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 ( http://twitpic.com/3gav31) 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?"
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…