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The Blogger Tourney (Vegas Trip Report Pt 2)

The blogger tournament was scheduled for 3pm at the Venetian and the first course of business was sustenance. It was already clear that it would be impossible to make the nuptuals of Gracie to Sweet Sweet Pablo (would that make Gracie's full name Gracie Sweet Pablo?). Late nights in Vegas (not to mention the inch-thick dirt and stink covering my body) meant I wasn't going anywhere soon. Instead, PokerWolf, PokerPeaker and I went to the MGM Grand's Buffet, with the hope that it was reasonably priced.

Had we gotten there before 11am, it would've been relatively cheap. After 11, though, the buffet was about $25 after tax (notably, pretax it was $17.95, so the "tax" seemed suspiciously high). $25 is not cheap for a buffet, so I resolved to eat my money's worth.

I'll give the buffet a solid B+. The food was widely varied and universally delicious, but I avoided some of the items that looked less than edible. The service was decent enough, although I don't think our server returned after giving us our first round of drinks. Satiated, we left the buffet and headed on our separate ways. Peaker insisted on showering. Wolf and I had better ideas.

It was already getting late, so we decided to hitch a cab ride over to the Venetian to get Wolf a player's card. With card in hand, we still had some time to kill before the tournament and decided to find a place with $5 craps. Luckily, Wolf knew just the place.

A few steps from the majestic Venetian is the shithole whose name escapes me. These shitholes are all the same, cramped with slot machines and desperation. Fortunately, this one also had $5 craps, which is the perfect price for me. Any cheaper feels like a waste of time; any more expensive is a waste of money.

Table games are all -EV, and I have resolved to never play them again except for the rare times I can afford to play for sheer entertainment. This seemed like one of those times.

We each bought in for $100 and were the 3rd and 4th person to roll after we started playing. Neither of our rolls were too impressive, although Wolfie hit a few points. We were probably both up a little when a silver-haired chum on the other side of the table starting rolling the bones. The guy must've rolled for a good 20 minutes (and likely longer, as time has no meaning to me in Vegas), and by the time he was done, Wolfie and I had scratched out some decent profit. The next chick sucked, crapping out pretty early, at which point, we took our profits, slightly over $200 each, and hit the road. Thank god we had the tourney to make, otherwise I am sure we could've given back our profit in no time.

I'll take a moment to commend Wolfie on a great craps strategy that I intend to adopt. This may be fairly rudimentary for you pros and complete gibberish to you newbies, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph, if this means nothing to you. Basically, we played the pass line and took the odds, which is pretty standard. After that, we'd place a Come bet, which is essentially a Pass bet as though the next roll were the opening roll. Then, we'd place the odds on the Come bet, and place another Come bet. We basically did this until we had our usual pass bet with odds and two come bets with odds. It just spreads the money nicely without overdoing it. Throw in my usual love for the Hard Ways, only when I have other money riding on the same numbers, and you have my modified Wolfie system. $210 can't be wrong! (Yes it can.)

With craps money in pocket, we headed over to the tournament and signed in. We were seated immediately next to each other by coincidence and eventually took our seats. To my left was Sean, a bald dude with a helluva soul-patch-chin-scruff combo, this coming from a former Mr. Potato Head of Facial Hair. He was ultra-serious, wearing a black hood pulled deep over his head with headphones. I introduced myself and he barely registered me. I was a bit surprised since it was just a ghey blogger tournament, but I have to respect the dedication. The other end of the table had a bunch of new faces, but I quickly learned that they were OhCaptain, Emptyman, and...oh, shit, I'm blanking. My bad. In the 1 seat, to Wolf's immediate right, was Joanada. Across the table from me (I was in the 3s, he was in the 8s) was a dude wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a blazer covered in patches for Pokerati and, I think, Poker News. In hindsight, it was a pretty comical site, all sponsored-up for a blogger tournament. But this is an eccentric group, so I didn't think anything of it at first. After all, I was wearing a t-shirt with a big "High on Poker" emblazened on it. (Side note: Some people showed interest in the shirt, largely because they like getting high and playing poker. I'm throwing it up on Zazzle if anyone is interested. And before the tidal wave comes, let me insist I am putting this up merely because someone asked where they can get one, and in case they were serious, I wanted to give them an outlet. I am not a moneygrubbing Jew, blogger, troller, prick, shyster, lawyer, sellout, or asshole. Wait...maybe I'm an asshole.)

The game got off to a quick start for me. I'm not one to sit around and wait for cards, so I immediately tussled with Joanada. She was on the button and I was in the BB. When it folded to her, I think she bet 150 (25/50 blinds) and I called. I don't remember exactly what happened, but she took the first and maybe the second of our many contested pots off of me, after, I think, I dusted off a couple of thousand from my 10k stack on a several-bullet bluff. I didn't believe Joanada because of her position. She didn't believe me because of my reputation, or so I assume.

That didn't stop either of us, as her and I seemed to be locked in a dance. She was consistently raising my blinds, and I decided to start flat calling with all sorts of cards. In one hand, I held QJ and called her preflop bet. The flop was AKQ. I checked and she bet. I called. The turn was a blank. We both checked. The river was a blank. I checked and she made a strong bet. I called with what would appear to be a weak hand. She showed Jx, even weaker. This was one of the moments when I felt everything coming together for me. I had a read, that she was stealing my blinds, and I made some calls others would not. I was not scared of busting (largely assisted by the deep stacks) and I wasn't scared of making outwardly questionable plays, as long as they made sense internally. From the outside, I was calling loose the entire way. From the inside, I was reading my opponent and measuring the best way to maximize value while minimizing exposure.

I was down to about 7k, but made my way back to about 12k. It helped that I scored three pots with the hammer (27o). Each time, I showed my monster hand.

I was in a lot of hands at the table, and finally faced a hand that would make or break my tournament. I was in LP, probably one or two off of the button, when an EP player, the guy in the sponsored-logo blazer, made a standard preflop raise. I had 99 and decided to try to win the pot immediately or define my opponent's hand by raising about 3x his bet. It folded to him and he called in a manner that made me think he did so begrudgingly. The flop came down Q93. My opponent bet out. I took a while, acted confused, and then raised all-in. I wanted my loose image to pay off. It did, or so I thought, because my opponent took a long time, during which I assumed he was considering a loose call against a perceived maniac. He eventually called and showed QQ for top set.* LEMON! I called for a miracle case 9, but it didn't come.

After losing the hand, my opponent called across the table, "You've been Keno'ed!" My opponent, as it turned out, was none other than professional Keno player Neil Fontenot.* We both laughed about the hand, although a few people at the table showed some sympathy, as though it were a tilt-worthy situation. I replied, "I rather lose on a cooler than on a bad play."

Out of the tourney, I did my rounds, checking on my various horses in a last longer bet. I had picked all New Yorkers, subbing Alceste for F-Train last minute, which was a smart move, considering that F-Train was out way before Alceste. Even so, Dawn Summers was the only New Yorker to make the final table...and she was also the only New Yorker I didn't pick. Now, Dawn will mock me for this, but she should really be praising me. Clearly, my pick was a curse, and I wanted Dawn to do very well. Your welcome, Dawn. You ingrate.

After losing the tournament, I didn't know what to do with myself. I walked over to the sportsbook and confirmed that I was already well on my way to losing my first sports bet of the day. I bumped into AlCantHang and BigMike, as well as Joanada, who was busted by the silent-but-deadly Sean before I had a chance to bust her. I ran through $20 on video poker and then decided to play the real thing.

Before I left the poker room, I saw an interest list for 4/8 O8 with a half kill with about three names. I asked to be placed on that list, and since I was already speaking to the desk, I put my name in for the 1/2 NLHE list, which had to be at least 12 names long. I figured I had time to roam, and if I missed the call on either, it was no big deal. After the videopoker, though, I returned to the room, just in time to hear my name called for 1/2.

I bought in for the $300 max and took my seat across from the dealer. The players seemed game enough. I won my first hand for about $100 profit from an Asian kid who overplayed his hand. I had K8s, hardly a premium hand, but everyone and their sister limped and I was in LP, so I called. The flop was 866 and I think I bet out $15, about the size of the pot, getting only one caller, the Asian kid. I was fairly confident by the action that no one had an over-pair (99 or higher would've raised preflop). I was somewhat concerned about the 6, but my opponent didn't seem too confident. The turn was a blank spade, giving me an additional flush draw. I carved out $25 and bet out. I expected a raise from a 6, so when the player called, I felt a bit of relief. The river was a blank and I couldn't check, lest I give him a chance to bet big and scare me off of my best hand. I bet out $35 and he called. I showed my K8s and he showed 85o. He definitely overplayed the hand.

From there, I basically slowly bled chips until right before the table broke. I don't remember the particular hand, but just before breaking, I lost the rest of my profit, leaving me up $5. The table broke as players left, so I was sent to a new table. Before we go there, though, a quick note about an odd event at the first NLHE table.

The Asian kid eventually moved to two seats to my left. To his immediate left was a half-Greek, half-Palestinian guy in his mid-50s, with a cane and a stupid fisherman's hat on. His frumpy wife sat behind him like an obedient dog. It was clear by his demeanor and the floor's response that he was a regular grinder. The guy was a complete dick, barking, rudely at the player from Quebec on my immediate left. It was the Quebecker's first time playing live and he took his time with decisions, which annoyed the half-breed. Whatever the case, the half-breed oddly buddied up with the Asian kid and explained that he was going to teach him poker. Here is the weird part. I'm pretty sure that the half-breed was signaling for the kid to fold in certain instances. This makes no sense to me, since they clearly just met.

One situation completely baffles: Half-breed ends up heads-up by the turn in a hand against the kid. Half-breed bet, everyone folded and it was the kid's turn to act. He thought for about 15 seconds and half-breed announces, "Just fold. I have the King." He then clearly showed that he had the King, demonstrating his best hand. The kid folded.

Why the fuck would you ever give away money like that, particularly to a stranger?! It was clear that the half-breed played semi-professionally. This wasn't just fun. He was trying to make his nut. Still, he couldn't help but give away a chance to make more money. I'm sure there must be more to it than my quick opinion, but it left me baffled. The half-breed basically gave away the chance to win more money when he was ahead. What a tool.

It's hard to break up this story, and now might be a good chance. Coming up, I go to a new NLHE table, then return to my old table where O8 was spread.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*I may be slightly off with the hand history. The all-in may've occured on the turn, or there may've been re-re-raising going on, but the hands (QQ v. 99, Q9x flop) and the last decision (all-in call by my opponent) remain the same.
*Later, at a cash table filled with non-bloggers, a blogger stopped by and asked me how I busted. I told him it was set-under-set to Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. One of the non-blogger players asked me, "Professional Keno Player? Is that even possible?" I answered, "I guess he's just really good."

posted by Jordan @ 3:22 PM,


At 6:56 PM, Blogger CJ said...

The three-point Craps strategy you described is actually pretty standard. It's a solid way to play, assuming you're taking max odds each time.

I prefer to bet "wrong," but that's not much fun when you're shooting with a group!

At 10:46 PM, Blogger OhCaptain said...

It was a good time playing poker with you. Watching people get Keno'ed was how I spent a lot of the afternoon.

Set over set always sucks.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger smokkee said...

i was moved to your tournament table after you got bounced and heard how you went out. i agree that coolers suck slightly less bad beats.

2nd time now at a an "assembly" we haven't hung out much. we'll have to make a point to grab a beer next time.

cya at the tables


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