Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Movies Relative Rankings (12/30)

Here is the list of movies that I saw at the theater in 2010. They are rated (0 to 4 stars) and ranked relative to each other. Check for newer posts updating this list with new movies as I see them.

Last Update: 12/30/10 - Tron: Legacy IMAX 3D, True Grit, Yogi Bear 3D
UPDATED 01/21/11: Claire reminded me that we went to see Little Fockers on the day after Chirstmas.

Tip: Search for "-NEW-" to see the new entries.

#1 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (****)
Place: Alamo Drafthouse Village w/Madison
Notes: First things first: I know a lot of people will question this being in the top spot. This movie isn't for everybody. In fact, it's failing pretty miserably at the box office right now, and I'm not surprised. A lot of people will dismiss it as a "video game movie" or a "comic book movie", and that's unfortunate. I read a review (after watching it for myself) saying that SPVTW wouldn't reach anyone over the age of 25. This is nonsense. I'm in the upper half of "the mid 30's", and it affected me more than any other movie I've seen this year. Sure, I grew up on video games when they came on cartridges ("tapes" to my parents) and MTV before the advent of reality shows, but I mean, I connected with this movie on a level beyond the Zelda references and pop-up video presentation. Regardless of what the trailers and comic and video game blogs would have you believe, this movie is about interpersonal relationships between friends, lovers and siblings. Most people won't look past the computer graphics and ADD presentation, but somehow, it affected me. I'm not going to say that I related to it on a personal level because Scott's life and my life are quite dissimilar, but it made me re-evaluate and think about my own relationships. It may appear like I'm reading too much into a silly popcorn flick, but trust me, I wasn't going into this movie with a film student demeanor. I expected what everyone else expected: a bunch of pretty colors and nerdy references. But I saw what I saw and felt what I felt. And I felt genuinely bad for the some of the characters. Hell, I dreamt about them. You see, while the actual ending of the movie was fine, I personally saw no 'good' way to end the movie. So I think I subconsciously continued the movie in my head. And any movie that can make me do that deserves 4 stars and the top spot in my list. This movie is far more than it pretends to be, but I don't expect most people to understand, and that makes me a bit sad.

#2 True Grit (****) -NEW-
Place: Rave Motion Pictures Theater (Las Vegas) by myself
Notes: This is the second movie I saw while in Vegas. Strangely, it was also the second movie in a row that I saw that starred Jeff Bridges (Tron: Legacy being the other one.) It was a JB-a-thon in Vegas apparently. Anyway, this theater was rated the best in Vegas based on my googling, and while it was markedly better than the Brenden Theaters experience, I have to say that nothing compares to Austin's theaters. The theater is located in a shopping center known as Town Square just south of the main Strip. It was one of the few places I went to that didn't have slot machines. The movie itself can be best summed up by the fact that I completely lost track of time while watching it. Usually, I'm quite aware of how long I've been in a theater. When watching True Grit, I was getting the feeling that the movie was coming to an end based on the plot development. Then I thought, there's no way we're near the end of the movie. It's only been like 45 minutes, tops. Nope, it had been almost 2 hours! Wow. I was completely engrossed. I'll admit that I never saw the original adaptation starring John Wayne, but since this True Grit wasn't a remake of the John Wayne version, but simply another adaptation (reportedly a better one, too) of the novel, I didn't feel like I lost anything by not seeing the JW version. If you enjoy good filmmaking, go see True Grit. It will not disappoint you.

#3 Grease Sing-A-Along (****)
Place: Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar w/Audrey (subbing for Claire)
Notes: I hesitated to put this in at all because this movie originally came out in 1978, but I am including it for two reasons: 1) It is a movie that I saw in the theater in 2010 2) It's not technically the same movie. All the songs (except the intro theme song for some strange reason) have animated lyrics and extras on the screen. They decided to get creative when they animated the "Greased Lightning" lyrics because they say "shit" (#*@$) , "tit" (a picture of a cow showing her udder), "the chicks'll cream" (whipped cream), and "pussy" (a pussy cat, naturally). The animation was all well done. Apparently they spent $100,000 re-doing the film. It's definitely a new experience. FYI: Grease is the gayest movie I'll admit to loving. And the sing-a-long version is even more awesome.

#4 Inception (****)
Place: Cinemark Pflugerville w/Claire
Notes: You'll notice that I didn't see this at the Drafthouse or in an XD Cinemark theater. We couldn't make it to the Drafthouse in our allotted babysitter time, and we DID buy XD tickets, but the XD theater's right front speaker was blown so we had to exchange tickets for a standard theater. Standard theaters suck. That being said, this movie did not suck. In fact, it was very good. It's the love child of Vanilla Sky (Abre Los Ojos) and Memento from the night they invited over The Matrix for a threesome. I'm suprised that it's so popular as its non-sequential presentation and nested realities can be disorienting for the less cerebral moviegoers. Had Nolan not directed The Dark Knight, this movie would have been relegated to the art house theaters. I would definitely recommend that people watch this movie, but honestly, it's not the movie of the century the way some people would have you believe. I think what's happening is that Inception is the first non-traditional, non-straightforward movie that a lot of people have seen, so they are astounded. If all you normally see is shit like Predators, Transformers and Twilight, then Inception seems like it's from another world. If you're already fans of Primer or Memento, you won't be as impressed.

#5 Toy Story 3 (****)
Place: In 3D XD theater at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Family
Notes: Superb writing and direction. Funny and heart warming. The 3D and CG-ness don't even matter.

#6 The Other Guys (***1/2)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek with Claire
Notes: I fully admit that I had written off this movie based solely on the trailer. It looked horrible. But after a multitude of "Hey, it was pretty good!"s from a few sources and an offer to watch the kids from my sister-in-law just so that we could see the movie, I couldn't NOT go see it. And, yep, it was indeed pretty good! There were some very funny exchanges between Will Ferrell and Marky Mark, and a lot of over the top action. The slow-mo bar scene was brilliant. I found myself wishing it was a bit longer. The plot was absolutely throwaway garbage and simply existed to tie in the scenes in some loose fashion. This movie was just -made- to be chopped up into 30 3 minute youtube clips.

#7 The Kung Fu Kid (aka The Karate Kid) (***1/2)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek with Madison
Notes: I really enjoyed this re-make/re-imagining. I have nothing but praise for Jaden Smith. His acting was quite good. He showed good range. His athleticism and martial arts skills were infinitely more believable than Macchio's. I enjoyed noting the parallels between the original movie and the new one. The story is still as far fetched as ever, but it's also still as fun. Jackie Chan was great too. The name is the worst part of this film as there is no karate in it.

#8 Kick-Ass (***1/2)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek by myself
Notes: Enjoyable, aestheticized violence. Hit Girl easily steals the show. I never read the comics so no comment on adaptation.

#9 How to Train Your Dragon (***1/2)
Place: 3D Cinemark Round Rock Outlets w/Maddie
Notes: Better than I expected. A bit preachy, but not overly so. Good use of 3D.

#10 Despicable Me (***)
Place: In 3D XD theater at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Entire Family (including Mom/Dad/Sister)
Notes: My parents and sister hadn't seen a 3D film in a long time (i.e. they don't have a 5 year old) so they were pretty impressed with the visuals. I'm more jaded. They were good, not great. The story was actually a little different than I expected, in a good way. My sister and Claire got a little teary-eyed, but it's not a sob story movie. Overall, it's a well made, enjoyable movie.

#11 #Machete (***)
Place: Alamo Drafthouse Village w/Claire
Notes: Robert Rodriguez sure knows how to make a schlocky 1970's film in the 21st Century. If Planet Terror and Grindhouse were his tribute to the 1970's, this is his re-imagining of the genre. It was crude, rude and yes, even tattooed. But all in all it was fun, and exactly what I was expecting. One has to wonder though: if this film was made by a no-name director, would it even have been screened at mainstream theaters? Scott Sander's tribute to the 1970's Blaxploitation genre "Black Dynamite" was every bit as good as Rodriguez's "Machete", but have you even heard of that film? Didn't think so. P.S. It's good to see Don Johnson finding work again. :-)

#12 Exit through the Gift Shop (***)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek by myself
Notes: I saw this on Pete's recommendation. It's a documentary about street art. It was entertaining. There is no other way for me to describe it. It wasn't the best (King of Kong) or worst (Kurt and Courtney) documentary I've ever seen. The big hook, whether or not the entire thing was a hoax put on by Banksy, was irrelevant to me. I simply don't care. Unless you're really into documentaries or street art, I'd wait for it to show up on cable or on Netflix streaming.

#13 Iron Man 2 (***)
Place: In XD theater at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Family
Notes: I enjoyed it more than the original film. A bit too unbelievable even for a comic book movie. Iron Man does not have memorable villains.

#14 Shutter Island (***)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Claire
Notes: Well acted and directed. Interesting plot albeit with a pretty see-thru twist. Even still, I found it quite enjoyable.

#15 Megamind (***)
Place: 3D at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Madison
Notes: Has the 3D effect in movies been lost on me? I don't even notice it anymore. I paid $25.50 for Madison and I to see Megamind in 3D in an XD theater yet I cannot recall a single scene of the movie where the 3D was memorable. Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe I should be glad that 3D use in movies has gotten to the point where filmmakers don't feel the need to shoot harpoons and pop out eyes ( at the audience anymore. I admit I do like the added depth of 3D. So maybe the effect isn't lost on me, but it simply has come into its own. After all, when's the last time I noticed a film's use of color? (Actually, that would be either The Wizard of Oz or maybe The Nightmare Before Xmas.) And no one notices surround sound anymore either, right? It's just expected. So is 3D is here to stay (this time)? Can it become the norm? Well, then there is the issue with those darn glassses. They make everything all dark and shit. And I *hate* it when I forget to wear contacts, and I go to a 3D movie. 3D glasses over your prescription glasses... yeah, not fun. Wait, I feel like I'm forgetting something... oh, the movie! Megamind. Yeah, it was pretty good. Will Ferrell is still funny. Brad Pitt is barely in the movie though. Not that I went to see the movie to hear Brad Pitt's voice, but seriously, totally lie in marketing. He's in like 10% of the movie.

#16 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (***)
Place: 3D at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Madison
Notes: Honestly, I expected to like this more than I did. I mean, I liked it. But, well, I just expected more "something". I can't quite place what that "something" is... even now. I remember thinking that the trailers were breathtaking. And I do have to admit that this is probably the most technically proficient CG movie I've ever seen. The water and feather details were amazing. The 3D was used well. None of that "Comin' at Ya'" 3D crap. Honestly, with the resurgence of 3D in the late 2000's/early 2010's, I think we've kinda gotten passed that. I rarely see movies throwing spears toward the audience anymore. But, back to the movie. It was good. Voice acting was solid. The script was solid. The plot wasn't too preachy or anything like that. I dunno. It was solid movie with breathtaking CG. Nothing more to say really.

#17 A Town Called Panic (***)
Place: Drafthoue Ritz w/Aaron
Notes: Saw this subtitled. It's stop motion animation, but technically, it's no where near the quality of Henry Selick's work. It was funny, but less so than I expected. Better if you're drunk/high.

#18 Get Him to the Greek (***)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek by myself
Notes: I didn't know much about the film, but Pete had wanted to see it so I gave it a try. I knew nothing of Russell Brand going into this (his accent seemed almost fake at first.) The Drafhouse played his stand-up before the movie, and I could have watched just that for 2 hours. I found the movie very funny at times and more than a little bit sad in many places which I didn't expect. Couldn't stop thinking about how huge Jonah Hill was though.

#19 The Crazies (**1/2)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Claire
Notes: Reminded a bit of Left 4 Dead. Pretty standard virus/zombie fare. It was basically a clone of 28 Days Later.

#20 Prince of Persia (**1/2)
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Pete
Notes: Better than I expected, but not great. The CG was abundant. High end production. I thought Chesty Jake was just fine as the Prince.

#21 Shrek Forever After (**1/2)
Place: 3D in XD at Cinemark Pflugerville w/Family
Notes: Shrek's cultural gags -were- cool, but they've gotten stale. The underlying story is pretty weak. I've seen better (and worse) kid's films.

#22 Tron: Legacy IMAX 3D (**) -NEW-
Place: Brenden Theaters - The Palms Casino Hotel (Las Vegas)
Notes: I made a great effort to see this movie as it came out while I was on vacation in Las Vegas. Not wanting to watch this movie in the one 'crappy' theater on the Strip, I found that Tron: Legacy was playing at an IMAX theater just off the Strip. I mistakenly remembered that the IMAX theater was at The Rio, so I took a taxi there. When I couldn't find it, I finally asked for directions and was told that it was across the street at The Palms. It was raining, so that meant another taxi ride. $30 in taxi fees later, I was at The Palms. The theater *looked* nice, but it wasn't. The theater was small, not very clean, and the usher had the nerve to ask people sitting in the middle to kindly move to the side. Perplexed, we asked why. The explanation? A group of 9 "Important" people were coming to this showing and wanted good seats. We all looked at each other in amazement. Was she kidding? The usher went on to explain that people related to "the owners of Brenden Theaters" were on there way to this showing. Ummmm.... Bullshit! We all unanimously refused to move. I'll be damned if I waited in line for an hour and paid $16 just to be brushed off to the side because "friends of the owners" were coming to this showing. It was a ridiculous expectation. Flustered, the usher radioed back that we were refusing to move. She eventually gave in and sectioned off some seats off to the side for the important party of 9. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off by the time that the movie started. Then, thoughts of the original Tron began to fill my head, and I started to feel very happy. Seeing the young Jeff Bridges in the first scene was breathtaking... then they kept on showing us the young Jeff Bridges, and he started too look really , really fake. CG young JB aside, the movie itself was poorly paced. Much of it didn't make sense. I mean, there is a certain amount of poetic license I'm willling to accept, but the plot was just too silly, even for someone wanting to go along with it. The visuals, including the ultra hot females were striking. Normally I don't go for the 'ultra super model hot' look, but the Tron girls were just... wow. The 3D was very subtle to the point of being negligible. The IMAX portions went unnoticed by me. Save your money, watch it in 2D in a nice theater. I was a bit disappointed that the light cycles didn't turn at 90 degree angles and that there was so much hand to hand fighting. I loved seeing Daft Punk in the club scene. In the end, it was an OK movie.

#23 The Last Exorcism (**)
Place: Cinemark Pflugerville w/Claire
Notes: This was one of the WORST movie-going experience of my life. It was even worse than the discount cinema experience (see the 'Splice' review!) Claire and I went to the 10:00pm showing on the Saturday of opening weekend. We expected it to be packed as I had heard some good things about the movie on a News 8 Austin movie review. (They gave it a 6 out of 8.) We got there around 9:15p and rushed to the ticket booth. As we approached, we noticed two large groups of black kids ranged from maybe 15 to 25 all huddled right in front of it. At first we thought they might have been 'in line' but, no, they were content just hanging out in front of the ticket booth for some reason. After we made our way around the crowd and got tickets, we made a beeline for the theater. To our surprise, even though it was just 35 minutes until showtime, there were only 3 people in the theater. We decided that we could both get snacks together since the theater was nearly empty. When we got to the lobby, the crowd of black kids was now huddled in front of the concession stand. Why? I haven't a clue, but there they were. Still, we worked our way passed them, got our snacks, and returned to the theater with plenty of time to spare. We sat in the 5th row, right in the middle. About 10 'til 10, two overweight ghetto girls plopped themselves right next to Claire and I. The one to my left could have passed for a 'Precious' stunt double. The one to Claire's right was white and wore about a pound of make-up. They both immediately pulled out their cell phones and started texting away. Yay. Through the previews and into the movie they texted. I noticed that the crowd seemed to be very loud even as the movie started. I looked around and was shocked to see that 70-75% of the crowd was black and/or ghetto. I checked my ticket stub. Nope, it wasn't a Friday movie we'd ventured into by accident. We slunked into our seats. They got louder and more rowdy. One of the texting girls kept smacking her mouth and shushing people so loudly that she was a disturbance herself. It was more than a bit ironic. Claire asked me if we should leave, but since we rarely get to go to the movies without the kids, I suggested that we just put up with it for a while longer. It got worse. People started laughing at the tense parts and yelling "That's my Nigga!" at the screen. From the 5th row, I counted 6 people texting/on their phones during the movie. (Side Note: They all had shitty phones!) By the end of the movie, I was furious. I've never once complained to theater management for anything, but I was heading right for the nearest manager as soon as the credits began to roll... not to get my money back, but simply to let him know that his ushers were worthless. As it turned out, I stumbled upon another patron complaining to the manager about the very same movie experience. I joined in and before too long, we were joined by another couple looking to complain. The manager seemed less that apologetic. He was more annoyed than anything, but he finally offered our money back. Horrible. The funny thing is that we were considering seeing the movie at Gold Class Cinema. Talk about the other end of the spectrum! Oh, and the movie? The last act needed a re-write. The first 2/3's of the movie were pretty enthralling and creepy. The wrapup was well... not consistent with the rest of the movie. Imagine if at the end of an Indiana Jones movie, it was all due to aliens. Wouldn't that be a jarring WTF? moment? Oh, wait.

#24 Little Fockers (**)
Venue: Alamo Lakecreek w/Claire
Notes: This movie was OK. Not as bad as some people will have you believe it is. It has some funny moments. The problem is that the series has gotten stale. If you enjoyed the 1st two, you'll still enjoy this one. If you could barely tolerate the others, this one won't change you're mind.

#25 A Nightmare on Elm Street (**)
Venue: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Claire
Notes: I like Jackie Earle Haley, and he does a good job as the new Freddy, but the make-up artist needs to get fired. He looks like he has Down's Syndrome. Also, the scenes were repetitive: isolate character, daydream, kill. Rinse. Repeat.

#26 Alice in Wonderland (**)
Venue: 3D at Drafthouse Village Baby Day w/Family
Notes: I love Tim Burton's twisted take on things, but this didn't work out so well. Maybe because Alice in Wonderland is already pretty twisted?

#27 Predators (**)
Venue: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Aaron
Notes: I've only seen the original Predator movie, and it's been a while since I've seen it. I've heard nothing but bad things about Predator 2 and the Aliens Vs. Predator series. In any case, this movie was OK. Decent amount of action. Throwaway plot. Pretty standard stuff. I have to mention that the CG was pretty shitty though. It had the worst CG fire I've ever seen.

#28 Splice (**)
Venue: Cinemark Round Rock Discount Theater by myself
Notes: It's an Adrien Brody double feature! (I saw this the week before Predators.) While I had low expectations for Predators, I had high expecations for Splice. I saw Forrest's enthusiastic Facebook posting about this movie which piqued my interest. Now, I had never seen a movie based on Forrest's recommendation, but he seemed like someone that can appreciate good cinema. He even cited the director's previous effort, Cube. I loved Cube. Splice kinda sucked though. Ridiculous plot. Almost no suspense or horror. Terrible CG. And the strangest/grossest sex scene ever. No more recommendations from Forrest.

#29 Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightning Thief (**)
Venue: Cinemark Pflugerville w/Maddie
Notes: Say what you want in defense of the novels, but this is clearly an attempt to cash in on Harry Potter crowd. Far too little far too late.

#30 Youth in Revolt (*1/2)
Venue: Drafthouse Ritz Theater #2 w/Claire
Notes: I saw this because Master Pancake was sold out. That was a mistake. The story was terrible. The acting was mostly terrible. Michael Cera is the least talented 'actor' in recent memory. He plays himself in every single goddamn movie.

#31 The Spy Next Door (*1/2)
Venue: Cinemark Pflugerville w/Maddie
Notes: Man, Jackie Chan. What are you doing? You've fallen to Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) levels. I didn't expect much, and that's what I got.

#32 Furry Vengeance (*)
Venue: Cinemark Round Rock Outlets w/Maddie
Notes: Madison loved this movie. And while it in no way can be considered good cinema (luicrous plot, terrible special effects), it's almost so bad that it's good. But it's still bad.

#33 Yogi Bear 3D (*) -NEW-
Place: Drafthouse Lake Creek w/Family
Notes: I didn't think it would happen, but the last movie I saw in 2010 *FINALLY* beat out Furry Vengeance for worst movie I've seen this year. What a way to end 2010, eh? Geez. This movie is about as terrible as you can imagine. The kids loved it of course, and I guess that should count for something, but they're not quite as jaded as I am. Everything from the CG to the acting was just subpar. I actually dozed off a few times. It was bad. Surprisingly, the Yogi Bear and Boo Boo voices actually didn't bother me. I had heard that Dan Aykroyd's Yogi and Justin Timberlake's Boo Boo were horrible. They weren't. Not that it mattered. Unless you have kids 5 years old and younger, avoid this at all costs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 12

Vegas 2010 Day 12 - Wednesday Dec 22nd

Although I don't leave until 7pm today (Thursday), last night's session is to be my last session for this trip. There are several reasons why I'm not playing today. First and foremost, I had trouble sleeping last night, and I don't feel particularly well. I've got a scratchy throat, and I woke up with a queazy stomach. Plus, I hate playing with time limits. I have to be the airport by 5pm, and I can't stand to get caught in a down session with time 'running out.' I just hate it. Finally, I'm happy with my results. I somehow managed to 'win' my last 13 sessions in a row. I'm feeling good about my results and my play right now, and I'd really hate to end it on a sour note if I have an off session today. I think I earned today off.

Final Stats:

I had just 2 down sessions out of 20. On one of those losing sessions (Orleans Omaha HiLo 4/8 limit), I finally threw in the towel, and in the other the game (Orleans 1/2 NL HE), the game broke before I could really get going. Omaha HiLo limit was just the worst game ever. I couldn't get going. The wins came slowly and the losses would come in too quickly. When you can only put in 4 or 8 dollars at a time, and you split the pot a lot of the time, the chances to make back $200 in any amount of reasonable time are slim. You'd have to scoop several huge pots pretty close together. And neither 'scooping' nor 'huge pots' are common in a 4/8 Limit HiLo game.

There were a few scary moments in the other NL HE games I played. That Planet Hollywood session where I was in for $1000 was very stressful. As was the 14 hour session I had at the Mirage. I had some stressful moments outside of those, but those two sessions were most taxing.

In any case, here's my last Vegas 2010 poker session…

Session 20: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $725 Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

If you look at my buy-ins, you'll see that a lot of time I'm in for quite a bit. Usually this is because I add-on if I fall below $200. I've come to the realization that I play best when I have the most chips on the table. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it's really not. A full buy-in or a large chipstack isn't always the right answer for everyone. Some people pay too scared with a bigger buy-in/chipstack. Some players are better short-stack players. They have trouble making the right decisions when they think about the 100's of dollars they are risking. I used to be that way, but not anymore.

That being said, quite a few of my sessions start off with me being in a hole. I might not re-buy or re-load in every session, but it's hard to start a session and stay up the entire time. Everyone loses, and even though I've been very profitable, I found myself in the hole for the first hour or two a lot.

Not this session.

I won early and often. I built my stack to over $400 taking down some pots by putting short stacks to a decision for all of their chips. They tended to fold a lot to All-In pressure. That worked for me.

My biggest win came against a guy that ended up being one of the most action-type players on the table: some black guy with mirrored sunglasses that was sitting two seats to my left. The key to my play against him was watching him play and win with questionable starting hands and getting lucky or by putting a lot of pressure on his opponents. In other words, he was loose-aggressive. He had about $325 or so when most stacks had $100 or even less. I was the only one that had him covered. And I was watching him closely.

I picked up pocket 10's in the blinds. The mirrored sunglasses guy and a slew of others limped in for $2. I popped it to $17. The MSG called as did another player that seemed to be playing in a higher than average number of pots. The flop came 334 two diamonds. I had 1 diamond for what it was worth. I checked. The MSG made it $30. The other player folded, and it came back to me. Now, I had just seen the MSG raise preflop with J4 offsuit out of position and win the previous pot on a turned Jack after leading out on the flop, turn and river. He was aggressive to be sure. I decided to check-raise. I made it $130 to go. The MSG thought for a few seconds. Nobody had dared raise him before… especially not check-raised out of position. And I was the big stack too. He declared All-In, and I instantly called for about $175 more.

He says to me, "I have top pair." I check the board again because as I recall, the top card on the board was a 4. Yep, it was still a 4. WTF? I flip over TT. He nods as if to acknowledge that he's beat. The turn and river cards are 6 and 9 rainbow. He mucks and is quite disappointed with his move. I stack up my new chips and find myself at about $730 or so. I would not improve.

After a while, the table got really nitty and all the short stacks and action players either got busted or left. The table was 9, then 8, then 7 handed. Once the other large stack left (who also took a lot of chips from the MSG… who kept topping off to $300), the table really died down. I made my way back up to $725 and called it a day.

Not much of a final session I know, but I made a decent amount and never really felt at risk. It was a good way to end things.

So that's it! That's 12 days of Vegas Poker! I hope you enjoyed the blogging. I had a lot of fun, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 11

Vegas 2010 Day 11 - Tuesday Dec 21st

Just one session today.

Session 19: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $600 Out: $1005 Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

I started out this session pretty quietly. I didn't win a hand for over an hour. I saw a couple of foreign guys go at it and went to work identifying the donkeys.

I watched, and I waited. I won a few hands, and lost a few hands. Then I got involved with a Russian two seats to my right.

It wasn't really a big pot. I just check/limp in from the Big Blind with T7 offsuit. The flop comes J7J, and I check. The Russian bets out $5. I decide to call. The turn is a 3. I check again. The Russian leads out for another $5. I think about it and say aloud, "You know. I can't tell if you have a Jack if I just keep calling $5. Let's make it $30." I decide that if he calls, he's got a weak Jack. If he folds, he was just fucking around. If he raises, he's got a huge Jack. He thinks about it for like a second, and calls. I announce, "So you have a weak Jack, eh?" The river is another Jack. I check. The Russian leads out for $40, and I fold.

Now, at The Excalibur, if you have Quads or better, even with just one card, you get to spin "The Wheel". It's just a wheel with a bunch of numbers on it. You can win anywhere from $20 to $100 dollars. It also has double and triple multipliers. Anyway, if you want to spin it, you have to show your qualifying wheel-spin hand. The guy flips over J4 offsuit. Exactly as I thought.

The Russian spins the wheel and proceeds to play every hand for the next round.

He' on the button, and I'm in Big Blind again. This time I have KK. It gets limped around for $2. Our Russian friend limps in as well. I raise to $17 and still get a good number of callers. 4 of us see the flop.

The flop comes pretty harmless: 8 6 2 rainbow. I lead out for $20, and it gets folded around to The Russian. Then out of nowhere, he angrily pops it to $200 and just stares at me. To me, this indicates strength. I know most poker books say strong means weak and weak means strong, but I've seen strong me strong and weak mean weak plenty of times. In fact, I'd say that most of the time strong means strong and weak means weak. I don't have this guy on nothing.

The real problem here is that he could be thinking he's strong and not actually be strong enough. He could have 99, TT, JJ or less likely, but still possible QQ. He could of course also have AA and be the worst player ever. KK is unlikely as I have KK myself. Unless he's really horrible, I would have expected a re-raise from AA. QQ probably raises pre-flop as well. Hell, he could have A8 or K8… or any 8 for that matter and think that I have AK or AQ and am just continuation betting. I've seen it happen. He could have a straight draw. There are a lot of possibilities. If he's got a set or two pair, then oh fucking well. There are just too many 'strong' hands that he might think are good that I can beat. Plus, I still have two outs if I'm wrong. I go All-In.

I'm wrong.

He calls quickly. The turn and river cards are blanks. He flips over 88 for top set. I muck.

Damn. I re-buy for another $300.

I sit there for hours and grind it out. Slowly building up to $400, then $500. Then I'm back to $450. It just seems to be taking forever.

I watch the Russian win pot after pot with junk. I'm just waiting to take him for a huge chunk. I catch a few hands against him, but only get paid off modestly.

The table starts to thin. Crap. The Russian asks for a couple of empty racks. Double crap. I don't want him to leave. We're down to 6 handed with The Russian now playing out of two racks… looking like he's just playing a few more hands. You're not supposed to play with your chips in a rack, but I'm not about to protest for fear that he'll just get up and cash out the second that I do. He starts losing small pots. He sticks around for another round. If he leaves, we'll probably combine tables. He loses a bit more. He racked up about $900, and now he's down to about $775. He plays a bit longer. He keeps playing, and keeps on losing it back to the table. After about an hour and a half, our table has been re-filled and the Russian has to drop an empty rack to the floor. He's down to about $450 before he finally cashes out. Haha. Fucker. So terrible.

After a while, the two 1/2 tables merge. I'm joined on my left by a talkative Aussie. He announces Mr. Moneybags from Amsterdam who proceeds to sit to my right. Mr. Moneybags from Amsterdam sits down with almost $1000. It's $900 and change in two racks. This time I will protest playing out of racks, but it turns out that I don't have to. The dealer change is here, and the dealer that's about to leave offers to color him up and take the racks. The dealer brings him $500 in green and takes his racks. The dealer also tells him to keep his greens visible, but they stick out like a sore thumb. A full stack of green at a 1/2 table always does.

The Aussie starts talking about Mr. Moneybags from Amsterdam. Apparently he's been hitting everything. And the table change doesn't seem to slow him down. He proceeds to win a few decent pots and is up over $1000 now.

Then the big one happens. I'm in the big blind with Q9 suited of spades. The guy UTG+1 goes All-In for his last remaining $18. The calling train starts up. Chugga-Chugga-Chugga-Call-Call! It gets back to me. I call. Let's see what happens.

The flop comes Q33. Hmmm, pretty good I think. Mr. Moneybags from Amsterdam leads out for $30. This isn't a lot considering all the $18's in there. I know that the guy that made it $18 is All-In so I'm not worried about him. I decide to raise to see what's going on. I make it $90 to go. It folds around back to MMfA. He calls. Hmmm.

The turn is another 3. OK, I like this. If he has a Queen, now we're chopping. I was a bit worried before then that he had a better Queen, but now it won't matter. Hopefully he'll just check and then I can bet big and maybe, just maybe induce a fold. What I don't want to see is a huge bet from him.

He bets huge. MMfA makes it $150 to go. Fuck. Really? I look down at my stacks. I have $403 behind. If he called $18 with a 3 in his hand, I guess I'm pretty fucked. I mean, it's possible. He could have like A3 suited or, shit, he has $1000, he could have 3anything and have gotten really, really lucky. He has been running really well after all.

I don't think he has a 3. He's played and won a lot of pots, but he's showed decent starting cards. I push All-In for $403. He does not insta-call. WHEW!!!

He doesn't like the bet. I think he's got to have a Queen if he's thinking about it. I don't want a call. I want him to put me on a 3. He asks for a count. It's $253 on top of his $150. He thinks for a while. Thinks. Thinks. Thinks. Then calls. Damn. Oh, well. I guess we chop.

I flip over Q9. He grimaces. What? He doesn't have a Queen? Seriously? He flips over 66. Holy shit! This fucking pot is over $1,000! River card coming… No 6! No 6! It's not a 6. I win!

The guy that's All-In flips over Q5 offsuit. Haha. Fucker. I split the main pot with him, but honestly, who fucking cares? I tip the dealer $10 and count my chips. $400 in green. $600 in red. $8 in white. Sweet!

The table starts to thin again. I promised myself I was going to play until he game broke. It didn't seem that far off. I lost a few pots and got down to $990. Still a respectable $390 profit.

The game went down to 5 handed. I picked up AJ offsuit. It flops AQ7 two hearts. I don't have any hearts. I check. The Aussie to my left makes it $30. I check-raise to $130. He says, "Well, I have to call." and puts in more than half of his remaining stack. The turn is a 4 of hearts. I check. The Aussie says, "I think that card hurt me. I check." The river is a blank little card. I check. The Aussie leads out for $50. He's only got $90 total. So he leaves $40 behind? Well, it's a good value bet. I've seen people make some weak-ass steals before, so I fully believe that it's still possible that I have the best hand, but I'm not optimistic. I call. The Aussie flips over AT… of hearts. God. Seriously? I think I played that as well as I could, but that's little solace to my chipstack which is now down about $200.

People are racking up their chips now. Shit. I lost $200 in the last hand. I guess I'm going to be up only about $200… I look down at my hand. AQ. What are the chances I'll get any action now? I raise to $12. Everyone calls. Hmmm. OK. The flop comes AKJ rainbow. I lead out for $30. Everyone folds except MMfA. He raises it to $100 from the button. I call. The turn is a blank. A 6 rainbow. I check. MMfA bets out another $50. I call. C'mon fucking 10. River is another blank. I check. This time MMfA checks. He flips over QJ offsuit. Bottom pair. I flip over AQ. Top pair. I guess I didn't want that 10 after all!

Now I'm back up to almost $1000. I see two more hands for free, and 3 people decide to cash out. It's over.

I actually cash out $985, but one of the guys that was sitting in front of me all night long in seat 10 came up to me after I cashed out and started talking to me about a hand that I had beat him on earlier in the night. I had promised to tell him what I had after the cashouts had been done. I had beaten him with a rivered Broadway straight to his top pair on the turn. We talked about it for a while and this guy is just enthralled with the way I played the entire night.

He started telling me that he's been playing about 6/7 hours a day everyday, and that his Mom lives here in Vegas and that he plays a lot of poker. He also goes on to tell me that he's never seen a better player than me in all the games he's played. I kinda think this guy is fucking with me a little bit, but he's totally serious. I thank him for the compliment, and he asks me for some poker tips. He was actually a pretty solid player so I just gave him a bit of advice on buy-in sizes (he buys in for too little) and raising more to get more info or really make draws pay. Simple stuff.

He's super grateful for the advice and pulls out a wad of money from his pocket and tries to give me $20. I'm shocked. I decline of course. He refuses to put it away. He shoves it towards me and says he really appreciates that I took time to talk with him. I decline it again, but he's very persistent. Fuck it. I take the $20. He shakes my hand like 10 times, and runs off to find his buddy. That was weird. He was a nice guy, and a decent player, but that was just surreal. Anyway, that's poker earnings as far as I'm concerned because my play earned me that $20. So, that put me over $1000. $1005 to be exact. ;-)

Just a couple of days left…

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegas 2010 Days 7 thru 10

Vegas 2010 Days 7 thru 10 - Friday Dec 17th thru Monday Dec 20th

NOTE: You should check out my AudioBoo's here: They're basically short (under 5 minute) audio blogs. No reading required. :-)

I'm sitting here staring at this screen. I'm not wanting to write this.

Nothing bad happened or anything like that. I just don't want to even attempt to condense 4 days worth of Vegas antics into a single blog post. The single day blogs were taking about 2 hours each to write, edit and post. What's 4 days worth of crap gonna take? 8 hours? Ugh. Like 2 people are gonna read this anyway, right?

Alright, well, here I go...

Day 7

Claire came into town. I wanted to make sure I was well rested when she arrived because I figured she'd want to hit the ground running. So, I just slept and rested all day. Besides, the previous day I had that long-ass 14 hour session. Claire got in right around 11pm. We had dinner before getting started on the town, so I technically didn't start any poker sessions on Day 7.

Day 8

Session 11: The Mirage $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $414 Time: 2 hours 0 minutes

Back to The Mirage. I don't remember shit about this session. Sorry. My stats say that I started at 1:30am and played for 2 hours. I made $114. Claire was super tired by 3:30am (5:30am back in Texas) so we headed back to MGM for the night.

After we woke up, we had lunch and made plans to see a show.

We bought Mystere tickets and needed to decide where to play until it was time to head to the show. The blue ticket promotion at The Mirage really works. As you play at The Mirage, you earn these blue tickets that can be deposited in 'the barrel' for a daily drawing for $599 at 6pm. We had some tickets from the previous night, so we went to The Mirage to play and see if maybe we could get lucky in the drawing. I had actually saved up over 90 tickets from my previous sessions too. But, alas, we did not win.

Session 12: The Mirage $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $671 Time: 5 hours 0 minutes

I was just running and playing really well during this session. I made a bunch of money when I check-raised this dude on the turn with As Ks on the turn with a straight and spade flush possible. I had the nuts. I check-called the flop with the nut flush draw for $15. I checked the flush when I made it on the turn. The guy lead out for $15. I raised to $55. He got all uppity and re-raised All-In for about $175. I, of course, insta-called. He asked if I had a flush, and before he could even flip his cards over, I showed him the nuts. He mucked instantly and said that he had a straight. Cha-Ching!

Claire ran kinda rough this session, and she was really upset by the end. She also had too many Coronas. I had to cut her off. She sobered up towards the end and wasn't really playing badly. She was just not winning. I made more than she lost, but she was still pretty upset as we left the game to head to Treasure Island for the show.

Mystere was OK. It wasn't great. Maybe I'm jaded, but I just wasn't that impressed. Claire had to pee twice during the show. It was kind of embarrassing as we were in the middle of a row, and she wouldn't wait until there was a break in the action. It was partly my fault. I made a huge mistake and tried to cheer her up by buying her a beer before the show started. It made her happy, but also induced intense drowsiness and filled her bladder. She missed the last 20 minutes of the show after she took her 2nd pee break, and I advised her not to come back. I think she missed more than that as her eyes were closed a lot of the time she was in the theater. The mood was not good.

Claire was nearly passed out standing up. She leaned on me the entire way through the casino as we headed out to the Strip to catch the Deuce. She wanted to play more. I strongly advised against it as she was barely conscious, and I didn't think she was in any condition to play poker. She was 1/2 drunk and 1/2 insanely tired as she had woken up early to play poker. (She got in a session at MGM before I got up that day.)

I agreed to get her some pizza at NYNY, and we boarded the Deuce. She passed out almost immediately on the bus. I woke her up as we got to the NYNY/MGM stop. She somehow made it down the stairs of the double decker bus and onto the sidewalk. I almost just went to MGM, but she seemed alert enough and again asked me to get her some food. So, we went to NYNY for some pizza.

The NYNY casino invigorated her and after her snack, she convinced me that she could still play. I kinda felt bad because she was in town for such a short period of time, so I reluctantly agreed. We would head to her favorite poker room of all time: Excalibur.

Session 13: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $443 Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Claire knows everyone at the Excalibur poker room. And they know her. We've been coming here for about 6 years now. This poker room feels like home. It's too bad that it's such a sad poker room nowadays. When we first started playing here, they had 30+ tables and lots of action. Now they barely have 2-3 tables running at any one time. Luckily, the had a couple of 1/2 games going so we could sit at different tables.

I took the dreary table. The one with all frowns and no action. I didn't want to sit there, but I knew Claire would hate it more than I would.

Apparently I won some hands because my stats say I made $143. I don't remember any of them. I think Claire made a little bit on her table too.

I kept watching her. She was fine for a little bit, then I could tell she was just absolutely exhausted. She finally agreed to call it a day.

Day 9

Session 14: Planet Hollywood $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $1000 Out: $1080 Time: 5 hours 0 minutes

Look at that buy-in amount again. I've never been in for so much in one session in my life. Now look at the cash-out. Yep, I somehow made it back and still turned a profit.

Claire sat at my table. We both started running really badly. Meanwhile, people were sitting down on the table and hitting straight flushes and quads, and getting paid a bonus for them too. It was pretty annoying.

I was playing pretty well, but my hands were just getting killed by draws. Or I'd take a chance calling a raise with bad hands with potential (like 34 suited) and hitting pretty big (A34 flop) and losing to someone holding AA. Sure that was a risky call, and AA had me killed the whole way, but that is just annoying. Where's the AK or AQ?

Anyway, big hand or small hand. I just kept losing. I called a guy down with AT when an Ace flopped. He had A4 and hit his 4 on the river. Kept losing and adding on. Losing and adding on. I knew I was gonna catch one of these dudes sometime. I just kept waiting.

I'm already in for $1000 at this point. I have about $350. I look down at 33. Guy to my left, a really loose-aggressive player, makes it $15 to go. An older really loose player calls, and I decide to try to hit my set. Maybe I can double up. I call. The flop comes 664. Nope. I check. Guy to my left bets $60. The older loose player calls. I fold. The turn is an 8. Guy to my left checks. The older loose player checks. The river is an A. The guy to my left checks. The older player bets $80. The guy to my left calls. I see the guy to my left has AJ offsuit. The older guy flips over AQ offsuit. The guy to my left mucks in disgust.

Two things I confirmed from that. 1) The guy to my left continuation bets… a lot. 2) The old guy called $60 on a flop with absolutely nothing at all but AQ high. I also figured the guy to my left was tilting pretty badly after that exchange.

So the very next hand, I get 66 in the big blind. Guy to my left straddles for $4. Call. Call. Call. I call. The guy to my left makes it $25. He gets a couple of calls, and I decide to try to hit my set one more time. Flop is 993. Shit. Man, I needed that flop LAST hand. Fuck. Whatever. I check. The guy to my left makes it $60. Hmmm. I start to think that this guy is just continuation betting again. He's on tilt, and he's acting very similarly to the previous hand. Everyone folds around back to me. I decide to test him. But instead of calling, I decide to check-raise to $160. He might put me on a 9 or pocket 3's. Or more than likely, he just has two unpaired cards that didn't hit the board. I'm thinking he can fold. I like my play for about 2 seconds… until he almost insta-shoves All-In.

Wow. I didn't expect that. I've got $185 in. Plus a few other pre-flop calls in there and the other guy's $185. He's got me covered. I count out $174 behind. Wow. What do I do? The room goes silent. I get tunnel-vision. Everything seems like it's paused, but at the same time I feel everyone's eyes focused squarely on me. My brain starts racing. Does he have a huge pocket pair? Is he bluffing? Do I go with my read? I'd hate to be down $1000 in one session. How am I ever going to climb out of this hole if I fold here. I'll be down to $174. Will he show me a bluff? Can I still hit a 6 to win? That's only 10%. Is he breathing heavily. What does that mean? Does he want a call? Is he nervous because he has the nuts? What do I do?

I call.

The whole table is fixated on my two cards. The guy to my left frowns and mutters, "Nice call." So I was right? I'm winning? I flip over 66. He frowns. The table is in awe. I pray that he doesn't hit whatever the hell cards he needs to hit to beat me. Turn and river are baby cards. He mucks. Holy shit! I win a nearly $800 pot with 66 on a board of 993. I'm back, baby!

Claire had been absent (restroom) for the beginning of that huge hand. She arrived after the guy was already All-In, but she saw me make the call. I'm sure she was really worried when she saw me flip over 66!

I'm showered with praise from the table… most of all from the guy to my left. He's a solid player himself. I say aloud, "You know, there are definitely easier tables than this one." Everyone agrees. This table is filled with 1/2 sharks. I request a table change about a revolution later.

Someone at another table had also requested a table change. So we literally swap table and seat. I tell him, "Good luck. This table is a rough."

I sit down at my new table with $705 since I'd lost about $50-60 from the time I won that big pot. I proceed to lose, lose, lose at this new table. I find I'm down to almost $500 at one point. I bring it back up to about $575 when I play my next big hand.

I have KT offsuit on the button. The guy under the gun makes it $10 to go. A couple of callers ahead of me, and I call. The blinds call as well. The flop comes QJ9 rainbow. Yep. I flopped the nuts. That's always nice, but you always wonder how you can extract the most from that kind of flop. I soon realize that I won't be having that problem. Big Blind bets $6. UTG (the initial raiser) makes it $18. Hmm. OK. I like this. I decide to just smooth call to see what BB does. He calls.

The turn is a rainbow 4. This is so perfect! QJ94 rainbow, and I'm sitting there with KT on the button with bets and raises ahead of me. Big Blind leads out AGAIN for $25. UTG raises to $125. Hmmm. I like this, but now I'm a bit worried I'm chopping this pot. That would suck. I see that Big Blind only has about $80 more behind his $25. UTG started with about $375. So he's got $200+ still left after his $125 bet. I have them both covered. I decide that BB can't fold. So if I raise, he's not going anywhere. There's too much in the pot. UTG. He can still fold if I push. However, I think that if I call this bet, he won't put any more money in… especially if he has a set and is on a draw to a boat and misses. I have to make him put in his money now… if he's going to.

I push All-In. The Big Blind winces, but reluctantly calls. I like that. No chopping with him. At least not at this point. The UTG guy doesn't think for very long, and he calls as well. I'm just hoping UTG doesn't have KT too. Or even worse, I hope he doesn't have a set and the river pairs the board. The river is a harmless 8. Big Blind is excited! He flips over T 7. "Straight!" he exclaims. The rest of the table has already noticed that my KT was already flipped up. Several people chime in to burst his bubble. "He's got a straight to the King," they inform him. :-)

The UTG guy hasn't flipped over but nods in acceptance of a loss. The dealer has to ask him, "Sir, are you mucking?" His hand remains capped by his chips. C'mon, dude. Muck. Muck. He continues to nod. "Sir? Are you mucking?" the dealer asks again. Finally, the guy acknowledges the dealer and turns in his cards. Fucking. Awesome. I start stacking up my chips and look over to Claire. Uh-oh.

I see the All-In card next to her, and all her money is in the pot. The pot itself is huge. I'm trying to stack my chips to get them out of the way while squirming about trying to get a better view of what the hell is going on at her table. Jeez. I just won like a $900 pot. Is she about lose $450?

I finally am able to get to her table, and I see the dude who had swapped seats with me is the one she's up against. He flips over his hand and mucks. The dealer starts pushing the pot Claire's way. Whew! We both won a huge pot at the same time! Claire's now up over $100. I check back on my chipstack. I have $1080. I'm fucking done. $80 up. I'll take it.

We cash out, and I later found out that Claire had the nut flush on the river. The guy had a straight. She was never in danger after all. Still, it was scary.

Session 15: MGM $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $500 Out: $503 Time: 5 hours 45 minutes

This was the last session before Claire had to leave for the airport. One hour of that time I spent seeing Claire off. I didn't want to take my chips off the table because I was down at that time and didn't want to log a losing session. So, I just left my chips on the table and came back later. Nothing interesting happened. I just made $3 by the end of it. Oh, well. A win's a win.

Day 10

This is the first day without Claire.

Session 16: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $400 Out: $422 Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

I made enough for lunch, and I was hungry. So I left.

Session 17: The Palms $1/$3 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $350 Time: 5 hours 45 minutes

I was waiting for Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3D to start letting people in at The Palms casino. I figured I'd kill some time at the poker room. I made enough for the movie and the taxi rides. Nothing really notable.

Session 18: Excalibur $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $300 Out: $359 Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

I almost had a losing session due to the game almost breaking up. I got lucky on an All-In against a small stack and ended up +$59, and then the game broke. I'll take it. Went to bed.

My time here in Vegas is starting to draw to a close. I'm looking for a big payday today. Let's see what happens.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 6

Vegas 2010 Day 6 - Thursday Dec 16th

Holy Shit this was a long-ass session. I'm so tired, so I'm going to keep this really, really brief.

Session 10: The Mirage $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em

In: $700 Out: $785 Time: 14 hours 15 minutes

No, that's not a typo. 14 hours and 15 minutes. One session. I stayed in one seat for 10 hours of it before the table broke and moved. I didn't even have dinner. All I had all day was a single cheeseburger from Burger King before my session started and like 1/2 of a Cherry Garcia scoop from Ben & Jerry's.

I started with $300, and had to add-on $200. Twice. It was a very frustrating session. As good as I ran at the Venetian, I ran bad at Mirage. Everything was just going to shit.

This is going to sound super gay, but you know what kept me going? That the Spurs came back and won their game against the Nuggets. I was watching them play from about the 2nd quarter on and watching their resilience and patience sorta inspired me.

I tried all kinds of shit. I made some ridiculous bluffs, some hero calls. I correctly folded big hands, and raised with mediocre hands. I saw damn near everything happen to me and everyone, twice.

It was gross. I feel like I went to war. I don't have the energy to go into detail. Let's just say I won $85, in the end, and I was very happy to do so.

Claire comes into town Friday night. I'm going to try to get some sleep.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 5

Vegas 2010 Day 5 - Wednesday Dec 15th

I'd been craving California Pizza Kitchen ever since Claire started craving it back in Austin about 2 weeks ago. The CPK on the Strip is at The Mirage. So off I went.

All I'm going to say about my lunch is that my Pepperoni Supremo was a gooey, limp mess. Not crispy at all, and for a thin, brick oven pizza, that's not good. Disappointing.

I also started to feel pretty shitty. As many of you know, I suffer from heart arrhythmia. All the doctors tell me it's not serious, but it sure is bothersome. I had surgery to correct some of the more severe electrical short-circuits (I had an ablation) a few years ago, but I still take pills for it daily. And even still, sometimes my heart just starts "skipping" beats. Heart "hiccups" is what my heart doctor calls it. It makes me feel like shit when it happens, and it can last for as little as a minute to as long as 20 minutes. I usually like to lay down to let it pass, but that's kind of hard to do when your bed is a long walk away. So, I toughed it out.

What I usually do is count the pulses at my neck. If I can count 100 in a row without a hiccup, I'm usually OK to move on. I took another pill, and after about 15 minutes I got to 110 rhythmic beats in a row. Then I was off to the poker room, which happened to neighbor the CPK.

Session 8: The Mirage $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $460 Out: $910 Time: 5 hours

The hit I took at The Orleans put a big dent in my wallet. I showed up to Vegas with $300 in my wallet, $600 in my backpack and $1100 reserved for play in my bank account. That's roughly 10 buy-ins for $1/$2. My first few sessions were winners, and even with paying for food, transportation and sundries out of my wallet, I'd always had enough for $200-$300 buy-ins up until now. Since I had only 2 $100 bills left in my wallet after fiasco at The Orleans, I had to break one for lunch. The waiter actually brought me a shit-load of 1's and 5's as change (obviously thinking ahead about his tip) so by the time I got to the poker room I only had a single $100 bill and three $20's. I ended up deciding not to go to my backpack reserves and bought in for $160.

The session started out horribly. I didn't get a playable hand for at least three rounds. And when I finally did start to play some hands, I'd just miss the flop so badly. I noticed that the dealer was giving the winners of certain pots little blue tickets. I inquired about them. The dealer explained that The Mirage was running a promotion where every night at 6pm they drew a ticket to win $599 cash. To earn tickets, you'd have to simply win any pot over $10. In other words, if they took a rake, they'd throw a ticket into the pot. I looked at my phone: 5:05pm. OK, maybe I can win a few.

I went ticketless for a long time. The table was short-handed. There were only 6 players at the table, including me. And still I managed to avoid obtaining a ticket. After about 30 minutes, it was sort of embarrassing being the only guy at the table with no ticket. These weren't big bullies or poker sharks I was playing with. The stacks at the table were short to moderate so my $160 wasn't actually a bad buy-in. The players were pretty conservative too. I just couldn't win. If I bet, they had something. If I didn't, they had something.

Pretty soon I was down to about $140 or so. Then I finally picked up pockets Aces. You haven't heard me talk about pocket Aces much have you? That's because they've been kind of a rarity this trip. I'm in mid position and facing 1 limper and the blinds. We're 7-handed at this point. I decide to try to get a little action, so I only make it $7. The button calls, one of the blinds folds, the other calls, and the guy that limped in for $2 calls. The flop comes 8s 5c Qh. Pretty good, right? The blind and limper check to me, and I make it $20. Fold. Fold. Called by the limper. The turn is another 5, the 5 of hearts. The limper checks. I check. The river is a black King. Limper then leads out for $40. I reluctantly call. Limper flips over 58off. Really? C'mon…

A few hands later I get dealt 9c Tc. OK. I can call $2 with that. A guy behind me makes it $12. He gets two callers, so I decide to call and see what happens. Flop is 9d Kc Qc. That's pretty good I think. I don't have much left so I shove for about $60. The initially raiser thinks for a long time, then calls. A guy from the blinds calls as well. The turn is a 7c. Well, I was hoping for the Jc, but I guess I like it. Now I can only be beat by a guy holding the Jc or the Ac *and* another club in his hand. Since I know where 5 of the 13 clubs are, I'm feeling OK about this. They both check. That's good news. The river comes a blank little card. They both check again. Whew! I gotta be winning. I flip over 3rd nut flush. The guy to my left mucks. The other guy? Ac 4c. Seriously? And he didn't bet the turn or river? Fucking terrible.

So there went $160. I didn't even win a single goddamn ticket either. I had to dip into my backpack funds for the first time. :-( I re-buy for $300.

Fast forward a lot.

I have pocket 6's and still about $300. I call a pre-flop raise of $12 from the guy on my left. There were 4 of us to the flop. The flop comes 5c 6c 8s. I check. Initial raiser makes it $20. Fold. Fold. I call. The turn is a Ks. I check. The guy bets $35. He's only got about $60 left so I check-raise enough to put him All-In. The guy agonizes for a while and starts thinking out loud about the hands I might have: "King Queen of clubs?", "King Jack?". He says something like "Screw it, I call. I have a King." He starts to flip over his hand, but I flip over a set of 6's and he turns his hand back down. The river comes another 6! High Hand! The dealer informs me that I just won an extra $100 for making quads! Awesome! Thank goodness the guy called! It made me another $100 on top of the $65 that he called off. Now I'm sitting at just a hair over $500.

The rest of the table is small stacked now. I play really well, and slowly start building up my stack. I get to about $600 when this strange black dude sits down. He didn't see strange at first. Just a 40-something, tall, fair-skinned black man with a hat and eyeglasses. He kinda looks a bit like Morgan Freeman. Kinda. Anyway, I look up at the table a bit later and notice that this guy is putting on a surgeon's mask. What?

My first reaction is that this guy is a germophobe and doesn't want to get sick. Then I notice he doesn't have any gloves on. If you're a germophobe, I figured you'd be more scared of getting something from those nasty chips than from breathing the air at a poker table. So I ruled that out. Then I thought that maybe he was sick himself and was being considerate. He didn't say much, but when he finally did, I could tell he wasn't sick. Or he didn't sound like he had a cold anyway. So why the mask? Was the mask his version of 'poker sunglasses and a hoody"? My new talkative Israeli friend by the way of Canada to my left thought that from the onset. "Sir, is this your poker face?" the Israeli-Canadian asked. Masked man had no answer for him. OK. Whatever. Weirdo.

The Surgeon ( was a strange fellow. He rarely talked. Rarely moved. He just kind of sat there with that creepy mask on and watched. He'd fold over and over and over, and then every once in a while, he'd get a bug up his ass and open for $17. He'd open for $17 under the gun even. Every time. $17. Of course, people would rarely call him. And when they did, it was always $17 on the flop. For like 2 hours he did this. $17. If you called him. $17 on the flop. Most people folded. In fact, he never lost.

So I pick up 6c 8c in early position. I call $2. The Surgeon, for some reason, makes it $13 to go. $13? What's that about? He must really want a caller. The folds start coming around to me. I start to think…. this guy can't always have the nuts. He can't always have a huge pocket pair. I already know he's going to bet something on the flop. Maybe I can fuck with him. Get him to stop being so annoying. Show him that you can't play poker like a goddamn robot. Even a masked robot. I call.

The flop comes Qs Jc 4h. I check. The Surgeon bets $17. Typical. Alright, let's go with the plan. I raise $50 on top. The Surgeon has never been check-raised since he sat down. In fact, he's never called a raise at all. He's always lead out. He's always been the raiser. After only a couple of seconds, he folds. I flip over my stone-cold bluff, and he doesn't even look at it. The table is pleased though. He's been annoying us. I'm a little disappointed that he didn't look, but the dealer grabs my cards and leaves them face-up next to the flop for a bit. And I finally see The Surgeon look at my hand. Yes! I just wanted him to see it. Sadly, if it fazed him, he didn't let is show. Oh, well. I liked my move anyway. And I got almost $40 of The Surgeon's money which was, up until that time, untouchable.

A few hands later, some joker raises to $5 under the gun. Really? $5? I look down at Ah Jh. Oh, hell no. We're not playing for $5. I raise all my blues. $19 to go. Shit. I thought it was $20. Whatever. It folds around to the raiser. He grumbles something that I can't make out, insta-folds and flips over AK offsuit. The table is stunned. What? He says something about how I have a big pocket pair. I gleefully flip over AJ suited. Haha. Nice read there, Champ. He starts muttering to himself.

At this point, I feel that people are fearing my stack and my play. They know that I can take them out at any minute, and that I'm capable of re-raising with nothing, a mediocre hand or a very strong hand. It's a good feeling.

I win some pots, and lose some pots, but I'm always getting my money in good. I even flop quad tens, but that wasn't exciting as I held JT, and they didn't pay a $100 bonus for quads unless you held a pocket pair. I think I made $7 after tip on those quad tens. But then I get involved in another big hand with The Surgeon.

Again, I'm in early position. I have Qs 9s. I limp in. A few fellow limpers join me, and here comes The Surgeon. $17. That's The Surgeon we know. It folds back around to me. I decide to call. My plan this time isn't to bluff. The Surgeon is one of those types that always reloads to the max. If he loses a pot, he reaches into his wallet and pulls out a $100 bill or into his pocket and pulls out some red chips to top off. Kinda of a weird guy, this dude. Anyway, I know that if I can hit a big hand against him, he'll put in money. And since I bluffed him earlier, he won't go away very easily. I call.

The flop is beautiful! 9h Ad 9d. I check. The Surgeon bets… take a guess… yep, $17. I raise to $65. This time he's not going anywhere. He calls. The turn is a Kd. The 3rd diamond is kind of scary, but I can't be afraid of a flush. He raised preflop and called on the flop. He's probably got a strong Ace. Maybe even Ace King. If he has something like AJ or AQ, he loves the King on the turn because it means that if I had an Ace, he will at least chop. I've got him on some kind of strong Ace. No flush. No 9. The only other feasible thing he could have is AA, which would be a nightmare, but oh, well. I bet another $50. It's a bet that can either reel him in further or induce a re-raise. He simply flat calls. This is good news for me. Rivers comes a small blank card: 6c. I value bet $50. He calls. I flip over Q9, and he mucks. Yes! $170+ more from The Surgeon! He doesn't even blink. He reaches in his wallet and re-loads. I'm starting to think he's a machine.

One more had with The Surgeon. This time I pick up QQ in the big blind. It's limped around by a few players, including The Surgeon. I had only seen his $2 limped-in hand once. It was 9T offsuit. Much weaker than I thought. So I couldn't really narrow down his hand to much. Possible something suited, connected or a small pair. Maybe two big cards. Like I said, I don't really know what to put him on except that he doesn't have something like 74off. I make it $15 to go. I get 2 callers, including The Surgeon.

The flop is 9s 9c 2h. I lead out for $20. The Surgeon raises me to $45. What? This is the first time I see The Surgeon raise a non-limped in bet. But $25 on top? That's kind of weird. For a guy that likes to overbet preflop a lot, that just seems strange to me. The other guy folds, and it's back to me. I just call. The turn is a Jd. I check. The Surgeon bets $40. Hmmm. I'm letting this one get away from me. Is he really going to get some back from me with a 9 of his own? Oh, well. I'm not convinced he has a 9 or pocket 2's. I call. River is a 6s. I check. The Surgeon bets out $40. Well, shit. I'm not gonna fold now. I call. The Surgeon flips over 77. What? That's it? I flip over QQ. Ship me that shit. The Surgeon needs to stop trying to fuck with me. I've taken like $350 from him now. He reaches into his wallet and adds more money.

I win a few pots, lose a few pots, but the action really starts to die down. I'm the biggest stack at the table by at least 2x, but I'm not feeling that killer instinct feeling anymore. The table is nitty, and all of a sudden, I'm getting nitty. I don't feel like I'm playing optimally anymore. I decide it's time to go.

Session 9: The Venetian $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $200 Out: $457 Time: 1 hours 15 minutes

I usually listen to podcasts while I'm walking around Vegas. And since I've been here a while, I've done a lot of walking. I decided to go to The Venetian simply because they have WiFi in their poker room, and I needed a WiFi connection to download large podcast files to my iPhone.

I initially didn't intend to play at The Venetian. This room along with Aria's room. I dunno. Bad juju. I've just had bad luck at both places. I downloaded my new podcasts and then just sat there in a slot machine chair. Looking at the poker room. Should I play? I was able to 'finally' beat Aria's game the other day. Can I tackle my second nemesis too? Fuck it. Let's go!

I ask for a 1/2 seat, but they have a short waiting list. I take a look at the games running on the big computer screen and I see "1/2 5 Omaha PL". What the hell is that? I ask the podium if they're running an Omaha game. The lady explains that they have an 8/16 Limit Omaha game and a 1/2 5card Omaha game running. A what?

"One. Two. Come in for Five Omaha?" I ask.

"No, 1/2 pot limit. 5 card Omaha."

"You mean Big Mitt?"


"Big Mitt."

She looks confused. "It's 5 card Omaha Hi-Lo, Sir."

"Ok, nevermind. I get it. Thanks."

She directs me to the table and says that I can check it out to see if I want to play.

I walk over there, kind of excited to find a Pot Limit 1/2 Omaha game. Pfft. It's three handed. And they each have like a billion dollars. No, thanks.

I walk back to the podium and tell her that I'm not interested in a 3 handed game. I just hang out in front of the podium because I see I'm next on the list. Then she calls my name for 1/2 *through the microphone*. Is she serious? I'm right fucking in front of her. Not the sharpest tool in the shed is she?

She directs me to my table. I immediately notice the $1,000 stack. There are some $400 stacks as well. Well, at least I'm to their left. I set my two $100 bills on the table and just intend to play it really chill. My first hand is crap. I throw it away. Besides, I don't like playing when I don't even have chips yet.

While waiting for the chip-runner, the $1,000 stack asks me if I want to buy some of his chips. Sure, why not? He hands me two stacks of red, and I shift him my two bills. The guy to my right, which I immediately identify as a jolly ol' Canadian, tells me that I'm getting 'lucky chips'. I chuckle.

On my second hand, and my first hand with 'lucky' chips, I'm under the gun with Ac Jc. Great. I hate getting hands when I first sit down. I raise to $15. I get 3 callers. Flop is Js 8c 2h. Wow. Great flop. I lead out for $25. One guy only as a few chips and a $100 bill left. He throws in the bill to call.
Another guy calls as well. Turn is a 4h. I bet $50. The guy with the bill says "call." The other guy folds. The river comes another blank. I bet another $50, but before I can even put it out, the dealer is pushing me the pot, complete with the $100 bill. I hate bills on the poker table. I offer to sell it to Mr. Moneybags who sold me the 'lucky' chips. He gladly takes it.

My run of cards is exceptional. Boats, flushes, sets, QQ, KK. Everything is winning. Moneybags, the Canadian, and I start joking about the lucky chips.

I pick up KJ offsuit, and Moneybags raises to $12 and tells us, "Get out while you can." Hmmm… OK, Moneybags. I've seen him raise with huge hands and hit big. In the short time I'd been there, he'd had pocket aces that made him a boat, and quad Aces with AT. He'd also raised with KK, QQ, and JJ. So when he said to get out, I had no problem folding KJ offsuit. He showed KK again. Nice.

A round or so later, I pick up Ac Jc again. Moneybags raises and again warns us: "Get out while you can." Shit. Really? Alright, Moneybags. I fold. At that point, Canadian was walking back to the table. I show him my AJ suited and fold. He's surprised. "You folded for $7?" he asks. "Moneybags said to get out while we could," I reply. "OH, OK!" He agrees with my fold now. The flop comes garbage. Moneybags had QQ. Holy shit. This guy is running hot!

After a while, Moneybags says that he noticed when I got my player's card that I was from Texas. He asked which part. I replied, "Austin." "That's funny. Me too!" he says. Turns out his name is Rich and he runs tournament games at Steiner Ranch on Thursdays. Steiner Ranch? That's where my co-worker Babith (they call him "Bobby") plays on Thursdays. Sure enough, Rich knows Babith, err Bobby. What a small world, eh? We start BS'ing about Austin and poker. Telling jokes and stories with the Canadian. All the while, Rich and I are killing the game. Neither of us can lose. After about an hour, I decide that I'm really hungry, and Rich decides that he should go meet his wife. Rich cashes out, and I cash out not too long afterwards. I look down and somehow I've more than doubled up in about an hour. Not bad.

Thanks for the lucky chips, Rich. The Ventian curse is broken…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 4

Vegas 2010 Day 4 - Tuesday Dec 14th

Blech. I didn't play or run well today.

Back home, I love Mondays. That's Omaha HiLo night at my house. Pot Limit Omaha HiLo. That's Pot Limit as in: you can bet a substantial number of chips on later streets to either force folds of mediocre hands that might beat you or maybe just get more chips in the pot when you have a big 'scoopy' type hand. In Vegas, they don't run PotLimit HiLo. At least not for lower stakes at the Orleans. It's all Omaha HiLo Limit poker, and I just couldn't make the adjustment.

Session 5: The Orleans $4/$8 FL Hold 'Em
In: $200 Out: $226 Time: 30 minutes

This was just a time killer. I came to The Orleans to play Omaha HiLo, but as usual, they table was full. Even the must-move table was full. Rather than just sit there, waiting, I decided to sit at a $4/$8 limit hold 'em table. As I said before, I don't play a bunch of fixed limit poker, Omaha or otherwise, so I literally was just passing the time. I found a seat and sat down next to what turned out to be a very talkative old man. (Now, I have to be descriptive about which old man I'm talking about at The Orleans because 75% of the player base is comprised of players over 55. I shit you not. Some much older than that. Like *much* older. It sort of smelled like death in there.)

The talkative old man was cheerful, and a bit odd. He started up a conversation with me, I'm sure he was just looking for any excuse, about my iPhone as I was struggling to send out a tweet (the connection is shit in that room.) He asked me playfully, "That thing make phone calls?" I couldn't tell if he was joking. I replied that it was mostly a portable computer that happens to also make phone calls from time to time. He seemed surprised. I still couldn't tell if he was being serious. He started to tell me that he'd never used a cell phone in his life, or a computer for that matter. I *still* couldn't tell if he was being serious, but I figured by now, I'd just play along just in case. He goes on and on about he just travels from place to place in his non-airconditioned camper, and that he's been doing so since 1962. He claimed he had no friends, no family, and no wife so he had no need for a cell phone. Who would he call? I asked him where he got money to live, and he said "here and there." I started to smell bullshit, but he was funny enough, so I kept playing along.

After a while, I picked up pocket tens and raised in early position because I don't know any better. The flop is QJ6 rainbow. I check. It's checked around to this Asian lady (lots of Asian ladies at The Orleans too, and not young hot ones, like old, wrinkly, bony ones.) The Asian lady bets $4. I fold. Another Asian lady who had previously checked angrily and quickly calls. It's an old Asian lady cat-fight! Seriously, these senior limit poker players (not just the old Asian ladies) are a crotchety old bunch, and they frequently and angrily throw in bets before their opponent has even finished their betting motion. The turn is an 8. Now the lady that had once checked, leads out for $8. The original betting lady insta-raises to $16, and the first lady insta-insta-calls. The river is a 2. No flush. The first lady angrily checks. The second lady angrily bets. The first lady angrily calls. The second lady turns of 4s 5s. 5 fucking high. The first lady flips over AK offsuit. Ace fucking high. Well, sonofabitch, my pocket tens would have been good. Either I suck or these ladies are terrible. Maybe both. After the hand, it is revealed that these ladies were adversaries, and that they knew each other quite well. Well, shit.

I fold a bunch of other crap and win one or two small pots. Then my name is called for Omaha HiLo. I'm UTG, so I decide to take a free hand even though I'm already racking up my chips. Ts Tc. Shit. Again? I look at my stacks. I'm down $2 for the session. Fuck it. I raise to $8. Call. Call. Call. I even got called by the talkative old man who was a pretty tight player. Flop comes 8s 9c 2h. Seems good to me. I get checked to so I lead out for $4. Fold. Fold. Call. Mr. Talkie is still with me. Turn comes a 4c. Talkie checks. I lead out for $8. He calls. River is a King. River is a 6. He checks. I bet. He folds. Since I'm leaving the table, I show my pocket tens. He says, "I missed my straight draw," and shows me JT. Good, old man. Good. I take my stack over to the HiLo table, and I find that I'm up $26.

Session 6: The Orleans $4/$8 FL Omaha HiLo
In: $426 Out: $220 Time: 6 hours 15 minutes

At first, I did OK. That is to say, I didn't lose a lot. I played very tight. Waited for hands with scoop potential and rarely raised. I kept missing. The bleeding was steady and slow, but I was playing pretty solid poker.

Then I had a big hand. I had Ah Kh 2s 5c. I didn't raise because I didn't have a pair, but it was definitely playable. I called the $4 in late position, and the small blind raised to $8. The calling train started going around the table and of course I called. The flop was Th 8h 7h. Pretty good flop! I have two nut draws. The small blind leads out for $4. Call. Call. Call. Choo-Choo! The calling train was in full effect. I felt like I needed to build up this pot. I knew one (or both!) of draws was coming. It had to! I hadn't hit a big hand all fucking night. I raise to $8. Chugga-Chugga-Chugga-Chuga! Choo-Choo! The calling train kept on keeping on. I'm getting pretty excited now. Come on low heart card! Turn is a Jc. That's OK. That's OK. Now I have the nut straight draw, the nut flush draw, and the nut low draw. Small blind now checks. Everyone checks behind. I bet $8. It's coming! I know it. Small blind calls, and everyone else folds. C'mon river! 7s. Darn. No flush. No straight. Well, at least I made my low right? A 7 is below an 8. Small blind checks, and I lead out for $8 on the slim, slim hope that he was on a flush draw or something and can fold for $8. I've seen it happen. It's possible. Nope, he calls. I don't even look at what he flips over. I just flip over my hand and say, "Just a low." The dealer looks at my hand and pulls out the Ah Kh from my 2s 5c. Why is he pulling out the AK? I don't have a flush. Then I hear the guy next to me say, "There is no low." What do you mean there's no low? A 7 hit on the river… If you were paying attention, reader, you already realized my mistake. Yes, a low card hit the river: a 7, which paired the 7 from the flop. No low. Wow. How could I make such a stupid mistake? I mean, honestly, it only cost me another $8 and my pride in knowing that I misread an Omaha hand like a newb, but still… I don't mis-read boards. Other people do that. Shit.

From there it was all downhill. I didn't even go on tilt after that hand, but I never recovered from that blow. I continued to play tight, but I'd win very small pots, or split big ones. It was a tough, tough grind. I never could scoop a large enough pot that made me enough money. It was limit poker *and* you tended to split more often that not. If I'd make a huge high, the river would make a low possible and I'd lose half the pot to like a 7 low. I basically needed one of those hands that that other guy won when I fucked up and missed all my draws, just to get even. After I while, I loosened up. I started playing any A2 without regard for making a high. I lost a lot of those hands. A lot. Then I started playing any pair trying to flop a set. That's not smart. Lost more there. Before I knew it, I was down to under $100.

Now I *was* playing badly and losing a lot. And when I did win, the pots were so small that I couldn't gain ground. I got All-In a couple of times. That's never good in limit. I always swore I'd never let myself get down to All-In if I have money to put in from my wallet. But I did. Just another mistake. I guess I was just looking to get lucky and throw what I had in there. And I did a couple of times actually. I was down to $20 once and tripled up with Q2TK. Still, I was playing so horribly and my wins were so small that I was doomed. I busted.

Determined to make some money back, I re-bought for $200. I tightened up again, and did OK at first. I scooped a pot and got up to about $260, but again, the pots were just so small when I'd scoop, or I'd just split a large pot. My money kept dwindling. I started to believe that I couldn't beat this game. It was much too grindy for me. I got down to $220, and then just said fuck it. I was done with that shit. I couldn't take it anymore. I cashed out after 6+ hours. Down -$206. My first down session.

Session 7: The Orleans $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $320 Out: $216 Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

I took my $220 back to NL HE determined to make back my losses. And I sat down to a crazy, crazy, crazy table. There was a crotchety old Indian guy named "Patel" that was just angry as all fuck. I saw him make some really terrible moves and get really lucky over and over. He amassed a ton of chips. This could be good, right?

Two younger guys started to tease him and challenge him. This just pissed Patel off more. Ideally, you'd want a pissed off guy with lots of chips at your table, but this guy was just winning everything. I saw him call a $200 all-in on a flop of 6T6 with 22, and win. The other guy had AK. Then I saw the two young guys go at it against each other where one guy raised and re-raised and ended up calling, yes calling, an All-In with 45 offsuit versus the other young crazy guy's A9 suited. The small stack (A9s) had started the hand with like $300. A 5 hit the board and that was that. That was one young crazy guy gone.

Then Mr. 45 got in a huge hand with Patel. They had each bet and raised a stupid amount pre-flop. I think it was heads up and there was like $100 in the pot pre-flop. The board came all hearts. They both checked. The turn came a harmless looking card, and Patel bet $60, and Mr. 45 raised to $200. Patel thought about it for a while and angrily (the only way he did anything was angrily) went All-In for like $900. Mr 45 had about $700. Eventually, he calls. The river pairs the board. Patel angrily (haha) flips over the nut flush. Ace-Rag hearts. Mr. 45 is stunned. He flips over K-rag of hearts. Wow.

Having destroyed the two boisterous young guys with all the money, Patel starts racking up his chips…. Noooooo! :-( The table breaks shortly thereafter without me having taken much of anything from any of the crazy players.

I get moved to a new table and there is a guy drunk as fuck creating a lot of action. Yes! Unfortuntely, *he* cashes out 15 minutes later after destroying AA with 99 on a flop of 974 for a $600 pot. Now my new table is dead quiet. $12 pre-flop starts to take down pots without a flop. Great.

I sit around forever before I make the worst play of my trip. Even worse than the Omaha HiLo fiasco.

I pick up AK offsuit on the button. It's raised to $15 pre-flop by the guy two to my right. The guy between us calls. I smooth call. There is one other caller. The flop comes AQ7 rainbow. It's checked to the initial raiser. He bets $7. The guy to my right calls. I raise it to $22. The first caller folds. The raiser calls. The guy to my right calls. The turn is a 9. Pretty harmless. It's check-check to me. I lead out for $50. The initial raiser makes it $150. The guy to my right insta-folds. I think about it forever. Normally, I fold here. I can't beat anything but a bluff here. There is no flush or straight. Did he flop a set? Does he have AQ? I start to think he has AQ. I want to fold. I could out my stack. I have $130 behind the $50 I put in already. I start to fold. Then I say "All-In". Ugh. Why? The guy calls. He flips over AQ. Jesus. River is a blank.

I re-buy for another $100. I still don't go on tilt. I fold the next few hands and then pick up AQ myself. There are a lot of limpets, then I pop it to $15. I get two callers. The flop is AQ3. This looks familiar. This time it's in my favor. It's checked to me. I bet $10. The small blind calls. The other guy folds. The turn is another Ace. Yes! The small blind checks, and I check like I'm afraid of the 2nd Ace. The river is a harmless 8. The guy checks, and I think about it for a while and decide to just shove to make it look like a steal. It works. The guy calls for $75 more. He had A5.

Soon after my double up, the table starts to dwindle. We get down to 6, then 5, then 3 players. The game breaks. Boo. I didn't get to make up all the money. What a shitty session.

I still have more than a week to make it all back, plus some, right? Until next time...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vegas 2010 Day 3

Vegas 2010 Day 3 - Monday Dec 13th

This was a rather disappointing day. Not because I didn't play well, but because I played a pretty long up and down session and only made a very, very modest amount. Yes, I know you can't win every time, and I know that I should be grateful that I wasn't down, but what made things worse is that I pussied out for the day way too early. I almost feel like I wasted a day much like Sunday.

The day started out alright. I lounged in a my room all morning then checked-out at the last minute. Took a cab over to Planet Hollywood, checked-in there. Went up to my room. It was pretty nice actually: Then headed out to find a place to eat.

Did you know that there is no Planet Hollywood restaurant *in* the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino? How fucking dumb is that? That's like the Hooters Hotel and Casino not having a fucking Hooters restaurant. Anyway, I walked around for a bit and searched my iPhone for pizza on the strip… hmm… a California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage? I can do that. As I started walking that way, I stopped at the corner to wait for the the crosswalk signal to turn white. I glanced over to the right and saw the Cabo Wabo Cantina. Mexican? That could be good. Ah, but it's Las Vegas Mexican food in a restaurant owned by Sammy Hagar. How good could that be? I mean, I come from the South Texas border, right? Surely the food would suck here. Then again, it's so close… and the Mirage is way over on the other side of the street and down like 2 blocks. Plus this crosswalk signal is taking foreeeeveeeer.

Fuck it! Laziness wins out. Cabo Wabo it is.

I walked up to the entrance and they had the full menu up on a big poster. Hmmm. Pricey as all fuck, but that's to be expected. A fajita burrito? Custom nachos? I could find something here to eat. Another poster advertised their lunch special: A free frozen drink with any lunch entree purchase during the hours of 12:00p and 2pm. A quick check of my iPhone said 1:06pm. OK, SOLD!

It was kind of hot outside, so I asked to be seated inside. The place wasn't so bad. Friendly wait staff. The waitress asked for my order, and I inquired about the free drink. Choices were: Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, or a Margarita. Normally I'd choose the Margarita because it's the least gay, but I went for the Pina Colada because I fucking felt like it. Good choice.

As I perused the menu, I was surprised to see that most things were on the "Rob can eat list." This is a rarity indeed. The fajita burrito still seemed the most enticing: a large tortilla stuffed with beef fajita meat, refried beans, cheese, and rice... topped with meat sauce and queso. $15. No mention of any sides. I guess the beans and rice being inside of the burrito would suffice. I kinda wanted to start with Chips and Salsa, but $7 for two salsas and some chips sounded like a bit much. Especially since I knew I wasn't going to even eat all of my burrito. They're always too big.

I pulled out my MBA as I always do because I'm fucking bored, and to my surprise the waitress showed up with a basket of chips and salsa. Free chips and salsa? Then what the fuck was that $7 thing on the menu? I'd get two kinds of salsa instead of one? Whatever. Never look a gift horse in the mouth right? The chips were nice and sturdy, and the salsa looked kinda weird but tasted pretty good. So far so good.

The burrito showed up, and I got another surprise. It does come with a side of beans and rice. Cool. Hey, hold on. Black beans? Gross. Dammit, I should have known. They're trying to be all 'authentic' and shit here, and black beans are what 'real' Mexicans eat. I hate black beans. They look like mud. The it hits me. Fuck. The refried beans in my burrito are going to be black beans aren't they? Goddammit. Why didn't they specify black beans on the menu? Then again, why didn't they mention the burrito came with sides? Or that we got complimentary chips and salsa? This place just loves surprises don't they?

I decided to just fucking try them. They didn't make me gag, but I wasn't convinced. I dug into the burrito carefully. First bite wasn't offensive, and I didn't see any black beans. Then again, the whole thing was covered in beef sauce and queso. After a few more bites, I did notice the black beans, but there was so much shit in there anyway that I didn't taste them. Either that or maybe black beans don't taste much different from pinto beans.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that I enjoyed my meal.

I went back into Planet Hollywood to start my first session of the day. On my way through the casino I was reminded of how much I love the sound of slot machines. I mean, I hate playing slot machines, but the sound. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! It just reminds me of where I am. Love it! I made an AudioBoo of my walk through the casino to share the sounds with my followers. You can listen to it here:

Session 4: Planet Hollywood $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em
In: $500 Out: $517 Time: 7 hours

First thing I did was ask if the max buy-in was $200 or $300. It used to be that most places were $1/$2 and the max was $200 or $1/$3 and the max was $300. But the current trend seems to be $1/$2 max of $300. (I know that Caesar's is $1/$2 max of $500 too.) And sure enough, the max was $300. I decided to go with the full buy-in.

I sat down between a couple of older dudes. I hate playing with older dudes. They always seem to play tight and be as cranky as fuck. The dealer asks if I want to come in as Big Blind. Sure. I always think it's douchey to wait 2 hands just to avoid paying the blinds when you first sit down, even if it is the smarter thing to do. I look down and see Qs Jc. There are a few callers and then what appears to be a very accidental raise to $10 from an spritely old lady in late position. She meant to put in two white chips, but threw in two red ones. She immediately tried to take them back, then realized she couldn't and left them in. The whole table notices this of course. The button calls, and the Small Blind calls (old guy.) I comment out loud that perhaps I should just go All-In and steal the $30+ dollars out there. A get a few nervous laughs and the Small Blind eggs me on to do so. Of course I decide against it and just call even though I hate playing hands early because I don't have any idea how the players play yet. Flop comes As Qd 6s. The Small Blind leads out for $6. Hmmm. I decide to call and see another card. Everyone else folds, including the old lady that accidentally raised. She starts half-jokingly demanding that the winner of the hand give her her $10 back since she built up the pot. The turn is a 2s. Well, I've got the 2nd nut flush draw and second pair with a decent kicker. Small Blind leads out for $56. Whoa! Where did that come from? Did he lead out on a flush draw and hit it? If so, it's probably a baby flush. Do I call? I just sat down for $300. Old guy started out with about $160. I don't want to hit anything but a spade on this river. Preferably the King of spades of course. I decide to gamble and call. River is a red 4. Fuck. Old guy pushes all-in for just over $100. I knew I wasn't calling, but I make him sweat it a bit just because I'm mad. Of course I have to fold. I lie and say that my Ace didn't improve and that I didn't hit my flush. Old guy seems very pleased with himself. Fucker.

The old lady starts up again with the wanting her $10 back. The old man will have none of that. He doesn't even acknowledge her. I lie and say that I would have given her her $10 back if I would have won to make the old guy seem like more of a douche.

Later on, in a conversation with his neighbor to the right, the old guy admitted he hit a flush on the turn. His neighbor complimented him on his 'blocking bet' on the flop that kept me from betting my Ace out and possibly making his flush draw more expensive. Haha. Little did they know that the old man could have probably seen that turn for free as I had no intention of betting out second pair. After the old guy eventually busts (of course) and leaves, his neighbor asked me why I didn't raise the old guy when I hit my Ace on that first hand. I said, "Because I didn't have an Ace," and smiled.

So now I'm in the Small Blind. I look down at Qs Td. A few calls, and another baby raise to $6. I call. I miss then flop. Some guy in early position leads out for $10, then the old lady that fucked up and accidentally raised that previous hand says "raise" and drops down $15. The whole table, in unison says: "You have to bet $20!" The old lady puts in another $5 nonchalantly and eggs the people behind her to call. We all fold of course. The she looks at my side of the table and calls us all "Pussies!" The table erupts in laughter. WTF is up with this old lady? Haha. The guy that raised to $10 calls, but then folds to her turn bet. She admits that she flopped two pair. Really? No shit?! Man, this lady is horrible. Then she goes on to explain that "Pussies" is what they used to call "little girls" when she was younger. Well, I don't know what it was like growing up in the 1800's, but "Pussies" is pretty offensive these days, and it sounds awesome coming from an old geezer woman at the poker table. :) Here's the old lady:

Next hand. King Jack offsuit. Ugh. C'mon. Give me a break. I call the $2 and hit a Jack on an Ace high flop. I call a $10 flop bet and a $10 turn. The guy checks the river and shows a weak Ace. Jeez. What am I doing? I've played the first three hands in a row and lost them all. I'm down to like $200 already. I mercifully can fold the next hand, but the next hand after that is Ace Ten offsuit. What the hell is with these mediocre playable hands? Should I start raising? At this point it seems like I play everything. So maybe if I hit big, no body will believe me. I raise to $12. Nobody calls. Well, at least I won one. I ask the dealer to stop giving me playable hands so I can watch the table for a bit! You know what the say, be careful what you wish for…

For about an hour, I get nothing. I just sit and watch. The old man to my right has since busted, and I've already identified the donks. Unfortunately, there are only 2 real donkeys, 2 solid players and the rest just small stack average players. I hover around $220 to $250 for a long time.

Then I pick up QQ in the Big Blind. The current guy to my right is a younger fat guy. I'm not sure why I just mentioned that he was fat. It doesn't really matter does it? Anyway, he hadn't sat for very long. The previous hand, he had made it $15 to go preflop from the button and everyone folded. Now from the Small Blind, he made it $15 again. I'm sitting on QQ here, and I'm loving it so far. I pop it to $50, everyone else folds and Small Blind calls. Now, Small Blind only has about $80 left. If he had KK or AA, I would have expected a shove. Especially since it had gotten back to him with nothing but folds. It was just him and me heads up. So I have this guy on AK, maybe AQs or maybe JJ or TT. If he's really crazy he'll have a lower pocket pair or suited connectors. But honestly, for as much of his stack as he put in, I'm thinking it's more like AK, AQs or TT or JJ. The board comes 9 high rainbow. Small Blind leads out for $30. I raise to $100, but he only has $80 total. I take my change back and flip over QQ. Fucker flips over AA. Lame. The same neighbor guy compliments him on a well played hand? Really? That hand played itself. He didn't do shit differently than anyone else would have except maybe not go All-In pre-flop. But honestly, who's gonna raise a short stacked player to $50, and then fold to another $80 pre-flop? If I could have folded it pre-flop, I could have folded it on the flop. If I had AK and made the raise to $50, and he shoves for $80. I probably still call. However, if I had AK and he shoves on the flop, I'm folding. So it's actually *bad* that he didn't shove preflop. I didn't bother to correct him. Why would I? Lucky fucker.

So now I'm down to about $150. Very next hand. I pick up 99. There are a couple of calls, and then a very loose guy raises to $12. Two people call (including the old lady.) The all-knowing neighbor guy then makes it $50 to go. Now what I haven't told you about neighbor guy is that he was losing before I sat at the table, then he added on some money and went from $200 to about $1000 really quickly on some huge hands. On one hand he had, he turned the nut flush with a huge pot at stake and had a guy push all in for another $147, and another guy call that $147. Neighbor of course pushed, and won like a $650 pot. He was a solid player for sure, but he had dwindled back down to about $650 because he kept making solid aggressive plays that people (more often than not, stupidly) called him down on for a win. So I started to think that maybe this guy was just trying to steal. I had a pair. The chances that he had a bigger pair were of course there, but they couldn't be that great. I started to think, or hope anyway, that he had just two big unpaired cards and that he might fold to an all-in on my part. I decided to go for it. I went all-in for $147. It folds around to him, and he starts with the the talk "Man, if you have Aces that would be so sick." He has Kings? Why not insta-call? He thinks for a bit. I start to feel confident. Then he calls. OK. I have a pair, I'm probably ahead. Fucker flips over QQ. Really? I lose the pot and immediately re-buy for $200.

Next hand I watch as another guy holding 99 flops a set and beats someone else's QQ. Great. So I get caught with QQ vs. AA, and then lose to QQ with 99, and then watch another person's 99 flop as set against QQ. Fucking. Lame.

To be honest, I don't remember how I got up to $493, but I did. At that point I swore that if I got even that I'd cash out and go to the Orleans to go play Omaha HiLo for the rest of the night. I went through my blinds and nothing. Fell further behind. Then I picked up JJ in the Big Blind on the next round. Again, why the fuck do I only pick up big hands in the blinds? C'mon! Anyway, this new Mexican older lady had joined the table and replaced the white one. Because of course, she inevitably busted her short stack. This new old lady might have been even worse than the old one. She refused to fucking fold anything, but by the river she tended to make the better hand a lot of the times. It was sort of annoying. The whole table would make comments about her right in front of her, but she didn't seem to care. They'd lose to her and say "Well, at least the money is in the right place…" and grumble. I started thinking she was unbeatable. Well, I didn't actually think it, but I'd say it jokingly. Anyway, this Mexican old lady made it $15 to go. I made it $45. She calls. Why she didn't push when she only had $22 or so left? I don't know. Probably for the same reason she played all her hands the way she did… because she was a shitty player. Also, she was on tilt for losing a miracle gut shot straight on the turn to another miracle, but better, gut shot straight on the river. Anyway, the flop was pretty good for me. All unders. I pushed and she angrily called with her last $22. Turn is an Ace and river was a 4th spade. She angrily flips over As Jd for the nut flush. She flopped nothing. God. I hate this lady. Now I'm way down from being even.

A few rounds later I find myself with As Qs in, surprisingly enough, late position. A pretty aggressive skinny white nerdy looking guy (you can tell I'm going to lose this hand, can't you?) makes it $15 to go. I figure that's a fair price for As Qs in late position, so I call. It's heads up. This guy was fairly tight and very aggressive. So I knew I had to be careful. The flop comes Ac 9s 7d. Not bad. Nerd makes it $25, and I immediately pop it to $75. I knew that I couldn't call. I wanted to know where I was. I probably could have made it $60, but I made it $75. He pushes all-in for like $115 on top. Gah. I think for a while. I count out the $115 like I'm going to call, but fold. I show As Qs and neighbor teases me. He knows I was right. This guy had AK at minimum, if not a set. I'd wait for a better spot.

I dropped down to about $375 after that hand and build it back up to $465 again. Then I run into some bad hands and dwindle back down to $290. By this time, I'm kicking myself for not leaving when I was only $7 down, but I figured that I have all the time in the world to make that back, and more. I just have to keep playing my best.

I pick up Js Ts in the more usual position of big blind. Under The Gun, a guy I've actually been making friendly conversation with for a while, and another solid player who was down on chips, makes it $15 to go. He gets one caller, then the Mexican old lady calls (when doesn't she?), and then it gets around to me. I think about it. Js Ts. Asian Aces. Out of position to 3 players. Fuck it. I call. Flop comes Tc 8s 3h. I think about betting, but inexplicably check. I immediately regret it. UTG makes it $30 to go. One guy folds, and of course Mexican old lady calls. For some reason that I can't explain, "All-In" comes running out of my mouth. Who said that? Me? Shit. 1) UTG only has about $60 left. and 2) Mexican old lady never folds and seems to win more than her fair share by the fucking river…. *and* she's got me covered! UTG starts agonizing, "You really have a 10?" I'm surprised. I ask, "You can't even beat a 10? Why are you even thinking about this. Just fold, man." Normally, I don't try to talk people out of folding, especially when I really do think I have the best hand. But I'm 1/2 thinking I don't want to get sucked out, and 1/2 thinking this guy and I have been buddies for like the passed 4 hours. I know you shouldn't think that way, but fuck, I just wanted to win this one too, you know? While UTG is thinking, the Mexican old lady had had enough and folds out of turn. Finally, my buddy UTG folds. He says he had pocket 9's. I show the Ten of clubs. I'm back over $400 now, again, for like the 10th time.

After a few more rounds of nothing, I pick up Jc 8c in, guess where?, the small blind of course. This time it's checked around and I call $1 to see a flop. 8s 8d 2h. Hmmm. I like it. I decide to trap. I check. Some dude leads out for $10. I call. Turn is 7s. I check. Dude bets out $35. I call. River is a 6h. I check. Dude checks. He has Ace high. He turned the nut flush draw. Whew! I checked my stack, and there it was: profit! A very pretty looking stack of 12 white chips and 1 red chip sitting off to the side of my $500 buy-in!:

I've been on this table for 7 hours, but it feels like 12. My knees are killing me and my legs feel like jelly. I nursed a single cranberry juice for about 5 hours, but boy did I have to piss! I hadn't gotten up once in that time. After relieving my bladder, I headed over to the Earl of Sandwich: a place that accepts comp money that I accrued while playing poker, and also a place that at least 1/2 the table recommended that I try. I had a Holiday sandwich which consisted of roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce inside of a toasted bun. It was like Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich. Pretty good. But even better than that was the tomato soup with croutons. Yummy.

Anyway, I intended to go up to the room for a bit and grab my jacket before heading out to the Orleans, but I never made it back out. It was already passed midnight, and I just got lazy. I plopped down on the bed and the next thing I knew all the lights went out. No, I didn't pass out. The lights literally went out. The hotel was performing a power outage test at 2am. I had forgotten about it even though there were signs posted everywhere. Now I *really* didn't feel like going out. I got under the covers, and now it's morning. And now I am writing Day's 3 blog post. :-)

Until Day 4!