Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Have I Written?

I went to the doctor this week. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a writer.

"What have you written?" he asked.

"Oh you know." I said.

"The new Grisham Novel."

"A little Stephen King."

"Parts of the bible."

"Oh and I have a poker blog."

There was a lull in the conversation so I asked him who he's operated on.

He listed some names but there was no one worth mentioning.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Taking Out The Garbage

We're packing to move.

You know how I hate to brag, but truth be told I just threw out the garbage. This meant a fresh bag for the kitchen, which in turn presented an opportunity for me to bask in a little garbage bag glory.

Long story short, around a year ago I went really LONG on garbage bag futures and bought some ridiculously large box at Costco or Sams Club or whatever mega-store it is that I always shop at and exclusively endorse. The box was huge and a great value.

How big was the box?

Well according to the mega-store manager, there were six figures of garbage bags inside of it. There was a rumor on the check out line that within each of these bags was another bonus garbage bag but I didn't believe that part. I'm not sure why people need to start these rumors. As if six figures of garbage bags isn't enough. Now I gotta be disappointed when I get home and find out that I don't get double the garbage bags?

And until the technology improves for counting these garbage bags, I'm just gonna have to take their word and trust this manager guy. What choice do I have? There are just too many bags for me to count by myself.

I want to thank everyone who've said they'd come by to help me count the bags. At the poker tables it's usually the guys at lower limits. Makes sense since in theory their time is worth less money. I really appreciate all the generosity but I think I'm just gonna wait till the technology catches up to find out.

It seems like just yesterday, standing in the mega-store, making the second biggest decision of my life. I'll never forget my wife's gasp when she first saw the unopened box in the converted airplane hangar. Knowing full well she'd be seeing this same box outside our home for decades to come.

The craziest part was even with her fully aware of the box's arrival to our home, she still fainted when the delivery guys left it in our driveway.

I know the financial analysts have been talking. Saying I've put too much into the garbage bags. Saying that my portfolio is not diversified enough. That BS!

How can I not be diversified enough?

Everyone knows I'm diversified!

I'm voting for Obama.

And lets make one thing clear: I didn't go long with the garbage bags to please anyone else. I didn't do it to satisfy the critics. I didn't do it to gain the attention of my neighbors. I did it for myself. And maybe this blog entry.

What can I say? I like the security. I like possessing something that is finite yet feels infinite. I love having the essential tool for cleanliness.

It's not the broom. And it's not the pan.

But it is still part of the endgame.

Mostly I like knowing that every time I go to the box there will be thousands of garbage bags waiting for me. In case I need. One.

And I'm not aloof. I know my neighbors are angry. Calling me names. People across the street to the South saying that my box of bags obstructs their view of the Stratosphere. People behind me to the North saying my box messes with their experience of the Luxor light. (What the hell is an "experience of the Luxor light" anyway?) People to the East saying they can't see the Wynn anymore. As if that's the reason they can't sell their home. There's a recession people.

And EVERYONE in my zip code saying cell phones don't get the same reception they used to. Ever since that box of garbage bags showed up.

Well too bad for all of them.

If garbage bags have taught me anything at all, it's that you can't please everyone.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Vegas Year is 19 Months Long.

That's how quickly it happens.

Like watching a runner runner flush...


Just like that.

The Vegas Year is over.

There's a theoretical seat open at my figurative table.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've had to live here. It was a dream come true to jump into the world of Vegas poker. I've watched, seen, and learned so damn much. Writing about it has been a joy as well.

Of course living here has also been difficult at times. To have to win, yet not always win. To feel bad that I'm not working hard enough, then go lose money and feel even worse that I played at all.

And of course dealing with the tilt. The emotions. The great challenge of not letting results matter, when in fact they're all that do matter. Unless the gas station and supermarket start taking your bad beat stories.

I'm excited to relocate. Our next stop is California. Being from NYC I've occasionally had an attitude towards the West Coast. Maybe it's the whole Brooklyn losing the Dodgers to Los Angeles thing. All I know is now after 19 months of living in the desert, California looks to me like the Garden of Eden.

The best part about the way the human mind works is that I'm already fantasizing about coming back to Vegas to play poker for a weekend...

And I haven't even left yet!

I think I wanna stay at the Bellagio.

And then fly back home and out of Vegas 48 hours later!

Leaving is a big part of the fantasy.

That's what I call the happy ending.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1000 Minutes Of Discipline

I spoke with a friend last night who told me he just retired from poker.

"You're retired?" I asked.

I'd heard him correctly. Said he made the decision to retire based on a recent session. Apparently he went to play at 9:30 PM and then stayed all night long. Played until 2:30 PM the next afternoon.

Afterwards he was upset that he was unable to get up and leave the table. Okay. So perhaps he lacks the "discipline" to walk away from the game.

However he's sure got some "discipline" to sit there and play for 17 hours!

That's all I'm saying.

17 hour session?

The only thing I could do for 17 hours is sleep, and to complete that task I'd probably need a nap somewhere in the middle.

My friend summed up the pros and cons of what may be his last poker session. Ever.

"The good news is I played the entire time on just one buy in! The bad news is I lost it at the end after 17 hours of play. It was $200 hundred bucks!"

"Well at least you got your money's worth" I said.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Unmet Need

A guy raises my blind in late position.

Does it make any difference if I told you he had a ponytail?

What range of hands should we put him on?

How about after he says "This table sucks. I can't get no action."

The small blind calls and so do I. Flop comes 10,10, rag. Small blind bets. I get out of the way. Small blind happens to have 10,7 and is about to take down a big pot from the ponytail guy. This results in the ponytail guy yelling at the 10,7 guy for calling his preflop raise with well, 10,7.

It's hard to feel bad for the ponytail guy because we've all just listened to him say that our table sucks because he can't get any action. Well sir you just got some action.

The next orbit the same ponytail guy raises again in late position. This time he starts running his mouth about how no one respects his raises.

We all fold behind him.

At which point he starts complaining that our table is playing too tight.

And he means it.

This guy had a real miserable energy to him. He was the kind of human being you'd go to see a movie with just so you didn't have to talk to him. The kind of person best enjoyed in the dark, while paying attention to a motion picture and eating popcorn.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Motion Sickness

Poker tables are full of hacks. People making crazy moves. Moves that may or may not actually apply to the given hand. It's kind of like these players have learned how to do the Heimlech maneuver and desperately want to test it out, but no one happens to be choking at the moment.

Imagine you're sitting at a poker table feeling nausea. All of a sudden another player makes a bad read and misinterprets the situation to be that you're choking to death. So they run up behind you, wrap their arms around your chest, and start pumping.

Talk about awkward...

What this other player doesn't understand is that even if the Heimlech maneuver somehow alleviates the nausea on this particular hand, it still doesn't mean it was a positive expected value move in the long run.

Watching people like this play poker can be highly entertaining. Unless you're the person in the hand who got unlucky. Then their play might make you sick.

Most doctors and medical experts say that nausea and choking are two of the symptoms to look out for. If you've experienced either of these discomforts at the poker table, there's a good chance you outplayed your opponent but still got sucked out on.

Which is one of the major reasons why I never play poker on a boat.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ahhhh Math

I've been playing lots of HORSE the past couple of days and discovered something scary: I'm up money in the games that involve a low hand (Omaha HL, Stud HL and Razz) and down money in the games that award only a high pot (Hold em and Stud high).

How strange and embarrassing is that?

Especially the hold em part!

Who knew that Texas Hold em was my big leak?

Meanwhile, perhaps not surprisingly, I've fallen madly in love with these low games. My math brain really digs the concept of playable cards. By playable cards, I'm speaking of cards in my hand that I can use to win with at showdown.

I haven't read any Razz books so I'm not sure if I'm stating the obvious (or even correct in this matter) but when playing Razz I prefer to hold something like 4,5,6 than say ace,2,jack. However from what I've witnessed, the same can't be said of my opponents.

I'm sitting with players who'll reraise me if they've got 2 good cards like ace 2,jack. This move is probably residual from Omaha HL where any ace,2 in the hole is potentially the nut low. Now ace,2,jack may have lots of bling, but it's still a drawing hand. A player with ace,2,jack still needs a legitimate low card to replace the jack.

So I've been coming along for the ride anytime I start with 3 cards that I wouldn't mind showing down. I certainly haven't played enough hands to make any sort of grandiose statement but for the moment this strategy has been been working pretty well.

If you're a regular Razz player, what I've written here is probably real remedial. Kind of like it's coming from a first grade teacher.

Yet if you've never played Razz before the last couple of paragraphs might read like calculus.

Which kind of sums up Razz.

It's first grade calculus.

It's first grade because everyone acts like they're 6 years old when they miss their draws. And it's calculus because just like calculus, most of the people sitting there have no idea what they're doing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poker By Analogy #523

Being a poker player is kind of like being the coach of a sports team.

In both activities you don't actually play. You manipulate and behave in certain ways to get those around you to act accordingly.

In both activities you can't will yourself to win. You can't make your hand hold up anymore than you can get your worst athlete to score.

In both activities you're forced to make the best with what you've got. If you're a basketball coach and your team is small, you might choose to play the game at a faster pace. If you're a poker player with suited connectors, you might want to keep the pot smaller preflop.

Play to your strengths.

Avoid your weaknesses.

Like my main man Sun Tzu.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When Life Gives You Pancake Mix, Make Pancakes

I don't have much experience making pancakes. My pancake days have been limited at best. My participation almost symbolic. Watching me cook pancakes is like watching a politician throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. It's awkward and not worthy of press coverage. Oh sure on occasion I've passed through the kitchen and finished off a batch of pancake mix by doing the "guest pour" but that's the extent of my involvement.

No one has ever asked me to prepare pancakes for them. For some reason I've never been in charge of creating the mixture. I've never woken up and thought today I will make pancakes. Thus when it comes to the home pancake experience, I'm what you might call a role player. I eat. I close the meal. I'm there to finish up all the extra pancakes that come off at the end. The ones that no one else can handle. That's what I do. That's my job. And once in awhile...if I happen to find myself in the kitchen late in the meal...maybe I do the last pour or two. But that's it.

Due to my exceptional meal closing abilities, certain columnists have dubbed me the Mariano Rivera of Pancakes. They still love to talk of the time I spilled the pancake mix all over the kitchen counter in Arizona in 2001. No one forgets that night. And of course I also dropped the spatula in Cleveland back in 1997. It happens. Only two mess ups over all that time is still pretty damn impressive.

Looking back over my pancake career, I may not have poured the batter too often but I was a crowd favorite in the kitchen. The people would start clapping anytime I got near the ladle. In fact if you listen to old bootlegs of my 20th century pours, it's hard to tell if you're standing in my kitchen, or at Soldier Field in Chicago when William "The Refrigerator" Perry came into the game for one of his novelty goal line carries.

Mostly I was loved. Adored by pancake fans who knew I wasn't afraid to have fun out there. Not the people who started liking pancakes once they became popular. I'm talking about the folks who were there in the beginning. The same folks who will still be there eating their pancakes long after ESPN stops showing them. The people who actually appreciate breakfast and not the fad called breakfast.

Sometimes, if there were children around, I would try to pour an "R" in the pan to make them jealous that I could have a pancake in the shape of my first initial. This move can become rather dangerous if there is no additional pancake mix left for the young person to then make their own initial with. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Those of you who've had the pleasure of watching me cook before, you guys probably know to stand back at a safe distance. Everyone else however needs to be real careful. Sometimes food ends up in places it shouldn't and people get hurt in the process. It's one of the reasons I have you sign that waiver on the way in.

My wife is well aware of my cooking history. I'm messy. There are spills and occasional burns. So when I announced yesterday that I was going to make pancakes, you can imagine how surprised I was to immediately receive clearance from her to create the mixture.

She said okay? Did she hear me correctly? I said I was going to make pancakes.

My wife's only request was that I come and get her before I poured. Now sure I could have argued with her that pouring was the only aspect of pancake making that I might be qualified to do. But why ruin a good thing?

Meanwhile look who's getting full control over making the mix?

According to the box the recipe was simple. All I needed was:

2 cups pancake mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil

So like Joba Chamberlain becoming a starting pitcher, I began to make pancakes.

As a math guy I was all over the the liquid to solid cups things. They want 2 cups mix and 1 cup milk? No problem. The fact that I used different devices to measure each of these cups should calm everyone down.

The 2 eggs part was also pretty straight forward. I raised preflop and everyone folded.

The hand that got me in trouble was the 2 tablespoons of oil. I wasn't thinking and grabbed the extra virgin olive oil instead of using vegetable oil.

What? You want me to think too?

In my defense I've never made pancake mixture before. And all it said was oil.

(If that line of thinking doesn't convince people then I'm just gonna have my lawyer go on and on about how "the oven mitt don't fit." Mitt also happens to rhyme better with acquit than does glove. Talk about a lucky break.)

So that's the bad news. The olive oil did make the pancakes taste funny.

However the good news is that substituting olive oil for vegetable oil only matters if you care about how your pancakes taste.

I sure didn't get much help eating this specific batch of pancakes from my wife. As I sat there chewing endlessly I pictured Marv Albert chiming in with how "we're watching extended Gar-bage Time" in that Marv Albert way where he turns "Garrrrr-Baaggggge" into a French word.

So what did we learn here?

Well I definitely misplayed the recipe.

Olive oil instead of vegetable oil?

Embarrassing. I should know better. It's the kind of donkey mistake that results in getting flamed all over the message boards. The pancake blogger community can be tough like that.

Me? I'm trying to stay above the fray. I'm hoping that I've grown from the experience and that I won't make the same mistake next time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bluffing Onstage.

One trick I've learned in show business is to perform prepared material in such a way that the audience assumes I'm improvising. On their part it's a reasonable assumption since if I'd actually prepared material, it should be tight. So if I'm standing onstage and it looks like I'm thinking about what to say next, it's fair to assume that I'm making it up as I go along.

This technique (accidentally) worked for me this past week. I was messing around onstage rapping with two percussion players. My rhymes were all prepared but I took my time and did them so slowly, so randomly, so patiently, that it seemed like I was making the entire thing up in that moment. The pauses weren't planned. They were unintentional. They were due to my not remembering all of my rhymes. But the audience ate it up.

The audience's reaction is proof that life is all about expectations. If this same audience had expected a tightly memorized rap, then I would have failed. But to a group of people that thought I was making up rhymes on the spot, I looked like a rapping genius.

The bluffing part was amusing post show. I was chatting with some folks and well aware of just how sloppy my performance was. But these members of the audience would hear nothing of it. They were too impressed with how I had just spit out 5 minutes of clever rhymes off the top of my head. I told them the lines were prepared but they didn't believe me.

What they don't understand is that if I could improvise rhymes that well, I'd be the world's greatest rapper. Not some guy who's pausing every 4 to 8 sentences because he's trying to remember what obscure reference comes next.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ace 10 is Whack

Most times I have no plan. I don't go into the casino thinking "I'm going to raise 40% of the hands" or "I'm going to fold all night." My style of play is dictated by what I see at the table and I react accordingly. That's what it says in my pamphlet. I'm happy to play lots of hands, I'm happy to fold. It's all based on what's going on in the moment.

Going to the Rio for an evening session, I fully expected to see chaos. It's what goes on in that room. I was prepared to play tighter than normal. At 2/5 it costs 7 dollars to see 10 hands. Thinking of it this way helps me chill out and play tighter. There's no need to force action to happen.

I came up with an experiment. Sit back and play real tight and fold for 3 orbits. It will only cost 21 dollars for 30 hands. At some point I'll pick up a hand and raise it up. In the meantime I'll fold all those crappy jack,2 hands and move on.

So what happens in real life? The very first hand I see gets raised to $35.
3 people call in front of me. I look down in the blinds at 8,9 suited. Welcome to 2.5 at the Rio.

I call because I have implied odds and by implied odds I mean a blog. The best part about calling is I immediately exceed my $21 budget before I've even seen a flop. Who knew I was this cool? People* trying to put a $21 dollar cap on me and I'm calling $35 dollar bets with 8,9 suited.

* People = Me.

I think I used to have discipline. At some point. Maybe.

Who we kidding? If Steve Wynn called me up and said Robert, it's Steve, I know you're at home but early position just raised to 35 and I'm looking at 3 callers, do you want 8,9 suited? I'd say "Who is this person pretending to be Steve Wynn and why do you keep calling my phone? " But you know a large part of me also wants to go down there and see a flop. I've got a sweet spot for 8,9 suited. What can I say?

And obviously I'm getting older, because I only called with it here. Back when I was younger I would have raised with the 8,9 suited. No question about it.

The flop came out King, king, queen. Not necessarily an ideal flop against 4 players. Then again any time the board pairs things get fun. I check. The preflop raiser, a lady with around 2 grand in front of her leads out for $50 into the $175 that sits between us. Everyone folds to me.

I give serious thought to raising here. I believe she has a big hand, but if that big hand is not ace king, or pocket queens, then she has to be nervous. I think a raise is in order. She can't call me without a king. I start playing with my chips.

Then another voice kicks in. The voice reminds me that ace, king is clearly within her range of starting hands. The voice mentions that I've only bought in for $500, so my raising here to say $150 would be committing 30% of my stack on a bluff on the first hand of the night against a player I have no read on. On an evening where I really wanted to let the game just come to me.

I go back and forth. She has the best hand. Will she fold to a raise? I called with 8,9 suited hoping to flop a miracle. Not trying to outplay an unknown opponent. I muck. And my opponent shows pocket aces.

Wow. I could have stolen it with a raise. Maybe. Probably. Who knows? It's the Rio in July. Anything is possible.

Is she one of those players who says "I can't lay this down" and calls? She has all those chips in front of her. She's doing something right.

The saddest part is this hand was the highlight of my night.

According to my publicist the spin is that we're all proud that I thought about raising. That I almost made the right move. Oh sure I lacked the courage to follow up on it. But my thinking about it means that I'm almost becoming an actual real poker player.

Give me another 10-15 years of living in Vegas and I'll have this whole "playing cards for a living" thing down. I swear to you. That's all the time I need.

Wow I can't believe I just wrote that last paragraph. I sure hope my wife doesn't read this blog. Now that would be really awkward.

So where were we? Oh yeah. The hand I could have maybe won. If I had raised. But I didn't.

I even managed to get sucked out on in a hand that I wasn't involved in. That's how powerful I am. I fold ace 10 off in early position behind an under the gun raiser and then watch an ace flop. I perk up to follow the rest of the hand. I have to know if I would have had the best hand. So that I can know whether or not to feel bad about myself.

As the hand goes on we will learn that the dude who raised in early position, in front of me, did so with ace 9 and got me to fold ace 10! How dare he! Who said to fold ace 10 off? That hand is gold!

We will also learn that the same lady who is up two grand and just won with the pocket aces has called this ace 9 guy with her queen 2. She flops middle pair on the ace, queen rag board. A blank comes on the turn. They both check.

A 2 comes on the river and the ace guy bets and she doesn't raise, she politely calls and her two pair takes down the pot. It was awesome. I would have lost with my ace 10 to her queen 2. And I would have gone completely and utterly on tilt. Absolutely positively.

Who knows what kind of bender I'd have gone on? The whole thing would have ended up with me doing public service announcements regarding safety and starting hands in poker.

Something like:

I always hear people saying ace 10 is fun and how much they love ace 10. Well certain hands aren't fun. Certain hands break up families. Certain hands are gateway drugs to trouble. Ace 10 is one of those hands. Certain hands lead you down the wrong path. That's why you fold ace 10 preflop.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Groundhog Day 1d

I was eliminated on day 1d of the 2007 WSOP Main Event when I slowplayed pocket queens and a gentleman with pocket 9's flopped a set.

What I want to type is "and I let a gentleman with pocket 9's flop a set." The implication being that when I didn't raise preflop, I allowed him to make his hand.

I probably lose a decent amount of chips on a 9 high board with queens no matter how I play it but part of me thinks I could have prevented the 9 from flopping if I raised preflop. You understand correctly. I am saying that if I raised then the 9 does not come out.

Why? Because the universe rewards me for playing correctly. And the 9 that flopped was punishment for my slow playing.

Makes perfect sense. The universe hates people who slow play. Everyone knows that.

It's way more honorable to raise and lose.

So what happens Sunday night?

In the very same room?

On day 1d of the 2008 Main Event?

I slow play pocket queens in a 2.5 cash game and lose a big pot when my opponent hits a set of 9's.

Have I learned absolutely nothing at all?

Is The Vegas Year stuck on loop?

For me to sit down in that very same room where so much good and so much bad has happened, and replay the same hand that knocked me out one year ago, bordered somewhere between cruelty and hilarity. I'm sure it was funny, just not for me. No for me it was awful. I was not happy.

It also revealed a huge hole in my game. Slow playing queens in early position. With aces I would have repopped it. With queens I hid in the dark and ran into his set.

It may have been my destiny to play these hands this way. Everyone knows that Nostradamas said something about "beware of the queens on day 1d." I always thought it was a metaphor for war or something. Little did I know that by "queens" Nostradamas meant "pocket queens" and when he says "day 1d" he's talking about "day 1d of the Main Event." It seems so obvious now that Nostradamas was talking about the World Series of Poker. My bad for not noticing this sooner.

What are my thoughts on doing it again on day 1d in 2009?

I know. I don't want to jinx it either. It's like talking about a no hitter, but if somehow I can Threepeat (TM Pat Riley?) and pick up pocket queens and run into a set of 9's on day 1d then I'm planning on starting a cult. There will be a bus waiting in the parking lot at the Rio.

I was just browsing through some compounds on Craigslist and there's plenty of reasonable stuff all over Texas. We can gather up our weapons. It doesn't have to be Texas. I'm open to suggestions as to where we live in this great country. The bus can go anywhere we want it to. I'm not one of those cult leaders who has to boss everyone around to feel good about himself. At least I won't be until the space ship comes down.

So yeah. If I wanted to grow as a poker player I might try to learn something from these hands. If I wanted to get better I might analyze what exactly happened. But I see no point in wasting my precious time experiencing with the idea of self growth when deflecting the blame towards others is so much easier. It's the American way.

With this in mind:

I'd like to blame the Universe for the humiliation and shame I felt as I was walking down the hallway and out of the Rio.

I'd like to blame the Harrahs corporation for their negligence in this matter. Specifically the Rio for not using a random number generator in their poker room. You guys are making millions of dollars hosting this event. Rent one if you have to! If the American Public* starts seeing this specific queens vs 9's hand too often on the ESPN television, it could be a huge setback for poker.

*American Public = The people that Phil Hellmuth refers to.

(This is a modern day footnote. You put it right under the paragraph because in a paperless world you never know how far you're gonna have to scroll to get to the bottom of the page.)

(Not to mention everyone's short attention span.)

(So I hereby declare that starting right now all footnotes are to be moved to directly below the reference. It'll make for easier reading. See? I got some good ideas. My talents would be wasted running a cult. I need to go into English. Or grammar. Or whatever field it is that covers footnotes. I'm sure there's a word for it. But I can't do everything for you guys.)

Can you imagine if we come back to the Rio in November for the WSOP Main Event final table and all 9 of the bust out hands are queens vs 9's flopping a set?

If you were sitting at that table, at what point do you start laying down your queens preflop? After 3 guys have gone out with them? 4? Seriously.

What do you do if the other player shows you a 9 preflop? And you look down at queens? What then? What does Sklansky say to do in this spot?

Imagine if the first 7 players have gone out with the queens. You're heads up for the bracelet, the 9 million dollars, and you look down at queens.

Can you really push here? Or is it an automatic fold?

All I know is you do not call with them.

So the bad news is I donked off my stack with an overpair to a set. I was that guy.

The good news is at least an ace didn't come out on the flop!

I have to acknowledge this right? I've been saying how an ace always flops when I have queens. So I will admit it was a big thrill for me not to see an ace this time.

In fact those few moments, from the time the dealer revealed the 9 high flop, up to the point when my opponent turned over his pocket 9's, that memory, those 25 to 30 seconds were some real good times indeed.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Sometimes I get stuck check calling against extremely aggressive opponents. Raising scares them away so I'll let them bet my made hands for me. Of course the detriment to this style of play is when one of these guys sucks out on me. Then I get to internally steam that I let them hang around. But that's the risk involved in trying to maximize profit, since most times your opponent won't be drawing dead.

In my most recent session I defended with 9,10 suited from my big blind against the raise of an extremist. A third player called as well. I hadn't bet or raised many hands, so I didn't raise when the extremist led out with a bet on a 4,9,9 flop. The third opponent called behind me as well.

6 comes on the turn. Extremist bets again. I call.

Guy behind me pushes all in!

Extremist calls!


I have the extremist covered. I mostly have to decide if I have a better hand than the gentleman who pushed behind me. He has me covered. The board has two to a flush so (it's not likely but) part of me hopes he's chasing that. The reality is I'm scared of facing trips with a better kicker. Yet he's also the kind of guy who limps into every pot, so he could turn over any two cards here.

I call.

The good news?

He's got 7,9!

My 10 kicker plays at showdown and I win the side pot!

The bad news?

Turns out the extremist had pocket 6's and hit the third 6 on the turn. He wins the main pot. If I raise on the flop he folds but I made the decision not to raise there because I wanted him to keep firing bullets. I wanted to keep him in the hand. The fact that he hit a two outer doesn't change that.

"Long term Robert" understands the risk involved in slow playing.

"Short term Robert" wants to fire his head coach.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Big Fish Eats The Little One

“If you’re losing you probably don’t bet your hands as well as your opponents”
-Barry Greenstein

Every once in awhile I come across a special player. A poker artist. A person who has a deeper understanding of the game than the rest of us. A player who bets his hands better than everyone else.

It's kind of like how I feel when I'm playing HORSE with a bunch of 1st graders who are just learning to play poker and read and write. I run over that game. They don't know what hit them. Heck they're not even sure what beats what.

I mean I'd probably run over that game. If it existed. I don't actually know if 1st graders play poker. In Nevada it might be legal to play poker with 1st graders as long as you do it outside of the Las Vegas area. I can't call this a fact. But the way the laws work here it sure seems possible.

The only catch is you need have a gun with you in order to play poker with 1st graders. I'm not positive why this is part of the law but the gun might be necessary in case the 1st graders try to cheat or rob you.

This could be true. It's well known that children can be mean to each other. And the word on the street is they apparently don't know what beats what at poker. So how in the world do you expect them to push the pot to the right player?

What was your question again?

So yeah that's what happens at poker. The big fish eats the little one. Then a bigger fish comes along and check raises the big fish.

This past weekend I sat with a great poker player. A young kid who played super aggressive. Raised too much preflop. No one approved.

At first glance he appeared completely out of control. Every second or third hand he'd raise it up 6x the big blind. Then he'd fire bullets on every street until everyone folded. Then he'd show his bluff and we'd move on to the next hand.

No one wanted to play back at him without a made hand so he controlled the table.

And somehow someway the couple of times that he gets all in, he's got the nuts. Of course he does. That's why he's so good.

He was awesome at bet sizing. Putting players into tough spots with some hard decisions. Forcing them to commit their stack, without he committing his.

And he showed so many bluffs I stopped looking down at the table. I didn't want to see his cards anymore. I wanted to be able to pretend that once in awhile he had ace king. Even if he didn't.

His actions convinced me it would be reasonable to call him down with ace high on the river because usually it was the best hand. It wasn't, of course, the one time I tried it. No that time he had the goods. Good for him for earning that river call from me. Credit absolutely goes to all of his advertising on prior hands. He couldn't possibly have had a lower credit rating at our table. The guy showed 5 high, multiple times. As you can see I was a huge fan.

The common strategy against a player like this is usually to tighten up and wait for big hands to play big pots against him. However I went the other way with it and played many hands against him when I was in position. There seemed to be lots of impending (dare I say implied) value knowing that he was gonna fire out a pot sized bet no matter what came on the flop.

This passive strategy worked for me a couple of times. I called him from late position and then let him bet the hands for me post flop.

Quite often players who play this loose aggressive style end up giving their chips away but this guy was the real deal. He had a real strong ability for sensing when to shut down and when to turn on the pressure.

It was tough to win his chips but he was a pleasure to play with and learn from.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not Here

I raise in late position at the Venetian. The small blind was about to complete the blind but my raise apparently changes things for him. He stares at my bet, considers the additional cost(s) involved to remain in this hand, and chooses to fold. As he's throwing his cards into the muck he looks at me and says "Thank you. You saved me a dollar."

"You're welcome" I reply.

"Now I can go and buy a hot dog" he says.

"Not here" says the dealer.

I'm looking forward to telling this story over and over again by the pool when my wife and I complete our destiny and make our way to Florida for "The Boca Raton Year" TM.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas (Part III)

Who can forget the time the Venetian poker room forced me to show my hole cards to take down a pot even though everyone else at the table had folded? My left brain still regrets (and my right brain still resents) that I followed their ruling. I was the last man standing. Who were they going to award the pot to if I had refused to turn over my hand? The guy who folded and didn't show before me?

Well the comedy writers who script my poker sessions at the Venetian must be running out of ideas. Because I was back in their poker room this week and had another glorious experience where my cards were shown to the table in a spot where I thought I had the right to muck.

My opponent and I were all in on the flop but neither of us revealed our hands. My opponent then hits the runner runner boat on the turn and river and shows down his cards joyfully. I can't beat him, so I throw my cards into the muck. Sounds normal right? The hand is over and the dealer pushes him the pot. This sequence happens all the time in poker.

However at this point something strange happens. My opponent asks the dealer what I had and without any hesitation whatsoever, the dealer reaches into the muck turns over my cards and shows them to the table.

This really happened.

What right does this guy have to see my hand? What right does the dealer have to show it? This isn't a tournament. This isn't a hand history on the internet. This is a live cash poker game. Since when can a dealer go reaching into the muck and turn over dead hands?

If the Venetian is going to make us show our cards at showdown, then why not do it on the flop when we initially got all in? (Like in a tournament.) It's silly to make me show at the end after I've given up on the hand. By mucking I'm giving up my right to win the pot but in exchange I'm gaining the right to privacy. That's how it works in poker. That's how it had worked in every single live cash hand I've played over the past 18 months. Except at the Venetian.

Lets even pretend for a moment that at showdown he's gonna slow roll me. So lets say he's still hits the full house but asks me to show my cards first. Now imagine if I do the thing where I just muck and concede the pot. In this circumstance no one would dare turn over my mucked cards. It would be accepted that I had given up on the pot. He'd be the winner. I'd be the loser.
Just because he showed his cards first, doesn't mean he's suddenly earned the right to see my cards.

In fact the only concern (specific to the Venetian) is over whether the winner has to show. I believe the answer should still be a resounding "no" but as per my previous Venetian post, this is exactly the kind of situation where the Venetian made me show. The only reason I could see for demanding to see cards here would be if I was concerned regarding collusion. But since the guy asking to see my cards is the same guy I lost the pot to, I don't think collusion applies here.)

Now I can admit that my anger here was mostly tilt from having just lost the big pot but I definitely felt violated. The winning player asking to see my cards disturbed me, but the dealer immediately turning them over disturbed me even more.

Can this really be the way poker is played at the Venetian?

It makes me wanna go sign up for some 2/5 with Andy Kaufman this weekend and ask to see my opponent's mucked cards every single time someone folds at showdown. It's gonna be awesome. Hope you get stuck at my table.

Meanwhile the way life works, as I was walking out of the casino I noticed the woman pictured below. She must have been really sickened by what had happened to me.

Why else would she be puking into this garbage by the escalators?

She must be a poker purist! She knows they'd never pull my cards out of the muck after I've lost a hand at the Bellagio so that a guy who has won the same pot could see them.

In fact this woman's dedication to the way the game should be played makes me think she'd make a good poker wife for some of you single poker guys out there who are reading this.

If only there was a way to get in touch with her.

Maybe a Craigslist personal ad?

YOU: puking into the garbage the other night at the Venetian.

ME: Watching you puke and in awe of how much you respect the game.

Savvy readers might also notice that I stood far enough back to give her some space. That's because I have manners.

- I don't ask to see other players cards in the muck.

- And I stand at least 15 feet back when people are puking into garbage cans.

I think we call these qualities being raised right.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vegas Fact #14

I saw Eric Seidel and John Juanda walking out of the George Michael concert Saturday night at the MGM Grand.


Those guys must really love their wives.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Two Hours of Poker From June 2008.

1:12 AM. I pick up pocket 10's and raise preflop. My opponent calls in position. Flop comes ace king queen. According to sources who were there, I didn't even bother making the continuation bet. Instead I apparently used double reverse psychology and held my cards out over the muck. My opponent bet and I let them go. I wasn't bluffing. No string fold from me. That's because when I hold my cards out over the muck, I'm usually gonna drop them.

Oh sure every once in awhile I make this same move when I flop a set. You know. Just so it doesn't become a tell. The last thing I need is for word to get out all over the poker community that whenever Robert holds his cards out over the muck it means he's going to fold. That would make playing against me too easy.

For those of you keeping score at home my opponent showed king queen.

1:18 AM. I call preflop with 5's but fold to a bet and a call on an ace high flop. The third 5 comes on the turn. How come anytime my cards are mucked, and then I see I would have hit a bigger hand, all sorts of betting fireworks ensue? How does this happen every time?

To quote Mr. Seinfeld, "Why is that?"

Like if I fold 4,7 and the flop comes out 7,7,7 there will be a raise and reraise before I can even open up Outlook to find the time to feel bad for myself.

Oh I still will. I'll schedule a meeting to punish myself for folding there. And then as soon as I get the reminder for my meeting, the turn and river will go runner runner 8's and some guy shows down pocket 8's at the end for bigger quads.

And then my superego will go out and rent a megaphone, just so he can walk around the house for the next 4 weeks screaming:

"See? That's why you fold 4,7 preflop!"

Truth be told my superego is wasting his time. My Id has already forgotten about this quads hand 30 seconds later when I pick up suited connectors. For him life is good again. My Id doesn't need chips to have a party. Oh sure he might need some dip, but he certainly doesn't need chips.

1:39 AM. I bump it up with pocket queens and get two callers. No one cares that I haven't raised a hand in 27 minutes. I ask for the floor to see if I can get insurance on one or more aces flopping but they don't want to take my action.

So what happens? Flop comes ace, ace, 6. Too bad for me. You know back when I was playing at Binions in the 1950's, Benny absolutely would have taken my bet on whether or not an ace flopped. And if Benny wasn't around I'm sure Johnny Moss or Nick The Greek would have laid me odds. But not these days. Not with these corporations posing as casinos.

Meanwhile I hope this whole "anytime I have queens there will be an ace on the flop" thing doesn't come off as me whining. If anything I'm bragging. I'm just like the kid in the Sixth Sense except instead of seeing dead people, I make aces flop when I hold queens in cash games. It's my magic trick. I might even go on tour with it if my Red Ant speaking gigs start to dry up.

So me and my queens check the flop. We're out of position. It's also what I'd do if I had ace king here. And both players are hip to my thinking because they check behind me. They've missed as well. After the dealer delivers the turn I bet $25 and they both fold. But this isn't me making any kind of move on them. I have the best hand. These guys aren't folding an ace here.

1:51 AM. Folded around to me on the button. I look down at ace rag. I don't love this spot. I'd prefer something like jack,9 here. That's how I roll. But what are my options? No one has entered the hand so I can't fold my button with an ace. I can't limp either. It's an obvious raise. And even though it'll look like a position raise, I think I probably have the best hand. I raise 5x the blind and they both call.

Flop comes out ace high. Small blind bets, big blind raises. I fold. They get all in. One guy has ace jack. The other a set. They both had me beat. Preflop too.

My inner child wants to throw a tantrum and say something like if I can't win when I raise and flop top pair then what hands am I supposed to win with?

As if I'm supposed to win! That's a good one.

1:58 AM. Three inexperienced players sit down. I'm in a pot with two of them and flop top pair top kicker. Before I can bet, one of these guys has the nerve to lead out from the blinds for 25. Other guy calls. I have position and want to raise but I decide to proceed with caution and just call. I want to see what happens on the turn. The board pairs the middle card and the blind fires another 25. His friend raises it to 50. I was scared before but now I'm terrified. So I lay down my top pair top kicker because one of them has to have trips.


The guy in the blinds goes all in. Other guy folds and shows top pair! Heck of a play by him raising to 50. Got me to fold. The guy in the blinds helps to maintain my sanity by showing me his trips. Thank you sir. I knew there was a reason for me to fold here.

Reviewing the hand- if I could have gotten him to fold on the flop when I had the best hand then I could have won the pot. But if he calls my flop raise then I'd just have lost more money.

If I raised to $75 or $100 would they both have folded? Or would they both have called? I'm not so sure I can trust these guys to fold. Which is why I'm playing with them in the first place.

2:01 AM. I limp with ace suited under the gun. Flop is beautiful. Ace high with two of my suit. Nice. I got the whole top pair thing going so I'm present, legitimate and in the moment. But people are also saying I've got the nut flush draw so clearly I've got a future and a 401K plan. I think we call this the best of both worlds. It almost feels like Omaha.

The adrenaline kicks in. The high that comes from knowing your chips are about to go into the middle. Going all in on the river and winning this hand would get me even. I took a break and stretched my legs. The past 4 hours of frustration were suddenly erased.

2:13 AM. Back at the table I go on a rush. Win with queen jack and king rag on consecutive hands from the blinds. Yes. On some nights, my winning two pots in a row can be considered a rush.

2:15 AM. Our table breaks. Unfortunately.

2:49 AM. 30 minutes at a new table and I've played pretty tight thus far. What can I say? I'm appreciating having chips again. On this hand I flop a clubs draw on an ace, king, jack board. My opponent bets small. The kind of bet that looks scared. I call. Turn is a second ace. He bets again. Still small.

Now despite my chasing a flush, I'm not terrified of the board having paired because I don't think he has ace king or ace jack. If he has an ace then it looks like he's scared of his kicker. I call again.

The river is the lovely and talented 3 of clubs. I hit my flush. He acts first and pauses before he bets. I watch him think. He eventually puts 5 chips out there. Only 25 bucks. Huh. This is somehow completely different than his two previous bets. Those felt weak. This feels like a value bet.

I could swear he's acting like he has the best hand. I'm suddenly nervous. Could he really have hit a bigger flush? Maybe my read was way off thinking he had an ace. Maybe his small bets on the flop and turn were semi-bluffs? He sure looks like he wants the call. My raising him is now out of the question, but of course so is folding. So I do what I have to do and call his value bet. And he turns over...

Ace 3 for the boat.

3:01 AM. Guy raises preflop in early position and announces he's has pocket kings. I call from the button with ace king and no longer trust his words after he checks a rag flop. He bets the turn and I call. Then comes his Oscar moment. After an ace comes out on the river, he grimaces and then bets. I call. We chop. Yes he had ace king too.

Damn it Robert. I told you to bet the flop!

But you don't listen.

3:04 AM. Highly entertaining hand. A good example of the kind of play you see in Vegas during the WSOP. Solid player raises from the button and gets 2 callers. Solid player bets 20 on ace high flop and both players call.

This causes the solid player to make faces. If this guy's face could talk it might say something like "I don't understand what the two of you could possibly be calling me with here because I have ace king!"

The two callers check the turn and the solid player makes another confused face and then checks behind them. I guess he assumes that someone must have two pair. The river comes and puts 3 spades out there.

One of the callers bets out 100 from the blinds. The second caller calls! Solid player freaks out. Can't figure out what to do here with his ace king. He's still got top pair top kicker but like I said, there are 3 spades out there.

Solid player asks out loud "You both got spades?"

After a few moments of silence the solid player folds.

But shows us all his ace king because he's a solid player.

Player who bet the $100 on the river shows ace 3. He has a pair of aces, 3 kicker.

Second player who called the $100 shows ace king and takes down the pot.

It's not always like this in the Vegas poker rooms.

But sometimes during the month of June it is.

3:14 AM. Under the gun I look down at the ace of spades. I decide that I don't need to see the second card. It'll only discourage me. I limp in. If it gets raised I can look and see what I've got.

It doesn't get raised behind me and the flop is king, 9, 2 with two of a suit. I check and an active player bets 10. Second guy who may be on tilt calls. I look down at my other card and see it's a king. I call too. I'd raise against some players but against these guys I don't wanna lose my customers. I want them to fire again on the turn. Then I can raise.

Turn comes. It's a harmless rag in that it doesn't pair the board but it does set up double flush draws. So the future might be dangerous but for the moment I'm still alright. The same active player bets, this time $20. Second player pushes all in for less than $100. I think I'm ahead of him so I reraise all in behind him. It's the first player in the hand who I'm slightly concerned about. Since we all limped in preflop he could have king,9.

He doesn't insta-call. That's good news.

He asks for a count of my chips. That's bad news.

He makes the call. Uh oh. I could be in some trouble.

Dealer turns over an unmemorable river and no one wants to show their cards. So I do. Lets win or go home. Here's my ace king.

Active guy to my left looks disgusted and shakes his head. Then shows us his king jack.

Second player shows king jack as well. Wow. I somehow win the pot.

I didn't outplay anyone. All I did was sit at a table and play with people who have even lower standards than I do for putting in their chips. That's what it often comes down to. Playing with people who make poorer decisions than you do.

My play was real borderline here, shoving with top pair top kicker against two opponents. That's how people lose their stacks each and every day. On this hand, against these players, it worked. I guess times are hard you get people calling all ins with top pair, jack kicker.

If that's not proof of a recession I don't know what is.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If It Ain't Good Enough To Raise With....

I played an entire session yesterday without calling a single bet. I forced myself to either raise or fold every time it was my turn to act.

Wow that was difficult.

An additional problem arose when one of my opponents figured out what I was doing, adjusted his game and started raising me back. This turned into a whole 'nother game within a game for the two of us.

But for most everyone else at the table my raise or fold persona worked. I was often playing their cards much more than my own. Especially since I couldn't do any of my "Hey I got a piece of the flop let me call a couple of small bets routine." I had to make a decision one way or the other.

I played fewer hands than I normally would from the blinds. I just didn't feel as comfortable raising from there.

Damn it was powerful to raise with medium or bottom pair and watch opponents fold top pair lousy kicker.

It also seemed worthy to raise, get reraised, and throw my hand into the muck. Rather than call and find out the same truth a street or two later.

In the long run I obviously need to call sometimes when playing poker. When I picked up queen 10 suited on the button yesterday I really just wanted to see the flop. However I raised and my opponent quickly moved all in and I had to muck. This would have been a great time for me to disregard this strategy and see the flop. But I was committed to raising or folding, so I raised.

The way I also dealt with not being able to call was for me to vary my raise sizes. Sometimes the small raise was me buying another card in a spot where I'd normally call. Other times I was hiding a big hand and mixing it up.

Overall, quite the fun experience.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just Like It's Not Supposed To Happen.

I played a little too much poker this past week and at some point I finally cracked. I went over to the neighborhood where tilt resides. You don't want to park there. People will steal your car. Your esteem. Your soul.

What got me so upset and messed up my psyche?


I was silly enough to expect my big hands to win. I thought that perhaps the long term math might want to hook me up in the short term. Didn't happen.

The most startling observation was my picking up pocket queens 6 times and incredibly, almost unbelievably, all 6 times an ace flopped. I want to go to the Hilton sports book and place a prop bet on what the flop will look like the next time I pick up queens.

To add to my paranoia I could not connect anytime I had ace king.

Poker gets real hard when I can't win either side of the race.

The most insulting moment?

That would be watching pocket kings go down to a miserable older gentleman who was abusive towards the dealers and waitresses. Boy did I want to take his chips. The money would have been nice but it would have been even more satisfying to get him to leave the table.

At least there was some irony in that he called my push on the flop with ace jack off and he himself was a jack off. I appreciated the symmetry of this coincidence despite having to sit there and watch an ace come out on the turn.

Using "The Power of Negative Thinking" TM I was able to crack my own pocket aces twice. The first time my opponent flopped a set. This happens. The second occurrence however was much more impressive as a small stack called and beat me with king 8 off. I wish he hadn't turned over his cards preflop because as soon as I saw the king 8, I knew I was in trouble.

Oh sure I won some pots. That's because sometimes I too had the worse starting hand. This type of hand I can win. Twice this week I won big pots with my ace queen versus some suckers ace king. Finally got my money in good. And by good I mean bad. The new good.

It's such a cruel game.

We live in a cruel world.

Maybe that's why poker is so popular on this planet.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Midway through a tournament.

I fold in middle position and the guy to my left raises the big blind. The big blind also happens to be a big stack and raises him back. My neighbor folds and the big stack warns him not to try and steal his blinds again.

Well there goes the neighborhood.

My neighbor looks insulted and says he had a real hand. A pocket pair. He then explains to the big stack, and anyone else who will listen, that he didn't want to commit half of his chips to a race. I believe him. Now if only I could get him to cut his lawn once in awhile.

But why does he need to convince us all that he had a real hand?

I think my neighbor is protecting his ego. He doesn't want to be perceived as the kind of person who steals blinds, even though this image might actually get him paid off on big hands. For some reason this guy wants us to know that he only commits his chips when he really has it.

From then on out, anytime it was folded around to us in the blinds, I would raise. My cards did not matter. All that mattered was that he didn't wake up with a monster.

One time he folded and showed me ace 9.

Another time he folded and showed pocket 3's.

His image was gold. He raised my big blind from under the gun and I folded ace queen. Instantly. I'm not kidding when I say pocket kings would be a tough call against this guy.

If Mr. Rogers was alive and playing poker, he and I would be fighting over who gets to be this guy's neighbor.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Limit Poker Confession

When they reraise me on the flop with bottom pair.

And then hit trips on the turn.

Sometimes it feels personal.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's Good To Be The Razor

Two solid nights for me on that series of tubes we call the internet.

Monday night I won a Pot Limit Omaha 8/B rebuy tournament. My opponents did not understand tournament strategy and allowed me to steal way too often. They were the kinds of players who'd only call a big bet if they held the nuts. I picked up so many pots that when they'd eventually take a stand, it was kind of like they were gambling against me with their own chips.

Tuesday night I entered the same Omaha tournament to see if I could win back to back. And as if Omaha wasn't going to be enough action, I also entered a hold em tourney taking place at the same time.

In Monday night's Omaha event I never rebought but Tuesday night I bought in for a Negreanu-like 10 times! This includes my first buy in and a double add on at the first break. That's 7 rebuys if you're counting at home. I had to come in 4th place just to make back my initial investment.

I was the chip leader going into the final table and playing like a complete and utter maniac. The kind of style that can win tournaments but also might make you go broke real fast at a cash game.

As fate would have it, I got into trouble with 4 players remaining and went out when a player shooting for the low, backed into a runner runner high. This finish got me my money back. And not much more.

I was so focused on winning the Omaha tournament that I hardly noticed the no limit window up near the top right corner of my monitor. And truth be told, once I was eliminated from Omaha I just wanted to go to bed. So I pretended I was Phil Ivey and raised 3 to 4 hands every orbit. I'd continue bet every flop, not minding at all if someone played back at me. Usually I'd reraise them. With sleep so close I was more than happy to race.

So of course what happens? The players kept folding to my raises. And the couple of times I hit something big, they chose to play back at me. Ahhh fate. You can sure be funny sometimes.

I was also playing some ridiculous starting hands which I think scared them more. After one particularly embarrassing (losing) hand I almost typed in the chat box "I am trying to lose my chips" but this seemed like too good of an experiment for me to "out" myself. For I knew it was good practice for me to keep playing like this.

The universe seems to reward players who play this style. Loose aggressive gets you paid off on your good hands. You just need to get lucky every once in awhile when you're behind. Which is most of the time. But it's also not that hard to play against players who fold 90% of the time. I can respect a raise from that kind of player. I know how much nerve it's taking him to finally take some action and make a stand.

And of course the key to my success was my not fearing getting knocked out. It would be hard to play this crazy if the money mattered. But down here I'm real comfortable being the table bully. Anytime I thought I could get another player to fold if I bet, I would bet. And when it didn't work, the free advertising that came with showing my cards was worth every chip.

My opponents knew I was giving them chances to double up. But I can be scary to play against if your goal is to make the money. Which is how most of them played. If you are trying to win the tournament, like I am, then you want me at your table. If you are trying to cash, I'm a nightmare.

Once this snowball got rolling down hill, my stack got out of control and no one wanted a piece of me. When I had 70k and the next closest player had only 20k. Three years ago I'd have played too loose weak and lost the stack. Two years ago I'd have played too tight aggressive and let the field catch up. Last night I was able to remain a chip leader for the entire tournament. (I can't say for sure I was always in the lead but I was certainly never in any trouble. As Hellmuth likes to say "I was never all-in.")

It was one of my better tournament experiences. I've won more money but to have a wire to wire experience like this was incredibly empowering.

Playing lots of Omaha was also helpful for my hold em game. There's such faith in Omaha. I love that in Omaha you can be behind (as in not have a made hand) yet often be the favorite to win a particular hand due to having so many draws with outs. I was able to take some of that gamble over to hold em and play my hands strongly even when they weren't made yet.

For me, this kind of confidence at poker comes and goes.

This week it's here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pot Odds Getting Better

I saw super unleaded this week for $4.31 a gallon. Regular unleaded was $4.11.

Gas prices keep rising but the 20 cent vig remains the same.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Three Card Suckout King

I played poker this weekend with a guy who wouldn't bet enough to protect his hand when he was ahead, and wasn't afraid to call off his entire stack when he was behind. It was the best of both worlds.

He talked to the table like he was teaching us all how to play the game for the first time. He understood ABC poker but not too much strategy or thinking beyond that. He was an ideal opponent.

People often ask me about poker tells. Well this guy was a living and breathing poker tell. The more he told me about poker, the more he was telling me what I needed to know, if you can TELL what I'm saying.

His ego needed him to be the table expert. The grand master. He lives in a world where ace king always beats queen jack no matter what comes on the flop. I sat and listened to his teachings and waited patiently to out flop him. Eventually. Letting one long game be one long game.

That's when we'd get our chips in. I just had to be able to beat top pair. Then I'd bet. He'd raise. I'd push and he'd call because he has top pair.

This is a benefit to raising and playing too many hands. I can get a guy like this to call me down with top pair because he's seen me showdown some pretty bad hands.

Destiny finally occurred on an ace,2,5 flop. I had top two with my ace 5 suited. The money went into the middle and when we turned over our cards I expected him to have ace queen. Maybe Ace Ten. But ace jack? I did not expect that. Shows you what I know.

He sees my ace 5 and utters "nice call preflop" in that sarcastic tone that makes The Vegas Year all worth it. If I wanted to reciprocate I'd mention how his mini raises were backfiring on him. But why would I do that?

The dealer is taking his time and not revealing the turn and river. This gives this guy a little more time to berate me. Two things are possible:

1-He's really embarrassed by his call and taking it out on me

or (and even better)

2- He actually thinks I made an error seeing the cheap flop here.

This seems to be tale he's desperately trying to sell the universe. To whatever cosmic jury it is that decides our fate. His whining is a last ditch effort to convince the random number generator we call reality, that he deserves to win this hand, since he was ahead, preflop.

At least that's what I'm hearing.

The dealer turns over the turn and he misses. I'm still ahead and not buying his argument at all. From where I sit I'm the huge favorite. I was a huge favorite when we got the chips in. But my opponent thinks otherwise. He turns me into Marcia Clark. He's Johnny Cochran. And the glove doesn't fit.

The jury foreman, or "dealer" as I like to call him, delivers a jack on the river. I lose to a bigger two pair. Some might say ouch but I can't properly wallow in self pity because he's still yapping.

This is a pet peeve of mine. You can't win the pot AND complain afterwards. If you lose the pot I'll listen to you all night long. It's the cost of doing business. But people who win pots and still need to complain? I've got some issues with these folks.

But of course I don't argue with the guy. I don't mention percentages or how either of us played the hand. In fact I only spoke to him once. At some point during his monologue I looked over at him and asked "Are you trying to get me to play tighter?"

To which he responds "You couldn't play tighter if you tried."

The irony is not lost on me here. I'm actually playing very tight. Post flop. But he can't see that part. All he remembers is my starting hands. Not what the board looks like at the point when the bets occur.

So I sit back, relax and wait for the next opportunity to do it again. Find myself another 4 to 1 spot to get my chips in good and see what happens.

It came around 30 minutes later. I raised preflop with ace 10 suited and the same guy calls me with ace jack. Flop is ace 10 rag. Of course it is.

I bet my two pair. He raises. I push. He calls. With his ace jack again.

History repeats itself.

We turn over our cards. He sees my hand and that's when he says it to me.

"You are the Three Card Suckout King."

As if we put all the money in the middle and THEN I hit my card.

Hey I don't want to brag but look at me piling up the nicknames. Most parts of the World already know me as the Red Ants in Nevada House guy. My expertise in that field has been well documented. In fact I've had much less time to write this blog with my busy schedule touring around the country giving lectures on that topic.

Now that this whole "Three Card Suckout King" image is taking off maybe I can get back to focusing on poker. Order some business cards. Maybe get my people to look into buying WWW.THREECARDSUCKOUTKING.COM.

So I'm 84% to win this hand when the money goes in on the flop. A queen comes off on the turn. Not the best card pour moi but I'm still 77% to win. And then a king comes on the river. I think we call that the Lizard King. The Three Card Suckout King has been out-sucked. Or re-sucked.

All I know is it definitely involves the word suck.

So this guy overplayed his ace jack twice. Which was exactly what I wanted. He called off his entire stack with ace jack and won as a huge underdog.


I picture this gentleman going upstairs to his hotel room and thinking how he outplayed me. Thinking that I got what I deserved for playing such bad starting hands. Then I picture him watching Dane Cook and laughing hysterically for hours.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Super Unleaded For All My Friends!

I don't know too much about cars. Oh sure I like to use the word viscosity as much as the next guy. I know there are rumors I spend all day coming up with new rhymes for the word. And while this may or may not be true, this sure seems like a good time to come clean and admit that I have no idea what viscosity actually means. Yet my auto-ignorance hasn't stopped me me from auto-experimentation.

There was a point in time when I tried putting super unleaded gasoline into my car. I will absolutely testify under oath, with the same viscosity (and trustworthiness) of a Vegas Fact, that my car positively went further with a tank full of super unleaded. I did get more miles per gallon. More miles per tank. This was back in the day when gas cost $1.20 a gallon. Yes super unleaded was more expensive. But it definitely did something super.

Back then if super unleaded cost $1.20, regular unleaded cost around $1 per gallon. So it was rather easy to compute that super unleaded cost 20% more per gallon. One could then run the numbers to see if using super unleaded actually delivered 20% more miles per tank. You know. Check the EV to see if this extra mileage was worth the extra cost.

Cut to yesterday: I'm standing at a gas pump coming back from a road trip. Staring up at the numbers I had a mild epiphany.

The difference between paying $4 or $4.20 per gallon is not nearly the same as the difference between paying $1 or $1.20 a gallon. On 4 bucks, paying an extra 20 cents per gallon is only a 5% increase. Not 20%. Thus at these prices, it's not that much more expensive to use super unleaded. Math isn't telling me to put regular unleaded into my car. Habit is.

It might be time to switch to super unleaded. Something inside my brain thinks gas prices should rise proportionally. If super cost 20% more back in the day, then it should cost 20% more now.

Shouldn't it?

This lack of proportional pricing makes me wonder what the true price of gas really is. It looks like they're raising the price too much at the bottom end. And not enough at the top end. This doesn't make any sense to me. Seems like you'd want to raise the percent just as much on the top end buyers.

And then I'm reminded that I live in a country where citizens were rewarded with a $25,000 tax break for buying a Hummer.

And no tax break for buying a Hybrid.


Well using this logic, maybe the whole thing does make perfect cents.

Friday, May 30, 2008

No Expectations, No Disappointments

Earlier this week while holding 7,8 suited I flopped a straight flush draw at the Venetian. A gentleman who raised preflop to create the $75 pot that sits between us all, pushes the rest of his stack in. It's only $65 more. This is what I call a good situation. Playing this hand is the reason I've left my home during the week at some strange hour to come down to the Strip.

My ego would love to raise here. Who doesn't? It builds self esteem. Saying the word "raise" is good for the soul. But tonight I gotta show patience because I need another player, preferably someone with chips, to hang around in case I hit my draw. The last thing I want is to isolate the all in guy with my 8 high.

The human being with sunglasses to my left fulfills my unmet need and calls the $60. Thank you sir. A raise would have been fine but I'll take the call. If he wasn't wearing sunglasses I might guess he was on a draw. Unable to see his eyes, I attempt to confuse him and check the turn in the dark!

(How can he possibly handle my check in the dark while wearing sunglasses? I must be thinking on at least two levels here.)

A rag comes out and he checks behind me.

For those of you keeping score at home there's still no side pot to play for. Just the main pot that one of us is going to have to showdown to win against the all in guy.

I miss again on the river and am done with the hand. I have 8 high. I check and get ready to muck. The player to my left bets 75. I fold.

And then here comes the punchline. The guy to my left smiles and shows me his bluff! He bet $75 on the river with 8 high. Meanwhile the entire pot still goes to the all in guy who reveals pocket queens.

Now some of you might be wondering why this fellow to my left bet $75 with 8 high to get me to fold. It's an excellent question.

Why would the guy to my left bet $75 on the river with 8 high when he is only getting called if he is beat?

Yep. Still an excellent question.

Even in italics.

What can I say?

Uh....these are the players I play with?

When we make the film The Vegas Year, we'll have me raise him on the river with my 8 high and watch him lay down and lose the pointless $75 he just chose to bet.

Okay. I'll try to defend him. Maybe it wasn't pointless. What if the all in guy doesn't have queens? Maybe he has 3,5 off suit and the guy to my left just made the best play possible by getting me to fold my 8 high so that he won't have to chop the pot.


Who am I kidding? This type of play can only mean one thing. The WSOP poker tournament has come to town. It starts today at the Rio. The first event is underway as I type this. There are already fresh 2008 World Series of Poker bad beat stories going around!

I'm a different player than last year and a much different player than two years ago. I've become more right brained at the poker table. Logic is still there. But now I'm not embarrassed to call with a mediocre hand. I'm not scared to trust my read. I'm not worried about looking stupid at the table.

My ego is bigger. My expectations are smaller. Two years ago I needed to cash in a tournament to prove to myself that I knew what I was doing. I don't feel that pressure anymore. Whether or not I cash in a tournament won't decide how good or bad I am at poker. My being better at this game doesn't mean that I always win. Heck it doesn't even mean I always play well.

But according to our Zen coach Phil Jackson, a lack of expectations is a good thing.

"No expectations, no disappointments. "

That's what Phil said before the Lakers went into Utah a few weeks ago.

His words make even more sense in poker.

I can't expect things to happen.

I can only make the best decision for myself at that moment in time.

There is no should.

I'm a positive person but I can't expect anything specific to happen at the poker table.

Except of course, the unexpected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here's a Recipe For Fun.

People are always asking me how to have fun in Las Vegas. As if I have all the answers. Yet once in awhile I come through. Once in awhile I'm the guy with the club passes.* Sometimes it's good to know Robert. Like right now for instance. Cause I just came up with a new game and since we hang out like this on the internet, I'm gonna share it with you. First. Before I tell anyone else.

This game is appropriate for The Vegas Year because you can bet on it! I'm sure many readers will be relieved to read that fact. Hey you know how Bob Dylan said the answer is blowing in the wind? Well if by "answer" he meant "distinct floral breeze" then Bob may very well have been singing about my new game.

Friend, the answer is the cologned oxygen permeating throughout the casino entrances of the MGM, Venetian, Caesars.

You see where I'm going with all this?

My idea for big Summer fun is a prop bet where we go into these casinos and take a big whiff. Just really get to know the smell by each entrance. Then we blind fold each other and drive around town to see if each of us can tell what casino we're in just by using our nose.

Imagine the tension after you drive me to MGM and I get it right. Picture your frayed nerves as we pull into Caesars self parking and I bluff by walking you the exact number of steps it takes to get into the Venetian. All while my assistants are spraying Polo and Aramis in the air just a few feet ahead of us.

If this doesn't sound like fun, just add a zero to whatever amount we are playing for. If this still doesn't sound like fun, just add another zero!

And if this still doesn't sound like fun then maybe Las Vegas isn't really the city for you.

* club passes happens to be a really bad example of a way I can come through for you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Flashback to September 13, 2006

Playing poker this week I bet in middle position with ace king suited. The big blind, a very tight player, raised me to 45. I called. In some ways this hand is similar to the Hot Grinder on Grinder Action hand that I'm going to announce the results of in a highly anticipated November blog entry.

The big difference is this time I've got the ace king and my opponent has the pocket pair. My opponent has played SO TIGHT that I'm slightly concerned he could have aces or kings. So it wouldn't have been absolutely crazy to muck ace king to his raise here. Not in terms of how many hands this guy plays an hour.

However I'm in position. I also happen to write a poker blog so of course I'm gonna call. Otherwise what are we going to talk about? You don't want me to start sharing personal stuff.

Flop comes ace king jack. They say we fear the thing that has already happened to us. Well holding ace king and seeing an ace king jack flop has already happened to me. Kind of like a character on Lost going into flashback mode, my mind cuts to a Borgata Open event I played back on September 13, 2006.

It was a Wednesday. Definitely a Wednesday.

This was the most expensive tournament I had ever paid cash to enter. 173 of us put up 5k each. 1st place was 285k. 2nd was 150k. Looking back on it now, it seems insane. Despite the potential payday this was clearly way too large of a percent of my bankroll to spend on any one tournament.

But there I was. 11 o'clock on a Wednesday morning and I'm sitting in Atlantic City with way too many familiar faces. Truth be told I'd have gotten a much better value on my money to have actually spent an additional 5k and played in their 10k main event.

The Main event was a WPT event and would be televised so there were lots of satellite winners in there. A much weaker field. This non-televised 5k event was mostly for pros. Every table had 6 or 7 recognizable faces. Barry Greenstein. John Phan, Gavin Smith, Hasan Habib. Sitting at my table to my right were Kathy Liebert, Chad Brown and Allan Kessler. Later on Erik Lindgren was moved over. It was fun to get a real hand on his first big blind, raise it up and get the stare.

Early on in this tournament I picked up ace king. I'm talking level 1 early. I bet and was raised by a guy in middle position who immediately warns me he has a big hand.

Well so do I.

I call and the flop comes ace, king, jack.

Looks good right?

I think we started with 15k in chips- whatever the amount was I would lose one-third of my stack on this hand because my opponent had pocket jacks. I was grateful it wasn't more. However he nickeled and dimed me with 2k bets on the turn and river and I paid him off. Would the pros around me have gotten away cheaper? Or would they have lost more? Both seem possible. For me, this was an acceptable loss with top two pair.

This whole sequence flashed before me this week when the ace king jack flop came out at the Venetian. I flopped top two pair yet felt fear.

I felt the Borgata.

This Borgata Open story almost has a happy ending. After the dinner break we were down to 5 tables. Around 40 something players remained when I picked up pocket queens. I bet and was raised by a guy with pocket kings. I called. I got incredibly lucky when a queen flopped and got the rest of my chips in. I got even more incredibly unlucky when a king came on the turn to knock me out. Oh dear.

I still have the complimentary Borgata baseball hat they gave all of us that day. You know. The one that cost me 5 grand. Oh sure I have a few Kangols sitting around the house but this Borgata cap is still by far the most expensive chapeau in my closet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Internet Poker

The birds are still chirping outside my home 24/7.

Could you imagine how embarrassed I'd be if I walked into my living room and saw that I've accidentally been playing a CD of nature sounds on my stereo system for the past few months?

That somehow I hit "repeat" and that's why it plays all day and all night?

Not sure I could handle that.

I don't think I even own a stereo system but it doesn't matter.

I'm not going into the living room.

Not gonna take the chance that there's a CD of birds chirping.

I'm just going to sit here at the computer, stare outside the window at the birds in the trees that I know are there, and play internet poker.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Saturday afternoon at Mandalay Bay.

I raise it preflop to 12 with a red ace and a red queen. A guy who calls down big bets with bottom pair defends from the blinds. Flop comes ace high along with the 3 and 8 of spades. I bet 15. He raises to 30. I call in position.

The turn brings the third spade. Despite having just raised the flop, he checks to me. A check by me here would be fine to keep the pot small but I bet 20 because I think I'm ahead and want to charge him something to see the river. He calls.

The river is the 4th spade. Now he bets out 25.

My mind begins to race.

1- From what I've seen over the past 45 minutes I don't think he's a good enough player to make a move here. Against a better player I'd be real suspicious the person was betting out because it's the only way they could win the pot. But not with this guy. He's been a calling station and from what I've seen he only plays his own two cards. Which leads me to point #2...

2- Even if he doesn't have a flush I wouldn't be shocked to suddenly be trailing something like two pair. For all I know he might not notice the flush out there. That's how he's been playing. Which leads me to point #3...

3- I have no spades. Just top pair on a four flush board.

Yep. I think I'm beat and want to fold. I don't want to give 25 bucks away. It's not even the money. It's the being right. I tell myself that I'm better than that. Being able to fold top pair when you're beat is what makes a good player. Pot odds don't matter if I'm drawing dead so to speak.

Then to clinch my decision, this guy hears me mumble to myself and asks the dealer if I just said I was all in.

Okay. I've seen enough. Lets move on. I toss my cards into the muck.

Because what can feel worse than throwing 25 bucks away when I know I'm beat?

Well I'll tell you what can feel worse than throwing 25 bucks away when I know I'm beat......It's throwing my cards into the muck and then watching my opponent turn over two red kings.


As I sit here at home I CAN'T BELIEVE I folded. Simply because there was too much money in the middle. Math says I don't have to win this hand too often for a call to be correct here. I've put in around 60 bucks. So if there's around 120 in the middle and he bets 25 on the river, I'm calling 25 to win 145. I can call and be wrong 5 out of 6 times here and still make money over time!

Did I think there was a 16% chance he was bluffing?


Yet in the moment I was so focused on making a good fold that I didn't think the math through enough. I went with my read and not the math. Yes my read was wrong but in hindsight I'm way more embarrassed by the mathematical error.

To fold here was short term thinking. To save 25 bucks.

One long game thinking says a call here is correct if I can be wrong 84% of the time.

Self criticism aside, good for him! He was clearly not the best player at the table but on this particular hand he completely outplayed me.

Nice hand sir!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Hammer

The worst starting hand at a full Texas Hold 'Em table is 2,7 off suit.

How bad is the 2,7?

It's so bad that when playing against multiple opponents you're better off holding something like 2,3 or 2,4. Connected hands with greater potential for hitting a straight and taking down a big pot.

When you play the 2,7 and go to showdown you're relying on hitting trips or two pair to win a big pot. And even when you connect you may not be ahead. Thus winning with the 2,7 is clearly a difficult proposition.

What all this means is when you do eventually take down a pot with 2,7, it's definitely time to celebrate. Your reward for winning with this hand is not just monetary. No, the real joy is getting to see the reaction afterwards on the faces of your opponents.

You played what hand?

So when I picked up 2,7 tonight I completed the small blind to see the flop. The universe must have an incredible sense of humor, because the dealer turned over king, 2, 2 to give me trips. With my 7 kicker and an entire family seeing this unraised flop there's a small chance I may not have the best trips. But that's just fear and common sense talking. The reality is I ain't going anywhere. I've got trips and I'm gonna trap someone. I check. Everyone checks behind me.

An 8 comes on the turn. I said I was going to trap someone so I check again. This time I found a customer. A mildly aggressive player to my left bets 25. Button calls. I call too. I think I'm way ahead. I want them to bet the river. I'll also admit that deep down I'm rooting for a 7 to come. Just so I can stop taunting myself with the idea that maybe the guy on the button has ace 2.

The dealer turns over the river.

The bad news is it's not a 7.

The good news is it's a 2.

I got me some quads with the hammer. It's almost unfair.

I check to let the aggressive guy bet again. He obliges and bets out $25 more. Button calls again and the action is back to me.

Obviously I'm raising - but how much? How do I raise without it seeming clear-cut that I have quads? It feels impossible.

What if I had a king? I suppose I could make the fancy move and raise to try to get another player with a king to lay his hand down. Try to convince him with my bet that I have quads. So I don't have to split the pot with either of them.

How much would I have bet to do that?

An all in might do it.

However, if I really held a king, how could I know for sure that neither of them had quads? If I raise with a king here and get reraised (significantly), I'd probably have to throw my boat away.

So without a good read, or enough alcohol, I can't raise without quads in this spot.

(Although I suppose against some players I could raise if I had completely missed...but that's another discussion for another day.)

My opponents both have around 300 in front of them on the table and I have them covered. I decide against the all in move. I think that scares them away. And I want to get paid.

After a few seconds I push out $100 total. A raise of $75.

The dealer knows I have quads. Penn and Teller know I have quads. However much to my delight neither of the players at my table know I have quads. They both call with their king full house.

I turn over my 2,7 which inspires the guy to my left throws his cards at the dealer.

Damn. Who knew they'd both call? Well besides Teller.

More importantly- does this mean that either of them may have called me if I pushed all in?

I think it's a strong maybe.

I know I shouldn't complain. I hit quads with 2,7 and got both players to pay me off. Life is good.

But boy am I curious to go back in time and push all in.

Not even for the money.

Just to see what would have happened.

Because it sure looked afterwards like both these guys thought they held the nuts.

And I think I gave them way too much credit by thinking they could get away from it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flopping Flushes

1:41 AM. I leave the house to go play poker. This is probably the latest hour that I've decided to begin a poker session. I mean the earliest.

2:02 AM. Seated at the Venetian.

2:07 AM. I'm next to a Phil Hellmuth wannabe who won't stop talking about how great he is. What makes this extra amusing is we're sitting at 1/2 no limit. He's already told me twice that I'm not one of the best 3 players at the table.

2:08 AM. I raise preflop with suited connectors and make a continuation bet on a king high flop. Everyone folds and Hellmuth tells me I shouldn't bet so quickly because it's obvious I have a big hand. I thank him for the useful tip and muck my cards. Of course it was tempting to show the 6 high. But then he'd be winning the battle of misinformation. Better for him to keep telling me how bad my game is.

3:28 AM. I've been bleeding for the past 80 minutes. Hellmuth is long gone. There's one really loose player who is singlehandedly making this table a worthwhile place to be. I'm showing decent discipline but still losing chips. Down to 107 from my initial 200 buy in.

3:31 AM. Minus 30 with ace queen. Down to 77.

3:33 AM. I raise someone's straddle with ace 10 with the intention of pushing all in on the flop. Everyone folds and my stack inches its way up to 90 dollars. The highlight of this hand was before the straddler folds or calls he looks at me and tells me that I can't get a read on him because he hasn't looked at his cards yet.

Hilarious! Of course my thinking is:

"Why do I need a read on you?

I'm the one who raised.

Lets just wait until you raise me before we start worrying about what my read on you is."

3:37 AM. I win a pot with king 10 on a scary looking king,7,7,9,9 board.

3:39 AM. Bingo. I call 15 bucks preflop with ace 4 suited against two loose players and flop a flush. First guy bets 35. Second guy raises to 100 something. I call all in. First guy folds. The first guy was probably done with the hand once he got called but obviously the raise to 100+ killed any further action. (If I may be greedy for a moment). This hand pumps me up to $302.

3:48 AM. Down to 268. Tough hand. I call 15 bucks four ways with pocket 4's. Guy makes a small bet on a double heart flop. I call. He makes another small bet on the turn and every instinct says flush draw. I want to raise so badly. And someday I will. However these days I find myself playing with players who are so bad I don't need to take this kind of chance. So I fold my 4's and tap the table and tell him nice hand. My kindness is rewarded as he shows his cards. The ace and 5 of hearts for the nut flush draw. So I could have won the pot if I survived an ace, 5, or heart on the river. But that almost feels like too much of a hero call here.

4:01 AM. Up to 550 after I call 15 preflop with 8,10 suited and flop 5,6,7 with two of my suit. A freaking dream. Random guy bets 30. Loose aggressive nemesis bets 60. I smooth call. First guy folds. My flush comes on the turn. Nemesis checks. I push all in for 186. He thinks. He calls. I win. After the hand he says he flopped a straight. Some say he needs to bet more to get rid of me on the flop. Then again I'm not so sure I'm going to fold here with both straight and flush draws. It's the whole reason I'm playing suited (almost) connectors.

4:08 AM. Loose kid buys in again and I call his raise preflop with 4,5 suited. Flop comes king,king,8. For some reason- I laugh to myself. Could be the hour. Could be my hand. I don't know why but I'm cracking up. I notice him notice me laugh. I check. He checks behind me. I can't remember what came on the turn but I bet and he folded. See how easy poker is? You just have to laugh at the flop.

4:11 AM. I fold king queen from the small blind to a raise because the night grew deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression. If you're gonna play the game, you gotta learn to play it right.

4:26 AM. The hand of the night. A grinder type has come to my table. We've been chatting a little bit and I have a decent sense of how he plays. He's seated to my left. It's my big blind. He looks as his cards under the gun and limps in. He tells me he's been playing since noon and this is his last hand of the night. We both have over 500 dollars on the table.

No one raises and I check my jack 8 suited from the big blind. Flop is three clubs. My suit. I've hit another flush. It's just my night. I check. Grinder guy to my left bets 40. Everyone else folds. I call.

Turn is a rag. I check. Grinder starts playing with his chips. This is so freaking exciting. How much will he bet? And how much will I reraise him? My big fear is he has a big club. I can get away from this hand if another club comes on the river. But right now I'm feeling pretty darn good.

He takes 30 seconds or so. And then checks.

River is another non club. The board has not paired. I'm good.

The only question now is how much money can I get out of him? If I thought he'd call a bet for 200 bucks then I'd absolutely do it. But there's not that much out there so I push out 85 bucks. A pot sized bet. Feels reasonable.

He insta-calls and I turn over the jack high flush.

And my grinder friend?

He turns over queen 9 suited for a higher flush.


I thanked him for not going beserk with the betting. I could have really gotten hurt here. He felt the same way and thanked me back. He said he wouldn't have called an all in from me on the river. He pointed out that I wouldn't have called a big bet either. Although to be honest, I'm really not sure what I would have done. I did not put him on a higher flopped flush. So it would have been real hard to get away from this hand. Real hard. Even if my flush was only jack high. Hey I play suited connectors all the time so a jack high flush sometimes looks like a monster to me.

He then got up and left the table. Apologized to me for the hit and run. But I had no problem with it. You can stay as long or short as you want at the poker table. That's the beauty of it.

4:41 AM. I play for two more orbits and then leave. Damn I'm happy I didn't give away my stack on that hand. Losing 127 bucks with a jack high flopped flush was an acceptable loss.

One long game.