we’re having dinner, she comments "I can’t believe I donk’ed my whole afternoon". Funniest thing I think I’ve ever heard from her. She had a good time, got Gus’s autograph on her poker chip that had 119 on it, and got some food and a free hat for me from the sponsors.

All in all, Angie had a great time "stalking" down pros for pics including waiting for Daniel to come out of the bathroom on tourney break! And I had a blast watching her have so much fun with it.


Sizzling 7’s, Double Up, and Felted

Angie and I arrived safely although the landing was a bit scary as the plane rolled left and then right with crosswinds about 30 feet above the ground. Thankfully we had a great pilot who promptly added power and pushed the plane down on its wheels instead of its wings.

We stayed at the Flamingo – first time for both of us. We ended up on the 23rd floor with a great view and 2 queen beds (which actually worked out quite well given my strange poker hours). The room number was 23134 and was easily remembered by Angie as Jordan, Angie, Payton. Ugh. The 23 floor ride in the elevator was always fun – I think Angie got pride out of pushing 23 every time. She probably secretly rode the elevator a lot while I was out playing poker.

The Flamingo is…well good enough. The room was nicer than the room I had at Caesars last time, but the casino left a lot to be desired. The poker room was a joke and I never played there. Very smoky and it’s amazing how lower class walking in to the Flamingo seems than walking into Caesars, Bellagio, or the Venetian. I think it’s just how old it is and where it’s located. But location was great as Bellagio was just a little jaunt across the sky bridge.

First stop – The Palm. First meal – filet mignon. Yum. The food was great but the service sucked which was unusual. This turned out to be our only steak even though I ate this 3 or 4 times in 4 days last time. We found much better.

Angie and I walked around Caesars and played a little video poker and then it was off to the Bellagio to play some real poker. As it turns out there was a WPT event running (Doyle Brunson North America WPT) and the main event had started. We would be there for the final day!!!

As for playing – I’ll write up some interesting hands in my next post.

Angie and I had a great time playing video poker and trying to double up…which seemed to be a losing battle – about $450 worth. But it was money well spent as I had a blast. Clearly not something I can do every day but on the short Vegas trips while I still have a real job, it’s fun. Once I’m pro, no chance unless it’s a conscious choice to be "entertained". Angie loved anything with a 7 in it – and even more so if it was preceded by ‘Sizzling’ or ‘Blazing’ or anything else related to fire. We found one machine that had a 4th reel and when you played 3 credits, and won the fourth wheel would spin – you could get Haywire, 2x, 5x, 10x, etc. on your original bet. That wheel was absolutely awesome. There were people stalking us to get it when we finally left because we were having so much fun. It made this great "I’m slowing down" sound as it came to a stop that just heightened the suspense. Too fun.

Angie tried her hand in poker at Caesars at the 1/2 table while I was watching from my own 1/2 table. She sat with 200 and left with – well, let’s just say she was feeling a bit sick. She won a few pots, and was all smiles until the last hand. She had Ace suited and two of her suit hit the flop. Other guy bet (who apparently had been playing crazy), and she called. He bet after the turn (still no flush), and Angie pushed with only her flush draw. This guy called with 2 pair and the flush never came. Felted. Ugh. But it was a $200 mistake she learned from. Likely would have been a better play to either raise on the flop to see a free river card, or to just call on the turn (if she had pot odds), to see if she could hit as opposed to risking it all with just a draw. A good first No Limit Vegas poker experience though, and I got to see it.


The Pre-Vegas Storm

Thursday night we had the worst wind storm in Redmond (technically the entire Seattle/Renton/Everett area) I’ve ever seen. It felt like the windows were literally going to just blow in. The airport recorded 69mph gusts – the highest ever. And that meant power was going down…and it did. We woke up on Friday morning – still out. By mid-afternoon, we had heard that it would be 3-5 days before we got power back! We found care for Siren to make sure she would be safe and warm and got on our plane Saturday morning for Vegas. Our power ended up being out for almost 4 days – unbelievable!

Fortunately, we didn’t notice much as we were in Sin City…


The Home Game Explosion

Regular poker game last night. $50 buy in. Early in the game, I got KK (no spade). I raised. Angie called. Flop is 235 with 2 spades. She bets 3. I raise to 9. She thinks for a long time and calls. Turn is Ts. I put her on a flush draw for the moment although I didn’t think she’d call the raise. We both check (this was my BIG mistake – I should have bet about $10 to either win it there or know I was beat already). River 3. She pushes all in. If it was anyone else I would have folded easily. I ended up calling and thinking as I called – ugh, she hit a 3 for trips. She showed A3. Stupid play pays off for her. The benefit of this for me is that I then looked like I was on tilt and definitely played it up which ganered me about half of my money back quickly.

I busted Joseph when he pushed with K8 on a 458 board with 2 diamonds. I had 55. Turn was a scary 8 giving him legit outs, but he didn’t catch up. Satisfying win. :)

By far the hand of the night was the ONE hand of Omaha we played. It was 10 and I had been saying we were going to switch to Omaha. There was some dissent, but Chris also wanted to play and he just dealt everyone 4 cards. Everyone limped to me. I had AKT9 (K9 both clubs). I potted. Everyone folded but Michael. Flop QJQ with 2 clubs. Dream flop (except for the pair for me). I have every nut straight draw, the K high flush draw and an inside straight flush draw. He bets out for $3. I raise to $6 in an effort to get info and build the pot. He says All In almost instantly. Well, it’s pot limit so he really only raised another $18 bucks. At this point due to his conservative play I have to think he has QJ, and that I’m drawing completely dead. Stupid pair on the board – why is that there? I think for a long time, and as my left hand tosses $18 into the pot, I wonder why it’s doing that. I know I’m beat. But something made me do it. The turn is an Ace but not a club. I now have the nut straight (aka the worst hand at the moment). BUT MICHAEL CHECKS. WTF? He checks and my instinct takes over. "I’m All In". KABOOM!!!! Profanity and flying cards. Michael folds. I said I was sure he had the full house, and he was complaining about my call to catch the Ace. He said he had JJ in his hand, and then later realized he also had an Ace. He had put me on Aces and couldn’t get it out of his mind. Thus thinking he was now crushed he folded. What an incredible hand. Any other card except an Ace and I lose what’s already in the pot because he bets the pot again, and I would have easily folded.

To top this off, Michael’s tournament ended on the bubble in 3rd when he lost with KJ to 33 against Chris. The sick part was the flop came 774. I said "That sucks for you Chris – now he can counterfeit your pair." Of course the turn is the 4. Ouch. Now he’s got a lot of outs to split the pot, but only a 3 to win it. The river was the miraculous 3. Michael is out and hopefully coming back after he returns to the homeland for a few weeks. :)